Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum, left, and Donald Trump, center, laugh as they listen to Mike Huckabee during a campaign event on the campus of Drake University Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Delegates’ choice: conscience or compromise

A hunter entered the forest. He set his sights on a big brown bear that much to his surprise turned and said, “Hey why are you aiming that rifle at me?” The hunter replied, “It’s nearly winter and I need a fur coat.” “Well,” said the bear, “You need a fur coat and I need a full stomach. Let’s see if we can come to a compromise.” An hour later, the bear left the forest. He had a full belly and the man was covered in a thick fur coat.

If you must change who you are to get what you want, you have not merely compromised; you have been compromised. Republican delegates face a tough choice at the convention, unite around a new nominee who embodies conservative principles and integrity or compromise their principles and integrity by choosing the presumptive nominee.

For years, Republicans have talked about character as though it mattered. They showed dishonorable and dishonest politicians like Mark Foley, Bob Livingston, and Larry Craig to the door of political obscurity. They rightly criticized the corruption and deceit they saw on the other side of the aisle. Democrats and their liberal allies, on the other hand, tend to ignore or justify similar actions in their leaders.

If Republicans select Trump at the GOP Convention, they will prove that all their erstwhile criticism of cronyism, corruption, dishonesty, infidelity, and opportunism committed by Democrats was merely political theatre rather than a righteous stand. They will show that elections are not a matter of principle, but solely a matter of power. Republicans will no longer be able to criticize bad behavior on the other side without looking like hypocrites.

Many have already started down that road. When confronted with Trump’s attacks on an American judge, his lies and tasteless tweets, his policy flip-flops, his attacks on the Freedom of the Press, his forbearance of racists, and his winking encouragement of violence, some Republicans have said nothing or worse have awkwardly excused his behavior. If Trump wins, the GOP will be conscripted into defending him for four to eight years.

Many Republicans have signaled they are also willing to sacrifice their principles of limited government, Constitutional restraint, free trade, entitlement reform, Rule of Law, and a strong national defense to win in November. Many of Trump’s policy prescriptions are closer to Hillary’s than even the most liberal Republican’s. His appeals to Bernie Sanders’s supporters, makes one wonder how far he plans to drift left.

If delegates nominate Trump and he loses in November, Republicans will have sacrificed their ideals for nothing. If he wins in November, he will expect and probably demand Republicans support his policy ideas. If they balk, he will not take it well. Trump will likely turn to Democrats to make a deal and Republicans will be left on the sidelines as if they had lost the election.

If the GOP becomes the party of big government, cronyism, situational ethics, vitriol, and deceit, it will merely be a wing of the other party. Like the hunter, the GOP will cease to have an independent existence.

Delegates have a choice at the convention. They can vote their conscience and unite around a new nominee or they can choose Trump and compromise the GOP.

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Krista Kafer

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