Columns

Never-Trump Grift Is Back: Republican Accountability Project Is Even More Tone Deaf, Ridiculous, and Irrelevant

Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Invision/AP

As someone who once considered myself Never Trump, I feel well qualified to comment on the activities of those who still cling to that label after the 2020 election. For rational people who are not trying to cling to accumulated power or trying to recover their influence, Never Trump was over on election night 2016. It was either going to be President Clinton II or President Trump, and in hindsight, I am glad it was the latter.

Did I love every tweet? No. However, I did find some of the reactions to them hysterical. And no matter what I thought of President Trump’s style, it was difficult to argue with the substance of his administration. As a kid, I never doubted that President Reagan put America and the West’s safety, prosperity, and security first. If you listened to President Trump and his advisors and tracked what they did, the principles were the same even if specific policies were different. Enthusiastically, I pulled the lever for a second term, which was pretty easy to do without compromising on much.

The chronic Never-Trump crew could never bring themselves to agree with Trump on anything. Not even policies they had long said they supported. Instead, Never Trump turned to straight-up grift with sites like The Bulwark financed by liberal donors and groups like The Lincoln Project, which convinced those same donors they could bring significant Republican support to opposing Trump. That did not happen, and President Trump’s Republican support increased in 2020. Now the Lincoln Project is reduced to celebrating getting a childish nickname for Senator Ted Cruz to trend on Twitter:

Now that Trump is out of office, the founder of The Bulwark, Bill Kristol, has launched a new project ahead of 2022, which he proudly announced to CNN:

An anti-Trump conservative group is launching an effort to track and evaluate whether Republicans in Congress, in the group’s view, have acted to either undermine or uphold democracy and democratic values and what role, if any, they played in attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

The Republican Accountability Project has created what it’s calling a “GOP Democracy Report Card,” which assigns grades to Republican members of Congress ranging from an “A,” which the group describes as excellent, to an “F,” which it describes as very poor. The details of the report card were first shared with CNN ahead of its release on Monday.

So, a bunch of Biden voters has created a website to hold Republicans accountable. One can assume the goal is to affect the reelection of those they disagree with in the coming cycle. To demonstrate how out of touch Never Trump is with the Republican Party, only 14 congressional GOP members received an “A” grade, and 136 received an “F” from the group. To give you a flavor of who their pet Republicans are, one is Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) in the House. In the Senate, they are fans of Lisa Murkowski (Alaska). Of course, Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) also gets top marks.

They give failing grades to people like Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), who exposed the FISA abuse and the Russian collusion hoax, and Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio). Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) also received “F” grades. This should give you some idea of what the only grading criteria were:

  • Did he or she sign on to the amicus brief filed along with Texas’ lawsuit to the Supreme Court that sought to nullify votes cast in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Georgia?
  • Did he or she object to the certification of Electoral College votes from at least one state?
  • Did he or she make public statements that cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 election?
  • Did he or she vote to hold Trump accountable via impeachment or conviction?

That’s it. The Never-Trump crew at the GOP Accountability Project is reducing the career of every member of Congress down to two things: whether they voted to undo the will of voters in the 2016 election and whether they accepted the results of the chaotic 2020 election without objections. Take note: both of these actions are just caving to the whims of Democrats to avoid conflict. The base is no longer interested in electing people who turn their backs on the legitimate concerns of those who elected them so they will be liked. In the end, they just get used.

Perhaps the Never-Trump crew is not aware that there was a “shadow campaign” to “save” the 2020 election? Or that liberal activists and lawyers upended the election laws in several states, bypassing the state legislatures on pandemic-related modifications? Or maybe they have not been following the Zuck Bucks controversy, which demonstrably turned public election offices into Biden campaign turnout machines. Of course, I kid. This Never-Trump crew probably donated to the influence initiatives themselves. Kristol, in fact, participated in the left-wing Transition Integrity Project’s wargaming of 2020.

Election night 2020 was an unprecedented mess in nearly every crucial swing state. Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin are still dealing with the repercussions. In Michigan, a judge has ruled that the secretary of state violated state election laws. The message from Kristol and crew is that our elected representatives should not have taken these concerns seriously and must say Joe Biden won fair and square. Did Biden win? Yes. Was the election free from irregularities and unprecedented influence efforts? No. It is possible to see this, deal with the outcome, and not storm the Capitol. Millions of Republicans and Trump voters did.

The real issue for Kristol and the crew is that there is no longer a significant coalition on the right that desires Wilsonian foreign policy and nation-building in the Middle East, along with low tax rates. Following the pandemic, a growing alliance understands that China poses an existential threat to the West, and we want our leaders to act like it. Some of us would also like to see symmetrical trade that will allow our children to have the same access to opportunities that we did to form a family, prosper, and raise their children in a safe, secure country.

The Never-Trump crowd needs to get a clue. If you can only find 14 people out of 262 who agree with your worldview in the Republican Party, you are the outlier. The Republican base is not going to accept another Romney or Bush. And if they are really thinking about Cheney, they need to seek help. Just like Jeb!, political dynasties that are entrenched in the swamp are no longer an option. After the last four years, those who laughed at the concept of an entrenched, politicized bureaucracy have seen it in action. And there is no appetite to send people like Bill Kristol and Max Boot back to advise it.