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Outsiders vs. Insiders: In regards to Trump, is it time for conservatives to push the panic button?

With all of the negativity surrounding President Donald Trump lately, it would be prudent for conservatives to ask, is there anything that would cause us to abandon him?

One can only imagine what it must have been like a year ago at Trump headquarters as the almost certain Republican nominee’s campaign brains contemplated a strategy for winning the upcoming general election panic buttonmatch-up against almost equally locked-in Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton.

A quick look at the game board indicated opposition was everywhere. There were the establishment Democrats and baked-in Clinton base that wouldn’t support an anti-amnesty, rich, successful man like Trump under any circumstances; there were also the GOP establishmentarians which included virtually all of the party’s leaders, many of whom had all-but sworn at some point in time that they couldn’t imagine supporting Trump; and then there were the conservatives and libertarian Republicans who backed other candidates in the primaries and would be a hard sell at best to bring into Trump’s camp.

At the outset it appeared Trump could count on perhaps 40 percent of Republican votes right off the bat -- because they’d already chosen him in the primaries. Another 50 percent of GOPers could most likely be depended on to vote for Trump because they were party loyalists, would never go for a Democrat like Clinton and couldn’t stomach the thought of having another four years of Democrat rule.

Then there were the nebulous “independents” that both parties would fight over, ideologically undefined but probably inclined to vote against Clinton if they were given enough incentive to do so.

Lastly there was the other 5-10 percent of Republicans who became known as #NeverTrump. This group was primarily made up of indignant Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and John Kasich supporters who pegged Trump as a big mouth phony and a cad who would bring shame to the GOP and conservatism (to the extent they cared about it) even if he were somehow elected.

This latter group was in a difficult position; if they railed against Trump too severely they risked getting Hillary elected easily and subsequently suffer eternal condemnation from the other 90 percent of Republicans that they’d normally side with. But if they joined up with Trump after all they’d said and done to him they were worried they’d be seen as sell-outs on principle and shunned by everyone.

#NeverTrumpers hooted and hollered about “Cheeto Jesus” and made bold predictions about Trump’s inevitable loss and how they’d be the ones calling the shots on rebuilding conservatism and the GOP when all h—l broke loose after the election . They openly pondered whether they’d even bother to invite former Trump supporters to sit at the conservative table for the rebuild. They were confident. They were brash. They made a lot of enemies.

And they lost. Afterwards, they ate a lot of crow. There were the people at RedState and The Resurgent. David French of National Review was conciliatory. Forgiveness was offered and accepted. A quiet peace ensued for a brief time.

Now that President Trump has been in office for four months, however, the anti-Trumpers are beginning to emerge once more. And they’re not saying very nice things about the Republican president.

#NeverTrump writer (and so-called conservative) Jennifer Rubin wrote last week in the Washington Post, “In a written statement, former independent conservative presidential candidate Evan McMullin decried Comey’s firing. ‘The timing of this announcement the day after the testimony of former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, and two days before Comey was scheduled to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee is telling,’ said McMullin…

“[I]f Senate Republicans now are going to take seriously their oversight role and, frankly, take the opportunity to distance themselves from a president mired in scandal, they should be pursuing not just an inquiry into Comey’s firing, but also investigations into possible emoluments clause violations and rampant conflicts of interest. If the Comey fiasco has taught them anything, it is that silence is consent, and consent is grounds for the voters to throw them out for enabling corruption.”

Keep in mind this comes from a supposed “conservative” Republican commentator. I only included the part about McMullin because the wannabe “conservative” politician turned leftist-joiner never came over to Trump’s side, even after the election. McMullin’s an opportunist, completely and utterly irredeemable.

And if people like Rubin is any indication the bitterness of the Republican establishment hasn’t subsided one bit. These individuals are coupling with the nutso Chuck Schumer-led crowd in calling on the Senate to dig deeper into the Russia conundrum, completely ignoring the lack of substance to the allegations to date.

Normally these snobby elites wouldn’t be of concern; it’s essentially just a restatement of what they’ve said all along, including during last year’s fall campaign. Their righteous indignation is incredible; they are the “opposition party” every bit as much as the Democrats and the media. They’re irritating gnats on the elephant’s rump, welcome in Democrat circles only to the extent they’re useful in helping to resist Trump.

They’re the complainers who snicker and snipe, the disgruntled “centrists” who pretend to know more than either extreme. They have the power to stop momentum but no authority to begin their own. They’re the worst kind of political freebooters, the defenders of the status quo.

Quite a lot more troubling are the increasing grumbles from Trump’s most ardent supporters, signs that his base may be eroding. This is where the anxiety starts. Alex Pfeiffer of the Daily Caller interviewed Ann Coulter earlier this week and the conservative firebrand articulated concerns that a lot of pro-Trumpers are feeling these days.

Coulter said, “I’ll say we had no choice, but the Trump-haters were right…It’s a nightmare. I can’t even contemplate that. Right now I’m still rooting for him to turn around and take us [in the right direction]…

“I don’t apologize for supporting Trump. He said all the right things and nobody else would even say it. I suppose it’s possible that another politician who really meant it would come along. There’s Kris Kobach, Tom Cotton, Jeff Sessions…there are probably a handful of politicians.”

Coulter was commenting on Trump’s failure to keep his promises on immigration, his capitulation on the recent budget agreement and the apparent lack of effective negotiating despite all the campaign rhetoric.

She’s clearly still behind Trump but it wouldn’t take a whole lot, I speculate, to cause Coulter and others like her to lose faith in the new president.

Coulter isn’t the only conservative who’s been critical of Trump recently. Last week Patrick J. Buchanan wrote in The American Conservative, “We have lost control of our destiny. We have lost the freedom our Founding Fathers implored us to maintain—the freedom to stay out of wars of foreign countries on faraway continents.

“Like the British and French empires, the American imperium is not sustainable. We have issued so many war guarantees it is almost assured that we will be dragged into every future great crisis and conflict on the planet.

“If we do not review and discard some of these war guarantees, we shall never know peace. Donald Trump once seemed to understand this. Does he still?”

Buchanan has a point. So does Coulter. On the surface it certainly appears Trump has adopted much of what would be considered a conventional establishment Republican platform in both domestic and foreign policy. In addition to easing up on his promise to deport all illegal aliens Trump pushed the establishment’s healthcare bill (the first one) over the objections of conservatives, bombed Syria and backtracked on NATO.

All his moves are defensible within the greater scheme of things, but there’s no denying Trump’s retreated a fair distance from his fierce campaign rhetoric and promises. For those of us who were expecting an unrelenting non-politically correct hammer against the swamp and the status quo, it hasn’t materialized.

Donald Trump the politician has definitely moderated himself. And it hasn’t won him friends among his own GOP establishment #NeverTrump detractors and certainly not the “resistance” Democrat party and the media either.

As Coulter suggests, it’s not yet time to abandon Trump; he’s done a number of good things and he continues to battle the swamp in many important ways. But as conservatives, we must also keep an eye on him and the people closest to him. Vigilance is called for. Loyalty is a given, but it will be critical for Trump to not stray too far from where he came from…or he may very well find himself all alone in a room with few friends.

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As a genuine anti-establishment conservative who refused to vote for Trump on moral grounds, I'm now seeing most of my fears about Trump becoming realities—and even I am feeling a little bit disillusioned after the euphoria surrounding Hillary's defeat. Even knowing all along that Trump was essentially a con and couldn't be trusted, it is heartbreaking to see what is happening to our country. We must indeed continue to pray, be vigilant, and seek God's leading and guidance from his word. It is is going to be a rough road ahead.