The Corner

Re: Trump Endorsers Hall of Shame — A Brief Response to My Critics

Yesterday, I wrote up a quick post in The Corner noting Ballotpedia’s archive of Republican politicians’ positions on the candidacy of Donald J. Trump. I nicknamed it the “Trump Endorsers Hall of Shame” and wrote:

A Trump endorsement is an irrevocable action. Such a decision can and should be remembered by conservatives in the years to come. Conservatives should ask those seeking their votes: “When the chips were down, what did you do to help stop Trump?” And two and four and eight years from now, Republicans will want to know if a politician sided with Chris Christie or Ben Sasse in this critical emergency situation.

Judging by the response, I think perhaps I was not as clear as I had hoped, so I would like to briefly respond to a few of the many criticisms I have received:

1. Don’t you see that you’re attacking Trump voters? This is exactly why they feel so disaffected from the “establishment.”

I never once in the post attacked Trump voters; au contraire: I was targeting Trump-supporting Republican politicians. In the post I used the word “politicos” twice, “politicians” three times, “senator” three times, “representative” once, and “officeholder” once.

I have no animus for the vast bulk of Trump’s voters — I disagree with their choice for president; I think it to be an unwise choice that will harm the country, the conservative movement, and the Republican party — but I believe almost all of them are voting for Trump because they love America, are tired of seeing their country run by weak and feckless leaders, and are rightly distraught at the state of our union. I want to win Trump voters back to the conservative movement of Reagan. I hope they change their minds and vote for Cruz or Rubio this spring and — if things go belly up — for a conservative candidate the next time around. Far from banishing the voters into the outer darkness, I would welcome them back with open arms.

Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry.’ (Luke 15:22-23)

The same cannot be said for Republican officeholders. They are our elected leaders. They do this full time. We put them in office for their day-to-day duties, but also for their leadership. And a Republican officeholder who endorses Trump is failing this ultimate test of leadership. We owe them nothing. They are our public servants and, if they fail this test, we should fire them at our next opportunity: the next time they’re up for a vote.

2. You’re creating a Nixonian “enemies list” — and in doing so you are sinking beneath acceptable political discourse while criticizing Trump for lowering the level of political discourse.

I find it astonishing that so many have assumed I have was advocating violence or thuggish behavior toward the Republican officeholders who have endorsed Trump. I also find it very sad — a sad reflection on what many have come to accept as normal.

I wasn’t advocating violence, I was advocating politics. I hope that Senator Sessions draws a conservative challenger the next time he’s up. I hope that Chris Christie’s political career is over. I hope that voters don’t vote for these guys, that volunteers don’t canvass for their next campaigns, that conservative organizations don’t help them financially, that conservative donors don’t send them a $25 cheque the next time they ask for funds.

This is fair game. This is the way the system is supposed to work.

Here’s a thought experiment. Let’s say that I wasn’t advocating that Republican politicians be held to account for choosing to endorse Trump but for their sudden support for abortion, or their vote for the Ex-Im Bank, or their vote for an Obama nominated Supreme Court pick, or any other number of issues: Would people not have have said, “Good! Throw the bums out!”?

This isn’t personal; it’s business. I don’t want Chris Christie’s family to be threatened; I want his political career to be over. I don’t want violence; I want these guys voted out.

3. Trump and his followers will keep track of a list of you too. #NeverTrump supporters will be remembered.

Fine. Good. Swell. I’m proud that my name appears on National Review’s masthead for our “Against Trump” issue. I assume that, even under a Trump administration, Google Search will still work and anyone who wants to see what I had to say about the Trump phenomenon can do so in the future. I stand by what I have written.

Standing against Trump is important. And I hold the men and women who have taken prominent stands against Trump and Trumpism in esteem: Rich Lowry, Bill Kristol, Erick Erickson, Ben Sasse, and many, many others.

If Trump is elected, I will be proud to have stood with those men and women rather than with those who abandoned their principles for political convenience to stand with a man whom I consider to be a demagogue.

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