A leftover from Thursday via the Daily Rushbo. Honest uestion: How many actual #NeverTrumpers will there be in the House Republican caucus next year? Don’t say Paul Ryan. Ryan’s not a #NeverTrumper but rather the opposite, a guy who clearly disdains Trump and his politics but won’t yank his endorsement because the party comes before whatever personal objections he may have. Until the “Access Hollywood” tape dropped, in fact, Ryan was set to campaign with Trump in Wisconsin. Who else? I’d call Scott Rigell and Reid Ribble #NeverTrumpers, but Rigell and Ribble have something important in common — they’re both retiring this year. There were no political consequences to them for bucking the party by opposing Trump. There are a few others, like Bob Dold and Carlos Curbelo, who’ll (hopefully) be back in Congress next year and have resisted Trump, but they have special circumstances too. Dold is running for reelection in a very blue district; Curbelo’s district is heavily Latino, a group among which Trump polls especially terribly. The number of Republicans in Congress who oppose Trump and who stand to pay an actual price politically for doing so can probably be counted on one hand. (Offhand the only one I can think of is Nebraskan Ben Sasse. Trump is sufficiently unpopular in Utah that Mike Lee’s seeing no cost at all to his Trump antipathy.)
After 16 months of nearly the entire national Republican leadership, from Congress to the statehouses to the RNC, falling in line behind Trump with varying degrees of enthusiasm, what further evidence do you need that these people will never be bold enough to oppose him, let alone impeach him? Even some of the few Republicans who did find the nerve to dump him at one point, like Jason Chaffetz, came crawling back afterward once they realized that their political futures might be damaged by the move. If you’re a Trump fan, let this be your consolation on Tuesday night if he falls short of 270: Your party’s leadership is terrified of you and views themselves (correctly) as your hostages for as long as there’s some sort of “movement” cohesion holding you together. Evan McMullin explained the dynamic well in an interview with RCP:
A PowerPoint presentation … included a slide that read, simply, “47 percent,” a figure well known to those in the room as the share of Republican primary votes won by Trump.
“They thought that was evidence of, it’s not a majority who are supporting Trump, therefore we can reform [the GOP],” McMullin said. “But the reality is, having been on the inside of this, I know that even if the support for Donald Trump was 30 percent or 25 percent, that’s enough to control who’s the speaker of the House, it’s enough to create major havoc in policymaking. It’s a big deal.”
“Forty-seven percent means you can’t make change,” McMullin added. “It means you can’t reform the party while keeping the party together.”
The prospect of Trump’s voters exiting en masse from the GOP, at Trump’s direction or under their own initiative, is the terror that explains every move Republican leaders have made this year. Reince and the RNC were never going to dump him because Reince knew that Trump could always retaliate by asking his voters not to vote Republican downballot. Even if only a quarter of them followed his instructions, that’d be enough to hand Democrats a large Senate majority. Needless to say — but I guess it does need to be said, per Rush here — if Trump became president all of these effects would be amplified. It wouldn’t just be his core voters who’d rush to support him in everything he does, it’d be most of the Republican electorate. That’s how party tribalism works. If Priebus thought cutting Trump loose as nominee would wreck the party, imagine what having the Republican House debating impeachment would do — especially with President Trump using his megaphone to attack them daily. Mona Charen:
Should we elect him and then impeach if necessary? Who, exactly, would we trust to do that – this crowd of Republicans who (with a few laudable exceptions) have fallen into line for him? What would he have to do to merit impeachment if his thousands of offenses did not merit censure, a much lower bar? No, once elected, there will be very few checks on Trump. It’s Clinton who should fear impeachment — which might be the best we can hope for at this dismal, dispiriting moment.
Impeaching Hillary has its own difficulties: The Senate is likely to be Democratic and the endless howling about “sexism” would give Republicans pause. But in the end, they’d have a unified party behind them in moving against Clinton. Politically, the only question would be whether there are enough independents and persuadable Democrats who are upset with Hillary to make impeachment salable before the next election. Impeaching Trump is an entirely different matter. Barring overwhelming evidence of an offense so egregious that the party basically has to impeach him, any move made by House Republicans against Trump would rip the GOP in half, shattering its chances in the next election and probably ending it as a functioning political entity. They’d never risk it, unless Trump really did do something as brazen as shooting the proverbial bystander on Fifth Avenue — and given how things have gone this year, probably not even then. The irony of Rush worrying about #NeverTrumpers scheming to depose Trump once he’s president is that most #NeverTrumpers believe devoutly that congressional Republicans would never find the balls to stand up to him. Impeachment would be off the table no matter how crazy things get; that’s why #NeverTrumpers don’t want to see him elected in the first place. He won’t be checked, certainly not by the House and almost certainly not by the Senate once it’s controlled by Republicans again in 2019. But Rush, as usual, is a step ahead on the chessboard and knows that there’s a “dolchstoss” phase coming if Trump falls short on Tuesday night, which remains the probable outcome, so he’s adding a little fuel to the engine here. There are practically no #NeverTrumpers in Congress and the rest wouldn’t dare cross Trump once he’s gained power, but sure, they’re plotting to stab him in the back. That’s what traitors do, right?