If Donald Trump falls short on election night, his candidacy will still be the stuff of legend. In the final stages of Campaign 2016, he stayed focused, energized and did not let the caterwauling and hand-wringing (from all quarters of public life) deter his message.
Donald Trump was too big a threat to too many people. Liberals and establishment Republicans, I understand their opposition. One group, however, I continue to find perplexing: the conservatives known as Never-Trumpers. They consider his supporters cultists and sell-outs, and deem themselves the last remaining patriots. They insist that any nominee but Trump could have won. They will not settle for the lesser of two evils and will not abandon their principles, and, just in case you didn’t hear it the first 5600 times, they will remind you every hour on the hour.
Given the fact that Trump stayed competitive against all odds, right up to the end, makes the NT’s, in all their mad ravings, about as relevant to history as the Flat Earth Society and about as helpful to the conservative cause as John Anderson’s independent presidential bid in 1980. Their leader, if they ever had one, was failed contender Ted Cruz. Now that even Cruz has boarded the Trump Train, NT’s have spread out to various third-party candidates, constantly congratulating themselves on being the last Americans with a conscience.
Fully aware that no outsider has even a prayer, they just fall back on the belief that, no matter what, God is in charge. That is true – politics is just the argument about what little we can do on our end. So, after assigning God ultimate control, they return to social media, breathlessly anticipating an upcoming trial concerning Trump’s alleged rape of a thirteen year-old girl (the legal action has been dropped). Such a longshot of a case, not even the mainstream media gave it any credence. But the NT’s, like the most earnest liberals, keep grasping at driftwood, hoping that even previously used accusations will keep them afloat. They are reminding us yet again that Trump once donated money to Hillary (he has given money to politicians of various stripes).
Polarizing figures such as Trump elicit emotional, not rational responses. NT’s, though they would never admit it, are obsessed with his ego, bravado and stunning success. Ideologues and policy geeks may be just a tad jealous of someone like Trump who has commanded such attention with such little effort. NT’s are left only with their own sense of martyrdom and their rigid (to a fault) commitment to principle as solace for not getting the attention they feel they deserve.
Nothing here is meant to suggest that Trump is above criticism or opposition. But the rabid Trump-haters will not yield a single compliment, not one syllable of praise to the one person with a prayer of beating Hillary. Not even his energy policy or his selection of Mike Pence will move them. A 2020 primary will likely see the same hatred against anyone who opposes Ted Cruz, provided he is forgiven for abandoning their cult. Politics post-2016 will surely forge new alliances and see old ones reunited. Hopefully, the conservative movement will focus more on strategy and less on the celebration of ego. Hopefully, famous NT’s such as Senators Ben Sasse (Nebraska) and Jeff Flake (Arizona) will step onto the national stage and, for once, oppose liberal Democrats instead of trashing their party’s nominee.
Instead of a cult of Never-Trumpism, maybe we can enjoy a culture of American pride and prosperity.
We can hope.Tags: Ben Sasse Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Jeff Flake NeverTrump Ted Cruz