The past several days have been filled with accolades and attention for NeverTrump, the wee collection of self-proclaimed “conservatives” working against the president, in the corporate media. The Washington Post published a lengthy puff piece on two new nonprofits that are targeting not just President Trump but Trump-supporting Republican senators up for re-election. Post reporters, without evidence, referred to NeverTrump as a “sudden campaign force” that should make Team Trump shudder with fear.
Frank Bruni, far from a conservative or anything close to one, swooned over NeverTrumpers in his latest New York Times column. “That’s why, when I look at them, I see patriotism,” Bruni cooed.
That’s funny—most people on the Right, when they look at NeverTrump, see a sad collection of losing campaign managers, failed magazine editors, and third-rate pundits hanging on for dear life by giving the false impression a big chunk of Republicans oppose Donald Trump.
When President Trump looks at them, he sees “human scum.” And when Democrats see NeverTrump, they see useful idiots.
As I write in my new book, “Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried and Failed to Take Down the President,” NeverTrumpers have aided and abetted Democrats at every turn during the Trump era. From first seeding the imaginary Russian collusion ruse to backing impeachment, NeverTrump acts as the Democratic Party’s waterboys, cheering from the bench and wiping down sweaty brows hoping for a few atta boys on MSNBC.
This bunch is up to their old tricks as Election Day nears. Two new shell groups—the Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump—are producing inflammatory ads and blanketing the media, both traditional and social, with scary stories about Donald Trump.
The Lincoln Project, flush with at least $16 million in anonymous donations so far this year, is led by a roster of GOP has-beens, including Steve Schmidt, the manager who led the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign to a humiliating defeat, and Rick Wilson, often seen on CNN mocking Trump supporters as illiterate rubes. (Wilson also was loosely involved in the McCain race.) George Conway (a.k.a., Mr. Kellyanne Conway) is a Lincoln Project principal, too.
Their goal, according to the group’s website, is to save the country by “electing Democrats who support the Constitution over Republicans who do not” and they think this “is a worthy effort.” (It’s unclear where these Constitution-loving Democrats can be found but it is certain that they do not currently roam the halls of Congress.)
The Lincoln Project also plans to organize field workers in swing states and defeat vulnerable incumbent Republican senators who they condemn as “enablers” of Donald Trump: The list includes Senator Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
Republican Voters Against Trump, the latest head fake backed by Bill Kristol, the de facto leader of NeverTrump, is posting testimonials from purported Republicans and onetime Trump backers confessing they will not vote for the president in 2020: “Together their voices are powerful,” the coalition insists. “And if they are heard, next January we will inaugurate Joe Biden as the next president, and the Republican Party can begin a post-Trump future.” So far, they have collected a whopping 400 videos.
But like most NeverTrump outlets, Republican Voters Against Trump is backed by a leftwing tech tycoon and sworn enemy of Donald Trump. A foundation funded by Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay and sugardaddy to several anti-Trump activists, has contributed nearly $4 million to Defending Democracy Together, the umbrella nonprofit for Republican Voters Against Trump, in just the past two years. Defending Democracy Together also hosts the Bulwark, a NeverTrump political site founded in 2019 after the Weekly Standard went out of business.
Sarah Longwell, director of Republican Voters Against Trump, told the Post her group will spend “$10 million to $15 million” buying air time in swing states such as Arizona and Michigan. The ads will target “white suburban women, a group that has already begun to move away from Trump,” Longwell said.
It’s hard to see how videos of random voters airing their grievances against the president will sway the average Costco Mom. And considering the dangerous climate the Left continues to stoke, it’s unlikely a selfie video from “Tom” in “North Carolina” is going to convince a white suburban mom to vote to put police-defunding, statue-smashing, knee-bending sympathizers in power in Washington.
Not everyone on the Democratic side of the aisle is welcoming these interlopers with open arms. Ben Howe, a long time NeverTrumper and video editor for the Lincoln Project, was let go on Monday after a left-leaning website posted several of his profane tweets. (The Daily Dot also posted vile tweets by Rick Wilson, but so far he’s still on the job.)
A cartoon talk show produced by Stephen Colbert ambushed Wilson during what he undoubtedly thought would be a friendly interview this week. Calling out Wilson’s hypocrisy, the characters assailed Wilson for snuggling up to his former political foes and mocked the Lincoln Project for its ties to the George W. Bush Administration. “Rick, when was the exact moment you realized those pathetic little whores [how Wilson described a group of Obama supporters in a 2010 tweet] could be tapped for money?”
The show also confronted Wilson about the Lincoln Project’s finances; nearly 90 percent of its 2020 budget so far has been spent on overhead rather than voter outreach. Wilson stammered to explain, but to no avail. The show ended by describing the Lincoln Project as “savvy grifters who ruined the country before.”
Wilson was not amused.
A lack of self-reflection, of course, is just one of the many fatal character flaws of NeverTrump. What they must not realize is how much they need Trump to stick around in order for them to remain even remotely relevant. NeverTrump is a political parasite: President Trump is their host. Without him, NeverTrump will go back to the political wilderness, loathed by the Right and ignored by the Left.
That might be the only upside to a Trump loss in November.