We have been promised a speech tomorrow by perhaps the most visible figurehead in the Never Trump movement, John Kasich. I have to wonder what he’s possibly planning to say. Will it be a gracious concession and admission that he may have backed the wrong team or the opening volley of a 2020 bid to unseat a sitting president in the primary? My money is on something which will thread the needle and contain some flavoring of each.
But since we’re on the subject, let’s take a moment to address the entire Never Trump movement. I had a list of tweets I had “liked” over the past couple of months from Never Trumpers who were, shall we say, rather uncharitable toward me and my decision to vote for the only person who could prevent a Hillary Clinton presidency. This morning I unchecked all of those smug and belittling tweets from my Likes column and let them fall down the memory hole. It would have been somewhat satisfying to use this space to rub them in people’s faces, but I would have felt sullied if I’d bowed to the temptation.
With that in mind we can deal with the more general subject of the Never Trump movement itself. Yes, in the most mathematical sense they wound up being the biggest losers last night. Their ceaseless efforts to defeat Trump in the primary went up in flames. Stage two of their operation involved discrediting Trump in the general election and working for his defeat. We all saw how that turned out. Republicans around the country came out of the woodwork and voted for Trump, along with what will turn out to be a massive share of independents. In short, all of those writers and television commentators who flew the Never Trump flag had essentially zero impact on anyone except Hillary Clinton’s core group of voters who didn’t need any prompting from them to begin with.
But at the same time, the Never Trumpers came up with something of a victory… not for the future of the nation or the party, but for themselves. All along we saw the majority of the Never Trumpers claiming that they were also #NeverHillary. (Not all of them, because there were a few who said they would vote for Clinton. This is probably the time to issue a general pardon for them.) This claim of being simultaneously “never” for both candidates was a mathematical absurdity, but it carved out a unique position for them. They may have lost the battle, but they have also staked out their place at the table for the longer war. Having opposed Trump from the beginning they are now in the clear to join in with liberals and Democrats in casting stones at the President for the next four years. They will also continue to be invited on television shows on MSNBC and other liberal outlets who in the past wouldn’t have spit on them if their hair was on fire. (It’s always great television for liberals when you can get conservatives and Republicans to fight each other. It adds to the spin of how they must be right.)
So be of good cheer, Never Trumpers. You may have been wrong in predicting that there was no way Trump could win, but you’ve carved out your place alongside Statler and Waldorf where you can throw popcorn or spoiled tomatoes at the White House for the next four or eight years.