…[W]ith a third candidate comes a spokesman for sane conservatism, a voice to repeat over and over again that Trump does not speak for conservatives and center-right voters of good conscience and sturdy principles. Without an actual candidate, whatever drivel Trump is peddling gets labeled as “Republican” or worse, “conservative.” A third candidate is designed to relegate Trump to the fringe, where he belongs.
A third candidate is also essential to help repair political discourse, which has sunk lower and become more vulgar and hateful than we ever imagined. The country as a whole badly needs someone to model respectful but forceful argumentation, to demand that candidates stick to the facts (since too many in the media won’t do their job), to demonstrate that dignity does not denote weakness and to call out rank bigotry, misogyny and cruelty. The character of the candidate is therefore as or more critical than his brand of conservatism or stance on specific issues. In fact, his or her presence would reassert that rhetoric and ideology are subservient to character, something that has eluded both Democrats and Republicans. Conservatism, if nothing else, must come to represent an approach to politics — rational, tolerant, well-measured and hopeful.
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