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Erick and Bill Have Jumped the #NeverTrump Shark

Two conservative thinkers for whom we have a great deal of respect, Bill Kristol and Erick Erickson, have finally jumped the shark and entered a bizarre new #NeverTrump political dimension where Mitt Romney is a viable candidate for president and forming a third party five months before the election is a realistic means of electing an alternative to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. 

To be clear, we endorsed Ted Cruz and still believe Cruz is the candidate most likely to restore America to limited constitutional government, and if Senator Cruz had chosen to go to the Convention and challenge Jump the sharkDonald Trump on the floor we would have supported him until the final votes were counted. 

If Kristol and Erickson were advocating that Senator Cruz stay in the race we’d be there with them. 

However, Ted Cruz for the good of the conservative cause, chose to suspend his campaign and he chose not to engage in a final round of political bloodletting with Donald Trump. 

This is a harsh reality for many Cruz supporters who wanted to battle Trump until the bitter end, in part as payback for Trump’s scorched earth primary campaign. 

The battle we wanted right now was Cruz versus Trump, the battle we’ve got is Trump versus Hillary Clinton, or the pipedream of a third party candidate. 

Both Bill Kristol and Erick Erickson have recently made the case that a third party isn’t a pipedream and have pulled numbers from various polls to try to prove the claim that “Half the country is open to an alternative. The ABC poll shows half, basically half, 45 percent saying, we would like to have a third choice,” as Kristol told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. 

The problem for Kristol and Erickson is that their 45 percent is not ideologically conservative, so there’s no reason to believe that a conservative alternative to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton automatically books that 45 percent of the vote. 

So what’s the Kristol and Erickson “unity party” ticket, Mitt Romney and Bernie Sanders? 

The idea that movement conservative should join forces with the #NeverTrump establishment Republican perpetrators of what has become a near-treasonous sellout of our country – and the country class citizens who believe in conservative ideas and have fought for them for decades – would be a disaster for the conservative movement and provide no guarantee of a conservative victory in November.  

Setting aside the obvious challenge of funding a competitive campaign in an environment where the Democratic and Republican Party opponents would likely spend a combined total of over $2 billion, as they did in 2012, when Obama spent $1.123 billion and Romney spent $1.019 billion, the numbers just don’t add up for a candidate whose sole base is movement and especially cultural conservatives. 

In 2012 about 117 million Americans voted in the presidential election, in 2008 about 125 million voted. 

In 2008, white, born-again, Evangelical Christians represented 26 percent of the total vote for president, according to the exit polls. In 2012, white, born-again, Evangelical Christians represented 26 percent of the total vote for president, again according to the exit polls.  

After four years of Obama’s disastrous anti-religious policies we saw no change at all in the percentage of the electorate accounted for by Evangelical Christians; no net gain, certainly no surge, and no record Evangelical turnout, despite the vast effort expended on contacting and turning out faith-first voters. 

What’s more, when you zoom in a bit, according to Joel C. Rosenberg, you find that 21 percent of self-identified, white, born-again, Evangelical Christians voted for President Obama in 2012 – that means more than 6 million self-described “Evangelicals” voted for Obama. 

It should also be noted that, despite his war on the Catholic Church, 50 percent of the Catholic vote went for Obama in 2012. This was down from the 54 percent that Obama won in 2008. 

Plus, the reality is this cultural conservative #NeverTrump third party would not appeal to all cultural conservative voters; Trump booked forty-two percent of the Evangelical votes in heavily Evangelical North Carolina and in Ohio, 39 percent of Evangelicals voted for Trump. 

The final issue to be dealt with in this scenario is the myth of the 17 million (or 10 or 5 million) missing Christian voters.  

The argument is made every election that, if only we had a cultural conservative candidate, millions of hitherto absent Christian voters would show up and sweep a cultural conservative into the White House, but history has proven the idea that there are millions of “missing” Christian voters to be a myth.  

Putting principled cultural conservative Rick Santorum on the primary ballot didn’t draw them to the polls in 2012, running Baptist minister Mike Huckabee didn’t draw them to the polls in 2008 or 2016, neither did putting high profile TV evangelist Pat Robertson on the ballot in 1988.  

The reality is the millions of “missing” Christian voters are not missing.  

After thirty-six years, millions of dollars spent on Christian voter guides, hours spent leafleting churches and intense telephone, mail and social media campaigns it is time to recognize that these voters are not “missing,” they are simply Christians who do not vote.  

Counting on such people to power a Third Party campaign to victory is not merely the triumph of hope over experience, it is a fool’s errand that would have disastrous consequences for the preservation of constitutional liberty.  

This deep-seated discomfort with Donald Trump’s life-style expressed by Erickson and Kristol is real, but from a strictly political perspective it does not constitute a reason for movement conservatives to abandon their natural populist allies to form a coalition with the establishment Republicans whose misrule, lies and betrayals have created the present political environment and enabled the rise of Donald Trump. 

History, in the form of the 1980 and 1992 elections is instructive and history tells us that the only winning right-of-center coalition is one of conservatives and populists. 

In 1980 the all-but-dead liberal Rockefeller wing of the Republican Party chose to walkout and back the Third Party candidacy of liberal Republican Congressman John Anderson against conservative Ronald Reagan. 

The liberal Anderson booked 5,719,850 votes or 6.6 percent of the vote while Reagan won a majority of the popular vote with 43,903,230 votes and 50.8 percent of the total. 

In contrast, in 1992, H. Ross Perot running as a conservative populist against the moderate Republican George H.W. Bush booked 19,743,821 votes or 18.91 percent of the popular vote. Bush was soundly defeated even though Democratic rival Bill Clinton did not get anywhere near a majority of the popular vote, booking only 44,909,806 votes or 43.01 percent of the votes cast. 

So, on one side of the scale are principles and values, particularly the principles and values of our fellow cultural conservatives, and our desire to have leaders and elected officials who respect and live those values and principles. 

On the other side is the white-hot anger of millions of grassroots limited government constitutional conservatives and conservative leaning populists who are not only angry with the leadership of the establishment Republican Party, but disappointed and frustrated with many leaders of the conservative movement as well. 

The millions of disenfranchised country class voters who have been turning out for Trump look at the Republican establishment and see enemies who have been complicit in – if not the actual authors of – the three-decade long destruction of their quality of life. 

But they have not found relief through many of Washington’s conservative leaders, some of whom have often failed to even try to fight the government policies that have contributed to the degradation of our culture that is enforced by political correctness, the vast increase in the spending and the reach of the federal government and the hijacking of middle class prosperity by crony government policies on trade and immigration. 

Country class Americans are now tired of politicians and conservative movement leaders who lecture them about the Constitution, but who have done nothing to fight crime, improve education, prevent Islam from being taught in their schools, control the borders or encourage domestic economic growth. 

The country class wants change and an end to the misrule of politically correct elites who are indifferent to their plight, and they may very well trample anyone who gets in the way of that change – even those who have heretofore led the long fight against the progressive Big Government Republican and Democratic establishments. 

Don’t get us wrong – Donald Trump’s lack of interest in many elements of the cultural conservative agenda is no small thing – that’s why we preferred Ted Cruz over Trump. 

In 1975, Ronald Reagan was approached by a number of leading conservatives, including ConservativeHQ Chairman Richard A. Viguerie, who wanted to launch a Third Party campaign with Reagan as the candidate.  

As Mr. Viguerie recounted in his book TAKEOVER, Reagan heard them out and then told them they were nuts because most of America’s conservative voters were Republicans and he did not believe enough of them were likely to abandon the GOP to allow him to win a general election. 

When faced with a choice between Trump’s lack of interest in many issues on the conservative agenda versus the deep and abiding hostility of Hillary Clinton, and the betrayals and lies of the Republican establishment, or a hopeless third party effort, Trump’s indifference to much of the conservative agenda would leave us with a candidate who, unlike John McCain and Mitt Romney, might at least be educable. 

We haven’t endorsed Donald Trump, so at this point call us firmly against a third party effort and skeptical on the Trump candidacy, but persuadable if there’s concrete evidence of a Trump commitment to a populist – conservative coalition.

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Erickson

I've never taken Erickson seriously. His language and demeanor belie his rhetoric (Judge Souter, iirc). Additionally, his website brooked no discussion that didn't strictly align with the Red State position. IOW, he's not one who has shown the ability to get beyond his own passions of the moment.

To the Establishment

You need to listen to the will of the people.......a third party run ensure Obozo 3.0. Freaking morons.....listen to the will off the people. if not.......there will only be one party.

Time to Grow Up

First, anyone who thinks Romney is a viable candidate has to have his head up your you know where.

Second, Romney was probably the worst candidate the Republicans ever put up. As Trump has said, he failed to beat Obama with all of the Obama failures. Obama and his sharks just rolled all over him.

Third, Romney is no conservative. His version of Romenycare in MA illustrates that point.

Fourth, Romney is just a warmed up version of Hillary. He wants to be loved by all but has no guts.

These idiots want to subject us to four years of Hillary just because their favorite establishment candidate didn't win. For me, the appointments to the Supreme Court are enough for me to support Trump over any Don Quixote candidate these guys might put up.

On Erickson's and Kristol's Third Party Effort

I have always respected both gentlemen, until their recent, over the top vilification of Trump and his supporters. After Erickson called Trump Hitler the other day, I gave up and unsubscribed from his blogs. I may cancel my National Review subscription. You strike the right tone. Let's have true conservatives work to shape Trump's policies, and to educate the number of his supporters who are new to the process. Conservatives should be glad about this - not pouting. I'm calling conservatives with the Ericsson/Kristol position "Elite Conservative Purist Bigots".They have self-righteously appointed themselves as the only true arbiters of conservatism, and they are all too ready to label those who disagree with them and would support Trump as being either traitors or not true conservatives. I can assure you I am a true conservative. Things are so messed up in our country because of the ruling class of both Parties, that we need someone like Trump to shake the system up and put down an anchor on the course we are now on. I just pray the harm Erick and Bill are doing is not irreparable, but I am done with their smug, elitist attitudes.

vilification of Trump and his supporters

you speak of 'over the top' vilification of Trump and his supporters. What about the nastiest, most vile vilification of Ted Cruz and his supporters which continue unabated today. Trumps followers are just like Trump: small-minded, nasty, vulgar with limited vocabulary. They can dish out the abuse, but they can't take it. To Trump and his minions, it is only fair if he and his trolls are doing the 'vilifying'; if the other side says anything negative about Trump or his followers, it is over-the-top. I'm calling these Trump supporters 'elite Trump purist bigots. You can dish it out; can you take it?

Delusion

I appreciate the attempt to take the Trump haters seriously, but at this point, with Trump passing up Clinton in the national polls. It has simply become delusional. Nobody will vote for Romney as a Third party candidate,it's just crazy talk.

Though Newt would be a logical choice for Trump to shore up his Washington bonafides... he really must choose a woman to offset Clinton's body parts and the misogynist label and associated attacks coming with it. Take your pick of any of the current female, Republican national office holders.

Bill and Erick jumped...

Shame on both of these gentlemen. I already stopped getting Erick's Red State and next time a article comes by which is by Bill cristol, I will stop that one too. Paul Manafort is correct in saying Trump's character flaws which are abrasive to them CAN BE CORRECTED!!! Hillary's flaws, on the other hand WILL NEVER BE CHANGED. SHE IS A CORRUPT LADY WHO DOES NOT DESERVE TO BE POTUS!!!

Establishment Conservatives

I can agree with your analysis but I have a hang-up with your language. Bill Krystol and Erick Erickson may be conservatives in your book, but they are establishment conservatives in mine. Would you maintain they are "movement" conservatives? You got me confused, perhaps. It seems to me, the establishment conservatives have some existential angst about the movement conservatives. Perhaps they feel they might lose some prestige or something. Whatever the root, they seem to feel that they MUST resist all efforts to move them off their middle-of-the-road pursuit. They seem to have a need for self-flagellation. That attitude this is "my" ball. Count me an ideologue, if you will, but I don't have an enduring high opinion of these two limp noodles. I say, pull me into your orbit. Don't ignore me or push me away.

cruz vs trump

As musch as people like him, Cruz is TOO conservative for the American populace these days. He would NOT pull in the Inds and Moderate Dems as Trump is doing. Sad to say, but America is moving to the left with each decade.
Support Trump OR elect Killary. If Trump wins we have a chance to get BIG Gov't under control and reduce the debt.
Get rid of the Feds in our school system plus build up our military.
Owebama did keep his campaign promise and did fundamentally change America. The nuts are running the asylum.

The Nut House

So true and splitting the vote this late is stupidity. Good post on all of the above. Looks like everyone has moved to the GOP with Trump. Those who stay too far right will eventually have to accept the inevitable conclusion. It is Hillary on the left or Trump on the right but slightly more moderate right of those of us who are not the right wing conservative elites living in the utopia they are supposedly after. We want to win this election not give it away again.

I will settle for shutting the border down, turning off the welfare spigot, deporting the hordes of illegal aliens, enacting e-verify with a vengance, and punishing the employers who will not comply severely. Then is will be on to the voting out of office every dem lemming and good old go along get along rino who has enabled this horrid administration to fundamentally damage this country.

After that we have agencies to cull and non vetted refugees to vet and if necessary remove from this country. And it is long past time for employers to NOT GET THEIR WISH LIST via the halls of congress. No more hordes of visa holders. Put our legal citizen's to work first.

And for those companies like Disney who put their own legal citizen workers out of work, take your disneyland packages and leave. You have done the citizen's of this country harm and it will be remembered. I will never take my grandchildren to anything disney nor buy their products. So much for traitors and as the rest surface we shall buy their competitor's products.

So, as we view the nut houses on the left and the right as noted via this article, I have to say I have moved myself from conservative to moderate and will settle for all of the above. We have allowed this all to transpire. We have been complacent and we, the silent majority, are now seeking to correct the error of allowing other people to decide where this great country shall head. Time to take back the reigns and steer right but not so far right we join the nuts on the right as well.