Lisa Fritsch ran in the Republican primary for Governor of Texas in 2014. She finished second against Greg Abbott as a first time political candidate.

by Lisa Fritsch

headshot.lisafritsch.transparentI was a state-level Donald Trump. In 2014, when I ran a primary campaign for Governor of Texas, I was an outsider, party loyalist, and a first-time political candidate who became fed up with a lack of leadership, direction, vision, and concern for the lives and purpose of everyday people outside of the network. I got tired of being told who to vote for and of already knowing who was next in line to run for which office and when. And finally, I got tired of seeing no one who looked like me at all in the room or at the table, let alone at the head of it.

You may not want to hear this, but Donald Trump is the best thing that could have happened to the Republican Party. This article isn’t about agreeing with Donald Trump or his positions, but rather defending his turf as the rightful Republican frontrunner — because his approach fits so well with their crooked tactics and denigrating philosophy towards outsiders, both social and political.

When you see the Republican Party and their party insiders trying to undermine voters by rigging delegate votes against Donald Trump with a contested convention, you might think, extreme times call for extreme measures. Wrong. Maybe you think the Republican Party establishment’s feverish #nevertrump backlash is because they are ashamed of Donald Trump, repulsed by what he’s said, or offended/worried that his views are damaging the party. You would be wrong again.

First, the Republican Party is not at all offended by anything Trump has said. I’ve heard worse on the campaign trail and behind closed doors. In fact, had they known they could get away with what he has said, let alone build a movement behind it, they would have beaten him to the punch. The truth is, the Republican Party is scared to death of what Donald Trump has accomplished in spite of them. His success as an outsider candidate exposes the people’s vigorous rejection of the usual Republican Party candidates and positions. His election would be the death of a massive establishment gravy train sponsored by special interests, lobbyists, and ridiculous amounts of private donor cash. A true outsider such as Donald Trump coming in would mean a collapse of their entire system and network.

Like Donald Trump, I’d been a Republican most of my adult life. As a conservative, I identified as a Republican. Though I was parting ways with their stances, I chose to run as a Republican rather than an Independent, not wanting to be seen as a hypocrite. A big mistake. Turns out more than a decade of endorsing candidates, advocating for Republican policies and issues, and consulting with conservative candidates to help get them elected didn’t make me an insider in their eyes or an approved candidate.

Our messages were not similar. Trump and I have different takes on all issues. But, what we have in common is that we dared take on the Republican establishment machine without the expressed permission and endorsement of anyone within the party.

Unlike Trump, I was not a billionaire able to self-fund my campaign, and was thus far less threatening to the Republican Party. Despite this, the party — who had embraced and loved me before as a speaker at rallies, meetings, and fundraisers — suddenly did everything they could to block our campaign. I was not invited to speak at important party events. Vital information and resources were withheld. Campaign materials were stolen, defaced, and trashed at Republican Party headquarters where we signed to make our campaign official. Party insiders tried to pretend our campaign did not exist and any evidence that it did was met with resistance and backlash. Despite more than a decade as a public advocate and professional conservative talk show host, rumors circulated that I was an operative of the Obama machine running to weaken the presumptive nominee and help the other side: a paranoia that a black conservative can’t really be trusted. After all, at the end of the day, they’re still black first.

If the Republican Party was this threatened by a candidate with limited resources and name recognition, one can understand the hell they’ve been putting Donald Trump through. And before you say, “He deserves it,” I’m here to tell you they would do the same to you, your wife, your son, or your daughter should any of you have the nerve to step out of your place and challenge their corrupt system and good ol’ boys.

I struggled after the campaign to articulate what I’d seen and experienced. I didn’t know how to explain why I was no longer a Republican or a conservative without sounding bitter, angry or whiny. I’d wished there was some way people could know for themselves what it’s like to step into the arena with a group of entitled, rich, powerful, egotistical, and self-righteous white men who believe they are the only ones in the world deserving of opportunity, government handouts, and a seat at the table. But, thanks to Donald Trump’s campaign (they never thought he had a chance; after all, they have a system) everyone can see the Republican Party’s temper tantrum and their establishment candidates for themselves. It’s less about Donald Trump, more an unveiling and unraveling of a network and a system that by design fails the people, keeping us in a cycle of electing greedy fat-cats and frat boys dressed up with fancy words, fine suits, and family pedigree.

People like to think Donald Trump brought the election to a new low. That he encouraged a nasty and vicious tone. Welcome to your Republican leadership: unchained, unfiltered, out of control and “Punk’d” by the success of the Trump campaign. The Trump campaign has merely revealed the stress fractures of the party and unmasked the candidates’ true natures.

Not many people have the privilege to run for a public office, let alone Governor of their state. As someone who has witnessed and experienced this first hand, I feel an obligation to share what I know to be true. First, are the candidates as insecure and maniacal as you are being shown nationally? Yes. Is the rhetoric this nasty and divisive on a daily basis? Yes. Is it completely about money, position, lobbyists rather than the people, ideas, and inclusion? Yes. Unfortunately, your average politician cares only about raising money to be re-elected for the very next election so that they can raise more money. They care about being on the right committees to position themselves better to raise more money to be re-elected, to get more power and therefore an even better, more powerful committee seat so that the process can continue until they are hopefully on top and headed for an even more powerful office. Donald Trump is a threat to this cycle. Their very livelihoods are on the line.

Now, here is what the Republican establishment wants you to believe about #nevertrump, followed by the truth.

Trump can’t beat Hillary

Well, surely they are worried about Trump in a general against Hillary, you reason. I doubt they care about that. By their calculations it is better for Hillary to win than for Trump to come in and disrupt their party. The #nevertrump movement is an indication that they’d rather have Democrats win than not have an approved candidate (i.e. a fraternity brother) run in the general election. Besides, a Hillary win gives them another four years to complain, blame and raise money to fight the immoral and baseless progressives. It’s still a win for them long-term.

Trump is inexperienced

Politics should be about a fine character and a desire to represent all people justly and honorably. One does not need to be a career politician to successfully lead their constituency or state. Any form of experience where integrity, humility, diligence and good judgement have been displayed is enough experience to make sound decisions as a principled people’s representative. Politicians would like all us regular folks to think only the finely educated, well-bred, or politically established are qualified to do this. An experienced oral surgeon, oncologist, attorney, real estate agent. Yes. But usually, experience in politics = corruption and selling out. And because they have built a system where we have accepted this to be true for so long, the establishment will never accept an outsider. Yet the only way to get inside is ugly and unbecoming of what a decent and sane human being is born to be. When people ask me why I didn’t start at a lower office and work my way up, I tell them it is because by the time you’d get there, you couldn’t possibly be the same person you were going in. Heading straight to the top is actually the only way to dismantle the corruption and cronyism beneath you. It is the only way to encourage other outsiders to get in the game.

Ted Cruz is an outsider

Trump vs CruzTed Cruz was never the real outsider he purported himself to be. It’s taken him nearly 20 years on the inside (Harvard, as a Bush operative, working as Solicitor General in Texas, scouting the right office) to get that outsider swagger down. Make no mistake, he is and always has been one of them. In pandering for delegates outside of voter will, Ted Cruz is going back to what he knows and does best. Gimmicks, tricks, and tomfoolery. Sure, “the rules” allow him these maneuvers but also his tactics give a keen insight into what the party has truly become. A self-interested party deluded with the notion that the ends justify the means come hell or high water. We can hardly be surprised after all that Cruz is trying to disenfranchise voter will by rallying underground delegates for the nomination(though it is a long shot). Just like his WWF stunt in 2013 on the Senate floor, it’s a con. Cruz performed his Dr. Seuss filibuster, knowing full well it was a futile effort only good for grandstanding, in order to get him to where he is today — with enough name recognition to run for President of the United States as an inexperienced junior senator (a crime Cruz mercilessly accused an “inexperienced” Obama of in 2008). Never mind the impact of our credit ranking or how the economy could have gone up in flames because of his stunt. Today’s Republican Party and its leaders, like Ted Cruz, aren’t bothered if the people and the country go up in flames so long as they’re in power when it happens.

Sometimes I wish I’d campaigned like Donald Trump for the causes I believe in. Perhaps I could have been cruel and cutthroat in challenging the party and their choice candidates on their policies regarding women, equal pay, and abortion. I could have garnered media attention and much-needed financial backing by calling out a disabled candidate for his cruel and dishonorable policies towards the disabled and disenfranchised. But to do so would have required a level of mudslinging and denigration for which I have no tolerance. Trump apparently has this tolerance (and a good dry cleaner since we know it’s impossible to throw mud on someone else without getting it on yourself) and I applaud him at least for exposing the political process for the sham and shame it has become. Somebody had to.

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Lisa Fritsch is an author and speaker on social and political strategies that advocate for the underrepresented. For the last fifteen years, she has canvassed these very issues as a writer, talk radio show host, and political commentator on television and radio. The mission of her work and messages is to inspire others to create a world where all have the power and promise to rise up and step into the fullness of their humanity. Visit her website: Her latest ebook, The Freedom to Be the Angry Black Woman, is available here.

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