So the conservative insiders are now talking about getting behind a third-party option in the general election. Still livid over the voters’ lapse of good judgment in the primaries, people like Erick Erickson, William Kristol, Ben Sasse, and Mitt Romney are still firmly in Team NeverTrump. In that mission, they are joined by prominent Republicans like George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, and every other politician that puts the “neo” in neocon. And they are tacitly joined by people like Paul Ryan, who want to sit on the fence until Donald Trump replaces his agenda with a more conservative one.
“It’s a crisis,” said Al Cardenas, a conservative fundraiser. “If we do away with the fundamental strength of the conservative movement, which is our ideas and values and principles, then you don’t have anything left but politics. A movement can survive the loss of an election cycle, but it can’t survive the loss of its purpose, and that’s what we’re battling here.”
To that end, the Stop Trump movement is casting about for a candidate with enough popularity and name recognition to overcome the overwhelming disadvantages of being a third-party contender. Some of the names being bandied about include: Condoleezza Rice, Sen. Sasse, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, Rand Paul, and even Romney himself.
“[Romney] came pretty close to being elected president so I thought he may consider doing it, especially since he has been very forthright in explaining why Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton should not be president of the United States,” Bill Kristol said of his meeting with the former Massachusetts governor.
Any conservative digging around to find reasons to oppose Donald Trump will find them. There’s plenty there to be concerned about. But what’s dismaying is that by spending so much time fighting Trump, they are missing out on what could be the greatest opportunity for American conservatism in twenty years.
Some people get it.
Take Grover Norquist, who is still comfortable with Trump despite disagreeing with him on many issues. “The deals he’s going to cut will have in the room Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, and the three of them have to agree. I sleep well at night,” said Grover Norquist.
The anti-Trump crowd needs to get acquainted with reality. Reality is: A third-party candidate ensures a Hillary Clinton victory. Reality is: Joining the liberal chorus this fall ensures a Hillary Clinton victory.
But reality is also this: Neither movement conservatives nor Republican leaders have made the slightest attempt to befriend Trump. Maybe instead of issuing demands through the media – Bend to my agenda or else! – they should try respecting both Trump and the will of the voters.
“Everything is negotiable.” That’s Trump’s motto, and he’s made no secret of it. Instead of taking that motto at face value, Republicans are treating Trump as a lost cause. And the end result will be a president who will be much more liberal and much less compromising. If that’s their idea of victory, then it explains a lot about the last eight years.