The Secret to Unifying the Republican Party

In the past week, I’ve written two articles about Donald Trump.

In the first, I encouraged Republicans to vote for Trump because a Hillary Clinton presidency would be disastrous. In the second, I argued that the GOP Convention was not successful because it didn’t unify the party, articulate a clear message, or do enough to bring undecideds into the Trump camp.

In response to the former article, some Republicans called me a traitor. In response to the latter, another set of Republicans called me a traitor.

An article supportive of Trump and an article critical of Trump result in equal outcry from different sides of the party. In the Republican Party, you’re damned if you support him, and damned if you don’t.

Go figure.

It didn’t actually start with Trump, but a divisive tone within the party has reached a feverish pitch in this election cycle. Republicans are more divided than I’ve ever seen us. It leads me to wonder if there really is any chance the GOP can ever again be unified.

It can be done. But it will not be easy.

My pastor used to tell this story and it helps illustrate the point:

A man marooned on a deserted island was rescued after many years. Looking up to the edge of a cliff, the rescuers saw three bamboo huts. They knew the man had been alone on the island, so they were confused.
They asked the man, “What are those three huts on the edge of the cliff?”
The man replied, “The middle hut is where I live. And the hut on the right is where I go to church.”
“Then what is the hut on the left?” they asked.
The man replied, “That’s where I used to go to church.”

In the name of conservative gospel, Republicans tend to find ways to divide themselves. Some Republicans require complete conformity with their own personal flavor of conservativism, labeling and ostracizing those who disagree.

The labels are used to control other Republicans. The RINO label is one such example. In my estimation, if you vote Republican, you are not a “Republican In Name Only,” you are a Republican in name and deed.

It’s time we showed each other a little respect. Let’s not be so insecure in our own beliefs that we can’t bear to hear differing opinions.

Unity is not conformity of thought. Unity is not the absence of disagreement. If that is our standard, unity never will be attainable.

Instead, unity is a conscious union to achieve a common goal. Unity in the context of the GOP exists when we come together, despite some differences of opinion to elect Republicans.

The secret to achieving unity then, is to respect each other’s differences and see them as the strengths they are.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always felt that independent thought was a strength of Republicans, not a weakness. Republicans are not monolithic. We are not interchangeable commodities.

We should encourage independent thought, not stifle it.

Since when are Republicans afraid to debate issues? Aren’t our individual convictions strong enough to handle a challenge?

If Aristotle was right — that the mark of an educated mind is to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it — then let’s entertain a few thoughts.

If we respect each other’s opinions, especially when we don’t agree with them, we Republicans might just learn a thing or two, be more unified, and elect more of us in the process.

Back to the parable of the man marooned on the deserted island — let’s stop making more huts and instead learn to live together in the hut we have, disagreements and all.

Maybe Republicans won’t need rescuing after all.

Originally published on Quorum Report on July 25, 2016. Wade Emmert is the former Chairman of the Dallas County Republican Party.