It’s clear from rhetoric which has followed in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory in Indiana that the sentiment underlying the #NeverTrump movement has been misunderstood. Perhaps the problem lies in the words themselves. “Never Trump” suggests a goal of denying The Donald his nomination. Certainly, the movement has held that goal. But that has not been its entire scope.
#NeverTrump is a conviction that will remain relevant regardless of electoral outcomes. It will remain relevant even in the unlikely scenario that Trump somehow overcomes all his negatives and the inertia of history to become the next president of the United States. Yes, the ideal for those of us committed to #NeverTrump was to deny him the nomination. But the core of our conviction demands that we never submit to him as a standard-bearer of our values.
Donald Trump is not a Republican. He stands opposed to nearly every value the party has put forward. Worse, he is a horrendous human being, a disreputable and off-putting bully who, separated from his wealth and status, would scarcely be welcome in polite company. Reporting on his victory Tuesday, the New York Times describes Trump accurately.
Mr. Trump, a real estate tycoon turned reality television celebrity, was not a registered Republican until April 2012. He has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats, including his likely general election opponent, Mrs. Clinton. And, at various points in his life, he has held positions antithetical to Republican orthodoxy on almost every major issue in the conservative canon, including abortion, taxes, trade, and gun control.
A man like that will not now, nor ever, be a representative of mine. He may be a “Republican” in name. He will almost certainly be the party’s nominee for president. But he does not now, and will never, personify what being a Republican means to me and others who share the #NeverTrump conviction.
“So what?” you may ask, as my PJM colleague Michael Walsh does:
Of more import is the fate of those on the Right who have staked their personal and professional fortunes on stopping Trump. No matter what you think of the Donald, what was the upside to opposition once the outcome was clear, as it has been since New York? Do you really want four (or eight) more years of Democrats? Moral preening is one thing; defiant words of “Never!” have a nice ring to them. But what is their practical application? Their open contempt for Trump supporters will not be forgotten for a very, very long time.
Nor is it meant to be. It is contempt with merit. It has been earned. The division such contempt fosters is proper and necessary.
Let’s be clear. This is the end of a unified Republican Party. Perhaps that was inevitable regardless, as the seeds for such division were planted long before Trump’s candidacy. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the party has now gone to a place where many of us will not follow.
If that means Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States, so be it. While coalition must be built with compromise, it must first be founded on some fundamental similarity. Trump presents no such foundation. He is something completely different, an un-Republican, an entity which proves no more compatible with core conservative values than any given Democrat.
So, that’s it. That’s where we’re at. The practical application of this “moral preening” is the halt of the Republican Party’s national viability for the indefinite future. The GOP must and should die as a national force. Only from that death may something of value be eventually reborn.