Many Never Trumpers have transferred their anger at Trump to Republican senators, raising money and running ads to help Chuck Schumer become the majority leader. While The Lincoln Project has targeted Mitch McConnell, Joni Ernst, Thom Tillis, and Martha McSally, Republican Voters Against Trump has decided to focus on Trump. Ironically, the most vulnerable Republican incumbents, including Susan Collins, Tillis, and Cory Gardner, represent swing states and exemplify the moderate Republicans Never Trumpers claim to represent. The most ardent Trump supporters, such as Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz, are not at risk of losing their seats. Working to defeat centrist senators will only solidify Trump followers’ control over the party after he is gone. The primary sin these senators have apparently committed is their unwillingness to condemn Trump publicly.
While the media never expected Democrats to abandon Obama over his stretching of the Constitution to accommodate Obamacare or IRS harassment of conservatives, they criticize Republicans for their unwillingness to condemn Trump after each controversial tweet. They feign shock that politicians act like politicians, i.e., avoid saying and doing things that would seriously jeopardize their reelection. Republicans have no incentive to antagonize the leader of their own party, especially when he enjoys nearly universal support within that party and is pursuing policies popular with them and the party’s most committed members. Symbolic denunciations would have no practical impact and would undermine what little influence they have over his behavior behind closed doors. The most immediate impact of attacking Trump would be to guarantee a potent primary challenger that would, at the very least, weaken an incumbent. Trump’s 2020 primary challengers’ inability to gain traction demonstrates this approach’s futility.