Posted by Curt on 24 August, 2019 at 10:33 am. 3 comments already!


There is a little dance that goes on nearly every day on Twitter. It usually starts with a pro-Trump conservative attacking a Never Trump conservative by suggesting their anti-Trump program is pointless and can only serve to help a Democratic Party lurching to the left. Next, the Never Trumper typically responds that if they are so irrelevant, why are pro-Trump conservatives so obsessed with them?

A fundamental misunderstanding is at work here. Nobody really thinks Never Trumpers are irrelevant. In fact, they and their views are all over the place. The Washington PostNew York TimesUSA Today, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many other prominent left-leaning media outlets ensure that Never Trump pundits maintain relevance by plastering them all over our nation’s news commentary.

So, yes, Never Trumpers certainly have relevance, but there is something arguably much more important that they do not have: a constituency. The vast majority of conservatives and Republicans outside of the media and the Beltway approve of the job President Trump is doing. This is why, ultimately, ideas like running Joe Walsh against Trump are so silly and derided.

Conservatives Are Reasonably Preferring Trump

This doesn’t mean that all of these conservatives supporting Trump think he is the greatest president of all time, the only one who can save us, or some great moral leader. Some of Trump’s core supporters feel that way, but most don’t. Most see politics as transactional, and given the choice between Trump’s eccentricities and the Democrats’ extreme and radical policy positions, they quite reasonably prefer the former.

I myself was a Never Trumper prior to his election in 2016. Like most conservative writers, I decided the responsible way to go forward after his victory was to call balls and strikes. Within about a year, I was confident that Trump’s presidency was not the existential crisis I had feared. But for a handful of prominent conservatives, that was not an option. Jennifer Rubin, Max Boot, Bill Kristol, Rick Wilson, and Tom Nichols, among others, continue to believe Trump is an existential threat.

There are Never Trumpers for whom I still have a lot of respect, others less so, but on the whole they tend to be a pretty accomplished group and are certainly entitled to their opinions. This in part explains why media outlets give them so much coverage, even though they represent the views of so few conservatives. But it’s not the only reason. The bigger reason is that they give hope to a left very worried that the right will not go back to being a docile political force with a tendency to get bulldozed.

Never Trump Camp Wants a Return to Progressive Hegemony

The left longs for the good old days. For 20 years, before Trump took office, American conservatives were the Buffalo Bills of the culture war. They were competent, won some elections, but on every big cultural issue, they lost badly. On abortion, gay marriage, transgenderism, anti-American education, and a host of others, conservatives suffered principled losses. Now they are fighting back, and lo and behold, even getting some major wins.

This change has had some negative consequences. Trump’s over-the-top attacks on rivals, Republican and Democrat alike, has eviscerated the basic politeness in politics that most Americans grew up with. It was not, in the past, assumed that those who disagree with you are trying to undermine the country. That has now changed on both sides. Just as Trump continues his hyperbolic attacks on his critics, they have sharpened their elbows in his direction.

When Never Trumpers talk about a return to political sanity, often ironically while hurling the same types of insults and jibes at Trump and his supporters that they claim to decry, they are talking about a return to progressive hegemony. This is flatly obviously when we see a Democratic field for the presidency in which all of the candidates are way to the left of 2008 Barack Obama on every issue, and yet the Never Trumpers would take any of them, as well as a Democratic victory in the Senate.

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