But a handful of other alleged conservatives, who joined forces before the general election to form the “NeverTrump” movement, saw an opportunity. Rather than keeping a much-needed policy check on an unpredictable president and gobsmacked Congress, they positioned themselves as “conservative” Trump foes, and, in the process, boosted their number of followers on social media and number of appearances on cable news shows.

People such as Bill Kristol, Jennifer Rubin, and Bret Stephens have carved out a niche for themselves as the go-to source for reporters to get blistering commentary about Trump, or his administration, or his family, or his congressional allies, or his voters. Kristol’s number of Twitter followers has nearly tripled, as he churns out hourly rants that veer from impeachment pleas to far-fetched conspiracy theories on Russia, Mike Pence, and Trump’s inner circle. They promote the darkest narrative, not just of Trumpism, but of Republicans in general, mimicking the same, weary warnings Democrats have shrieked for decades—that Republicans are racist, sexist, homophobic, and plain stupid. These self-proclaimed guardians of America’s modern conservative legacy have ceased talking about anything of substance. They are as reactionary and emotive as high school sophomores.