#NeverTrump, #FineWithTrump, and everything in between
Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee. Presumably he will face off against Hillary Clinton.
Given the intense feelings and turmoil resulting from Ted Cruz suspending his campaign, I thought it would be useful to solicit views from all of the Legal Insurrection authors. Most of the authors took me up on the offer.
The opinions below, listed in alphabetical order by last name or pseudonym, are the opinions of each individual author.
I think you will be surprised at the breadth of opinion, from someone who was for Trump long before it was cool to be for Trump, to diehard #NeverTrump-ers. And many variations in between.
As for me. Well, you’ll have to find my name in the list. Hopefully I did alphabetical order better than I do math.
I am one of those rare people who was never strongly for or against Trump. My thought has always been that I would back the GOP nominee no matter who it was with one exception – Jeb Bush. My thinking was that Jeb would get creamed in a general election and that he was a weak candidate.
Now that Trump is the presumptive nominee, I’m thinking of launching the hashtag #FineWithTrump. I think he has a very good shot at defeating Hillary and I know he’ll bring the fight to her in a way other candidates could or would not do.
I’ve never disliked Trump, but I wasn’t all-in for him either. Although I liked a lot of what he said and how he said it in the beginning, I felt Ted Cruz had earned my conservative vote over the past few years.
What I didn’t like, was watching my dear conservative friends, who once were so united against the Obama/Hillary disaster happening to our country, now at each others throats as the though the other side embodied the very essence of evil. (It brought back those awful memories of my parents arguing just prior to their divorce).
Neither Trump nor Cruz caused our county’s major problems, that responsibility belongs to the blame-America- first policies of Obama, Hillary, and the democrats.
So, let us Cruz supporters put put on our big boy panties and fight for #NeverHillary with the same Ferocity we had for each other.
What’s been truly saddening about this primary is not so much the rise of Trump, but the caustic in-fighting among conservatives–both the pro-Trump alt-right and the #NeverTrump crowd. I’m actually more disappointed in the latter. Despite carrying the true mantle of ideological conservatism, the haughtiness and crass elitism displayed by many of them has been a sad development. Conservatism does not pander to populist whimsies, true, but it should not ignore and patronize a hurting populace. As a college student, I’ve discussed the primary with a lot of fellow young conservatives, and many of them say cringe-worthy things like “Trump voters must have never gone to college” implying they, the Trump voters, are somehow inferior to us as the supposed intellectual elites. I’ve always seen this type of elitism–a disdain for the non-punditry class and non-east/west coast elites–as a hallmark of the progressive left. If those who are done with the Republican Party want to charter their own new path, I will gladly join, but not if this type of elitist, patrician thinking permeates their ranks.
I have no reaction as a libertarian. After 2008 and 2012 I do not know how anyone is shocked or surprised the GOP has ended up with Donald Trump. We have three branches of government, not a dictatorship. A friend once told me no matter what America will remain the shining light in the world. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight, but we’ll remain on top.
There is a meme floating in my Facebook feed depicting Ted Cruz supporters as King Leonidas, whose body is filled with Persian arrows after the Spartan King’s fall at Thermopylae. As an amateur historian, I smiled a bit. But, as a tea party advocate, I would say to those for whom Donald Trump was not their first pick: It’s really not that bad.
Watching the social media meltdown among leading conservatives last night was extremely painful, as several of those disappointed pundits and activists are people I admire. But 186 days is a long time, and as we have already discovered, flocks of black swans are clearly on the horizon. Independent conservatives should keep open minds, open hearts, and open eyes and not make firm decisions about what they are going to do in November quite yet.
I have several observations about my evolving attitude toward Trump that I would like to share with you. First of all, he has already defied the odds, and his unconventional campaign has gotten him the nomination. Why shouldn’t this be true in the General Election? Also, I admire his fighting spirit, and his core message that is focused on this country. I have noted that he has changed his campaign staff and style to achieve a victory he obviously wants. Several people I respect are already in his camp (e.g., Sarah Palin, Jan Brewer). There are many personal acts of loyalty and kindness that demonstrate that despite his big personality, he is a decent man (e.g., Lynne Patton’s video “The Trump Family That I Know” – A Black Female Trump Executive Speaks; Trump sending the Marine jailed in Mexico $25,000 Check).
Is Donald Trump perfect? No. But I think he has the smarts and motivation to enact policies that help the country more than they help him personally…unlike Clinton. This is especially true if he gets solid input from independent conservatives.
Some conservative activists who once vehemently opposed the nomination of Donald Trump now seem to be in the process of “making peace” with backing the Democrats’ eventual nominee. According to a morning poll of Cruz supporters, 13% of Republicans who backed him plan to vote for Clinton. But for those sorely disappointed with the now available grim general-election options, there’s still the choice of submitting a third-party protest vote and voting down-ticket Republican.
As many have argued eloquently and passionately over the last 24 hours, the fundamental problem with Trump’s nomination isn’t just that he’s unfit for the presidency because of his wild, insulting rhetoric, belligerent temperament, and “stripper glitter showmanship”. The problem is that Trump as the Republican nominee brands the GOP—a party founded to abolish slavery—as the party of “alternative right” white supremacists and self-declared Holocaust deniers.
Basically, because he doesn’t feel the need to reject the support of far right extremists and bestows on them a degree of legitimacy, under Trump a party of liberty and racial equality will effectively become a xenophobic, nativist, white nationalist party. It will be a party that opposes free trade and legal immigration, “lavishes praise on dictators” and stands for “America first” neo-isolationism (let’s never forget the origins of that ugly term—it was America-firsters who fought against U.S. entry into the war against Nazi Germany).
Bottom line: the GOP under Trump will be a party that no American, much less a conservative, should want any part of. As Eliot A. Cohen, who served in the Defense and State Departments in the George H. Bush and George W. Bush administrations respectively, put it yesterday: “A Trump candidacy is a disgrace”. In fact, it reflects a sickness in the GOP that’s much larger than one charismatic demagogue. The deep schisms within the Republican Party inflamed by Trump’s campaign for the White House may prove to be irreparable.
I largely agree with what Kemberlee wrote today in Morning Insurrection, Trump doesn’t represent me and I will support down ticket Republicans. I don’t necessarily believe that Trump will lead the Republicans to electoral disaster in November. He will apparently gain the Republican nomination having eschewed traditional campaigning, so I think it’s premature to use conventional standards to judge his viability in November. Once he starts campaigning for the general electorate, I suspect that many of those negative numbers will start to decrease.
What I have no patience for are liberals and Democrats who are crowing that Trump somehow is representative of Republicans or of conservatives. He represents neither. What he represents is a thumb in the eye to our political elites of BOTH PARTIES. On the other side is Bernie Sanders who represents a discredited and immoral political philosophy and who might have been the nominee if not for the Democrats’ anti-democratic institution of superdelegates. I would argue that Sanders is much more representative of the Democratic Party than Trump is of the Republican Party. Trump’s apparent status as the Republican nominee represents a wakeup call for both parties to start listening to voters and not simply dictating to them.
My overwhelming feeling at the nomination of Trump is one of loss.
Loss of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity truly to change the trajectory of government and entrenched political power. Loss of conservative and conservative media self-respect. Possible loss of years of hard work by thousands of conservative activists who have changed the nation, even if they did not change D.C. Loss of friendships with people I used to respect, but no longer do because they helped perpetrate and project false information and conspiracy theories for Trump.
As for where this goes, I’m not sure where I will go and where I fit in. I’m not as reactive as you might think.
We are faced with a truly horrible choice. I abhor both Donald and Hillary. You’ve read my views for months in the case of Donald, and years in the case of Hillary. They are flip sides of the same coin. The question is which one is more dangerous and will do more damage to the nation and our individual liberties, and advance the march of government power over our lives.
Under no circumstances would I actively support Hillary. The question is whether I actively support Trump, or sit it out and just observe.
I don’t know what I will do, or what we will do as a website. That will change, but right now, I’m still thinking things through.
Like baseball fans who wear “My Favorite Team Is Whoever Is Playing The New York Yankees” t-shirts, seeing Hillary and the Dems defeated has become, to many, even more important than by whom or by what means they are so. It matters little to most Trump supporters that he holds or has held positions similar to Hillary’s views on almost every conceivable issue, or that a Trump administration would be surprising similar to a Hillary Clinton administration. What is of paramount importance is that Trump be the winner he has brilliantly marketed himself to be.
The presumptive Republican nominee is an anti-vaxer, thinks Ted Cruz’s dad killed JFK, believes 9/11 was an inside job, routinely says awful things to and about women, is pro-choice, will have to testify to fraud charges during the election cycle, and donated to his presumptive general election opponent. Problematic for those who hoped Trump would help burn it all to the ground is that he has the approval of the single most hated establishment figure — John Boehner. The reasons for Trump’s ascension are numerous and no party or faction escapes culpability. The establishments, hucksters, and purity police on both sides of the aisle all share the blame. Ignoring those who’ve suffered under terrible policies in exchange for political capital? Also unwise (and certainly not conservative).
When I said months ago that I would never, under any circumstance, vote for Donald Trump, I actually meant the whole never part. Still do. I will support Republican candidates down ballot, because with Trump at the top of the ticket, they’ll need all the help they can get. Does that mean I’m voting for Hillary? No. I’ll be voting Libertarian. Does that mean I’m ensuring a Clinton White House? Also no. I’m not responsible for the actions of those who voted for Trump. No candidate is entitled to my vote; my vote must be earned and spent as my principles dictate. And my principles do not allow support of either Trump or Clinton. Is this Ross Perot 2.0? Nope. It’s not that either. Perot ran to siphon votes away from Bush 39 and was successful in doing so. But Dole, McCain, and Romney! Granted, they were moderately Republicans. But they were at the very least, Republican. Trump is not. Those who choose not to vote for Trump or Clinton choose to do so because both are horrid candidates. The era of voting for the lesser of two evils is over. For years people have complained about the candidate renderings of a two-party system. Now seems as good a time as any to change that. Our country too valuable to continue yielding to that disaster-wrought status quo.
Am I rudderless, distraught, or incensed because Trump is the Republican presumptive nominee? Never. I still believe America is the best damn country God ever gave to mankind. We were birthed out of loathe for traditional rule and for many of us, that hasn’t changed. We survived a turbulent infancy, realigned out of necessity, withstood a Civil War and dire economic conditions and we’re still standing. I’ve worked on campaigns, organized grassroots coalitions, exposed corruption, and have had the privilege of telling people’s stories. I still believe our best hope of changing course is not in the ballot box, but in our communities, families, and culture. From the day I accidentally ended up in the conservative movement, working to restore dignity to our way of life has been my focus. That has not changed because of our nominee. Politicians are not our leaders, nor are they our rulers. They are employed for one reason — to represent us.
I will not espouse hatred of those who hold opinions contrary to my own, but will always fight with love. My vote is no more important than yours or his or hers. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly,” wrote Martin Luther King, Jr. from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama. “Let us fight passionately and unrelentingly to the goals of justice. Let’s be sure that our hands are clean. Let us never fight with falsehood an violence and hate and malice, but always fight with love,” he said. The road ahead is rough and rocky, but I remain hopeful that America’s best days lie ahead. There is always hope, even when we struggle to see it. Elections are important and have consequences for supporters and dissenters alike, but our best hope of righting the ship is in how we live.
I have consistently said #NeverTrump and I meant it. I will not vote for Donald Trump. I will vote down ticket and do whatever I can to ensure the GOP retains the Senate to prevent President Clinton from appointing whichever hard Left judge she chooses (Justice Obama, ladies and gentlemen?), and the House to forestall Clinton and force her to consider the GOP agenda, if there is one.
Trump is utterly unqualified for the job, in experience, knowledge or temperament. Abetted by a media class desperate for ratings or predisposed to Trump’s brand of bluster, he has proffered no consistent policy or plan to implement it. On the issues for which he is most praised by his supporters, he is hopelessly inconsistent (immigration), or flat out wrong (free trade). His economic plan amounts to tariffs and his foreign policy is worse. He boasts of his ability to surround himself with great people, but his senior staff and advisers are laughably poor choices lacking the experience and ability to do their own jobs, let alone steer The Donald to wisdom.
While Trump has expressed positions that sometimes overlap with my own, the reasoning diverges wildly and Trump’s incredible inconsistency renders it moot. Close the borders – yes; because Mexico dumps criminals here – no. Control immigration – yes; ban by religion – no. Push back on China – yes; end free trade – no. Push NATO members to do more – yes; because they don’t matter to us – no. Make America Great Again – absolutely…but he doesn’t have the plan or ability to do it.
I believe in the classical Liberalism of small government and individual freedom. That is not Trump. If he is the GOP, then I’m not, and I will search for a new party.
This year, small government conservatives discovered they are much more of a minority than they ever thought they were. They learned that their old dream of nominating and electing someone who could clearly articulate the conservative cause is more of a pipe dream fantasy. They discovered that a lot of people who call themselves “conservative” on those surveys have their own idiosyncratic definitions of the word. And they may wish they were back in the Big Tent of yesterday, the one that got blown down and ripped apart and can no longer give them shelter and nourish the illusion that they are very strong in number and influence.
This could change. I’m not suggesting that any of us give up. I suggest activism—particularly on college campuses, where the leftist rot is well-advanced. There’s grass roots politics, too. It’s important to keep as many GOP seats in Congress as possible, as well, although it will be quite the challenge. But politics is a long haul.
The MSM has hardly begun to carry Hillary’s water the way it undoubtedly will. The Democrats have not unleashed more than a small percentage of their ammunition against Trump. Nor has Trump started the major attacks on Hillary of which he’s fully capable. I predict we are in for a campaign season so dirty that we’ll end up like Lady Macbeth, doubting if all the water in the ocean can wash us clean.
The forces against a Trump presidency will be torrential, as the left has only just begun its efforts. As we’ve seen with the Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and Obama for America groups, the left is organized. The anti-Trump demonstrations in Chicago were only a taste of what the leftists are capable of. Trump’s nomination breathes life into their cause, their efforts, and their determination. They will out campaign us, out organize us, and may finally take the nation past the point of no return.
Like many Republicans, I eagerly looked forward to the 2016 presidential race. I’d had the privilege of meeting several of the expected candidates and was excited about what this very deep bench would bring to the table, and how this election cycle would be an excellent opportunity to share successful conservative ideas with the country. I couldn’t wait to see Ted Cruz and Rand Paul debate the limits of liberty vs. national security, hear Marco Rubio share his optimistic vision for America’s future, Bobby Jindal tell how school choice had revolutionized New Orleans’ education system, Rick Perry highlight Texas’ criminal justice reforms, Scott Walker talk about labor union reform, and so on.
Instead, the party I’ve supported since I registered to vote at 18 is going to nominate an outlandish clown who cannot be trusted to support conservative principles on core issues like abortion, taxes, health care, trade, or foreign policy. As a journalist, his antagonistic attitude toward the First Amendment disgusts and terrifies me. I remain steadfastly #NeverTrump. He has proven himself to be a pathological liar, utterly without shame, so it matters not to me who he selects as his running mate or what he promises everyone before November. I won’t vote for Hillary Clinton either and I’m fully aware that the many people withholding their votes from Trump make a Clinton presidency more likely, but I cannot in good conscience cast my vote for Trump. Clinton will be horrible, but at least she’ll be more predictably horrible than Trump, and that’s better for both foreign policy and economic markets.
I firmly believe that a Trump presidency would be a disaster for our nation. This is a man who admires Putin, mused that the Chinese government wasn’t tough enough on the Tiananmen Square protesters, and insisted that the U. S. military would obey even his unlawful orders. Add to these questionable stances his childish temperament, a temperament that includes tweeting out insults to everyone from Heidi Klum and Rosie O’Donnell to his political opponents to American businesses he wants his followers to boycott, his apparent lack of any moral or principled mooring, and his support for the sort of big spending, big government that is anathema to Constitutional conservatives like myself, and I can never, in good conscience, cast a vote for Trump as president.
I will support down ticket conservatives, but Trump is not a conservative. At various times over the past couple of years, he has called for restrictions on the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Tenth Amendments, and while it is entirely possible that he didn’t understand that was what he was doing at the time, his ignorance of the United States Constitution makes him, in my opinion, a poor choice for the highest office in the land.
I didn’t become #NeverTrump without thinking about it and without realizing at the time that he could well win the GOP nomination, and when I said “Never Trump,” that’s exactly what I meant. And what I mean today. And will mean in November. If there is a libertarian candidate who makes my state’s ballot, I will consider voting for that person. If not, I will write in my choice for president. Trump is okay with this, though, after all, he said very recently that he doesn’t need my vote or that of others he’s alienated on the right. He’s confident he will make it up by appealing to Democrats and Bernie supporters. And he well may as they are much more open to his brand of big government totalitarianism than I will ever be.
As Professor Jacobson knows, I was an early adopter of a Donald Trump candidacy, occupying what I believe has been inaccurately termed the “untenable” intersection of constitutional conservatism and populism. My support stems from how I have defined, and prioritized, the main problem(s) facing America and accompanying solutions. For me, these have been a focus on dismantling the Ruling Class apparatchik and restoring national sovereignty. I remain committed to the rights recognized in the Constitution and appreciate very much the influence Cruz has had on bringing this to the fore this election cycle. Faithful, patriotic, conservative Americans can disagree on my diagnosis.
The Pundit Class instigators of the #NeverTrump movement are incentivized differently than those whose careers and reputations are not dependent on a Trump loss; their counsel is tainted and their calls for Pyrrhic victory self-serving. I fear amidst this self-serving infighting we have lost sight of who the enemy is, and it isn’t just Hillary Clinton. Clinton is but a comparatively familiar veneer on a frothing, violent left that has completely departed from America’s values. Our American culture is now a fractured one, without the unifying appreciation for freedoms that used to connect us across shallower divides. We face coming generations, indoctrinated in the public-school and university systems, who seek radical, destructive revolution and dissolution of our national sovereignty. Reversing their gains begins with leadership that unapologetically declares that our American story is a good one, that our people’s sacrifices for freedom, for others, and for principle make our story different and worth cultivating anew. Any pundits who claim there is little difference between Trump and Clinton are wholly removed from what is occurring in America’s universities and schools, the tenor of what is happening in the protest movements, and the destructive aims of the left.
Senators Cruz, and Rubio, reminded us that it is the Constitution’s unique content that differentiates America’s nationalism from that of any other patriotic nation. We need that influence, that pressure on the GOP to ensure that we can regain a national sovereignty that is rooted in meaningful values. I don’t ask for unity for the sake of party, but rather unity because we need all these elements together in order to make America Great Again. I don’t believe Trump can do it alone, without all conservatives’ support, but I do believe he is the best vehicle for all of us to accomplish this common goal. I bristle at the personal attacks on education, understanding, faith, and character of my fellow Trump supporters; these only betray a cold refusal to acknowledge the true concerns of our fellow Americans. As for myself and other Trump supporters, I am trying my best to ignore the Pundit Class’s calls to continue the rancor; to acknowledge how much we need the pressure of the Constitution warriors on our party, and to be humble about the righteousness of any of our points-of-view in the context of a fight larger than party vs. party.
In Bible class, currently, we are studying the Old Testament, and it’s interesting that we are exactly at the point where Israel cried out for a king in order “to be like all the other nations.”
One of the themes in the Old Testament is how Israel would obey God for a period of time, then fall away, only to come face to face with their need for God to deliver them.
I think this is similar to what is happening today. We want to be like “the cool, popular kids,” with our celebrity President. We don’t care about his moral compass, or the vulgarities spewed daily. Can you imagine “Little Vlad(amir),” or “Lyin’ Kim” (though “Li’l Kim might show him a hipster!).
Sadly, though “un-Presidential” and “not ready for prime time,” it matters little — we have our “King.”
No matter who is President, God is still King. May He bless us, despite giving us what we ask for — and what we deserve!
Over the past seven years, I have watched with dismay as the Democratic party has become increasingly infected with antisemitism under President Obama’s leadership. Trump’s bigotry, however, seems to know no bounds. It is directed at Jews, at women, at Mexicans, and more.
More than ever before in my lifetime, this country needs principled leadership, committed to the rule of law and the Constitution as well as to a sound national security policy. Unfortunately, it does not seem that either candidate will be able to provide that.
I am so disappointed today in the Republican party. The question that I will be asking between now and November is: which candidate will do less irreversible damage to this country, to our relationships with our allies, and to the world.
[Note: Marie Stroughter’s comment was added at to the post after initial publication.]