As a late-20's conservative from the Midwest, I didn't realize I could care more about politics until I had a son. With "his" first presidential race coming up, there is a new desperation to do everything I can to ensure the country he grows up inspires in him the same awe it did for me as a child.
This is why we conservatives need to get serious. The Paris attacks were an act of war by an organization grown in the vacuum provided by successful enacting of bad leftist diplomatic theory. From Libya, to Ukraine, to Iraq, Russia, China, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba - a systemic inability to demonstrate credibility has left the global order itself in question.
It is a failed policy of those informed by "fact checking" done by interns with campaign crib sheets or new-media journalists don't have an attention span longer than 5 years. It is a Vox foreign policy, and one we cannot afford for another 8 years. The GOP must nominate someone who is a capable and believable Head of State, who is a competent Commander and Chief. As conservatives who believe in small government, we inherently believe these duties to be the primary ones of the president.
Unfortunately, Trump is already seeing a bump. Ann Coulter claimed that the Paris Attacks were the night Donald Trump was elected. If she is right, if Trump is our nominee - conservatives will lose this election because the American people trust us on foreign policy and security, but watched us nominate a clown instead.
As a movement, we cannot take ourselves seriously if we then choose a candidate whose incompetence is a parallel to the superficiality of MSNBC, Salon, and Gawker. In a time when military and diplomatic decision making are increasingly important, the GOP front runner is a man who doesn't know the difference between a fighter and a bomber, can't name the legs of the nuclear triad are, and thinks he was in the military because of his boarding school. No surprise from a man who admits to getting his military advice from "watching shows." To those who mistakenly think he can negotiate his way out of putting our military at risk, he can't even identify who he has to negotiate with. Trump is the "Vox" candidate - a mile wide, but a neck-snapping inch deep if he's ever required to get any real work done for the nation. When this amateurism is given any more authority than blog post privileges, it gets people killed.
If conservatives plan to go on the offensive against the degradation and destruction of a global order built over decades, they cannot be afraid to go on the political offensive against Donald Trump. The GOP's silken-glove approach to the famously explosive tantrum thrower has allowed him to thrive in a permissive space. Trump voters are mad at a party that will not fight - and the Republican candidates allow Trump to thrive by permitting him to win fights he has conjured out of whole cloth.
Republicans can and must force Trump to fight in their territory - a national security landscape where he will stumble and fall. Republicans must unrelentingly reveal to Trump supporters, and to those sitting on the fence, the terrifying incompetence behind his empty rhetoric. Rand Paul showed how effective competent aggression can be against Trump when Trump wrongly announced that China was a signatory of the TPP. The GOP showed how not to combat Trump by ceding to his demands on debate time. Trump is supported because he can put on a guise of strength - his supporters will abandon him if the emperor is drawn too far out into the light in his "new clothes,"
Of course, this battle should be waged by only some of the Republican candidates. The longer Trump stays in front with only a 30% plurality of the vote, the longer he can maintain a façade of legitimacy. Roughly 70% of the Republican vote is currently split among 10 different candidates. If these candidates walked the talk, they would demonstrate the selflessness of Governor Romney, who preemptively ceded the field to newer leadership. Governor Jindal, wisely, chose to cede the field as Perry and Walker did before him. All worthy candidates who realized it was not their time. Meanwhile, Governor Bush is running a dead campaign, and attacking candidates with a chance of victory. Ted Cruz is courting Donald Trump, which is unbecoming of someone who values principled leadership. Governor Kasich, by all accounts a winning governor of a bellwether state, still plods along despite a less-enamored nation. Governor Christie is ruining renewed interest by decrying orphans (only Trump can get away with that stuff). Governor Huckabee is still campaigning for another TV show. These are all becoming or are no-chance campaigns. 7 years ago we laughed about "hope" not being a policy. We should apply the same standard to ourselves. Getting serious is to knowing when to be a member of the supporting cast and play for the team win.
If the GOP loses the election, which we will with Trump as nominee or after a political horse trade that will drive his former supporters from the voting booth, we cede another 8 years to decline. Secretary Clinton will face the same China, Russia, and Iran that bested her, and a terrorist organization she ignored. Whether the GOP wins will determine whether we, as a nation, have given up.
We have been playing a game, which is Trump's natural habitat as a casino magnate. However, this is real life - it is time to get serious.