In the waning days of the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump enthusiasts are making their final, all-out assault in an attempt to bully, harass, harangue, and intimidate NeverTrumpers into submission — all must submit and resistance, we are told, is futile.
Roger Simon of PJMedia diagnoses NeverTrumpers as suffering from “moral narcissism” because we want “clean hands” more than we care about the fate of the country. In the very next paragraph he reassures readers, “[H]aving spent some time on the campaign trail at Trump rallies…[he] never saw anyone identified with the NeverTrump movement.” Why would NeverTrumpers attend a Trump rally? Is Simon saying NeverTrumpers are near extinction or is he saying the only way to fairly judge Donald Trump is to run the personal safety risk of attending a rally as an open Trump opponent? So, Simon attended rallies for Hillary Clinton, right? No, but it is a clever and subtle way of accusing NeverTrumpers of being close-minded and ill-informed even if predicated on the assumption only news gathered first-hand is of value. Maybe that explains the failure of Simon’s PJTV — all his viewers realized they could do better on their own.
Juan Davalos, at TheFederalist.com, writes NeverTrumpers are not morally superior and lack moral character; they are escaping responsibility and reality. In words dripping with condescension, Davalos gives voters firm criteria for choosing between the “only two candidates” we can choose: “One must discern the pros and cons of the platform each individual endorses”. We are not free to consider whether they will be faithful to their platform or if they were honest in their endorsements. He says we are not endorsing their corruption or misbehavior contrary to Ben Shapiro’s argument a vote for Trump or Clinton gives them the voter’s moral imprimatur. We are morally obligated to vote based solely on a comparison of their platforms. Failure to choose one of these two paths is to evade our responsibility. After making a weak analogy to soldiers having no option except to fight, Davalos adds, “[t]he task of the citizen is harder than that of the soldier” because we must deliberate and decide what is best to do for the “common good” like all well-behaved communists.
Over at AmericanThinker.com there are frequent articles attacking NeverTrumpers. Lloyd Marcus contributed an article attacking Christians who refuse to jump on the Trump Train as voting for Hillary and religious persecution. Brian Joodeph threatens NeverTrumpers for riding on their “moral high horse.” He promises revenge by “the people” at the polls.
Back on PJ Media, D.C. McAllister doubled down on Simon’s piece by accusing NeverTrumpers of being “morally lazy” for avoiding, rather than confronting a moral dilemma. NeverTrumpers will be morally responsible for every action by Hillary. Rigid moralism is civil cowardice and we are selfishly putting ourselves before others. For McAllister, that a Trump presidency is preferable to a Clinton presidency is settled science. In a separate article, David Solway piles on with further accusations, buried among laughable inaccuracies, that NeverTrumpers are responsible for the end of America. Solway says we can’t criticize Trump because we are all impure, and then he launches a litany of attacks on Hillary for her impurities.
If we are lazy, narcissists, how do they explain Trump and his kids? Do they bear any responsibility if he loses? Trump quit donating to his own campaign. He stopped fundraising. His kids, despite a record of donating to liberal candidates in the past, haven’t put a single dime into their father’s campaign.
All of these last minute, blistering tirades share common threads aside from regurgitating the Trump campaign talking points. They selectively highlight NeverTrumpers that fit their narrative. They lay moral responsibility at the feet of NeverTrumpers for failing to “jump on the Trump Train.” They are not trying to persuade, they are virtue signaling.
When they name NeverTrumpers, they include politicians, like Paul Ryan, who endorsed Trump and still intends to vote for him, and commentators that never used the #NeverTrump hashtag. They focus on names they can easily tie to the political establishment in DC. Beltway insiders, like Bill Kristol, George Will, and Charles Krauthammer, they dismiss as “establishment” and “part of the problem.” Meanwhile, they avoid mentioning NeverTrumpers who don’t fit their “Trump vs the establishment” narrative like Ben Shapiro, Caleb Howe, Leon Wolfe, Steve Deace, Glenn Beck, or Ben Sasse. They never mention Erick Erickson, the original NeverTrumper, because his anti-establishment bona fides are beyond question.
After establishing their “all NeverTrumpers are corrupt establishment insiders” narrative, they make the case NeverTrumpers will be responsible for Trump’s loss, and therefore morally responsible for every evil deed of President Clinton. Did they similarly hold the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists morally responsible for the acts of terrorists because the artists drew pictures of the Muslim prophet? The staff at Charlie Hebdo knew as a consequence of their cartoons, other people were likely to commit terrorist acts. NeverTrumpers know voting for a third party candidate will likely lead to a Clinton presidency. Authentic conservatives only hold the perpetrators responsible, not innocents exercising their rights.
NeverTrumpers were forced, against their will, into a no-win situation. How can we then be morally responsible for the consequences of a decision we never agreed to?
You are kidnapped, bound, and taken to a dark room. You are sitting in front of a table and there is a man pointing a gun at your head. On the table are two pills, one red and one blue. The red pill is cyanide. The blue pill is arsenic. You are told you must take one of the pills or you will be shot. What do you do? Since you are going to die anyway, take the bullet and frustrate their plans. More importantly, who is morally responsible the death? The AlwaysTrumpers claim the kidnap victim is responsible based on the decision they made to take a pill. No. The kidnappers are responsible, regardless of the decision.
Consider the abusive relationship between the GOP and conservatives as a marriage. The GOP just bought a new car they can’t afford despite repeated warnings by conservatives. Now, several months later, we must choose between making the car payment and paying the utility bill. AlwaysTrumpers are saying we will be morally responsible if car is repossessed because we won’t make the payment. Instead, we opt to sell the wedding ring to buy food for the kids. Moral responsibility as to whether the car is repossessed or electricity is cutoff lies exclusively with the one who bought the car, not the one forced into it.
Simon, Davalos, Marcus, Joodeph, McAllister, Solway, and their ilk are morally responsible for Clinton because they coerced us into this situation. We told them as far back as February, we will never vote for him. They nominated him anyway. Even as his team and supporters crowed about every primary poll he led, we pointed to the same polls showing Trump was the only GOP candidate Hillary would defeat. They knew he couldn’t win and still nominated him. They own this disaster.
Curiously, the articles bashing NeverTrump are not even trying to be persuasive. Attacking the people you purportedly want to influence tends to have the opposite effect. Even some ReluctantTrumpers (flip-flop artist Jason Chaffetz, Paul Ryan) are being pilloried for not supporting Trump with enough passion or vigor.
The pressure on the resistance within GOP and conservative circles is unprecedented. There was no cavalcade of articles assailing Republican leaning voters who stayed home 2008 or 2012. In 2016, the group cartoonist Berkeley Breathed refers to as “stormtrumpers” are issuing threats. Erick Erickson, David French, and Ben Shapiro each received numerous death threats. We can practically see the mobs in the streets with pitchforks and torches.
This isn’t about NeverTrump, this is about their need for validation of their moral choice. The articles are a form of virtue-signaling. However, instead of promoting themselves as virtuous, they want to bring others to their level as justification for their decision. They must destroy anyone who fails to make the same moral choice they made. If they forsook their principles while others around them remained true, what does this say about them?
Regardless of the election results, this is the last stand of NeverTrump. Trump enthusiasts will continue to berate them in public and blame them for all that is wrong in the Republic. Unless Trump, or one of his kids, runs again in the future, NeverTrump will cease to exist. Former NeverTrumpers will still be around and involved, but their binding identifier will not be their resistance to Trump. Instead, many will be working to create something new they can be ‘for,’ instead of ‘against.’