The neoconservatives of the 1970s, former liberals who became Nixon or Reagan backers, eventually accepted the “neocon” description instead of calling themselves “The Real New Deal Democrats” forever. And for an important part of the NeverTrump movement a similar shift may happen, so that within a few years figures like Rubin will just identify as centrist Democrats or left-libertarians or “neo-neoliberals” or some other term that’s yet to be invented.
This expectation doesn’t apply to many NeverTrumpers. It doesn’t fit Reaganite Trump-skeptics who hate the president’s temperament but have been pleasantly surprised by his judicial appointments and tax cuts, or younger, heterodox conservatives who regard Trump himself as a bigot but consider his populist campaign a possible road map for the future.
But an important group of NeverTrumpers identified with the right on a very specific set of issues — support for the 1990s-era free trade consensus, Wilsonian hawkishness, democracy promotion — that are unlikely to animate conservatism again any time soon no matter how the Trump presidency ends. These intellectuals and strategists aren’t particularly culturally conservative, they’re allergic to populism, they don’t have any reason to identify with a conservatism that’s wary of nation-building and globalization — and soon enough, they won’t.