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Feehery: To move past Trump, Republicans have to think local

Feehery: To move past Trump, Republicans have to think local
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Covid killed the Trump presidency.

It destroyed the economy. It radicalized activists on both the left and the right. It fundamentally altered our election system, to the advantage of the Democrats. It shredded the Constitution. It weakened trust between states and within states. It hurt the Trump campaign with seniors. And it hurt school children of all ages.

President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE was ill-suited to handle the Covid crisis. He doesn’t have the required empathy gene. He didn’t understand how to manage the bureaucracy. He was impulsive. The media hated him. He made questionable claims that were immediately attacked by members of his own team. He left the major decisions to governors who had a vested interest in seeing him fail. And he didn’t have the patience to offer day-to-day management.

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Covid also exposed a fundamental weakness in our governing structure: The State has too much power to restrain liberty and destroy lives, all in the name of health care. It gave rise to petty tyrants who shut down churches but kept the local Walmart open, who shut down playgrounds and schools, but turned a blind eye when protestors destroyed and looted small businesses, who closed down family-owned restaurants but allowed the fast-food franchises to keep serving their happy meals.

Republicans wonder how to heal the party, post-Trump.

The answer is: Go local.

Tell the activists to stop about Q-Anon and start focusing on school board elections.

If you really care about the kids, get them back to school. Don’t allow the teacher unions to continue to ruin public education in this country.

Put forward candidates for mayor who will credibly fight for freedom. Join with restaurant owners and bartenders, youth sports coaches and parents of athletes, gym owners and barbershop proprietors, and create a coalition of those who never want this country to shut down again.

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Find candidates who will run for sheriff with the promise that they aren’t going to close down churches or clamp down on freedom.

And make sure that you don’t allow politicians to get away with rank hypocrisy.

No more eating at the French Laundry while you ban others from eating inside. No more politicians telling their constituents to not travel, on their way to their time-share in Cabo. No more school superintendents keeping their schools closed as they travel to St. Barts.

Republicans have some opportunities coming up.

Gavin Newsome risks getting recalled in California.

No governor has done a worse job of handing the Covid crisis. He was the first to clamp down, but a lot of good that did his state. Now, after almost a solid year of shut-downs, the Covid fire is completely out of control. His efforts have been a complete disaster.

If Republicans can put forward a credible, freedom-loving alternative to Newsom, they will show the world how to stop left-wing authoritarianism.

Virginia and New Jersey also present opportunities for the GOP.

Luckily for the Democrats, Ralph Northam can’t run again. He has been an embarrassment from Day One, and he almost got himself recalled because of a blackface incident from his college days. When it comes to Covid, Northam famously took selfies on the beach without his mask on during the height of the crisis, and then promptly issued a mask-mandate the day after he got caught with his mask down.

It won’t be Northam that will drive Republicans to an election victory. It will be the incompetence of school administrators in D.C.s’ collar counties. They bungled the online education experience and then refused to open up the schools, despite all evidence that school children don’t transmit the virus.

In New Jersey, the current governor, Phil Murphy famously said that the Bill of Rights never crossed his mind as he shut down his state economy to fight the Covid crisis. But Murphy’s anti-small business attitude has led to a 10 percent unemployment rate in the state, which makes him vulnerable to a challenge from an energized Republican base.

To move past Trump, Republicans need to think local. They have three good opportunities in 2021.

Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at www.thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).