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In the world of op-eds and talking heads a cam­paign is underway to unseat Pres­ident Donald Trump in the Repub­lican primary. In December, the New Yorker put forward former Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who retired with a neg­ative approval rating in his own state, or Michael Bloomberg, if he switched parties again after re-reg­is­tering as a Democrat last October. The Wash­ington Post, an unusual coun­selor for Repub­lican primary voters, shopped Maryland Gov­ernor Larry Hogan and former Ohio Gov­ernor John Kasich as potential insurgent leaders.

For their part, prin­cipled con­ser­v­a­tives ought to oppose a primary chal­lenge to Pres­ident Trump. From a pru­dential view of pol­itics, con­cerned with both the uni­versals and the par­tic­ulars, we may in any given cir­cum­stance per­ceive vir­tuous ends and act so as to best attain them. If one aims to see America well-gov­erned, domestic liberty and con­sti­tu­tion­alism respected, and American power judi­ciously used abroad, then pru­dence dic­tates that a primary chal­lenge to Trump is patent political folly.

Turning to the par­tic­ulars, it is polit­i­cally impos­sible to suc­cess­fully defeat Pres­ident Trump in a Repub­lican primary. While pres­i­dential approval polls abound and are breath­lessly reported, careful exam­i­nation of the most recent and tar­geted data is revealing. On January 27th a Mon­mouth poll found that “43 percent of reg­is­tered Repub­licans would like to see [Trump] face a primary chal­lenge.” However, when Mon­mouth asked the same Repub­licans if they would support names like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, or Kasich in a primary bid, Trump won by hefty margins — even among the Repub­licans who pre­ferred a primary chal­lenge! Many Repub­licans may not be entirely sat­isfied with Pres­ident Trump, but the majority of even the most ret­icent Repub­lican voters prefer him to the “viable” alter­native can­di­dates. Prac­ti­cally speaking, a primary against Trump would amount only to a self-inflicted wound, hurting Repub­lican mes­saging and fundraising in a general election. This may explain why HarrisX polling found 91 percent of Democrats support a Repub­lican primary chal­lenge.

Moreover, it is impos­sible to win a general election with anyone but Pres­ident Trump. If we swap horses now, we may end up with a donkey. Like it or not, American pol­itics has changed. The margin of victory against the Clinton machine in 2016 was slim and largely carried by Trump’s appeal to working-class Amer­icans — a group Pres­ident Trump carried into the Repub­lican Party. Hillsdale con­ser­v­a­tives did not win the election for Trump. And yet, Pres­ident Trump listens to con­ser­v­a­tives and staffs his admin­is­tration with them to a great extent — much to his, and the nation’s, benefit.

Some con­ser­v­a­tives may support a primary chal­lenge to obtain a more “pure” can­didate. In reality, any primary chal­lenge to Trump will come from the center. As Kasich’s advisors have no doubt informed him, former Star­bucks CEO Howard Schultz has already staked out the cen­trist position in the general election amid with­ering crit­icism from the left. And given the lack of applause for former Florida Gov­ernor Jeb Bush, a con­ser­v­ative is unlikely to find a preferable can­didate among this crowd. In the end, con­ser­v­a­tives cannot allow the idea of the perfect to become an enemy of the good. Espe­cially if a “perfect” can­didate isn’t among the options.

None of the pre­ceding obser­va­tions are person-worship, an all too common accu­sation — even in this paper — against many who support the Pres­ident. Con­ser­v­a­tives rec­ognize that human beings are fallen. No rea­sonable par­tic­ipant in pol­itics sup­ports a cam­paign expecting a messiah. The same goes for gov­er­nance. Pundits fre­quently comment that Hillary Clinton is no longer on the ballot, but now the con­ser­v­ative beholds even more fright­ening alter­na­tives. Literal infan­ticide and 90 percent tax rates are entering the political main­stream with shocking rapidity. On the other hand, Trump is no longer unknown, as he was in 2016. Of course mixed, Trump’s track record has been pro-life, pro-business, pro-rule of law, and pro-America. That’s a good look for our pres­ident.

Churchill rejoined the Con­ser­v­ative Party when his former party allowed Labour to form a gov­ernment and usher the specter of socialism into Great Britain. While he still had tremendous dis­agree­ments with the Con­ser­v­a­tives, he asserted that “the only way a man can remain con­sistent amid changing cir­cum­stances is to change with them while pre­serving the same dom­i­nating purpose.” Con­ser­vatism has not dumped its prin­ciples for a person over the last two years. America has Pres­ident Trump for four or, I hope, eight years, but it is incumbent on each of us, indi­vid­ually and through insti­tu­tions such as the college, to ensure that its prin­ciples will be both pre­served and aired in the public square for years to come.

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    Pointless to try and primary Trump out, a sure pre­scription for losing. Not sur­pris­ingly, the WaPo and New Yorker-those bas­tions of eastern Lib­er­alism-are behind this effort.

    But, it would be fun to hate-on Jeff Flake again. He was so unpopular in his own state he didn’t dare run for reelection to his Senate seat-he would have lost in the primary. He caused great mis­chief for Pres­ident Trump before leaving office, and that will NOT be for­gotten by we GOP stal­warts.

    Folks like Flake, Romney and Kasich made their beds, now they can sleep in them. They’re fin­ished as far as any lead­ership role in the Repub­lican Party. Cruz also pulled some crappy tricks on Trump, but he a least had the smarts to patch-up his roads and get back behind the Pres­ident. The rest of them-who cares?

    • Rogue A.I.

      It’s beyond obvious Trump col­luded with Russia. It’s just a matter of for­mal­ities at this point.

      • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

        LOL. 2 years and not a shred of evi­dence to support your alle­gation. Mueller is about ready to wrap it up because the new AG has had enough of the BS. Get ready for 6 more years of Pres­ident Trump, fool!

        • Rogue A.I.

          Con­sid­ering you aren’t even an alumnus of this College, your opinion is not only irrel­evant, but also unwanted.

          • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

            I am a Hillsdale alumnus and it’s obvious you have nothing of value to share with me, just your infantile bile. Go spend some time in your room. Blocked.

          • Rogue A.I.

            hahahaha what a snowflake. classic snowflake con­ser­v­ative, crit­i­cizing everyone else for being sen­sitive and then crying about how everyone treats them unfairly. classic. and I still don’t believe you’re an alumnus.

          • Jen­nifer Melfi

            this is the first I have heard of this — unless your comment role is filled by several people (pos­sible in this day and age). I thought you said earlier that you would have been happy to go to Hillsdale but you didn’t.

          • Jen­nifer Melfi

            Also — you can’t go blocking people over fair ques­tions. He didn’t say bad things about your mom, so your Hillsdale status is fair game.

          • Camus53

            You are not…and now you too are lying just like Trump. As JM men­tions, you have fre­quently said you are not a Hillsdale grad.

            If I can para­phrase your own words you come here to pros­e­lytize what you believe are con­ser­v­ative ideals thinking, I will add wrongly, that you are welcome.

            Frankly, you and you com­ments have grown old, par­tic­u­larly as you reach to defend donnie & co.. Time to move on…in fact well past time…!

  • Jen­nifer Melfi

    Since when did Hillsdale start to teach that the right thing to do is the expe­dient thing?

    I remember Dr. Arnn trying to get everyone to watch ” A Man For All Seasons” with him. Is this what Thomas More would do? What a joke that the lead­ership of the college is now saying that up is down and right is left. Shameful!

  • Camus53

    So let’s see…even priests lie, cheat, steal, cavort in bed­rooms, con­spire, even murder and more…ah but they’re priests you say…a means to the end of getting into the pearly gates…one must look the other way or in the words of this author, “Con­ser­v­a­tives rec­ognize that human beings are fallen.…conservative beholds even more fright­ening alter­na­tives.”.

    I would never follow such a priest nor will I allow myself to blindly follow donnie trump, nor should anyone else. We have brains, we have free thought and free will, we do have the ability to discern right from wrong and frankly we and America should and for the most part does know better.

    Several weeks ago I asked our res­ident Hillsdale wannabe, Ypsi Dipsy, to defend his claim that donnie is in fact a con­ser­v­ative? There was no reply of course. Trump is not a Con­ser­v­ative (capital C). Far from it unless we want to start once again redefining what is a Con­ser­v­ative to fit our current needs?

    Sarah Sanders claims trump to be hand­picked by god…shouldn’t we call him what he is…a fallen angel…aka someone on the devil’s team? At least this Mr. Hatley refuses to call donnie a “messiah”.

    But let’s let Mr. Hatley, in his own written words better describe don the con:
    “…at Camp Trump, the most valued skill is bootlicking. We are at an excep­tional and dan­gerous moment, when quality counts for less than noise, self-cen­teredness, and pride of the sort always said to end badly.”

    Donald trump is a fallen angel and while true Con­ser­v­a­tives value, appre­ciate and protect seper­ation of church and state…it must be said the devil is indeed in the White House!

    Be smarter than him…use your own brains and free will and decide for your­selves is what we have gone thru these past two years of the trump admin­is­tration really what we want, let alone need, for the next six?

  • George Gibbs

    “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”