Sarah Elliott: Trump supporters are wrong if they riot, but right when they complain of double standards

15 Jan

In the immediate aftermath of last Wednesday’s events in Washington DC, YouGov asked American voters whether they supported or opposed Donald Trump’s supporters breaking into the US Capitol to protest at lawmakers certifying Joe Biden’s election victory.

Based on the information they had heard at the time, a startling 45 per cent of Republican voters approved of their actions. With the further information that emerged in subsequent days, I suspect the figure would now be much lower, but this figure is still astonishing. And I am surprised that the initial reaction of more voters wasn’t, as mine was , to condemn the attacks and disown the President.

I spent my career in Washington working with Republican conservative grassroots organisations, so I can give some insight into the thinking of those 45 per cent of voters – some 33 million people of the 74 million who voted for the re-election of Trump.

With the outsourcing of US manufacturing to China, growing secularisation, and the breakdown of the traditional family, the working class of America has been in decline for many decades. The most visible signs are in the unemployment and deaths by drug overdose figures.

As the traditional Democratic Party voting base, working class Americans naturally took the hope-and-change pill from Barack Obama, believing he would transform the United States of America. A good example of such a voter was Ashili Babbit, the Trump supporter who tragically lost her life in the Capitol building during the siege, who had previously voted for Obama.

Working class Americans became frustrated with the Democrats when they became more concerned with identity politics than the decline in manufacturing, the lack of wage growth, increasing monthly healthcare costs due to the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a Obamacare) and – most cutting of all – the disdain they felt from a Party entirely focused on consolidating their support around the metropolitan areas on either coasts.

Obama famously dismissed other voters when he said that “they cling to guns or religion”. And Hillary Clinton famously called them a “basket of deplorables”.

When the ‘deplorables” didn’t vote for her, Clinton bragged that the areas which did vote for her had the highest GDP, which reminds me of when, in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum, a City executive told me that the places which voted Remain had the best schools.

What was Joe Biden’s answer to their unemployment woes? Learn to code. Biden told coal miners, “Anybody who can go down 3,000 feet in a mine can sure as hell learn to program as well.”

The unsophisticated, Wal-mart shopper who lived in flyover country just didn’t fit with the progressive leadership of the Democrats anymore – and became “the forgotten.”

This condescension, coupled with years of economic despair, resulted in the election of Donald Trump in 2016, a New York City billionaire who was beholden to none. Not a traditional Republican, not politically correct: just proud to be an American and their Disrupter in Chief.

Watching their fighter in the ring get pummeled from every angle over the past four years by a biased mainstream media, and by what many saw as the “deep state” trying to undermine the President and the democratic process by claiming “Russia collusion” only fueled their fears. It also made Trump more appealing to the Republican establishment.

Some of these voters went back to the Democrats in 2020, but others are now frustrated by the double-standard treatment of the Left versus the Right.  Nancy Pelosi said that the 2016 election was “hijacked.”  Clinton couldn’t take personal responsibility for losing the election, and went around the world claiming Russia collusion, with no evidence whatsoever to back it up, even after a two year investigation.

From the perspective of many of these voters, how is it fair that Clinton and Pelosi didn’t accept the result in 2016, and the mainstream media carried their aspersions about how Trump had stolen it?

After the 2020 elections, they then saw their man, Trump, hauled over the coals for pursuing legal avenues to ensure every legal vote was counted. After all, because of the postal votes taking days to be counted after election day, it did appear on the night that he might pull off a second victory.

They also see double-standards in the media response to adversarial political rhetoric.

Maxine Waters, a Democrat representative in Congress, told a crowd of supporters that if “you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out, and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

And sure enough, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the President’s then press secretary, was kicked out of a restaurant for who she was and who she worked for.  Eric Holder, Attorney General under Obama’s, told liberal activists in 2018 that “when they go low, we kick them.”

Many of Trump’s supporters asks where was the outrage at the Left for stirring the pot then? Why weren’t they held accountable?

Which brings us on to the protests last summer after the appalling death of George Floyd, which escalated into riots and looting in many parts of the country. Americans were told, on the major network news channels, that they were mostly “peaceful protests”, when you could see whole blocks engulfed in flames behind the reporters.

Molotov cocktails were thrown at police cars. Small businesses – many run by minorities – completely destroyed, and their owners physically attacked in broad daylight for trying to protect their livelihood.

Seattle had whole blocks of its city taken over by these protestors called the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), which saw assaults and murder. Portland, Oregon’s federal courthouses and police stations are still under constant, nightly attack – now for six months straight. Chants of “defund the police” and “pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon” directed at the police introduced middle America to the new American Left. People died.

Many Trump supporters incredulously ask where the condemnation in the media was for this political violence? Imagine if Republicans were doing this? Why weren’t Democratic leaders denouncing the rioters like the far-Left group, Antifa?

Kamala Harris even called people to donate to a bail fund for the Minneapolis rioters, and thirteen Biden staffers contributed to the fund. The only condemnations came months later, but without the rigor and the forcefulness they have accused Trump’s denunciations as lacking.

These perceived double-standards in no way justify the violent assault on the US Capitol on 6th January. They are in no way comparable. However, they do numb many Republican supporters to the outrage felt by the majority of Americans in the wake of last week’s assault on the Capitol.

President-Elect Biden is quite rightly making his inauguration about America United, but he won’t do so by exacerbating double standards. He needs to treat wrongdoing on both sides equally and give both sides a fair hearing. For America United to truly work, he needs to go out of his way to represent the 74 million just as much as he represents the 81 million who elected him last November.

Sarah Elliott: Trump is acting unconstitutionally now – and is damaging our Republican Party – but has achieved much in office

8 Jan

Sarah Elliott is Chair of Republicans Overseas UK.

As Chair of Republicans Overseas UK for the last four years, I have regularly defended Donald Trump for his conservative agenda, his massive tax cuts and deregulatory efforts to stimulate the economy, being tough on China, his Supreme Court judicial picks, pro-life executive orders, growing the NATO war chest, and his international peace agreements.

Truly impressive for a first-term president, especially when under constant assault by a mainstream media, hellbent to get him out of the White House – even if it meant lying about “Russia collusion,” spying on his campaign, and pushing through a partisan impeachment. His record garnered him 12 million more votes than in 2016 – a total of 74 million in 2020.

However, I can no longer stand in support of his presidency.

The President’s incendiary rally yesterday directly resulted in a deadly attack on the US Capitol Building, but then he showed zero leadership in reining in his supporters or bringing peace to the People’s House, so I have no choice but to walk away. It was a direct attack on America’s democracy.

I didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 because I thought he was a left-wing New Yorker like Hillary Clinton, and I didn’t like his temperament. My initial instinct was right.

Trump clearly is no conservative and has no loyalty to his conservative legacy. He doesn’t care about the long-term damage he has done to the Republic and the Republican Party by insisting it was a “stolen” election, without proving so in any of his 60 courts cases, directly resulting in the loss of the two Georgia Senate seats. If he was a leader, a democrat and a conservative, he would have acted differently.

The Republican infighting between the President and Georgia GOP, and calling the run-off election “rigged” even before it happened, kept the Republicans home, and the Democrats came out in droves. Had the Republicans come out to vote, they would have won, keeping the Republican majority in the US Senate, creating a bulwark against tax hikes and liberal supreme court judicial nominees, while ensuring his accomplishments remained intact. Now, Trump’s legacy will be quickly unraveled over the next two years.

For Trump, he didn’t care what impact his behavior and rhetoric had on the Georgia election outcome as long as the two Georgia Senators agreed to the narrative that his election was fraudulent. Nor did he care that he incited a mob to storm the US Capitol building because he had gathered a huge crowd to rally around him in his final days in office. These are not actions of a person with the temperament to lead.

President Trump has let me down, and millions of other Republicans. And since I only support politicians who further my voting issues while keeping the peace and acting constitutionally, I don’t owe him any further loyalty.

What we shouldn’t forget is that there are still millions of Americans who feel disenfranchised by their elected officials, demonised by the media and “woke” culture, censored by social media companies, burdened by the lockdowns, taxes, and the inability to run their lives with limited government interference. They have legitimate concerns.

But I feel furious with how President Trump, and other aspirational Republicans politicians, have played on their disappointment with the election result to stir up their anger, further dividing the country, and resulting in the carnage and anarchy we witnessed on Wednesday evening.

As a card-carrying Republican, I believe in the rule of law, not insurrection or violence. Thanks to our brilliant Founding Fathers, we have institutions that allow us to make those changes to our country without force – look at the civil rights movement, for example.

On the 20th of January, Inauguration Day, I will be watching with my two young daughters, and I will begin to plant the seeds with my three year-old about democracy and the Constitution. The peaceful transfer of power after elections is an incredibly special occurrence, and one which we will no longer take for granted following the mayhem on Wednesday and President Trump’s behavior since November. I haven’t spoken out since the election, as I watched it play out, but now I can no longer remain silent.

Sarah Elliott: Biden might have won the US election, but Republican victories elsewhere will inhibit his presidency

9 Dec

Sarah Elliott is Chair of Republicans Overseas UK.

“The number one concern… was defunding the police. We need not ever use the words “socialist” or “socialism” again. And if we classify Tuesday as a success, from a congressional standpoint, we are going to get torn apart in 2022.”

These were the impassioned words said by Democratic House member, Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), on the Democratic House caucus post-mortem election call on November 5. Not exactly the high-fiving debrief you would expect after keeping control of the US House and beating one’s favourite foe, Donald Trump.

It’s because it wasn’t a slam-dunk victory night for the Democrats. There was no blue wave in the legislative races of the House of Representatives or the Senate. The best they achieved on election night 2020 was a Democratic president in the White House, but one who will find it exceptionally difficult to pass an agenda.

The GOP actually had a great night for the legacy of the party, future elections and solidifying the electability of conservative principles.

In the US House of Representatives, Republicans flipped 14 Democratic-held seats, did not lose a single incumbent seat, and only lost three races, with a couple still too close to call but the Republican is leading. The Democrats, who came into this election cycle with a lead of 36 seats (after having won 40 in the 2018 midterms), have only a narrow lead of five seats, all within the taking for the Republicans come the 2022 midterms, when it’s typical for the legislature to switch to the opposite party of the White House.

In the Senate, the Republicans were defending seats in more Democratic-leaning states, where most analysts felt they would lose their majority. But tight races such as Joni Ernst in Iowa, Tom Tillis in North Carolina and Susan Collins in Maine all went to the GOP. Senators Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell survived a tremendous fundraising blitz, each being outspent by $30 million, and yet they won decisively. And now with the two run-off Senate races in Georgia, the Republicans have a strong shot at maintaining control of the Senate.

For Republicans, the best case scenario in a Biden administration is to control the legislature and paralyse him as president.

What should also be noted is that the Republicans maintained 60 per cent of the state legislature races. It’s the first time since 1946 so few chambers have switched hands, and this is massively important when it comes to the redistricting of congressional districts, which will take place in the next year or so. With Republicans in control of most state legislatures, it means that they will be responsible for determining the boundaries for 175 districts, whereas the Democrats only 47. This has long-term consequences on future congressional contests.

Thus, this sets up the 2022 midterms nicely, especially since the Grand Ole Party is not as white, male and stale.

The incoming House GOP class is the most diverse freshman class for the Republicans in history. The majority of those who won are female, there are 18 (at least) new GOP women members, and every seat flipped is by either a woman, minority candidate, and or a veteran. Six to nine of them will be a BAME representative. There will be a total of 28 GOP women in the US House and nine GOP women Senators.

All of this reflects a concentrated effort by Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN), instigated by Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY). After the Democrats dramatically decreased the number of Republican women in Congress from 23 to 13 in 2018, and with the rise of “The Squad,” the very progressive-Left group of four House Democratic women (Omar, Talib, Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley), it was a wake-up call for Republicans.

Stefanik led the efforts in the 2018 midterms for female recruitment, and convinced 100 female candidates to run, but only one candidate made it through the primary. This motivated her to push the NRCC to get involved in the primary process, and make recruiting diverse women a priority for the party.

McCarthy followed her advice, and in an unprecedented move endorsed eleven female candidates during the primaries. The 2020 cycle saw ninety-four female GOP candidates through to the general election.

Political action committees (PACs) were set up to ensure the funding was there from the primary such as E-PAC, Winning for Women, RightNOW PAC and View PAC.

Now entering the halls of Congress in January are a Ukranian immigrant, the first female graduate from the military academy – the Citadel, single mothers, Greek and Cuban Americans, an Iranian American, and two South Korean immigrants. All Republican and all women.

Beth Van Duyane, a single mother of two, won her Dallas, Texas suburb seat even though it voted for Biden, and she was outspent by $1.5 million.

Maria Elvira Salazar, a former Spanish television broadcaster and daughter of Cuban refugees who fled Castro’s Cuba, flipped the Miami seat filled by Democratic-establishment representative Donna Shalala. Clinton won the district in 2016 by 20 points. Salazar ran on an anti-socialist and pro-America message.

Tony Gonzales, a Navy veteran, narrowly won a recount in the Texas-Mexican border district Texas-23, replacing the retiring African-American GOP representative Will Hurd. This district voted for Clinton in 2016, but with President Trump’s and Hurd’s endorsement, squeaked by with a win, despite being outspent by $4.2 million.

Young Kim and Michelle Steel are the first South Korean immigrants to serve in the US Congress, both women and both hail from California.

In California, the GOP won back four of the seven seats they lost to the Democrats in 2018. Representative elect Mike Garcia, a former Navy pilot and son of a Mexican immigrant, won a seat just north of Los Angeles, and David Valadao, a dairy farmer, reclaimed his seat that he lost two years prior.

These candidates were not just successful because of their stories, background, sex or ethnicities, but because of their message too. They are all staunchly conservative, anti-abortion, for securing the border, anti-socialist, for lowering taxes, and for keeping small businesses open during the pandemic. These messages worked with independents and Democrats alike.

When the Democratic message is “I’m not Trump,” to defund the police, keep the borders open and allow anyone in without due process, permit abortion up to the 38th-week, look at American history through race only, cancel anyone’s livelihood if they disagree with you, dissolve American energy independence, upend the American healthcare industry to a single-payer one, and not offer any new ideas except to tax, spend and keep your businesses shut, Democrats cannot expect to win. This is a good thing. These are bad ideas.

America is not a socialist country. We value our private property, our businesses, our country’s constitution, and our freedom. How refreshing to still see these values are appealing and electable across the party lines.

As Representative Spanberger said, socialism and defunding the police should never be uttered again. May that be the case and may all politicians take note.