KOKOMO – At this point in the 2020 United States presidential election, it is beginning to look like the mountains of abuse heaped on President Trump by the national media, the leftist social media, every anarchist group known to mankind and even a few Republicans just might be successful in defeating him and sending a third-rate Democrat to the White House.

If I were the type of person to sit around wearing a tinfoil hat and seeing multiple gunmen on the grassy knoll, I might just be a little cynical about the timing of a pandemic hitting when the United States’ economy was the best that it had been in history, with record low unemployment across all demographics, increasing personal incomes and unheard of stock market valuations. Further, the attention paid to the coronavirus seemed to grow as the Democrat trumped-up impeachment fell apart in a dismal partisan failure.  

No, I’m not going to be one of those people who see conspiracies wherever you turn. I merely want to ask the question, win or lose in November, where does the Republican Party go from here? Should Donald Trump defy the current odds and big poll deficits and win a second term, what would the future hold for the Republican Party?  

First, I believe that no one would expect a Trump victory to be greeted with a massive hands-across-America moment with Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell leading a chorus of “Kumbaya.” No, we would just see the launching of Trump Destruction 2.0.  

The Trump enemies list would expand, the press would turn even more vitriolic, if that is even possible, civil insurrection encouraged by Democrat and Marxist operatives would grow and we would see the commencement of the second impeachment of Donald Trump, this time for something hidden in his tax returns.  

Unfortunately, Trump’s hold on the Republican Party would quickly begin to unravel as 2024 potential candidates scrambled to break out of the pack. It would be nice to think that Mike Pence’s able and loyal service to Donald Trump would be rewarded with an unobstructed path to the Republican nomination, but I believe that this thought is pure folly.  

Already we are beginning to see some of the potential 2024 candidates poke their fingers into the air, checking for the direction of the wind. Other than confirming conservative judges to the courts, it may be very difficult for Trump to herd the Republican cats in any direction. The Romneys, Snows, Murkowskis and their like would be less likely than ever to support the president’s agenda in a second term.

The prospect of a presidential defeat in November begs even more troubling questions for the future of the Republican Party. The question that bothers me the most is exactly what does the Republican Party stand for?  

I’m not talking about the articles of the Republican platform. We all know that that document is for public consumption and is rarely adhered to by Republican elected officials. I once thought that I knew what it meant to be a Republican. I’m no longer as sure as I once was.  

Unfortunately, it is beginning to look to me like the national Republican Party is made up of hundreds of self-centered opportunists who are far more interested in building their own careers than in building a successful and vibrant political party. The hard-working men and women who do the work of building the Republican Party frankly deserve more from those we elect than what we are getting.

A prime example of a perceived desertion of Republican values was the recent highly public proposal by Sen. Mike Braun to roll back the qualified immunity status enjoyed by our brave law enforcement officers. Sen. Braun’s proposal might have made him the darling of the “Morning Joe” crowd but it certainly left most grass roots Republicans scratching our heads and asking, “Wasn’t this the guy who told us he was a conservative?”

Republicans also used to talk a good game when it came to our ugly national debt and staggering and unsustainable budget deficits, but now we go along with just about every expenditure, bailout and government largess with little consideration to the long-term implications. For this deficit spending, I give President Trump full responsibility. He sets the tone for spending and deficits and in this area he has done us a disservice.

If Republicans lose in November, we will have a very short period of time to come to Jesus and determine what our party is going to be going forward. We will need to make some very difficult decisions about our future. It will be time to dust off the report compiled by Reince Priebus after the 2012 election and take it seriously.  

The Republican Party needs to expand to embrace increased participation by people of color, people of non-Christian beliefs and people who many practice alternative lifestyles.  We should not be the American version of the Taliban.  We should focus on the concerns and challenges faced by the majority of Americans and deliver solutions. We need to cater to Joe Sixpack and not Goldman Sachs. What is good for Joe Sixpack should be good for everyone.

On a final note, there is absolutely no reason that we cannot maintain our principles and still perform in a manner that is loving and respectful of all Americans. We can disagree but there is no reason that we have to be disagreeable.

Win or lose in 2020, if we have a thoughtful, civil and reasonable platform, we can prosper as Republicans. It is going to take hard work to restore our party’s focus and direction. 

Dunn is the former chairman of the Howard County Republican Party.