Since the NeverTrump forces have so far failed to attract a credible movement conservative approved independent challenger to run against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the general election, their focus seems to have shifted toward an effort to nominate someone other than Trump at the Republican National Convention in July. This has been the steady drumbeat coming from such NeverTrump sources as RedState and Erick Erickson’s The Resurgent among many others.
This effort is transparently absurd. Some are making the case that all Republican delegates are technically unbound and/or that through sleight of hand with the Convention rules they could be unbound, despite the fact that some states bind them by law. I’m not here to make that argument one way or the other. It’s a technical issue that is best addressed by those who are intimately familiar with the process. My point is that a delegate coup is a childish fantasy that is not going to happen, barring some sort of epic meltdown by Trump, and would be incredibly counter-productive to NeverTrump’s supposed fidelity to conservatism if it did.
First of all, there will certainly be plenty of true believers among the delegates, but the delegate selection process generally skews toward selecting party people who are team players and have paid their dues. You just aren’t going to get a sufficient number of them to agree to pull off an act this audacious. So far, the effort seems more virtual than real. A lot of very similar stories about a potential coup have appeared at various mainstream and conservative outlets, and it is backed by some high profile movement conservatives, but it is not clear that there are actually a lot of ground troops ready to put the plan into action.
In the unlikely event that the NeverTrumpers succeed with their plan, the results would be disastrous. One of the primary justifications offered by the NeverTrump chorus for wanting to do something that is unprecedented in the modern political era is that Trump is potentially headed for a big loss in November and threatens to cost the Republicans several Senate and House seats as well, but this reason is nonsense. Even if, for the sake of the argument, you concede that scenario to be true, the idea that pulling off a Convention coup and nominating Ted Cruz or whoever else in place of Trump would then result in victory in November is ridiculous. Like it or not, Trump won the nomination fair and square. The NeverTrumpers had the whole primary season to present their anti-Trump case which they vehemently did. GOP primary voters were not persuaded. A coup that blatantly subverts the clearly expressed will of Republican primary voters would rightly outrage Trump supporters and fair minded people alike. Such a move would implode the party and spell disaster for its candidates in November and possibly indefinitely.
If electoral success was really their concern, they would have Trump’s back against a relentlessly hostile Establishment, or if they just couldn’t bring themselves to do that, at the least they would lay off him. I don’t concede that Trump is going to lose in November, but if he does it will be partially because both the naturally hostile liberal Establishment and its organs and conservative forces that should have been on his side combined to vilify him. The NeverTrump people are not stupid, so surely they recognize the circular logic of bemoaning what a general election disaster they think Trump will be while simultaneously excoriating him just as vigorously as any liberal.
If there are sincere NeverTrumpers who just can’t bring themselves to back Trump because he doesn’t precisely check all their conservative boxes or they just can’t countenance his temperament and demeanor, then they should do the honorable and logical thing and support the Constitution Party nominee, Darrell Castle. Why aren’t Erickson, the whiners at RedState, et al endorsing Castle, instead of having a tantrum? This is what idealist whose chosen candidate doesn’t win the primary do, they either get behind the nominee of their party or they vote third party. There is an unmistakable sore loser element to the NeverTrump convention coup scenario.
Also, these supposed keepers of the true conservative flame appear to believe that the best way to take down Trump is to assume the role of PC righthink enforcers and parrot Cultural Marxist talking points like a bunch of teenage Social Justice Warriors on tumblr. Some of the stuff at RedState and The Resurgent is indistinguishable from what you find at Salon or Slate. Racist blah blah misogynist blah blah xenophobe blah blah bigot blah blah. Seriously? What’s next? Are they going to be calling for safe spaces and trigger warnings lest Trump and his yahoo supporters offend their oh so sensitive PC sensibilities? Has anyone asked Erick Erickson what his preferred pronoun is? We wouldn’t want to offend him. It would all be comical if it wasn’t so craven and counter-productive. If these so-called conservatives actually believe that it serves conservatism well to advance the Cultural Marxist narrative of their enemy, then they are fools. If they are just piling on in whatever way possible, then they are craven opportunists. Do not expect me to take seriously the professed conservatism of people who write as if they have cribbed their rhetoric from a SPLC fundraising letter.
As I have pointed out before, the most conspicuous element of the NeverTrump chorus is not Republican Party Establishmentarians who have by and large come to terms with a Trump nomination even if they don’t like it. Instead, it is Conservative Inc. ideologues and stakeholders who have an interest in maintaining their Conservative Inc. fiefdom. Trump threatens them because his more populist and nationalist message is off script and has revealed the very tenuous hold that by the books movement conservative dogma actually has on regular GOP voters. I don’t for a minute believe that NeverTrump is really about running an independent candidate who can win or orchestrating a Convention revolt that nominates someone other than Trump who will go on to victory in November, because these scenarios are too far-fetched for serious people to believe. This is about deliberately tanking Trump because they would rather punish Trump and his supporters for being off message and maintain control of their domain than they would defeat Hillary. I have no doubt that the more overtly globalist elements of the NeverTrump coalition, such as Bill Kristol and the boys at National Review, would actually much prefer Hillary’s status quo globalism to Trump’s “dangerous” nationalism, despite their pretense of also being NeverHillary. (It is because their loyalty is to globalism rather than conservatism that they won’t endorse the paleocon Constitution Party nominee.)
Truly sincere conservatives should not be deceived by this NeverTrump chicanery. Either bite the bullet and support Trump or back the Constitution Party nominee Darrell Castle, but don’t allow yourself to be used as pawns in someone else’s power play.