A few weeks ago, no one would have bothered to ask, but how the NeverTrumpers will behave should Donald Trump win the election is now a significant question growing in importance.
Will they grant him the normal honeymoon period usually given newly elected presidents or will they continue their non-stop onslaught on Trump as a vulgar, non-conservative parvenu about to destroy the Republican Party and everything good in our country?
There is at least a chance that the Republican NeverTrumpers, not the Democrats, will be a President Trump’s worst enemies. They will be the ones who will have been most humiliated by his victory, not the Dems who will be busy regrouping and blaming their failure on the largely true observation that Hillary Clinton was their worst possible candidate. Too bad they were trapped into her.
The NeverTrumpers, however, will have been psychologically wounded in a very basic way. They repeatedly insisted, many still do, that the Trump candidacy was, to put it mildly, doomed and ill-conceived in every way from the start. Like most of us normal neurotics, they wanted to be right (as in correct), attaching their identities to their views to an excessive degree. As the shrinks tell us, that’s not always a good idea. If they are unable to contain their anger and hurt, they can do damage, even to, and this is the disturbing part, conventional conservative programs they might have supported under other circumstances.
Now it’s my suspicion that the NeverTrumpers are not as big a group as their notoriety might indicate, but many are influential people, entrenched figures, print and television pundits with years of prominence. They have power, even if they fear, which they obviously do, that it is waning. (It’s their fault if it is.)
Maybe, however, they can put that aside. With only ten days to go before the first debate and less than a couple of months before election day, they could take a few deep breaths and, at the least, quiet down and act like impartial observers, pretend to anyway.
Some are already doing that, but from the overheated reactions to the anonymous, but brilliantly written “The Flight 93 Election,” not to mention a perusal of the “conservative” columns in the New York Times or that famous publication founded by William F. Buckley Jr., or even some writers on this site, the NeverTrump fires are still burning hot and likely will to the bitter end, whatever that is. Again, I suggest a deep breath, even if brief.
What if Trump turns out to be good—or even great?
Now I know I am not the right person to deliver this message. As long ago as August 2015 I said this election was Trump’s to lose and was cited by such worthies as Fred Barnes and Jonah Goldberg as one of the very few “intellectuals” in Trump’s corner, however ambivalently. (Less so now—and notice I put my own scare quotes on the “intellectual.” You’re hard up when you pick a screenwriter for that.) So I’m biased.
Nevertheless, I recognized back then what everybody did—that Trump was a wild card—but I chose to throw in my lot with him on the grounds that he could be influenced to go in a more conventionally conservative direction. His heart was okay, if his message was erratic. Now his message is less erratic. Some people don’t like all of it, but so what? Would they like all of anybody’s? Not for long.
Nobody knows how anybody will be as president until he or she is president. We can only guess and circumstances can intervene anyway. Nobody knows what is going to happen—even a pundit at NRO. The famous 19th century British designer William Morris put it this way:
Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes out not to be what they meant, other men have to fight for what they meant under another name.
So we should all relax and just hope for the best. Smart guy, that Morris, even if he was a socialist.
Roger L. Simon is a prize-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His most recent book is—I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already. You can read an excerpt here.