I’ve been waiting rather impatiently for someone to come along and begin noticing the backlash which has been brewing against the #NeverTrump movement for a while now when it comes to a very important topic: No matter how much you may dislike Donald Trump, there is still going to be a presidential election in November. This week Alexander Bolton, writing at The Hill, has finally taken the time to speak to a few folks on the starboard side of the political aisle on this very topic. What should have been a spirited campaign to promote the candidacy of Ted Cruz is steadily marching toward the raising of the white flag and complete surrender to the Democrats, and it’s stirring plenty of anger among Republicans who don’t get as much media splash as the GOP circular firing squad which cable news talkers love to fixate on.
Grassroots Republicans are growing frustrated with their Washington Beltway counterparts, who they think are giving up the fight for the White House. They see talk of diverting resources from the presidential fight and distancing House and Senate candidates from Donald Trump as a surrender.
“We’ve endured eight years of the Obama regime. The last thing we need is to give up the White House,” said Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation, which claims to have 100,000 members.
Talk that Trump and Cruz can’t beat Hillary Clinton represents “a pretty dangerous line of thinking,” said Chip Saltsman, who served as a senior adviser to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s recent presidential campaign.
Despite a chaotic and divisive presidential race, these Republicans say the GOP can unify and defeat Clinton, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, who they believe is a deeply flawed candidate.
Talk of cutting potential losses before the general election has even begun is “damn foolishness,” said Phillips, who is backing Cruz.
This festering disease has reached the level of the candidates themselves. As Ed Morrissey noted last night, we’ve already seen all three of the GOP contenders for the presidency effectively go back on their word and threaten to withhold their support from the eventual nominee. (No matter who that is.) This is little more than a sign of surrender from those who are ostensibly holding key positions as influencers in the direction of this campaign.
Are we seriously going to cede the battlefield to Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders without a fight? Should an ancient socialist or a woman potentially on the verge of a stretch in prison be allowed to so easily trot into the White House while the GOP rips itself to shreds?
Vince Webber, who worked on the Jeb! campaign, has been singing the same song about how we should abandon ship on the executive branch in hopes of salvaging our majorities in the House and Senate.
“We have to think about how we actually preserve the congressional majorities, which I think we can do,” Weber said.
Such talk is blasphemy to other Republicans.
“That kind of talk creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that will enable their very demise. They aren’t really as interested in defeating Democrats as they are in saving their own hides,” said Steve Deace, a conservative radio host based in Iowa who backs Cruz.
Do we really need to point out that the concept of saving the down-ticket offices relies on people willing to switch ballot lines in November? It’s not that this is unheard of, but it’s fairly rare – at least in significant numbers – in recent electoral history. The key drivers are turnout and enthusiasm. The more people you manage to drive to the ballot box who are ready to vote for the person at the top of the ticket, the more votes you will see accumulate to the candidates below them in the same column. That’s simply common sense. Any scheme which relies on a theme of, “well, sure… our top guy sucks, but look at these lovely options in races you don’t care about” is just about as poor of a marketing plan as can be imagined.
And yet the drumbeat marches on unabated. David French, who I generally hold in high esteem, continues this same losing argument at National Review, claiming that Donald Trump would actually not be any better than Hillary Clinton.
Those of us who’ve pledged that we will never, ever vote for Donald Trump always get the same response: “You’d put Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office instead?” Clinton’s name is spoken like an epithet, as if it’s unthinkable that any conservative would take any single action that could facilitate her election. I will not, under any circumstances, vote for Clinton, but I also do not believe that Trump would make a better president. Not because Clinton isn’t as bad as you think, but because Trump is worse than you imagine.
Hillary Clinton is the most beatable likely Democratic nominee since John Kerry, and the GOP is poised to nominate the one man least likely to beat her, and the one man who would be just as bad in the White House. I don’t vote for despicable people. I don’t vote for leftists. And I will never, ever, vote for Donald Trump. He’s no better than she is.
With no apologies whatsoever, I will repeat that this is simply wrong headed thinking. We need to set our own personalities and self-importance aside from time to time and look at the bigger picture. Trump may not wind up being the nominee, but there is no denying that it’s a possibility – if not a probability at this point – which can’t be ignored. We can start with the phrasing of French’s initial premise itself: Donald Trump wouldn’t be any better than Hillary Clinton. Even if we were to buy into this preposterous assertion, let’s treat the two of them as hypothetical equals in undesirability. You’re still facing a choice between someone who won over a plurality (if not an outright majority) of Republican primary voters and… HILLARY CLINTON. What sort of madness has engulfed the conservative movement when we’ve reached the point where that’s even a question? As I’ve said before, Trump would still have a GOP majority (if we remain so lucky as to retain the leadership in both chambers) keeping him in check on all matters outside executive discretion and would obviously make at least some moves favorable to conservatives. Your other choice remains Hillary Clinton.
I fear that too many of our prominent conservative authors and commentators have lashed themselves so tightly to the mast of the #NeverTrump movement that this is now a matter of personal pride and a fear of the appearance of having lost an argument. This sort of vainglorious attitude is not going to help anyone, including those who decide to torch the ship while the rest of us are onboard. There is still hope that Ted Cruz might emerge as the nominee, but even if that much is managed it needs to be done in an open fashion which leaves room for Trump’s people to feel that they had a fair shot and come around to supporting Ted in November. But if that fails and Trump winds up carrying our banner, we owe ourselves the same opportunity to join them on a path toward taking back the White House rather than breaking out the seppuku swords before the battle is even begun.
The GOP is not speaking in a single voice behind the #NeverTrump spokesmodels with large megaphones and the unending, flattering attention showered on them by the liberal media. A rational course of action would be to end this self-defeating focus on making sure Trump loses and instead concentrate on helping Cruz to win by making the better case for his candidacy.