LAST week’s Democrat national convention, at which Joe Biden was nominated as the party’s candidate for the presidency of the United States, as expected was limited on policy announcements but abundant in attacks on President Trump, the highlight of which were from the ‘Never Trumpers’. Former Republican figures John Kasich, Meg Whitman and Colin Powell spearheaded a convention billed to make Biden’s candidacy the unifying force for America. The spectacle of these Never Trumpers selling their souls to the Democratic Party showed just how much of a farce this movement has turned into.
The Never Trumpers are not new. It all started during the 2016 Republican primaries which saw successive Republican attempts to unify under one candidate to stop Trump from winning the nomination. The Never Trump PAC (political action committee) raised and spent money to defeat Trump in the 2016 election. Well, we know how that worked out.
Fast forward to this year, with its upcoming presidential election, and the movement was declared all but dead, David Azerrad of the Los Angeles Times saying in April: ‘Never Trumpism is not dead, but it is on life-support with no possibility of returning to the vitality it displayed in 2016.’
How wrong he’s been proved to be, with the Never Trumpers front and centre not only at the Democratic National Convention and the national media, but also active in other political campaigning. One is the Lincoln Project, started by four former Republicans, George T Conway III, Rick Wilson, Steve Schmidt and John Weaver. Its aim is to get Republicans or moderate conservatives to go out and vote for Joe Biden to elect him the 46th President of the United States.
This is what the Biden campaign is relying on – a broad coalition of Trump-haters ranging from the liberal Left of the Democratic party such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to the neo-conservative Right represented by Bill Kristol. The spectacle of the Never Trumpers associating themselves with this coalition, which includes people whose views any Republican or conservative-leaning person would abhor, brings to mind former British Prime Minister James Callaghan’s wry observation: ‘What a massive display of unsullied principle!’
Hatred of Trump appears to be blinding them to what faces the conservative movement and their country should Joe Biden with his increasingly progressive policies come to power. Appeasing the activist wing of his party has already forced him to adopt radical policies that must run counter to their own beliefs.
Have they really understood what they are asking people to do? Putting Joe Biden, dependent on the progressive wing of his party, into the White House, possibly with a Democrat-controlled Congress which advocates stripping all the prudent safeguards for policymaking and adoption of laws, would be a harbinger of a progressive revolution similar to the Wilson and Roosevelt years, but far more extreme.
The movement is based on a false dichotomy – the choice of either Trump or America. That is not the real choice facing the electorate; the real choice is between a conservative Trump second term or a progressive Biden presidency. A Trump second term, whatever your views of him, will not and cannot be the end of America, as it was billed in the 2016 election. The founding fathers in their wisdom created a system that can outlast Trump or any subsequent president. Though damaged by years of what has been dubbed the Imperial Presidency, it has remained successful in restraining presidential actions. A Biden presidency, by contrast, risks destroying this very system of safeguards in the name of progressive revolution. This is the danger that the country faces, that the Never Trumpers in their naivety are willing to put America through.
The stakes in this polarised America could not be higher. For those who find a second Trump term one too many to digest – and there are many conservatives who feel like this – they still would be making a mistake to sell out their principles by voting for Joe Biden. If they follow the Never Trumpers they may find themselves instead becoming Never Republicans, living in a permanently damaged and weakened democracy.