A supposed, leading voice of True-Con Inc.™ reveals how they betray themselves.
Take all of the names out of the Never Trump camp, toss them in a black Stetson. Any and all familiar names qualify for this thought experiment — Bill Kristol, Jennifer Rubin, Max Boot, Nicolle Wallace, Matthew Dowd, and all the simpletons at The Lincoln Project or The Bulwark. There are plenty more, so keep chucking those names into all ten gallons of the Texan chapeau. Now, randomly pick out any one of them. You will end up with the same result.
The characteristics of this cabal are matching both in design and in a lack of quality. Obviously, all share a virulent distaste of the former president, but there is so much more. There is disdain for anyone still clinging to GOP policy, and there is crude condescension towards anyone failing to cleave to their newfound political arena.
There are also claims of what does and does not qualify these days as conservative principles, and there is a uniform level of support not only for Joe Biden but also Democrats in general. These are so even shared by all NTers as to become indistinguishable when any of them speak.
All of these established credentials are on full display in a new column by the token “NT-Conservative” at The Atlantic, David Frum, entitled “What The Never Trumpers Want Now.” As a preamble to publication, Dave peacocked on social media Monday. Ahead of the release of this screed, Frum delivered a thread on Twitter that would make “JRubinBlogger” proud. He spent a dozen entries mocking a supposed organized backlash to Biden’s vaccine mandate. Frum gleefully listed numerous companies which obediently obeyed the president’s directive, because nothing says you adhere to conservative principles more than cheering on statist authoritarianism.
Then Frum delivered his column, which is noteworthy not for the revelations of his movement’s positions but more for his admitting to them. His opening says plenty, revealing that this is not intended to win over minds to his side but to explain away their persistent contrarian position and justifying an allegiance with the Democrat party.
Many of the conservatives and Republicans appalled by Donald Trump’s presidency clutched a hope through the bewildering years: Someday this would all be over and politics would return to normal. But normal has not returned.
This is the attempt of Never Trumpers to explain why they continue to rage and wail in the absence of the very focus of their ire. The underlying truth here is that after years of battling the Republican/conservative side, this cadre of cranks is no longer desired by many on the right. Frum’s column is essentially saying, Well since you won’t take us back, here is why we do not want in! He offers as a wan explanation of Republican failings a listing of a few choice districts which were lost to the Dems last year. He does so while ignoring the significant inroads that were made by the GOP — gains in the House seats, numerous victories in state legislatures, and historic returns among minority voters.
That avoidance next leads to this laugher: The anti-Trump Republicans did not return home in 2020. Now, in 2021, their former party seems much more eager to welcome anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers than to win them back. Expecting the party to try to win back those who sabotaged things is the height of perfectly mixed arrogance and ignorance. He is looking to be invited back into the house after getting caught lighting the barn on fire.
As justification, Frum tries to cite the Capitol riot as Trump’s violation of the Constitution, claiming that managed to chase off these True-Cons — except…
Dave and his allies were virulent Trump haters years prior to the episode. Using that today as the fulcrum of their decision is remarkably inept. Making it worse, they have thrown in with Biden, a president who has openly defied Constitutional principles repeatedly in just the past few months. The vaccination mandate on private businesses is only the start, admitting to using OSHA as, quote-unquote, “a workaround.”
President Softserve has failed to uphold our border sanctity, verbally flouted the founding document while announcing extending the eviction moratorium, and signaled obsessive gun control. He also shows disdain for the basis of federalism by saying he would go after numerous state voting laws, how he wants to override the fetal heartbeat law in Texas, and declared he would force defiant governors to enact his mask mandate and now his vaccine requirement.
Biden views the Constitution as a piffle of an inconvenience, even stating at times when he intended to ignore his sworn duty to uphold the very same document. All of this is acceptable to the conservative, David Frum.
That these political pariahs have to align themselves with the party that has moved so far left they cannot even see the top of the letter ‘C’ in conservative is not at all surprising, but it is the most revealing, and not in the way these members think. While many have openly avowed the party switch — Kristol and Rubin springing to the fore, though others have varying degrees of this admission — what they do not realize is just how this unravels their claims. It goes beyond mere party loyalty…or disloyalty, as may be the case. It is in the polemic messaging they gave prior to this transformation — the justification is the Republican Party turned its back on conservative principles, so they are turning away from the GOP.
All well and good. Go follow your principles, as it were. But while running into the enemy camp may seem like a grand gesture, it completely undermines your pretext. If you are looking for a more pure form of conservatism you will not find even traces of it in Joe Biden’s party. There is nothing to be found in the Democrat agenda to justify this newfound allegiance. This is where these NT zealots are exposed; just follow their line of thought with their course of action, and what you end up with are clearly divergent paths.
If you are such a strident Conservative that Donald Trump was an untenable choice then how is it that you are not racing on a course that is further right from him? I’ll buy into your messaging that Trump was not a conservative; I have said as much repeatedly. But to use that as a rationale to take up arms with a party that is avowed to destroy the very tenets you claim to want to uphold is more than a farce — it is fictional outrage. This is like a couple who are both vegans, but one becomes outraged when they learn the other has been eating at McDonald’s — so in response, they decide to run off with a butcher.
I saw the exposure of the True-Con™ scam firsthand years back in the 2018 midterm election. I had an exchange with Max Boot following the election results, where he bemoaned the poor showing for Republicans and criticized ‘Trump’s Party’ for its performance. I pointed out to Max that he should have been happy with the result. This is because he spent the weeks ahead of the election boldly proclaiming that people vote Democrat entirely down-ticket, in order to send a message to the party.
After I called him out for this artificial outrage I mentioned to him that if he were truly possessed with the desire for conservative governance, he would have been promoting candidates who fit the bill of his true version of conservatism. When I challenged him on why he was not supporting those types of names on the ticket, his weak response was there were no valid True Conservative choices. This response exposes the vacancy of this Never Trump movement.
What was true in 2018 holds true today. These bickering, recalcitrant pundits have never managed to promote or support a candidate running on a platform of what they deem to be conservatism. Even when Joe Walsh staged a tepid campaign against Trump in 2020, these sage-like experts were nowhere to be found in his camp. Even further — and far more important to grasp — they have never generated or inspired those who fit their claimed agenda.
Donald Trump came on the scene in 2015, which means it has been more than half a decade of these hectoring Never Trump voices to be bleating about him and the condition of the party as a result. In that length of time, they have not delivered viable candidates, have not motivated an uprising of so-called similar-minded politicians, and have not convinced hordes of GOP voters to join in their pursuit. For a group so principled and so supposedly influential, they have not delivered in the realm of ideas.
No, rather we see belly-aching pieces like Frum’s contempt-filled screed, detailing all of the ills with the party that will no longer take them in. He delivers layers of rationalities about what ails a political movement that fails to see their brilliance, yet never considers introspection of their unit. It is one thing to claim to hold all the true foundational aspects of conservative orthodoxy, but when you do nothing to display these properties, while lending enthusiastic support to those who mock and deride conservatives as a reflex, you become exposed as little more than political opportunists.
Those “evil” conservatives will not take them back, but it never occurs to them that calling them evil is but one reason the door is no longer unlocked for their arrival. Frum, and his Never Trump allies in the post-Trump era find themselves looking in both directions for a suitor, but receiving no offers. They have pushed and promoted a Joe Biden who has proven ineffectual as a leader and the bold antithesis of the conservatism they so righteously claim to uphold. Their target has been removed, their alliance with a dysfunctional president is evident, and their message is as empty as USPS parcel opened before delivery.
Their avowed aims and their demonstrable actions are diametrically opposed. If this group gets around to forwarding conservative ideals and worthy candidates, it would be the first time in doing so in half a dozen years. Instead, they nuzzle up to a party that has no tolerance for them beyond election day. And it is all somebody else’s fault.