Conservatives seeking to deny Donald Trump the Republican Party’s presidential nomination might fail, but it won’t be for lack of trying. These conservatives have attacked him from every conceivable angle, including with a variety of No True Scotsman-like claims meant to convince GOP primary voters that Trump is actually a pro-choice, single-payer-loving liberal in disguise.
In part because Trump is most popular among less-ideological Republican voters who don’t value philosophical purity, and in part because he is both affectively and positionally very conservative, with influential conservative celebrity backers, this genre of anti-Trump criticism has largely failed. At best, it may have succeeded in putting a not-terribly-low ceiling on his support.
But “Trump is liberal” is one of the only arguments conservatives can make that doesn’t implicate their movement in embarrassing ways or risk harming the party in the general election. One of the #NeverTrump crusade’s great ironies is that in trying to stop a candidate they perceive as an imposter, conservatives have embraced liberal assumptions and lines of attack that they would normally decry as baseless or risible.