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Presidential Horse Race 2016: #NeverTrump prepares for its desperate last stand

After Donald Trump’s anti-Hillary speech last Wednesday generated mostly positive reactions from Republicans and conservatives across-the-board, the #NeverTrump movement found itself in an even greater conundrum than it was in before.

All of the anti-Trumpers’ major beefs with Trump were effectively refuted by the Republican nominee on that day.

#NeverTrump GladiatorTo begin with, #NeverTrump always asserts Trump lacks the temperament to be president. But Trump’s 40-minute speech was neatly packaged in segments addressing a number of topics, not just Hillary’s corrupted nature and was devoid of the usual bombast we’ve become accustomed to when The Donald is speaking.

Trump barely raised his voice as he repeatedly called Clinton a liar, backed up with real examples of enormous fibs the Democrat has uttered (such as her outrageous claim to have landed under sniper fire in Bosnia). How’s that for “presidential”?

One speech isn’t indicative of a complete change in demeanor for Trump, but it’s clear from recent behavior that he intends to put a more serious face on his campaign.

Next, #NeverTrump says Trump lacks substance. Again, if you get beyond the Republican’s truthful but stinging remarks on Hillary, there was plenty of substance there, too.

Byron York of the Washington Examiner wrote last week, “Trump included actual substance in the speech — new policy proposals and promises — that escaped many observers. In a series of pledges to take action in his first 100 days as president, Trump said he would move on trade, business regulation, energy, and several other topics…

“The immigration and work pledge in Trump's speech was all of 13 words long. But there was a lot of thinking behind it. It meant something. And it was just one part of a wide-ranging address; Trump placed his plans in a bigger context that could have real resonance in the general election campaign, especially in the rust-belt states which could play a big role in the outcome.”

I haven’t gotten the impression York is a #NeverTrumper, but he’s been fairly critical of The Donald on a number of occasions during the primary season. If York was impressed with Trump’s speech, that says something right there.

Of course, liberals didn’t pay much attention to the substance, instead arguing Trump was “over the top” and the exaggerated nature of his claims obscured otherwise valid criticisms of Clinton’s record. The fact liberals are admitting Trump’s criticisms are valid is somewhat impressive in itself.

Lastly, #NeverTrump often claims Trump will destroy the conservative movement and the Republican Party if he’s “allowed” to be the nominee. This is pure speculation at this point and everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but Trump couldn’t possibly do any more damage to the party than Hillary will do to America.

Mark Davis summed it up nicely in the Dallas Morning News, “One conservative truth is rock solid: it is wiser for conservatives to hope for, and actually work toward, a best-case-scenario with Trump than to whine and unplug and allow the known disasters that would flow from Barack Obama's third term.”

There’s no doubt Trump has said a number of things over the months that should give conservatives pause, but he’s also demonstrated a willingness to learn and listen to people on policy matters. For example, it’s well known Trump consulted the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation before compiling his list of potential Supreme Court nominees.

There has been other outreach as well, such as last week’s meeting with Christian conservatives in New York, where the nominee pledged to make religious liberty a priority in his administration.

No one is claiming Trump has crossed a magic threshold and should be welcomed with open arms as the new de facto leader of the conservative movement, but at the same time, he should be given some credit for making overtures and strongly insinuating he’ll put the right personnel in place to have a real conservative administration.

Of course, all of this begs the question, even if #NeverTrump is successful in its “Hail Mary” bid to unbind the delegates at the Cleveland convention, what comes next?

Eliana Johnson of National Review suggests Ted Cruz could have a role in deciding what the anti-Trump forces ultimately will demand. She writes, “During his presidential campaign, Cruz was successful in helping his allies — and opponents of Trump — become delegates to the convention. Many observers…believe it’s likely that the Texas senator will take a stand on some sort of rules change that leaves Trump as the nominee but reforms the primary process for future election cycles.

“One idea that has gained traction is passing a rule that would incentivize states to close their primaries to registered Republicans by, for example, awarding bonus delegates to those that obliged.”

In other words, the #NeverTrump movement’s best hope at this point is probably to reform the system in order to prevent any Trump-like repeats in the future, but there’s practically zero chance of getting rid of The Donald himself and installing some sort of “White Knight” in his place this year.

One thing many of the #NeverTrump people have failed to address is what they’re going to do when Trump becomes the official nominee in a month and their fantasies of displacing him have been crushed for good.

Will they shift to pro-abortion Libertarian Gary Johnson? Wage a write-in campaign for Mitt Romney? Continue to insist that people “see the light” and not participate at all? As time goes on, the latter option will dwindle to virtually nothing as people gradually change their minds and decide some hope is better than none.

A leaderless movement without a clearly defined objective just isn’t a productive endeavor. The only reason #NeverTrump came together in the first place was to try and prevent Trump from winning the Republican nomination through the overt threat of not supporting him…ever. They tried to scare people out of voting for him by guaranteeing he’d eventually lose from lack of support.

The threat didn’t work. Trump won anyway. And he’s competitive with the establishment favorite right now, too.

There are a host of reasons why Trump prevailed and the anti-Trump forces were defeated. At some point, they need to acknowledge reality and get back in the game.

Either that or the only other alternative is to stop listening to them and patronizing their shows and publications, which will happen anyway. It’d be a shame to throw away a career so unnecessarily for a lot of people who used to get a lot of respect.

If principle means that much to them, they’ll acknowledge other people have opinions too and maybe they should reconsider their intractable position.

The dump Trump movement lacks the strength where it counts – votes

While the #NeverTrumpers appear to be hedging their hopes on the convention revolt against Trump, there’s one major problem: they don’t have enough votes to propel their movement forward.

Kyle Cheney of Politico reports, “POLITICO reached out to all 112 members of the committee that will write the rules of the national GOP convention. This is the panel that anti-Trump activists hope to jam a proposal through to free convention delegates to spurn Trump and select another candidate instead.

“What emerged from the survey, though, is a portrait of a committee with little interest in the dump Trump crowd. In fact, most members may be eager to stop them.”

According to Cheney, supporters of removing Trump say more anti-Trump committee members will come forward at convention time and they’re not speaking up now due to intimidation and threats from state party heads to support the nominee.

Having observed the entirety of the presidential race, I don’t sense there’s a wide-scale movement to get rid of Trump, with most people resigned to the fact he’s going to be the nominee and committed to picking one of the two major party candidates.

#NeverTrump’s only chance after Ted Cruz bowed out of the Republican race was to try and generate enough public pressure to lean on Republican National Committee members to at least consider bucking the man who triumphed in the primaries. The public backing never materialized (at least in enough strength to make a difference), no matter how many random people may turn up in some survey saying they’ll consider a third option this year.

There is no evidence any of these efforts will work and it’s not really worth spending more time in arguing against them, because they’re as hollow as a bug-infested dead tree.

About all that can be done now is cut them down and use them for firewood.

Why a European election matters in America

Perhaps because the news broke on early Friday morning in America, there wasn’t much of a kerfuffle made by the popular media about Great Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, or as it was more commonly known, “Brexit.”

The independence movement had been opposed by Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron (who announced he would step down because of it) and President Obama, two politicians who clearly believe bigger and stronger government control is a good thing.

The British people clearly had other ideas. Though I can’t say for sure, they probably were motivated by the same type of anti-establishment wave that brought Trump to the top of the Republican Party during the primaries.

Trump’s closest allies apparently feel the same way, and some are predicting a similar change will be called for in this year’s election by the American public.

Kelly Cohen of the Washington Examiner reports, “Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., praised the United Kingdom for voting to leave the European Union, and said the U.S. needs to take a similar step to take its country back.

“’Now it's our time,’ Sessions said in a lengthy statement on the Brexit. ‘Just as in the U.K., our November presidential election presents a stark contrast. The establishment forces, the global powers, are promoting their values and their interests.’”

Democrats and the establishment media would make everyone believe that the liberal notion of welcoming huge waves of Muslim immigrants is popular in Western Europe. Clearly it is not. Neither is giving up national identities and currencies.

Wow, what a concept. People actually like their unique countries and cultures and aren’t willing to trade them for the unachievable utopian pipedream of continental unity. You simply can’t force competing cultures to mix when there are incompatible ideologies such as western-style liberty and Sharia law pitted against each other. Britons chose sovereignty over unity.

Another good sign that Brexit’s impact will wash ashore in America is #NeverTrump’s reaction to it. Erick Erickson writes in The Resurgent, “[There will be] amazingly hot takes on ways this vote in the United Kingdom will impact or shape the American Presidential election. It won’t. Not everything is about us, our election, and Donald Trump.

“This was a matter for Britain related to Europe, not Trump related to Clinton. All your hot takes saying things like Clinton needs to pay attention to this area or Trump needs to pay attention to this issue are all crap takes by people pretending to be smarter than they are.”

I actually think Sessions’ view is closer to what will happen in November. People are angry out there, which is amply demonstrated by both Trump’s and Bernie Sanders’ success this year. The same type of sentiment that led to British independence is present here as well. This could be seen as an anti-incumbent wave and therefore it very well could make a difference here.

As we get closer to the election and people really focus on the difference between the candidates, I highly doubt the late-deciders are going to go to the status quo represented by Clinton. Why choose stagnation?

Britain and the United States share a common heritage, legal foundation and many elements of culture. What happens in London doesn’t always stay there. We’ll see in a few short months whether Sessions or Erickson is the correct one on Brexit’s impact on America.

George Will leaves the Republican Party over abhorrence to Trump

Finally today, one of those “respected” #NeverTrumpers I talked about above has decided to swallow his proverbial political poison pill over The Donald rather than come to grips with the fact a lot of other people don’t share his opinions.

Harper Neidig of The Hill reports, “Longtime conservative columnist George Will says he has left the Republican Party because of Donald Trump.

“’This is not my party,’ he said during a Friday speech to the Federalist Society, according to the conservative-leaning outlet PJ Media.

“Will said he has switched his Maryland voter registration to ‘unaffiliated.’”

Will also said in an interview afterwards to “make sure he loses.” Yeah, that’s productive, George, while we watch Hillary appoint Supreme Court Justices that can’t be replaced by winning in 2020.

It’s almost like #NeverTrump completely ignores the fact there will be four more years of cultural and political devastation if Clinton is elected. We won’t be able to start over in 2020 because there won’t be anything left to save.

Trump's reaction to Will’s announcement was predictable, tweeting, "George Will, one of the most overrated political pundits (who lost his way long ago), has left the Republican Party. He's made many bad calls."

Even The Donald’s tweets have toned it down. He didn’t even questions Will’s manhood or anything like that.

Our good friend David Franke noted over the weekend that he himself left the Republican Party in 1988 because of the nomination of George H.W. Bush, and wondered why didn’t Will leave the party earlier when George W. Bush and the neocons were destroying the GOP’s credibility as the home of constitutional limited government and realistic foreign policy?

It’s a legitimate question. If #NeverTrump is so upset about the ascendance of Trump, where were they when the GOP put forth a series of questionable nominees prior to Trump? Why now?

It’s just another odd tidbit in what is turning out to be the strangest of all election cycles.

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A Dole-ful Choice

Will has lost his way.
A 'conservative' who signed up to support the principled Goldwater, must have been sorely disappointed as his chosen party destroyed his chosen candidate, and horrified at the excesses of the subsequent Johnson administration, now suggests, as a matter of 'principle' that his party should 'Goldwater' the people's current choice, saddling the country with a candidate already known for Johnson-esque lying, bullying, warmongering and corruption.
The conservative who stuck with the party through the socialist Nixon (Wage and price controls and statist economics are NOT conservative), through the tax raising HW bush, the failed bid of Dole (tax collector for the welfare state), and the government program expanding W Bush. Did not even quit the party when its handlers lost a race that Romney could have won, but waited until the conservative grassroots were Sooo fed up with the party elites that Trump looked like a suitable wrecking ball to them.
NOW, Will wants to quit the party, and have the party which he no longer cares to participate in 'Goldwater' Trump.

George, you've evolved into a Washingtonian - just more pond scum in the fevered swamps of DC!