Yet the NeverTrumpers never scattered entirely, and thank heavens for that. Every political system will always have a conservative faction, and every healthy democracy needs that faction to be rooted in some combination of classical liberalism and moral traditionalism. Trump’s G.O.P., whatever its political fortunes, is the opposite: a nativist party led by a libertine.
At some level, conservatives know this. Trump knows they know it. Which explains why he has turned his sights on Never Trumpers: What despots and demagogues fear most is their followers developing a conscience.
No wonder the president chose to lambaste Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman as a “Never Trumper.” The combat veteran had the simple decency of being scandalized by what he heard from the president on the Ukraine phone call, and by what he knew of the discrepancies between what he heard on the call and the account of it released by the White House.
The decency of being scandalized is what being NeverTrump is centrally about, and why the movement remains important.