If this were TheOnion.com, I would start this column by citing how the conservative NeverTrumpers are already working on a political plan to insure that the GOP presidential nominee in 2020 is the kind of person that can win the general election and then advance the conservative principles they support.
That plan for 2020, by the way, is the same plan they executed when George H.W. Bush defeated more conservative candidates to win the nomination in 1988. The same thing happened with Bob Dole in 1996. Ditto George W. Bush in 2000. Both John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 also defeated more conservative candidates to win the nomination.
See a pattern there?
Since this isn’t The Onion, I’ll get right to my point: The NeverTrump folks don’t really understand the political arena enough to know how to get a genuine conservative elected president. Some of the NeverTrumpers (NTs) describe guys like Mitt Romney as conservative. Romney ran against and to the left of Ted Kennedy for U.S. Senate, and is the father of both “gay marriage” and Obamacare.
One of the big problems among the NTs and conservative commentators in general is that they see the political fray as something for others to deal with. Most conservatives commentators are spectators instead of participants. Sure there are exceptions. The problem is, not even the exceptions spend much time encouraging aggressive outreach to the uninformed or misinformed, or calling others to action.
Personnel is policy, and when conservatives are outnumbered in party politics and in the ranks of the candidates, it should surprise no one that conservatives principles rarely carry the day.
This also applies to the NTs among the Christian thinkers in the academy. Along with the typical conservative commentator NTs, these men have been amusing themselves to death with political theory and/or Christian doctrine. Meanwhile, the political arena burns.
We are all human, and we all have our blind spots. Don’t think for a second that because someone writes for National Review or Public Discourse that it means they have a grasp of everything that’s needed to succeed. Commenting on politics is nothing like understanding the problems at the grassroots level and trying to solve them.
These supposed NT “opinion leaders” are often brilliant in their analysis of cultural and political changes, even as they are complete dullards when it comes to their grasp of how public opinion gets shaped in the public square.
Here’s part of the secret missing ingredient: In order for an opinion to actually change minds, people have to actually hear the opinion.
That’s not very complicated. So why do some of the smartest people miss it? You tell me.
It is no fun being the bearer of bad tidings but very few non-conservatives read the National Review, Red State, The Resurgent, Weekly Standard, The Stream, Public Discourse, and so many other conservative websites and blogs, including those belonging to Christian professors self-identifying as NeverTrumpers.
It would be a lot easier to be sympathetic to the nonstop nastiness — and frankly often childishness emanating from the NeverTrumpers — if they had actually spent time doing what is needed. 1) Figuring out how to reach people outside the choir with the conservative message. 2) Calling for a troop surge of conservative people into the process. The NTs themselves need to engage in real political work so they can take the lead and demonstrate how it’s supposed to be done through their own actions. It will give them something to write about.
Let me invite the NeverTrumpers to spend some time in political elementary school where the tuition is free. The republic will benefit greatly if some of my favorite writers would enroll and begin classes immediately. Yes, many of the NeverTrumpers are among my favorite commentators when it comes to analyzing the culture and the issues. Here are just a few that I understand to be NTs:
Bill Kristol, George Will, David French, Jonah Goldberg, Kevin Williamson, Erick Erickson, Steve Deace, Ben Shapiro, Andrew McCarthy, Douglas Wilson, J. Budziszewski and Robert George. These last three, by the way, are, in my opinion giants in the conservative Christian academic community. (You should read J. Budziszewski’s book What We Can’t Not Know — it is truly amazing.)
This is an information war election. They all are, but this year is even more so because the liberal media is functioning as a pro-Hillary Super PAC, and the NTs act as a de facto cheering squad for Hillary.
I pray that Donald Trump succeeds in rallying the Rust Belt, the Bible Belt, and enough of the Reagan Democrat types and wins this thing. If he does, I am confident Trump will more often than not be guided by the some of the best conservative minds in the country. Few of which, by the way, had Trump as their first choice, but now can see the great potential of a Trump presidency.