#NeverTrump have become open saboteurs. Whether because of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s have-it-both-ways disavowal of the Republican Party’s nominee, or because of Ohio Governor John Kasich’s sponsored sabotage of Trump’s ground game in Ohio, or because they are already openly and gleefully speculating what comes after Trump at the RedState gathering, the people involved in #NeverTrump have forfeited all right to be considered simply individual dissenters from the GOP. And if Trump loses, as they are trying to make him, they are no doubt salivating over the prospect of what might happen to damage the career of Trump backers, myself included. Every time they go on Twitter, their fingers itch to declare us apostates, fascists, racists, and crypto-Nazis, if they haven’t already. Abandon all hope of influence in the GOP, ye who backed Donald Trump.
I won’t lie: It would be tempting to sock a lot of them in the goddamn face and hope they stay plastered over the crypto-Nazi allegation. And if I were more petty, I think I would probably relish the thought of what a Hillary Clinton presidency would do to them. But unlike them, I do not place the interests of my sectarian wing of conservatism as superior to the health of the political Right. So because I feel they deserve a warning, I have an honest question for them:
Do they not realize the Left will lump them in with us?
I know it’s easy for #NeverTrumpers to assume that only we deplorable Trump backers will end up ostracized by polite society right now. They’re probably getting more MSNBC booking appointments than they know what to do with. Publications like the Washington Post and the New York Times are quoting them with a level of respect and charity that they never thought to gain from them. If Trump loses, they think they’ll emerge as the respectable, decent, noble conservatives who stood athwart the Trump train, yelling “Stop!” and will have shown the liberal media that they deserve their respect at last. The media is giving it to them now, so why should they stop, right?
Wrong. What they don’t realize is that all of them, without exception, are being treated as useful idiots. If Hillary wins, the people who are treating them like princes of principle now will no longer need them. The Left will turn on them with the same fury they turned on us, and their refusal to back Trump will count for nothing.
In fact, ironically, their refusal to back Trump might actually hurt them. I’m sure #NeverTrumpers think that’s ludicrous, but an easy test case should prove I’m right: namely, the case of arguably their most vocal and listened-to compatriot, Glenn Beck. Beck was recently the subject of a profile by the Daily Beast that I’m sure some intern must have published before the election by mistake. It’s far too honest about what the Left really thinks of #NeverTrump conservatives to come out when they could still change their minds. The gist of the story is that Beck laid all the groundwork for Trump, and is now trying to weasel out of responsibility.
This is but one of the many attacks used against #NeverTrump. Have you ever boosted Sarah Palin? Congratulations, you are responsible for Donald Trump. Have you ever urged outreach to blue collar workers, or demanded immigration restriction? Congratulations, you are responsible for Donald Trump. Have you ever raised questions about the collusion of the mainstream media with Democrat politicians? Congratulations, you are responsible for Donald Trump.
Even if you, hypothetical #NeverTrumper, have never done any of these things, which is unlikely, consider this: Once the liberal media no longer needs you to help make Trump look bad, how will they look back on your denunciations of Trump himself? How will they spin that?
To those of us not afflicted with anti-Trump tunnel vision, the answer is obvious. With Trump in the rearview mirror as a direct political threat, the liberal media (many of whom used to be his friends) will cast him as a put-upon, imperfect progressive reformer who reactionary, backwards people (in other words, people they perceive as a greater threat as an opposition) tried to sabotage.
Does #NeverTrump think the Left will fail to notice they complained that Ivanka’s child care policy was too liberal because it helped working mothers? They won’t.
Do they think the Left will fail to notice they attacked Trump’s foreign policy for being insufficiently bellicose and war-mongering? They won’t.
Do they think the Left will ignore people like Ben Shapiro’s denunciations of Trump for being too pro-gay, socially liberal, and libertine in sexual matters? They won’t.
Do they think the Left will let them off the hook for attacking Trump’s support for student loan forgiveness, or his support for pro-labor trade policy? They won’t.
Do they think the Left will still treat people like Erick Erickson as heroes for trying to write Trump out of politics using religious tests? They won’t.
Do they think the Left will respect their denunciations of racism, sexism, or xenophobia in the Trump campaign once they realize they’re still opposed to Black Lives Matter, radical feminists, or endless importation of refugees/cheap labor? Even if any given #NeverTrumper only opposes one of these, there aren’t words to describe the degree to which they won’t.
Every ounce of pointless, sanctimonious virtue signaling #NeverTrump gets away with now will be turned on them by the relativists on the Left the instant it no longer serves their purpose of rendering Trump unacceptable. Their consciences will be weaponized as admissions of guilt. Their noble intentions will be mocked as so anti-progressive they wouldn’t even support an arch-conservative (and that is how they will brand Trump, whether they like it or not) if he deviated from their zealotry. Their principles will be treated as threats to a pluralistic society because they’re so rigid they couldn’t even let Trump skate on them. Everything they have said against Trump, in other words, will be transformed from evidence of their noble stands on principle into evidence of their fanaticism and dangerousness to polite society the instant the same objections become pertinent to Hillary Clinton.
I feel obliged to warn the #NeverTrump crowd about this, though I can’t say I’ll feel sorry for them if they let it happen. They staked their success on accolades from hostile, ideologically inimical people in order to preserve their own precious ability to sleep at night, even if it meant having every facet of every waking hour of their lives controlled by the Left. They defecated on their own base, their colleagues, and their friends in order to chase their own self-congratulation, and congratulation at the hands of people who will sharpen their long knives for them if Trump loses.
In other words, #NeverTrump had better pray that Donald Trump wins, because then, liberals will be so desperate to pretend Trump is an unprecedented historical monstrosity that their little racket can keep going for at least four years. Otherwise, come Hillary’s inauguration, they’ll find their new friends will suddenly become enemies, and will turn everything they thought made them noble this election cycle into an excuse to destroy them before the next.
And as for their old friends? Well, they were all too ready to throw us to the wolves for backing Trump, so don’t expect us to be much more charitable. We don’t need the liberal media to get our message out. We’re not interested in the Left’s respect. Our business models don’t rely on respectability. #NeverTrump’s business models do, and if they’re looking for respect from us? Well, first they came for Donald Trump, and for all of us, and #NeverTrump cheered them on.
Who does #NeverTrump expect to defend them when the Left comes for them?