Tuesday afternoon, Georgia governor Nathan Deal vetoed House Bill 859, popularly known as the Campus Carry bill, which would have allowed of-age students with concealed carry permits to carry their weapons on-campus. Hours later, Donald Trump became Deal’s party’s nominee for president of the United States. The two events could not have transpired more neatly in poetic rhythm.
If the 2016 primary process taught us anything, it’s that Republican voters are sufficiently fed up with party leadership. This, of course, was more of a response to the cowardly, limp-wristed politics of Washington, but the Republicans on Capitol Hill at least had one big excuse: a Democratic president who stood in the way of their plans.
Deal, on the other hand, vetoed campus carry in the face of overwhelming support from his party’s legislators and voters, who maintain sweeping majorities in both bodies of the legislature. It isn’t the first piece of legislation that enjoyed widespread conservative support that Deal unceremoniously scrapped; he vetoed Georgia’s religious freedom bill in late March. Coincidentally, Governor Deal is in his second term and thusly will not be seeking re-election in the next cycle. (Side note: text GUN to 52886 if you would like details on how to send Governor Deal a. . . certain pair of gifts that will let him know what you think of his historic veto.)
Republican leaders like Deal have made it abundantly clear that they care not for the wishes of the electorate that provided them with their positions. In Atlanta, it was religious freedom and the second amendment. In Washington, it’s been Obamacare, immigration, and wasteful, out-of-control spending.
And so the voters acted. A candidate came along who was the most dramatic, the most vitriolic, the most sweeping in his condemnation of the cowardly, do-nothing politics of Republican leadership. Though his policies were toxic, his demeanor was distasteful, and his chances of winning in November were utterly imaginary, the voters fell in behind the candidate who promised to transform the party of Mitch McConnell. The party of John Boehner. The party of Nathan Deal. For better or worse, they signed up for a Republican Party reborn in the image of Donald Trump.
If today we must lay to rest the Republican Party as we have long known it, I take great consolation in knowing that we bury with it the party of Deal. Now the conservative movement must come together to support down-ballot candidates that have fought the good fight for us and throw out those whose ineptness has allowed this to happen.
Because out of the ashes of this Republican Party will arise something new. And we can only hope it will be a party that will finally dare to wave the flag of conservatism.