Things are still a bit raw among the conservative base of GOP primary voters (to put it mildly) but on the morning after Ted Cruz suspended his campaign and effectively established Donald J. Trump as the nominee, we’re going to be forced to deal with some of the realities which are settling in like a hangover experienced the morning after a particularly raucous party. We have a contingent of people in the GOP base who, for better or worse, were animated in their opposition to our presumptive 2016 candidate to a degree which dwarfed the normal internecine scrimmage we experience during every primary season. We know them collectively as the #NeverTrump movement thanks to our obsession with social media and hashtags. It is to the regular voters who found some level of appeal in this effort, rather than the traditional thought leaders who have driven the movement on Twitter, Facebook and the pages of respected conservative outlets, that I address these comments.
It was a hard fought battle based in large part on principles which we should all be able to admire. I have repeatedly criticized the decision to base such an effort on damaging one of the Republican hopefuls rather than focusing on promoting the strengths and advantages of the alternative you prefer, but it’s been a particularly heated contest so that’s still understandable to a degree. But now we’ve reached the effective, if not official end of the road and the movement has failed to stop Mr. Trump from taking the GOP banner forward. With that, we need to seriously consider the true threat to the future of conservative goals and focus our attention on a far more important movement. That would be a commitment to #NeverHillary.
No sooner had the microphones been shut off at the Cruz rally last night than I saw some of the predictable proclamations in my Twitter timeline about how this isn’t over, and never means never and all the rest. These fell into two categories. The first – and thankfully much smaller – group were the traditionally conservative voices who suddenly flew an #ImWithHer hashtag, indicating that they now planned to vote for Hillary Clinton. Some of you may have sobered up overnight and thought better of those ill considered comments. As for the rest, I don’t know what to say about you other than I hope we can rejoin forces once the election is over.
Unfortunately there is a bit of a shell game being played by some of the more angry #NeverTrump activists. They are still claiming to be #NeverHillary in spirit and holding on to a fig leaf of aruging that they are acting in the best interest of conservatism by either not voting for President at all or pushing for a largely fictional third party effort at this late date. Since Republicans and conservatives generally love science and math more than their counterparts on the Left, allow me to offer my rebuttal in the form of a venn diagram.
This is the long and the short of it, as unpleasant as it may be to see. As of the moment that Ted Cruz conceded the battle to Donald Trump, there is no area of intersection between #NeverHillary and #NeverTrump. As long as those opposing both Trump and Hillary Clinton were pushing for a Republican alternative, both camps could find some common ground. But with the final contestants effectively determined, the two are mutually exclusive. Any traditional conservative who fails to vote in the general election is adding one vote to Hillary Clinton’s foundation as she attempts to build her way to 271. And anyone who actually casts a vote for her is, in practical terms, adding two votes for the woman. (It’s just math, which we can cover at a later date if you like.)
Sure, I’ve seen conservatives I consider friends and thoughtful allies trying to make arguments to the contrary, such as this comment from Amy Curtis this morning.
While I fully understand the emotion behind the statement, it’s simply untrue in the cold light of day. And for the vast majority of traditional conservatives and Right leaning moderates and independents out there it’s not going to ring true at all. That’s why I began this piece stating that I hope to reach out to the armies of rank and file voters rather than the vocal thought leaders who have been the primary drivers of the #NeverTrump movement. I understand that there may be too much water under the bridge for many of the latter group. Loud and decisive pronouncements have been made and oaths sworn, likely to the point where they feel they can no longer publicly change course. Whether that comes from a sense of pride, stubbornness or misplaced conviction really doesn’t matter. I get it, and I have no intention of holding it against you. But for everyone else who has to walk into those voting booths in November, consider your choices carefully because there’s a lot on the line.
The much maligned GOP leadership in Congress has expended political capital and placed some marginal Senate seats at risk to stave off a SCOTUS appointment by Barack Obama. Before deciding on a course of action which can’t be undone, I’m asking you to not make that bold stand irrelevant and open the door to the replacement of Antonin Scalia and potentially Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy with Merrick Garland and some youthful, ideological clones of Elizabeth Warren, Rachel Maddow and DeRay McKesson.
Yes, there are plenty of reasons to doubt or criticize Donald Trump and fret over the future with him in the White House. For those who question The Donald’s sincerity in the plans he has put forward, you may rightly say that you have no idea what he will do if he gets into office. But we know without a doubt what Hillary Clinton will do. She tells us every day and I have no reason to doubt her. You may be kept awake at night wondering who Trump would consider appointing to the Supreme Court. It’s a fair question. But we know the type of people Hillary will put in place and they will be there for a generation. We don’t know what sort of tax legislation or other laws Donald Trump will throw his weight behind, but he still doesn’t get to write any legislation. Congress must lift the pen, and if we maximize the number of people who not only vote for Trump, but continue to check all of those “R” boxes further down the ballot, they will continue to be the ones holding the pen. There is virtually no area of policy where Donald Trump might go astray where Hillary Clinton can be rationally expected to produce a better result.
Donald Trump is one man and he doesn’t hold the power to “ruin conservatism” for generations to come or even for a single day. It’s the voters who define what that means, and if your conservatism is so flimsy that it can be undermined by failing to put your chosen primary candidate in as the nominee in a single election then it wasn’t very strong to begin with. And as for the argument that “the polls show” that Trump can’t beat Clinton, you are the ones who can turn those predictions into a self-fulfilling prophesy or confound them.
Look… I’m not without sympathy for those who are severely disappointed. As I’ve said in the past, Donald Trump wasn’t my first choice. Hell, he probably wasn’t my fourth or fifth choice. But this is the horse we’ve been given to ride into battle and the war is coming whether you’d wish it or not. It’s up to you whether or not you cede the battlefield uncontested or fight to the very last. If you are out there working to get Hillary Clinton elected you are no longer representing or supporting conservatism. You are forming a fifth column offensive against the very principles you claim to support. I endorsed Ted Cruz, but also said that I would support the eventual GOP nominee because keeping Hillary Clinton out of the White House is more important than everything else we’ve just discussed here. The events of last night haven’t changed my stance in that regard at all.