This is especially true for the next president, who will have a big job ahead after the failures of the Obama administration. Our challenges are too complex — and the future of our country too important — to let egos, inflated rhetoric, and emotion take the place of thoughtful discussion.
I made the case recently for why GOP policies are the best to create opportunity across the country for families of all backgrounds. I’ve held up my home state’s reforms in economic, education, and sentencing policies as examples of conservative governance that have made life better for minorities in Texas compared with other places around the country. And I’ve been honest about our party’s shortcomings — including my own — in engaging all Americans in our conversations about the future of this nation.
But we can’t do that if we’re pitting black against white against brown; rich against poor; women against men. Playing identity politics takes a page right out of the Democrats’ playbook, and we Republicans are better than that.
That’s why rhetoric such as the kind employed by Donald Trump is damaging — it’s damaging to our party, and most important, damaging to the United States of America. I believe strongly that Mr. Trump’s philosophy is not conservatism, but rather a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense.
Mr. Trump’s absurdity reached a new low over the weekend, when he spit in the eye of every American prisoner of war, particularly Senator John McCain. But frankly, we should expect no better from a man who couldn’t be bothered to answer the call to serve his nation when it needed him most.
As a veteran and the son of a veteran, I find Mr. Trump’s brand of vitriol particularly offensive, and I have no confidence that he could adeptly lead our nation’s armed forces. His comments over the weekend should completely and immediately disqualify him from seeking our nation’s highest office. Our nation’s warriors have been let down and left behind by the bureaucratic bungling of the Veterans Administration. They deserve a leader who will stand up for them, not one who ridicules the deadly circumstances they willingly put themselves in when they volunteer to protect our nation.
Then there is the issue of border security — a challenge Mr. Trump claims to have single-handedly identified and suddenly become expert in. But Mr. Trump’s ridiculous and irresponsible assertion that Texas has not done enough to secure the border betrays his fundamental misunderstanding of this issue.
And even though Mr. Trump may spend a lot of time talking about border security today, his interest doesn’t predate his entrance in the presidential field. We heard no outcry from Mr. Trump when Jocelyn Johnson’s husband, Rodney, was gunned down in 2006 in a sanctuary city by an individual who had previously been deported. Mr. Trump was similarly silent last summer, when we saw an unprecedented flood of unaccompanied children crossing the border because of President Obama’s dangerous amnesty policies. Likewise last year, not a word from Mr. Trump when Border Patrol agent Javier Vega Jr. was shot and killed in front of his wife, two children, and parents by — again — individuals who had been arrested and deported multiple times.