So, apparently the President thinks I’m “human scum”. Not just me, mind; everyone who was, prior to the previous election, “Never Trump” or who has reclaimed that mantle for the upcoming election.
The latest salvo against “Never Trump” came in the form of a wave of outrage against Max Boot. Trump promoters extrapolated his refutation of Trump’s narrative about Baghdadi into a respect for the murderous thug, then used their misinterpretation as a reason to harass Boot. His clarification was taken as an attempt to hide culpability.
It was a transparent attempt to stir up the type of anger which culminated in Bill Maher’s firing from ABC after he defined the 9/11 hijackers as murderous and crazy but not cowards.
The question is: why? Never Trump forms only a small sliver of Republicans, as many of them have abandoned the party to become independents. More importantly, “Never Trump” Republicans, even including those who have left the Trump-polluted party, are a small percentage of the anti-Trump population.
The answer has, in the past, lain with the matter of pride. People who believed they had made reasonable concessions to “political reality” while maintaining some of their principles did not appreciate seeing “purists” who simply rejected both Trump and the binary argument in favor of sticking by all of their core beliefs.
These days, there’s a different reason entirely, and that reason is impeachment.
The Republicans say they’re running on the economy, but they aren’t. The economy is merely the pitch they’re making to those independents who haven’t been completely alienated by the President’s nationalist rhetoric, capitulation to foreign enemies, and blatant criminal activity. What they are actually running on is a two-plank platform: They’re not the Democrats and Republicans like Trump.
The first of those is obvious, and it will succeed with those who can be made sufficiently afraid of Democrats and will cling to binary option theory. The second is where their trouble lies.
Right now, Trump’s problems are similar to those of Bill Clinton in 1996. He is in a better political position due to the composition of the Senate; the Republicans control that body, making it unlikely that the 60 vote threshold for removal can be met. All Trump needs to do is maintain the political split and rely on fear and hatred of the opposition to provide cover for any and all crimes.
This is where Never Trump comes in, though. There was no “Never Clinton”; his improprieties and inadequacies were not widely known throughout the country prior to his election. When Democrats were faced with the option of sticking by known reprobate Clinton or removing him, the choices were framed as holding to or abandoning the party – and the principles therein – which had been part of people’s self-definition for decades.
The simple existence of Never Trump provides evidence to the Republicans that there is another way, that Trump does not need to be the defining icon of the modern Republican party if people don’t wish him to be.
This is why Trump keeps tweeting false numbers about his popularity with Republicans, and why he continues to assail “Never Trump”, often equating them with the fictitious Deep State.
As his crimes become ever more apparent, it is likely that Republicans will bleed away from supporting him. The Senators are watching, and they are calculating. If, at any time, they believe they are more likely to get elected if they oppose Trump, they will switch to opposing him. They have demonstrated that their support is entirely conditional upon their re-election chances… witness Ben Sasse, as an example.
Never Trump now serves as a dangerous option against Trump, a way to maintain fealty to the Constitution and love America’s history without lining up behind a felon. As our ranks grow, Trump’s Republican support wanes.
I’ve spoken for the past few years about the need to reconcile – to forgive but not forget – with Republicans who are ready to abandon their Trumpism. I believe this is exactly what is needed now. No, I will not trust their judgment, not after it has been demonstrated to be so irredeemably flawed, but I will abstain from mockery, gloating, or any other indulgent nods toward a self-perceived superiority.
The goal is the removal of a dangerous felon from office. With luck and the proper attitude, we may be just dangerous enough to facilitate that.