What seems to most vex critics of the anti-anti-Trump contingent (and I am mentioned in the Atlantic piece) is that conservatives aren’t appropriately agitated about the world that liberals see — a world that has turned out to be far less apocalyptic in the early going than they imagine. But if it’s a zero-sum choice they’re offering, that includes picking Neil Gorsuch over Planned Parenthood; tax cuts over teachers unions; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Iran’s Holocaust deniers; deregulation of the bureaucratic state over legislation, or forcing progressive cultural mores on everyone. And so on.
As Matt Lewis pointed out today, for example, many former free traders are now embracing the protectionist, big-government policies of Trumpism. This is the kind of capitulation many fiscal conservatives feared. Again, the problem is that for free traders, Democrats are as just bad. In fact, the popularity of protectionism among populist movements on left and right is so strong, there’s a good argument that the only way to possibly counteract it is by electing more conservatives to Congress.
The average Resistance fighter might dislike Trump. They hate conservatism. By treating even the most milquetoast, run-of-the-mill cabinet nominee as Worst Thing That Has Ever Happened to America, The Resistance gives conservatives the space to defend long-standing political positions such as school choice, immigration enforcement, and deregulation. I imagine many Republicans would happily hand over the scalp of more Michael Flynns if it meant creating a more stable and experienced administration. But they also understand that people who treat DeVos like a bigger threat to the republic than Steve Bannon will never be placated. Those who spend weeks after the election acting like the Electoral College was some kind trick pulled on the country are not interested in “rule of law.” They’re interested in Democrats.