And only he can lead the discussion.
Less than a week after the Indiana primary and the end of the Ted Cruz and John Kasich candidacies, emotions are still raw, and there are still a lot of high-profile conservatives vowing they will never vote for Donald Trump.
Some of this is sour grapes. Some of it is the result of personal slights – real or perceived – that occurred during the nomination race. Some of it comes from establishment types who are terrified they can’t control a President Trump. These folks will probably never vote for him.
But those people are louder than they are numerous. A lot of the conservatives whose votes Trump will need to beat Hillary Clinton are slow to get on board because they keep hearing Trump is not really a conservative. One of the most frequent claims of the #NeverTrump crowd is that Trump is actually a New York liberal posing as a conservative, and that he is in fact no different at all from Hillary.
Those who believe this are concerned about Trump’s history of taking liberal issue positions in the past, not to mention his financial support of the Clintons and other Democrats. They suspect his conversion to conservatism is not only recent but suspiciously convenient, and they take a rather dim view of conservative voters who they think got conned by it.
I know Donald Trump well enough to know that’s not true. He would never claim to have spent his life as a committed, ideological conservative. He’s spent most of his life as a businessman, as have I. People in business think differently about how to solve problems. We don’t just choose an ideological side and instantly embrace everything people on that side believe. We learn from our experiences how to think about problems and their solutions, and because those experiences are always happening, sometimes we change our minds.
That’s why it’s so essential that Donald’s general election campaign has to shift its focus to the solutions he wants to bring our nation. The media would rather focus on his most bombastic statements, so most people don’t know he wants to replace our tax code with lower rates and a simpler structure. Most people don’t know he wants to replace ObamaCare with the sort of free-market concept that conservatives have long been calling for.
His foreign policy speech two weeks ago was the sort of thing people need to hear more about, and Trump’s campaign has to take the initiative to make sure they do. The news media don’t care about substance, and they’ll ignore Trump’s issue positions unless he makes them the centerpiece of his campaign. He needs to do that.
This is not to say he shouldn’t attack Hillary. He needs to, because Hillary’s shortcomings and flaws are so glaring it would be irresponsible not to warn the nation what a mistake it would be making to elect her. The media will try to cover up her awfulness so it’s up to the Trump campaign not to let them get away with it.
But Trump’s path to victory now is to tell us more about how he would make America great again. It’s a much better plan than most conservatives probably suspect because they haven’t heard about it. If we’re going to win this thing, and keep Hillary from getting her hands on the power she craves so badly, that needs to change and change right now.