INDIANAPOLIS – It was perfection. The Washington Post on Wednesday hosted a virtual event with Evan McMullin, a former Republican who ran as an independent candidate for president in 2016 and endorsed Joe Biden in 2020, to discuss “The Future of the Republican Party.”

What qualifies someone like McMullin to discuss the future of a party to which he no longer associates? From the media’s perspective it’s because he assembled a group of more than 120 former officials from the Reagan, Bush 1, Bush 2 and Trump administrations to plot founding a new center-right party.

Again, I ask: Then why is he talking about the future of the Republican Party if he’s trying to start a new party? Was Nancy Pelosi too busy? Could Alexandria Ocasio Cortez not clear her schedule?

The future of the Republican Party will be written by Republicans and only Republicans. It will be determined by those who can best harness the energy and passion of the working-class voters Donald Trump brought along, coupled with advocacy for traditional tried and true conservative policies that are making the difference in states coast to coast.

On that note, it is wrong to say the Republican Party is broken. Yes, the party is in the midst of a family feud at the national level. Sore wounds are being licked and the grassroots is lashing out at the likes of Congresswoman Liz Cheney (WY), Congressman Adam Kinzinger (IL) and Senator Bill Cassidy (LA), all three of whom are viewed as political apostates by the Trump base after their respective votes to impeach and convict.

Never mind the fact that Cheney voted with Trump 92.9% of the time, Kinzinger 90.2% and Cassidy 89.1%, based on a FiveThirtyEight analysis. As it turns out, partisans give criminals more strikes than politicians. Criminals get three and politicians get one.

But a truly big tent party sets its sights on inclusion and not exclusion. It speaks from the heart – which even on his worst days is precisely what Trump did – and leads by example.

The Republican Party in states like Indiana already works this way. In our Statehouse, where the General Assembly and Gov. Eric Holcomb are crafting Indiana’s ninth straight balanced budget, investing dollars in rural broadband and infrastructure and combating the coronavirus pandemic, you don’t hear Trump’s name muttered. The legislators and leaders are, as Holcomb often likes to say, looking “forward through the windshield, not backward in the rearview mirror.”

Some backward looking, in the form of a detailed after-action report, will be needed, though, to best position the party for renewed success nationally. The Republican National Committee is reportedly reluctant to produce such a report lest it be ridiculed and ignored like the “autopsy” after Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama. I, for one, believe such a report is warranted following every election, win or lose. A win does not mean everything went well and a loss does not mean every decision was wrong. There are lessons to learn on both sides of the coin.

But the only people who should be sitting at the table sifting through and analyzing the data, discussing the findings and charting the path ahead are Republicans and not former Republicans who are now Democrats or independents. This is a family matter and they chose to run away from home. 

Pete Seat is a former White House spokesman for President George W. Bush and campaign spokesman for former Director of National Intelligence and U.S. Senator Dan Coats. Currently he is a vice president with Bose Public Affairs Group in Indianapolis. He is also an Atlantic Council Millennium Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations Term Member and author of “The War on Millennials.”