What Happened to the Never-Trump Republicans?


A few still exist, but most of them have lined-up with their Trump-controlled party.

I can’t tell you how many times I hear from people who did not support Trump in 2016, but today defend him and his policies with vigor.  Lawrence Glickman, a historian at Cornell University, provides some historical context to help us understand why these never-Trump Republicans like Ben Shapiro, Glenn Beck, and Erick Erickson went “extinct.”

Here is a taste of his piece at The Washington Post:

The very same thing happened in 1964, when party loyalty and ideological similarity convinced moderate Republicans to embrace the controversial candidate upending their party. In the late spring that year, as it became increasingly likely that Sen. Barry Goldwater (Ariz.) had a clear path to the Republican nomination for the presidency, twin fears gripped the then-formidable moderate wing of the party: first, that Goldwater might bring catastrophic loss to the Republican Party, and second, that if he were to win, it would bring a dangerous man to the White House.

But rather than going to war against Goldwater, the moderates, led by former president Dwight Eisenhower, first vacillated in their criticism and then relented, ultimately offering active support for their putative enemy.

Their actions help explain how a shared enemy and ideological affinities often lead political figures to overcome doubts they once had about the fitness and extremism of the leader of their party.

Of the moderates, Eisenhower’s behavior is especially telling. He should have been leading the charge against Goldwater. After all, the Arizona lawmaker and author of “The Conscience of a Conservative” had denounced the social welfare policies of his administration as a “dime-store New Deal.” And according to the journalist Theodore H. White, author of “The Making of the President” series, “Eisenhower was appalled at the prospect of Goldwater’s nomination.”

Yet the former president refused to publicly or explicitly denounce Goldwater. Instead, he whipsawed from private criticism of Goldwater to loyalty to his party, seeming to endorse even some of Goldwater’s more extreme ideas.

Read the entire piece here.

15 thoughts on “What Happened to the Never-Trump Republicans?

  1. Paul,

    You think more highly of The Donald than 95% of his voters. Perhaps there is a senior staff position to be filled in his 2020 campaign team. When I talk to his campaign manager, may I submit your name?


  2. Dave, you pathetic liberal cynic.

    Donald Trump is the smartest, kindest, bravest, most even-tempered politician America has ever had. He’s solved every problem lickety-split. He’s drained the swamp, forced other counties to bow to his superior will and magnetism, ended war, ended thenuse of drugs and fixed every economic problem, particularly those nobody has thought of. I’m not fit to shine his shoes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was always under the impression the president was to put their assets into a blind trust for their own protection. What’s to stop Trump’s adversaries from targeting his assets? I’m surprised New York or Dubai hasn’t passed or threatened to pass all sorts of taxes on buildings that just happen to fit the descriptions of President Trump’s hotels.


  4. Alex,

    Obviously, we all have our subjective perceptions about others. Trump wants to get his message across but he clearly enjoys the political sport. He didn’t need any of the harassment he gets but still relishes setting up each morning and joining the battle. His personality is not the same as Humphrey’s, but the nickname Happy Warrior wasn’t given to HHH unthinkingly.

    As far as the current crop of Democrat challengers, I suggest you talk to people you know above age sixty who observe these elections. Presidential politics have always been tough, but the pure hatred and venom of the DEMs and the liberal media has reached an apex——within my lifetime, at least.

    I started following national elections in 1964. I wasn’t old enough to vote but can still recall the famous Lyndon Johnson daisy commercial which essentially said that Barry Goldwater’s hawkishness would start a nuclear war. It was a tough and a successful ad, but it did not attack Goldwater’s moral character. During the next election, Nixon was tough on Humphrey and vice versa, but neither of them appeared on television breathing raw abhorrence of the other. In 1980 the DEMs tried hard to portray Reagan as an unqualified grade B movie actor, but it was all part of the campaign game. There was no visible hate displayed. I could continue up through 2012; things would get tough electorally, but they never reached the massive Democrat meltdown which started in 2016 and has reached unimaginable proportions today. Even Joe Biden, who previously maintained the avuncular easy-going image, has joined the viciously frenzied racist and toxic language. Friendly Joe Biden even said he’d like to take Trump out behind the barn or the school and beat him up——or words to that effect. These people are melting down.


  5. Alex,

    That’s where you miss the point. Trump is like a bad boy in third grade who threw spitballs at the blackboard and put cafeteria food into the school toilets. He was the mischievous class clown about whom even the teachers privately laughed. They just couldn’t do it in front of the students. His Twitter remarks are not-hate based. Sarcasm and hyper criticality abound in them but not hate and bitterness.


  6. “I have never seen such a combustible mixture of hate, venom, rancor, bitterness, and bile spewing forth from a group of office-seekers”
    I hate to be the one to introduce you to this: twitter.com/realDonaldTrump


  7. And you can stay in the crosshairs of such a “Political Armageddon” only so many times before you burn out and/or go crazy.

    I saw this exact same Armageddon dynamic during my time in-country during the Age of Hal Lindsay, then in the Culture War/Satanic Panic of the Eighties. (And I still get “Economic/Financial Armageddon” spams in my inbox.)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think the 80/20 rule of Groupthink is in play:

    When consensus within a group reaches 80%, Groupthink locks in as Infallible Dogma and the 20% either Convert to the One True Way or are Purged.


  9. Tony,

    You did a good job of summarizing the radical, yea insane, policy positions of the current crop of DEM presidential hopefuls. Please let me add a footnote to those comments.

    It is not only the actual policy proposals which are working against the DEMs this year; their tenor is not doing them any favors either. I have never seen such a combustible mixture of hate, venom, rancor, bitterness, and bile spewing forth from a group of office-seekers. They seem to be consumed by it. It appeals to their far left base, but I just don’t think the average citizen finds it appealing.

    During the Vietnam era there was a lot of ill will on both sides. The DEM standard bearer in 1968 was Hubert Humphrey also known by the nickname, The Happy Warrior. Despite Johnson’s unpopular war, unrest in the streets, and a disastrous Chicago national party convention, Humphrey still almost managed to defeat Nixon. Obviously, there were multiple reasons for Humphrey’s near success. It is arguable, however, that his positive and upbeat personality and his refusal to succumb to a bitter, carping spirit carried him a long way as a candidate. The man wasn’t known as The Happy Warrior for showing up at every campaign stop with a frown and a laundry list of hateful remarks about Dick Nixon.

    The good news for Trump is that none of the major DEM candidates seem to be taking a page from the playbook of the late senator from Minnesota.


  10. What do you call a NeverTrumper in 2018? A Democrat. In 2018, I did something I’ve never done in my life. I voted for a Democrat in a competitive House race. After faithfully voting GOP for 30+ years, I voted to elect Harley Rouda and to unemploy Dana Rohrabacher in California’s 48th Congressional District. I voted for Harley not for his policy positions, but because the president and his party have displayed a fundamental misunderstanding of what political leadership is.

    In 2016, no law required a presidential candidate to release his/her tax returns to the public. Every presidential candidate dating back to the 70’s has done it. Why? So that the American people can see where the individuals who seek political office make their money. It demonstrates a level of transparency that is the hallmark of the American political system. The current president has refused to release his tax returns.

    In 2016, no law required the president to put his assets into a blind trust. Every president dating back to LBJ has done so. Why? A president’s words move markets. By putting his personal assets into a blind trust, the president elect tells the people that he understands that the USA is not a kleptocracy. He says that he understand that he must act in the best interests of the country and not put his own interests ahead of those that elected him. The current president has refused to do place his own assets into a blind trust.

    I don’t care how bat-poop crazy the Democrats policies are. They understand that the presidency is a temp job and that the president is to put the country’s interests ahead of their own. When the GOP figures this out, I’ll consider voting for them again.


  11. “Most have lined up with their Trump-controlled party.”


    Because look at the wares on offer from the other party. A gaggle of lock-step socialists (that’s self-described), democratic or otherwise, who want, inter alia (everyone raise your hand!): open borders; the elimination of all private health insurance; government control of major corporations; publicly funded, unrestricted abortion on demand; the abolition of fossil fuels in 12, 10, 3, however many years to stave of enviro-doom. Oh, and who while rending their garments every waking moment about omnipresent racism, kiss the hem of Al Sharpton’s robe and don’t bat an eye when Ms. Pressley issues the Pigment Pledge of Allegiance, decreeing that “brown faces” must speak with “brown voices” and “black faces” must speak with “black voices.” (Imagine — just imaaagine — if Trump told every “white face” to speak with their “white voice.” An expanding mushroom cloud of thermonuclear outrage rising higher than the Burj Khalifa. Properly so, btw.)

    And then there is Joe Biden, Acela-man of the people, who could beat Trump but has to jettison every “moderate”, cough, principle he tenuously holds to have a chance to escape the foamy Netroots primary.

    John, I had previously referenced — and you recently cited — the editorial by Tom “If Only We Could Be China for a Day” Friedman, card-carrying progressive intellectual, who was “shocked, shocked, shocked” by the leading D presidential contenders’ lurch to the hard, zany Left. (Query: has Tom been in suspended animation for the last three years?) If a guy like Friedman’s mouth is agape, imagine what those flyover swing voters are thinking? Hint: it ain’t — “Bring on more enlightened laws criminalizing verboten pronoun usage!”

    Had the D’s run almost anyone other than Hillary, they win in 2016 and we avoid the Handmaid’s Tale therapy puppies. If they run Biden this time around, they have a very good shot at winning. The simple playbook: don’t scare people. Or, perhaps: don’t scare people more than Trump already scares them. But they can’t manage it. The incipient “revolution” is just too intoxicating, and must be impose– er, shared with the masses. This state of affairs — joker to the right of me, loonies to the left — makes the choice for those on the political right who, yes, have major issues with Trump, pretty easy.

    Dave H calls this reflexive tribalism. I agree that is prevalent, but it’s not the only factor. There are those who might be persuadable, who are just looking for a reason to abandon Trump, but when they survey the alternatives — it’s an unhappy but resolute retreat back to the crude, incendiary tweeter-in-chief they know and don’t much like. I realize this would never be your calculus, but it will be for many, including NeverTrumpers. And there is nothing inexplicable or hypocritical about it.


  12. Politics is tribal, and increasingly so. Eventually shared hatred of “the enemy” far outweighs any concerns about negatives or destructive tendencies within one’s own tribe.

    You can see this in how some of the “never-Trump” GOPers have in recent months endorsed him for 2020 before even knowing who the Democratic candidate will be. More will do so in the upcoming months. Tribalism kicks in, and as the election season looms, they revert back to “ANY Republican is better than ANY Democrat.” The reality is that every election from here on will be similarly characterized as a “Flight 93 election” as was 2016’s, with breathless warnings that the stakes have never been higher, and the very survival of the nation hangs in the balance like never before.


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