Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld is running for the 2020 Republican nomination for president. Despite Trump’s high approval rating within the Republican party, Weld feels many in the party silently dislike him. They disagree with his crass, racist, impulsive, and unskilled performance as president, yet are afraid to oppose him.
Weld is a graduate of Oxford University and Harvard Law School and is the former Attorney General of Massachusetts. He is highly qualified and has the type of character befitting a president. If congressional Republicans would grow a spine and get honest, they would consider supporting Bill Weld, a man who knows the law, shows respect for democracy, is emotionally stable and has a history of working with Democrats.
Despite being a better man and more qualified, Weld may have no chance to diminish the control Trump has over the Republican party. Trump is skilled at bullying, disparaging, and emasculating male opponents. Anyone who thinks their political accomplishments and educational credentials can win over Trump’s base is deluding themselves. Weld will have to argue that Trump’s dishonest, immoral and anti-constitutional behaviors should cause voters to fear and reject him. He should emphasize there are other potential Republican candidates, like himself, who they can be proud of and trust.
Weld or any opponent must find a way to fight back against Trump’s mean, vindictive, and dishonest style of campaigning. It is understandable that mature, moral politicians are resistant to rolling in the verbal mud with Trump. However, Trump has a pattern of skilled verbal attacks that take out his opponents. He has lowered the political moral bar and has set offensive rules of engagement for campaigning. Opponents who have taken the higher ground have lost.
If Trump assigns a negative moniker to an opponent, they should assign one to him. His ego will have a hard time coping with that experience, so maybe he will curb his verbal abusiveness. Candidates who don’t agree with this harsh approach to political rivalry can preface their moniker for Trump with a disclaimer: “I am not a name caller. I think it’s unprofessional, immature, and mean. But there are labels Trump has earned and if I am expected to run my campaign being treated abusively, then Trump needs to man up and suffer similar attacks”.
Trump has suffered no consequences for showing disrespect for political rivals. If Bill Weld or any Republican opponent if Trump wants to get the attention of his base, they will have to set aside their preference for civility and play Trump at his own game. No one has been brave enough or smart enough to force Trump to be on the receiving end of an embarrassing label. There are so many accurate ones to choose from and if any opponent of Trump refuses to take off their gloves and fight, they will not only lose the election, they will lose their self-respect.
The silent, never-Trump Republicans need to decide if they are going to fight for the traditions of the pre-Freedom Caucus era or surrender the party to the autocratic, immoral ways of Trump.