Bill Kristol attends Politicon at The Pasadena Convention Center on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Invision/AP)
There is a great line in the movie Usual Suspects. The Verbal Kint character, played by Kevin Spacey, is being interrogated about a semi-mythical Turkish crime lord Keyser Soze, and he says, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
To a great extent, a variation on the same is applicable to NeverTrump. ““The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world NeverTrump was relevant.”
The ostensible reason for a lot of self-described conservatives becoming dedicated NeverTrumpers was that their closely held principles were gravely offended by Trump’s existence. The other principles that they’d formerly held dear, like right-to-life and a judiciary hewing to originalism, were rendered irrelevant by Trump’s mean words and gauche behavior that would not be permitted in any of the nicer salons of any coastal city. They have spent the last three years casting even more principles–reduced federal regulations, economic prosperity, a stronger military, allies pulling more of their own weight, a rolling back of Iranian influence and strengthening of our ties to Israel–overboard because Trump’s Twitter usage left them cold.
Now, one would think they’d be a crisis of conscience. This election season has boiled down to two possible candidates for Trump to face. A liberal Democrat and a pro-communist Democrat. As far as I can tell, the only difference between them is that the commie is in favor of Medicare For All, the other wants to bring back a bigger, stronger Obamacare…and the commie has yet come out in favor of either allowing male prisoners to be incarcerated in women’s prisons if they identify as female or requiring the federal government to pick up the tab for their surgical mutilation.
This past weekend, while some of us were swilling free Makers Mark at CPAC, the NeverTrumper gathered in protest at what was billed as the first-ever “Summit on Principled Conservatism.” One item of discussion was what did NeverTrump do when voting for their principles actually would mean voting for President Trump. You can read a great write up of the soiree at the above link, but to save you the pain of it all, let’s cut to the chase. When asked if they’d vote for Sanders or Biden over Trump, this is how they answered:
There are more important and interesting people just in my neighborhood than in all of NeverTrump. And the way they vote will be a lot more predictive of the outcome in November than these clowns. pic.twitter.com/f4p4fgboZw
— David Reaboi (@davereaboi) March 3, 2020
But not voting for the president is the easy part. Are you still a Principled Conservative if you vote for a socialist?
Let’s be clear. There is no evidence that these people have any deeply held beliefs beyond self-interest. NeverTrump, at least after November 8, 2016, has been an obvious grift. The easy ticket onto a cable news show was as a NeverTrump Republican…usually a self-described “strategist.” Now they are confronted with a stark choice, they can adhere to their alleged principles and pull the lever for Donald Trump or they can hold onto their real principles and vote for Sanders or Biden (and don’t believe the bullsh** about a ‘moderate’ Biden, he’s just as far left as Bernie only he doesn’t act like a raving Bolshevik) so they will still be marketable after November 3, 2020.
Sometime,though, in the not too distant future these people are going to discover there is no market in trying to oppose a lame duck president and they are going to come slithering back and trying to convince the credulous among us that they do, indeed, have conservative principles and that their opposition to Trump and support of Sanders and Biden was actually evidence of just how principled they are. When that time comes we need to collectively laugh in their faces. These people are not conservatives. They are cynical opportunists who made some unfortunate decisions and there is no place for a Bill Kristol or Rick Wilson in any future conservative coalition.