No one likes a naysayer.
This is one of the reasons many of us never caught the Trump bug. Negativity and fear-mongering get old after a while, even if you are angry. At some point, a calm and principled message of rationality and optimism takes over and wins the day. Right?
#NeverTrump started from the reasonable position that Trump is a polarizing candidate with questionable conservative principles, with the potential to cause significant harm to the republican party and to conservatism. Instead of offering a solution though, #NeverTrump tried to beat Trump at his own game. Relying on negativity, fear and hatred, the #NT crowd basically conveyed the message that none of the candidates were any good (at least not good enough to vocally support), but that any would be better than Trump. This is basically Trump’s message in reverse.
Not only did this movement fail to slow Trump down, it actually bolstered him by feeding in to the fiction that the ‘elites’ despise the voters, and that all of a sudden anyone who opposes Trump is ‘elite’. I always felt like the most lethal weapon against Trump would have been to take him seriously.
When you keep wailing and whining that a guy is a crazy stupid nazi, you are going to convince even the undecided to give him a chance.
I have never supported Donald Trump for reasons I have documented extensively, but I also never jumped on the #NeverTrump bandwagon, because I knew there was something about the movement that just wasn’t quite right. Frankly, it struck me as a defeatist position very similar to the feigned outrage and indignation of leftists who throw temper tantrums when they don’t get their way.
My criticism of #NeverTrump is not that those who firmly oppose him should have left open the possibility of voting for him one day. What they should have done though, was identify the best candidate and support him or her whole-heartedly.
I follow many #NeverTrump types. It has always been remarkable to me how reluctant these folks have been to fully stand behind any one Non-Trump candidate (notably Cruz or Kasich). Just below the surface appears to be a sincere desire to throw the ball in the air and see who can catch it at the convention. I suspect many #NeverTrumps envision that person to be Marco Rubio. (The now-famous hash tag originated within his campaign originally).
The reason we ended up with #NeverTrump is because these folks dislike Cruz almost as much as they dislike Trump. Even Cruz’ BIG endorsements (e.g. Jeb Bush) could barely contain their disdain for Cruz.
Though I never bought into #NeverTrump, I am partly guilty of a similar mindset. I whole-heartedly supported Rand Paul early in the primary season, but when he dropped out after Iowa I struggled to fully stand behind any one candidate. If my sentiments on the GOP race since Rand Paul dropped out could have been reduced to a hashtag, it probably would have been #EitherCruzOrKasichNotSureYet.
I voted for Ted Cruz in Texas, and I believe he would make a fine President, but I have real concerns about his electability. He is widely disliked, with sky-high unfavorables (short only of Clinton (2) and Trump (1)). Trump has been very successful in turning public opinion even further against Ted Cruz, even among those who would have stood behind Cruz as an ideal conservative candidate in any other election year.
I also held out hope that John Kasich could gain some traction. My support for someone like John Kasich came from the incrementalist within me, that understands the middle/moderate types of the country may not have the same appetite for a staunch constitutional conservative that I do, and that if we shoot for a 180 degree course correction from Obama’s transformational momentum, we may strike out completely. It is beginning to look like I might have been on to something.
I have made the argument that John Kasich is more principally conservative than anyone has given him credit for. Unfortunately, there is no appetite within the GOP primary for John Kasich. No one wants a candidate thrust from last to first place on the convention floor, even if it technically happens within the party rules.
In any event, I should have picked one and worked to spread his message, the way I fought for Rand Paul early on.
My advice to the #NeverTrumps: Pick someone and fight for him. Even if it is your desire to pull your guy off the bench and lobby him through the convention, just come out with that goal. Change your hash tag from #NeverTrump to #Marcovention, or whatever your true vision is.
Though I stand by that advice, I’m also aware it might be too late. We are deep within the blue state run of the primary that ordinarily works to the advantage of the squishy establishment folks, but this year is boosting Trump.
If Donald Trump wins the nomination, you will be asked to set aside your objections. The general election will become a battle between #NeverHillary and #NeverTrump; the lesser of two evils.
Instead of a battle of ideas, we are headed for a war of anti-ideas, with each candidate essentially telling the voting public: “He/she is scarier than me.” This is a tragic way to elect our president.
How will #NeverTrumps complain about this miserable predicament in the general when this is how they spent their energy during the primary?
Being FOR something or someone is much more powerful than being AGAINST the alternative. I support Ted Cruz and Gary Johnson in their respective parties, not because they are not Donald Trump, but because I respect them both, and they both have consistent records and principled stances concerning limited government.
I will #NeverSayNever. I will vote FOR good people and principled ideas, not against scary ones.