What will it take to get to Yes?
Anyone who’s been part of a negotiation understands the concept, and the answer is usually different for each party. As a law student, I took a semester course on the subject, where, as part of the requirements, students were tasked with representing different sides in a series of negotiations. Our grade was based on how many of the items on our client’s wish-list were met -- along with holding the line on what he/she/they didn’t want to give up. Losing the kitchen sink and getting rolled by a more aggressive counterpart wasn’t a good thing -- just like in real life!
Then there was mediation, where an impartial go-between tries to facilitate an agreement between two or more parties. I recall receiving numerous pointed stares and barbed comments from the class’s professor who’d taken a noticeable dislike to my style of mediating. Mediating always felt like organized gossiping between persons or groups that didn’t like each other very much. The scars from the experience remain all these decades later.
The political world isn’t necessarily akin to being in a law school dispute resolution class, though some people have demands that must be met in order to lend support for a particular cause or person. A token few (by percentage) Republicans steadfastly refused to get behind Donald Trump in 2016 and throughout his presidency. Others bailed on the president after he botched (in their view) the campaign and aftermath of the 2020 election. Some of the latter category are speaking up now and laying out their conditions for “getting to Yes” with a possible Trump 2024 run.
In a piece titled, “Four Things Trump Could Do To Win Back My Support,” Scott Morefield wrote at Townhall:
“[A]s of now, I will not be supporting the former president to win another GOP presidential nomination, and I have solid reason to believe there are plenty of others who won’t as well, for similar reasons. And before you go there, this is not a NeverTrump ‘muh principles’ and ‘but but but, mean tweets!’ argument, but rather an acknowledgement of the extraordinary damage those who implemented, gave credence to, and enforced useless COVID restrictions have done to our country and the entire world.
“’Is there anything Trump could do from this point forward to change your mind?’ you ask, being kind enough to pretend we live in a bizarro world where the former president cares what I think. Great question! Being the magnanimous person I am, I would be in the wrong to not at least offer a path of redemption, a way that he could perhaps regain the trust of myself and others who think like me on these issues. So, in the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation, here are four things Donald Trump could do to win back the staunch support of this column for the GOP primaries…”
Without further suspense, Morefield’s conditions are for Trump to: 1. Acknowledge his mistakes on COVID; 2. Convince us his judgment on personnel has improved; 3. Convince us this isn’t all about him, and that he really can drain the swamp, and, 4. Convince us that another four years of Trump would be better than eight years of Ron DeSantis (or whoever).
Sounds like quite a challenge for any negotiator or mediator to come through, doesn’t it? I wasn’t immediately impressed by Morefield’s premise of needing to be “won” back by a self-improved Trump, but after reading his piece, Scott makes a lot of sense. Trump has much work to do if he’s to re-earn the credibility and affection of millions of conservatives, many of whom (like Morefield) supported his presidency because of its numerous policy accomplishments yet didn’t go along with the individual’s narcissistic me-centric way of doing things.
Morefield was especially turned off by Trump’s go along to get along handling of the COVID non-crisis -- and then how the president boasted about saving millions of lives through cutting off travel to China, etc. The Townhall writer believes, as I do, that the entire episode was overblown and overhyped by the media to begin with. Trump certainly deserves some blame for joining hands with the scaremongers concerning the virus’s “grave threat” and not doing enough at the federal level to prevent the hysteria -- and liberty losses -- from getting out of control.
Hence, the first condition for winning back Morefield’s -- and a lot of conservatives’ -- votes. It was understandable how Trump took the experts’ advice in the beginning. The virus was unknown. It originated in China. People in Italy were dropping like flies. The World Health junta said it came from bats (yuck!) and TV news video images depicted the blind, leathery and furry, cave-dwelling creatures on a frequent basis. The prospect was scary to say the least.
But over the course of time, it became evident that Dr. Anthony Fauci didn’t have a clue on what he was talking about, and the Democrats were already into full-demagogue mode over the issue, doing what they do best -- frighten the heck out of people and try to brainwash them into believing everyone would perish if they didn’t submit to the whims of blue state blowhards like Governors Andrew Cuomo, Gavin Newsom and Gretchen Whitmer.
The clamor continues, of course, with senile Joe Biden and his lackeys warning of vaccine mandates and door-to-door knockers to compel cooperation, and the mentally slipping president justified telling Facebook to censor users because they’re “killing people” by permitting the free dissemination of, drumroll please, “misinformation.”
It's too late for Trump to un-ring the proverbial COVID bell, but he could cease reinforcing his own role in the mess and promising that, if he wins the presidency back, we’ll never again be condescendingly lectured by flight attendants to pull up masks between bites of cookie and sips of soda. How many times in the past year have each of us said, “This is stupid”? Too many to fathom! Yet the fascist government mask requirements continue…at least on airplanes.
The negotiation point isn’t hard here… I’m in agreement with Morefield’s demand number one.
Scott’s second insistence is also worthy, and may be the toughest trial for Trump to overcome. The old saying “personnel is policy” has been proven correct over and over again throughout history. Abraham Lincoln faced perhaps the most serious crisis ever as president and one of his largest dilemmas was choosing a cabinet -- and generals -- who would listen to his directives.
A good many of Trump’s initial administration selections proved disastrous. There were some head-scratchers in there… Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff, Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, Jeff Sessions for Attorney General (though this one looked good on paper). His blind faith in military generals… his national security team that cared more about appearances and appeasement than policy… the list goes on and on.
Trump won much respect in 2016 by releasing a Supreme Court candidates list from which he would select for vacancies. Could he repeat the practice for top administration posts? It would just be a list, so there would be no ethics issues involved. Conservatives could vet the names. It might help dispel doubt and also make our fictional negotiator’s life a little easier.
Morefield was also prescient on his third contention, that Trump, for all of his accomplishments, didn’t do enough to drain the swamp. The mess that is the federal bureaucracy today is proof positive that the outsider president could’ve done more -- a lot more -- to cull the rot infesting Washington today. The disease is not just at the FBI or the CIA, either. Would a Trump 2.0 presidency clean house at the DOJ and CDC? Can Anthony Fauci count on being permanently retired in a couple years?
President Trump gained admiration and respect for his staunch border wall advocacy, one place where he wouldn’t accept no for an answer from the Democrats in Congress. Trump found the money for completing hundreds of miles of additional barriers. He ignored the demonization from the media and overlooked the Democrats’ incessant racism accusations. Would he be ready to battle with the federal swamp creatures, with the possibility it might bring down some of his friends and allies in the process?
Lastly (Morefield’s point number four), could Trump make a case that re-nominating and electing him would be better than stepping aside and allowing a proven leader (like Ron DeSantis) to take over in his stead? It could mean the republic will flourish for a longer period of time and realize more items on the MAGA platform, even if they’re won under someone else’s name.
This might be a deal-breaker for Trump, who clearly thinks he is MAGA and vice-versa.
Recent history suggests Trump isn’t about to change the way he does things and his modus operandi is not open to negotiation. Admitting he was wrong on certain issues isn’t something he's particularly good at, so for those hoping to see a new and improved contrite Donald Trump, it might be a long wait.
2024 GOP primaries