There is literally nothing Trump can do to win over principled Conservative/Libertarians declaring #NeverTrump. The entire point of the movement is to preserve the Movement that previous leaders have worked to kill off. For commentators like Steven Crowder to declare such a stance antithetical to Conservative principles is patently absurd. As I’ve defined previously, Conservatismstands for time honored and proven truths about the individual, society, and the nature of man. What could be more in line with those principles than standing firm against a pathological liar who lies about everything including lying tactical about insignificant things? If Crowder thinks this is somehow un-Conservative, then I’d love to know his definition of the philosophy. Moreover, are there any other moral stands he thinks would betray Conservatism–#NeverObama, #NeverHillary, #NeverHitler, #NeverNotGayJared–or are moral stands in general the problem? In which case, how does Conservatism differ from Leftism in which the ends justify the means? Trump is not new, personally or in style and philosophy (such that it is), and standing firmly against him is no different than standing against Bernie’s “Democratic Socialism” which is simply old-style authoritarianism wrapped up in new paper.
At this point, the problem with Trump isn’t Trump. He is who he is, who he’s always been, and he’s not changing. The problem with Trump is with his Right leaning supporters. Whether it’s the cloyingly sweet hand-holding of Sean Hannity’s interviews, the school yard taunting of Breitbart, or any of the innumerable Hillary/Trump false dichotomies smeared across the blogosphere and Twitter. The later is the real sticking point here. The knee jerk reaction to defend Trump with, yeah, but Hillary!, represents and illustrates an inability to admit the probable disaster of a Trump presidency. For those on the Right–who have ostensibly studied at the knee of Smith, Friedman, and Sowell–Trump’s rhetoric on trade alone should illicit terrifying images of Smoot-Hawley and another trade war induced depression. Yet for far too many on the Right, winning is all that matters, consequences be damned.
To be fair, there have been a few, yeah, Trump is awful but I have to vote for him because he’s slightly less awful than Hillary, and though I don’t find it compelling, there is at least a rational leg upon which to stand. It is these voices among the pro-Trump camp which must win out. Not so much for this election, Hillary is so awful Trump may win despite historically high negatives, but for the Movement to survive Trump. For Rick Perry to to call Trump “cancer” then enthusiastically endorse him, for well-established commentators to tell the 60% who voted against Trump to shut up and get in line so we can win, for one of the largest and most influential Right-leaning groups to happily endorse Trump with no mention of his decidedly anti-Second Amendment past, is a tremendous disservice to the Movement for two key reasons.
First, it puts the stamp of legitimacy on Trump as the avatar of Conservatism. Even before he was the presumptive nominee, before he declared himself the presumptive nominee, before even the first votes were cast, the Left was already using the existence of Trump in the GOP Primary to smear the entire Right as admitting to being the bigots the Left always claimed. How much will these views harden now that he’s the nominee, let alone if he becomes President? How much will the Left be able to reinforce those views with innumerable voices among the intellectual and media Right so wholeheartedly praising Trump? The ads write themselves: vile rhetoric from Trump; glowing praise from Rush, Hannity, Coulter, Breitbart, et al. Disastrous policy from Trump, which almost certainly won’t be Conservative in the first place; glowing praise from Rush, Elder, Hewitt, et al.
Secondly, by mimicking Obama supporters and their slavish devotion to the cult of personality, Trump supporters are giving away any leverage they might have to attempt to pull Trump to the Right. They have gone and nominated the candidate farthest Left, and are now indicating he may to whatever he pleases for he will recieve no criticism from his own side. More than that, his ardent supporters will work to smear any Conservatives who dare break ranks.
So what is to be done? How can the Right reunite, protect the Movement, and provide some hope for the future? Any overture cannot come from Trump, because he is entirely unbelievable, so it must come from his supporters with whom the Right has a foundation upon which trust can be rebuilt. These voices on the Right need to come back to their principles, admit Trump is not remotely Conservative, and commit to holding him accountable. Not for mere emotional reasons, not so we can have friendship and unity and smiles and cocktails at CPAC, but for a tangible purpose: admit Trump is merely a stop-gap measure and commit to offering a primary challenge in 2020 if certain, SPECIFIC benchmarks are not met. Whether it be Cruz or Fiorina or someone entirely new, commit to rallying quickly behind a legitimate Conservative when Trump proves to be what the #NeverTrump and the Trump stinks but… movement already recognize him to be: a big government, un-principled, cronyism loving, liar.