Great news from Trump: I'm going to use things Bernie Sanders said against Hillary

Via the Free Beacon, why wouldn’t he? They’re both populist Democrats. They’re bound to agree on lots of things.

Hillary will repay this in spades, needless to say — Marco Rubio’s “con man” critique of Trump is bound to be near the top of her list — but it’s not a bad strategy for Trump to follow. Most Republicans will mindlessly support him no matter what policies he pushes in the general election. If he goes out there at the first debate and says that workers should own the means of production, well, that’s just proof of how blue-collar he is at heart, isn’t it? If you’ve got 40 percent of the vote locked up due to pure tribalism. why not try to find another 11 percent by pandering to fans of a guy who beat Hillary across the map this year preaching “democratic socialism”? Rant about Wall Street, demand a living wage, attack Hillary for being a corporate puppet (even as Trump inevitably starts collecting big checks from wealthy Republicans to fund a national campaign machine this fall) and let the chips fall where they may. If Trump was facing a charismatic candidate like Obama like this fall, I’d already be looking to 2020. Facing a weak, unlikable, scandal-burdened candidate like Hillary gives him a shot, though. Might as well kiss off whatever is left of the conservative movement and embrace class warfare as only a billionaire can. (Wait until Elizabeth Warren and Bernie himself eventually join Team Hillary and start unloading on Trump as a corrupt plutocrat.) Or at least, that would be the smart play. The way Trump’s talking here, he’s not going to go after class anxieties so much as Clinton’s “right to run” and her “bad judgment,” which seems like a not-so-great topic for a guy who’s declared corporate bankruptcy more than once, been a tabloid staple for 30 years and who’s said out loud that he’d issue illegal orders to the military. Maybe we should start talking about 2020 after all.

Interestingly, on the morning after Trump’s biggest win of the campaign, at a moment when their confidence in winning in November should be bursting, some Trump fans are looking past the general election too and preemptively blaming #NeverTrumpers for a defeat this fall. Huh. Don’t even want to wait to see what the margins are before deciding that anti-Trump Republicans were the cause, eh? Here’s the dirty little not-so-secret about #NeverTrump: It’s a niche movement. It’s chiefly a coalition of conservative activists and members of conservative media. Yes, granted, there are plenty of Republican voters who say in exit polls that they’ll never vote for Trump, but some polls show comparable numbers who say so for Cruz. There are always tons of dead-enders who vow in the midst of a bitter primary campaign that they won’t support the nominee and who end up doing so anyway. #NeverTrump could have been a force if Cruz had faded sooner, leaving Trump’s critics to look in earnest for a third-party challenger, but Cruz hung around long enough to make that difficult for purposes of ballot access. They’re reduced now to floating longer-than-longshot names like Gen. Mattis, who may not even be a conservative. If Trump loses, as he likely will, it won’t be because of #NeverTrump, it’ll be because he’s currently the most staggeringly unpopular major-party (likely) nominee in modern American political history. It was no small feat for Republican voters to start off with a field this big and talented and somehow find a guy who’s less popular than Hillary Clinton, but darned if Trumpers didn’t do it. If you want to blame someone for a looming blowout, blame the people who overlooked one general election poll after another and chose the guy who best channeled their rage. But most won’t do that. Trumpism is a nationalist movement, after all, and nationalist movements require scapegoats and stabbed-in-the-back narratives the way the human body requires blood. #NeverTrump is simply the most convenient scapegoat right now, a pretext for justifying the reorientation of the GOP as a non-conservative, and in some ways anti-conservative, vehicle. No wonder Trump’s eager to borrow from Bernie’s playbook.

Exit question: If, as seems likely, Gary Johnson emerges as the Libertarian Party nominee and therefore the main draw for committed #NeverTrumpers, could that actually come back to haunt Hillary? Like I say, the #NeverTrump vote will be small and almost certainly won’t matter given the probable size of Hillary’s victory, but you never know. A stock market dive or terrorist attack could produce a close race. Stranger things have happened. (Well, no. Nothing stranger than a Trump/Clinton race has ever happened.) In that case, Johnson siphoning off votes from Trump could be crucial for Hillary. But a true libertarian like him also risks attracting pockets of young voters who went all-in for Bernie and grew disillusioned with Hillary over the course of the Democratic primary. Right now she’s utterly destroying Trump among young voters, but she may need those wide margins to stay wide in order to hold onto a narrow victory overall. If Johnson lands a spot at the presidential debates spouting Sanders-esque rhetoric about breaking up the banks and legalizing drugs and protecting abortion rights, he may pick up a few anti-Hillary protest votes too, which would potentially neutralize Trump’s losses among anti-Trump righties. If you’re a #NeverTrumper who’s intent on blocking Trump from the White House at any cost, you’re better off with a dogmatic conservative with little appeal to the left as your third-party option than a heterodox figure like Johnson.

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