So I give thanks for David French, and for Bill Kristol, who has taken plenty of incoming fire for pushing an independent Republican bid for the presidency. No, I don’t think this independent bid has a chance of winning the White House. But I do think David’s consideration of it sends a powerful message to Donald Trump: “You may have won the nomination, but you haven’t closed the deal. We’re already skeptical of your conversion, and we still want the Republican party to be the conservative party. We’d like to see the Democrats lose, but whether you win is less important to us than how you would govern. If you pivot to the left (as many of us suspect you will), we will not be along for the ride — and then you will lose. That’s fine with us because, if we have to deal with a wolf anyway, we’d rather it came as a wolf than clothed as one of us.”
Oh, and about that wolf. Most of the Republican rationalizations for supporting Trump are strategically flawed. It is common for Trump doubters to throw up their hands and say, “I’m not #NeverTrump because I’m #NeverHillary.” But what if Hillary is not the Democratic nominee? As we have noted this week, Mrs. Clinton’s troubles are mounting. Her polls are tanking: She is virtually tied with Trump nationally, there is a 50–50 chance she will suffer a humiliating loss to Bernie Sanders in the California primary, and a public sense is cementing that she is incorrigibly dishonest and may be guilty of serious crimes. If the FBI recommends that she be prosecuted, or if Democrats otherwise conclude that she could well lose a race against Trump they believe they should win, she could be pushed aside.
Let’s say you’ve been justifying your reluctant support for Trump by telling yourself, “Hillary is a crook. She broke the law on the e-mails. She compromised our national security. No matter how bad Trump is, she’s worse.” Okay . . . but what if the Democrats dump her and nominate Joe Biden? He is not a crook. He hasn’t broken any laws that we know of, much less exposed national-defense secrets to hostile foreign powers. What then? Isn’t the logic of your position that you’d abandon Trump if the Democrats came up with someone less corrupt?