To the extent that the Lincoln Project folks have the power to do anything to Republicans, most of the Republicans they can actually take down aren’t the Trumpiest ones. They’re the least Trumpy. Indeed, the fact that they’re the least Trumpy is the reason they hate them the most. It’s analogous to the way hardcore leftists hate moderate liberals so much. When two camps agree on a lot of first principles, deviation and compromise are seen as acts of cowardice or betrayal. Everyone knows that Sen. Susan Collins isn’t a Trump stooge, which is why her concessions to Trumpism enrage the fiercest Trump opponents the most (including me, sometimes). On a psychological level, you expect more from people who you think should know better. And because she’s a fairly liberal Republican from a liberal state, she can be hurt by the charge of being a Trump stooge in ways that, say, Tom Cotton or Rand Paul can’t. So that’s why the Lincoln Project is running ads calling her a “Trump Stooge.”
Let’s say they succeed in getting rid of Collins and those like her. Will that make the GOP more or less Trumpy? The answer is more. The GOP is on path to becoming a rump party for a while, no matter what. I don’t really see why anyone would want to see it be run by the most Trumpy Republicans—except, that is, for Democrats.
Indeed, part of Ramesh’s argument is that the divide among “NeverTrumpers”—a term I dislike—is really an ideological dispute masquerading as a tactical one. Those who basically agree with Democrats on issues like gun control, abortion, and high taxes are going to be more comfortable with unified Democratic control of government. They use “Trumpism” as a Trojan Horse to smuggle in ideological assumptions.