It’s March. A month when sports fans across the nation and around the world turn their attention to college basketball to cheer on their alma mater, root for their picks in office bracket pools, and hopefully witness the next exciting Cinderella story.
In March of 2016, a different type of Cinderella story was shaping up. Not on the hardwood, but in the race for the presidency. Since the day Donald Trump announced his candidacy, he was never given a chance. The media, Democrats, and even many Republicans believed his entire campaign was a joke. But when the primaries got underway, and Trump was performing well, people took notice.
Many prominent Republicans saw him as a legitimate threat, and it allowed for the #NeverTrump movement to take hold. Even after he became the party’s nominee, some establishment Republicans were slow to come on board. None of this deterred Trump’s strongest supporters from standing behind him. The great odds he went up against and was able to overcome makes all of this seem like something straight out of a movie.
But three years later, it’s all so easy to forget. Republican elected officials and candidates know they must give off the impression they support President Trump, even if it’s a facade. The question Trump’s faithful grassroots supporters must ask is whether they are ok with electing public officials who aren’t truly aligned with Trump.
It appears Louisiana Republicans will have two options in the upcoming gubernatorial election. Outsider businessman Eddie Rispone, or Congressman Ralph Abraham. Both men know the importance of winning over the Trump contingent in a state that overwhelmingly supported Trump over Clinton in the 2016 election. Although their rhetoric would indicate they’re both ardent supporters of the President, Abraham has a glaring problem. He was a leading #NeverTrump voice in Louisiana in 2016 and even went as far as to call on him to drop out of the race. He told The Advocate,
“Donald Trump’s comments are offensive and indefensible. I would never want my daughters or granddaughters spoken about or treated in that way. He was right to apologize for his remarks, but at this point, he should strongly consider his path going forward. Hillary Clinton has proven over her 30-year political career of destructive policies and poor judgment that she is unfit for the White House. She cannot be allowed to win the presidency, so Mr. Trump should consider whether he needs to step aside and allow Gov. Pence to lead our party to victory in November.”
Nobody would have held Congressman Abraham’s words against him if he simply denounced Trump’s comments. Instead, he decided he would cross a line, calling on Trump to drop out of the race, directly helping Hillary Clinton.
Additionally, Abraham’s abysmal voting record gives conservatives and Trump supporters yet another reason to be wary of him. The Congressman has opposed President Trump on multiple pieces of important legislation. In 2018, he received a “D” grade from both FreedomWorks and the Heritage Foundation. Louisianans should be looking beyond his recent campaign rhetoric, and judge him based on the votes he’s cast.
Donald Trump was only able to beat the odds and win the presidency because grassroots supporters who were tired of the status quo did something about it. Tuesday, November 8, 2016, was a historic day, but hopefully, it was more than just that. Grassroots activists and conservatives no longer need to take their orders from the Republican establishment or the media. But it’s critical they unite behind candidates who will advance the movement, and stand against those who don’t.
2019 will set the tone for what will unfold in the 2020 election. Ralph Abraham and #NeverTrump candidates like him across the country should not be given a free pass. Abraham was against Donald Trump before he won the presidency, and is supportive now only out of necessity and his own self-interest; Louisianans should not be fooled by his campaign rhetoric. Time will tell whether Trump’s grassroots supporters continue what they started in 2016.