Peter Kalikow: Those who predict the demise of the party under Trump are missing something
He's energized GOP voters and can lead Republicans to victory, Kalikow says
Trump speaks to those who are fed up with establishment politics, Kalikow says
Editor’s Note: Peter Kalikow is a delegate to the Republican National Convention, and the president of H.J. Kalikow & Company, LLC, a major New York real estate firm. He and Donald Trump partnered on a proposed real estate deal in the late 1990s. He is the former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, former commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, past owner and publisher of the New York Post and most recently established the Peter S. Kalikow School of Government, Public Policy and International Affairs at Hofstra University. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
You can’t listen to the news these days without hearing about the impending demise of the Republican Party in America. The narrative goes something like this: Trump has been such a divisive force within the Republican Party that he will not only go down in flames in the general election, but also in the process destroy the 162-year-old party of Lincoln.
The corollary of this narrative is that Trump cares nothing about Republican Party unity and instead thumbs his nose at the party at any given opportunity. As a New York statewide delegate to the Republican Convention in July, and one who knows Donald Trump well, I must say this narrative is wrong and utterly inconsistent with the man I have known for many years.
Let’s remember that the Republican primary process fielded a lineup of extremely able candidates (I supported John Kasich in the primaries). The fact is that Donald Trump came out on top with 11 million primary votes and climbing to date, the most votes any Republican candidate for president has ever garnered in U.S. history.
It’s easy to gloss over this fact, but I commend those who subscribe to the “demise and devastation” theory to fully appreciate just what a number of that magnitude means. Trump didn’t steal the nomination: He earned it. And he did so by speaking to the issues and concerns Americans have today. I get it — he isn’t the traditional candidate of the Republican Party. But maybe it’s time that the Republican Party adopt more of Trump’s views of the political landscape, and with it, the millions of new voters he attracts.
And let’s not forget, failure to support Trump may not only mean loss of the presidency for our party, but could also translate into drastic consequences for control of the Congress. The Republican Party needs to unite behind Trump and spend our time contrasting our views with those of the Democrats. In the end, that is our best chance of winning the presidency and maintaining that all-important control of the Senate and House. We have seen what happens when all three branches are held by the Democrats and it isn’t pretty.
Trump has won because he speaks to those who are fed up with establishment politics. He addresses the deep-seated view of a majority of Americans who believe, with good reason, that our government in Washington caters more to the lobbyists on K Street than the people on Main Street. So, perhaps people are responding more to attitude today than just bland policy pronouncements, but it is attitude and leadership that we desperately need in this country.
And to be clear, Trump’s campaign is far from devoid of policy. He took the lead early in raising immigration as a pivotal issue for our country. On this one, the American people and Trump were ahead of the curve. And, while I do have concerns with certain elements of his immigration proposal, especially mass deportations, a lot of his plan makes sense.
The fact is that a nation without borders is not a nation and we must have real barriers to entry and meaningful enforcement. His plan to implement a real nationwide e-verify system will help stem illegal immigration and assist U.S. workers. Trump correctly believes that criminal aliens should be returned to their homelands, not returned to the streets of America. And, along similar lines, there must be severe consequences for cities that defy the federal government’s immigration enforcement efforts.
Trump is a successful businessman who understands what a simplified tax system that lowers taxes on job-creating businesses and individuals can do for America. He also understands the crippling ramifications of Obamacare on the U.S. economy and would repeal and replace it with a much more market-driven system that allows competition to bring down health care premiums and puts the patient at the center of his or her health care decisions.
One more thing needs to be emphasized, and it is something critically important for us all to understand. Trump prides himself on being a terrific “negotiator,” and I know this personally to be the case. Unlike the current occupant of the White House, where it is government by executive order or, to put it more crassly, “his way or the highway,” Trump will sit down and by the power of persuasion negotiate with the Congress and other stakeholders. He will confer with them and come up with a solution that works for all. Now, after all, isn’t that what our democracy is supposed to be all about? Government by consensus, not fiat.
I am a Republican who likes to win races, and for all these reasons, we all need to get behind Donald Trump. Let’s face it. What unites us as Republicans is far greater than what divides us from the more left-leaning policies of the Democratic Party. While acknowledging our differences, we can unite behind the candidacy of Donald Trump and change the direction of this country for the better.
Peter Kalikow is a delegate to the Republican National Convention, and the president of H.J. Kalikow & Company, LLC, a major New York real estate firm. He and Donald Trump partnered on a proposed real estate deal in the late 1990s. He is the former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, former commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, past owner and publisher of the New York Post and most recently established the Peter S. Kalikow School of Government, Public Policy and International Affairs at Hofstra University. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.