The first email I opened had the subject line, “Trump Bull****.” The message was pretty simple: “You sorry mother******! I hope the worst for you and yours!”
The next email had the unambiguous subject line, “Traitor of the people and what was the Conservative party/now the conjoined twin of the Progressive left.” This missive carried a religious message: “God calls me to pray for my enemies and you are my enemy. Your thinking causes you to be a traitor to the citizenry. Imagine the disgrace U R.”
What was the heinous offense that I committed that made me, according to one person, “the biggest traitor since Benedict Arnold?”
I made the mistake of expressing my opinion.
At the conclusion of a long interview with Politico last week, I was asked whether or not I support Donald Trump. I said that I did not. I was then asked if there was any situation where I could see myself supporting Trump. “If Satan was one vote away from the nomination,” I replied, “I would consider voting for Trump if he was the only alternative.” As a result of that remark, Trump supporters have tried to make my life a living hell. I’ve received hate email to my business and political accounts. People have left hateful messages on my home and office and home phone. This is totally unprecedented in my decade as a political party chairman.
Here’s the truth: I may well vote for Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention. Indiana’s rules require that district delegates, of which I am one, vote on the first ballot for the candidate who won the congressional district they represent. If Trump wins Indiana’s 4th Congressional District on May 3, I will cast my first ballot vote for him. Case closed. No Benedict Arnold here.
However, if Trump does not win a majority, and we need a second ballot to choose our nominee, Indiana rules unbind the delegates and allow them to vote their consciences. In that case, I’ll support John Kasich. This is what inflamed the Trump supporters and motivated them to launch their vicious verbal assaults on myself and others who were quoted in the Politico story.
Many Trump supporters have taken the bait and swallowed the stump speech swill that the Republican “establishment” is trying to steal the nomination. Trump and his pundits would have you believe that every delegate who supports Kasich or Cruz is a fat-cat millionaire lobbyist or businessperson who’ll personally prosper only by maintaining the status quo.
What many of these supporters don’t realize is that the delegate selection process for the 2016 presidential election began four years ago in a very democratic way.
For me, the process started when the registered Republicans in my county elected precinct committeemen and vice-committeemen in May 2012. Those elected party officials then conducted an election for county officers in March 2013. At that time, I was elected county chairman. One week later, the county chairs and vice chairs in the 16 counties that make up Indiana’s 4th Congressional District elected me as district chairman.
Earlier this year, we solicited interest for positions as delegates to the Republican National Convention. Candidates were required to submit a notarized application to me by March 15. The district officers then prepared a slate of candidates for a straight up or down vote to be presented at a district meeting in April.
In my district, only two people applied by the deadline. Since we need three delegates, they automatically became our representatives for the convention. I will go as well.
As this shows, the Republican establishment is not top-down. It’s an amazing grass-roots organization that begins and ends with the great loyal Republicans who stuff envelopes, walk neighborhoods, work phone banks, attend Lincoln/Reagan Dinners, vote consistently, and contribute to the election of council people, commissioners, auditors, sheriffs and legislators. They receive no compensation for their efforts on behalf of the Republican Party. They are the true strength of our party and a vital element in the process of selecting national convention delegates.
As a lifelong Republican who attended his first state convention in 1972 at age 18, who has worked to help elect Republicans to every level of government for more than 40 years, who has written two books dedicated to the brave sacrifices made by our soldiers in the Civil War and who still tears up during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner,” it deeply troubled me to be called a traitor to the American people. I hold my responsibility as a delegate to the Republican National Convention as a sacred trust.
There will always be those who attempt to use harassment and intimidation to try and get what they want. History is littered with those who rose to power via bullying and the jackboot. Here’s one Hoosier who will serve his country and his party without fear.