If you cannot even make the ballot, how serious is this movement?

On Monday one time conservative pundit Bill Kristol delivered an unintentional admission of sorts. In thinking he was making a wise retort to the manufactured outrage from CNN over the ‘’controversial’’ comments made by Senator Martha McSally towards a CNN reporter Kristol actually stepped on a rake. ‘’If it’s liberal,’’ said Kristol in a tweet, ”to hold public officials in our liberal democracy accountable for doing their job, then I guess I’m liberal.’’

This led to an avalanche of responses from the public that stated the obvious; those on the right declared he has been a liberal for some time, and those on the left welcomed him warmly to their side. Neither of those reactions helped at all to bolster the claim that drives his latest media outlet, The Bulwark — he in no way appears to be ‘’conserving conservatism’’. This has led to the slow unraveling of the so-dubbed Never-Trump movement.

The latest example of this crowd that is planting a flag to defend an island that is not being contested comes from the proposed opponents to President Trump in the upcoming election. Two deluded candidates who desired to oppose Trump in the primary — Joe Walsh and Bill Weld — have been incapable of gaining anything resembling traction with right-leaning voters. Thirty states have already had their deadlines pass to file papers to be included in primary ballots; Weld has missed a dozen of those, while Walsh failed to qualify in over half of them. As a former politician from Illinois, it is telling Walsh did not even file in that state.

While the challenging tandem of Walsh-Weld may not be directly or even verbally supported by the NT leadership, their abject inability to even generate the slightest interest underscores the lack of gravity behind the movement. Along with Kristol the louder voices from the Never Trump contingent — Charlie Sykes, Max Boot, and GOP operative Rick Wilson — all seem to show the same characteristics, more so than just all sharing the desire to appear on non-conservative outlets like CNN and MSNBC.

These names broadcast their messaging under the guise of the preservation of conservatism standards, yet their actual messages never seem to promote conservative values. Their position on any given issue begins and ends with one man — Donald Trump. If he says it, they oppose it. Conservatism needs to be invoked. The most prime example would be the way Kristol lent his verbal support of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, following critical comments from the president. Not only a sitting Democrat, Northam was mired in a racist blackface scandal and had been on the public airwaves promoting infanticide in his stern support of abortion. Yet Kristol dares declare others are not true conservatives.

For his part Boot has exposed his vacuous conservative standards as well. Following the 2018 midterms, Max came out and decried the state of the GOP under Trump, pointing at the gains made by Democrats that election. Max became intemperate with me when on Twitter I noted how in the days ahead of the election he had come out to declare Republicans should vote in support of Democrat candidates. How could he possibly bemoan a result he had blatantly promoted? When I next challenged him on not lending support to new-arriving GOP candidates to displace those he disapproved of he gave a wan excuse about there not being any viable alternatives. So he resorts to promoting distinctly non-conservative liberal candidates, then voices outrage when those people in fact won their races.

What Boot failed to absorb is that if he, and the other default-opposers of Trump, were truly voicing the feelings of a huge contingent of conservative voters then there would be an undercurrent demand for the alternatives. Here we are given not one but two options apart from the president, and neither one can manage more than becoming a forgotten trivia answer.

Even if the NT crowd wants to say they never did actually support Walsh nor Weld, it is noteworthy that no other motivated names are being brought forth by this group. Boot and Company can decry the lack of alternative conservative options in the voting booth, but that verbal declaration has a quiet admission to it. They may claim to be promoting an alternative view, but the very fact that few are driven to take up their cause speaks louder.

Kristol, and others, meekly making announcements of becoming liberal minds my be less of a strategic move than one resulting of no other options.