The Corner

Politics & Policy

Do NeverTrump Disagreements Matter?

Republicans and conservatives who are highly critical of President Trump disagree with one another about nearly everything else. That was the main point of my Bloomberg View column yesterday: noting an interesting fact about “never Trumpers” that hasn’t occasioned much comment. People sometimes speak as though there is an anti-Trump faction within the Right. But it does not have the coherence that factions usually do.

Rachel Lu says she disagrees with me. She writes of me, “he suggests that anti-Trump Republicans have rendered themselves futile and irrelevant through their inability to get on the same page.” But she counters that the range of views among them should not “be regarded either as a failure or as a problem.” Instead it makes for potentially interesting and fruitful debates.

I wouldn’t say that anti-Trump Republicans had rendered themselves “futile and irrelevant.” I did observe, though, that the divisions among anti-Trump conservatives impose limits on their political impact. I gave an example of how this works. But even without the example I think the point is inarguable. A party or a majority faction of a party can be successful while containing diverse viewpoints. A sizable minority can be effective if it is cohesive. Anti-Trump Republicans are currently neither a large nor a unified group.

Some of them, nonetheless, have ambitions to be more than just a debating society. From time to time there is talk of a primary challenge to Trump in 2020. If a challenge is to be at all viable, Trump’s Republican opponents will both have to grow in numbers and overcome their disagreements. On immigration, for example, either they will have to arrive at a generally shared position or many of them will have to be willing to support a candidate with whom they disagree. Ignoring the problem will not speed this process along.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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