Monday, August 26th, 2019

Reince, Never means Never Trump

15

Waukesha Freeman 9/22/2016 Page A6 Opinion

Reince, Never means Never Trump

Conservatives will be in opposition if Trump wins

One of the advantages of living in Wisconsin is that the outcome of the presidential campaign is relatively predetermined. A Republican has not won our state’s electoral votes since 1984. Unless Hillary Clinton’s prevarications begin to take an unlikely and so-far unseen toll on her electability, Donald Trump is not going to carry Wisconsin.

The last time a Republican came close to winning Wisconsin was President George W. Bush in 2000. If Florida had not been so close, we might have been invaded by the army of attorneys that fought the recount ballot. Instead, Wisconsin hangs there like an unpicked apple, tempting Republican presidential candidates to waste their resources instead of campaigning elsewhere.

At a politics panel discussion hosted by the Waukesha County Business Alliance on Tuesday, I reminded the audience just how hard it will be for Trump to overcome the traditional disadvantage for Republicans here. I said speaking as someone who is “Never Trump” that it’s hard to imagine Republicans generating the necessary enthusiasm to get enough voters to the polls to win.

That’s not to say Trump can’t win in November. National polls show a tightening race, and a number of polls in actual battleground states show Trump could be gaining ground in the Electoral College. However, he still faces an extremely tough path to 270 electoral votes unless he can make up ground in Virginia, Michigan or Pennsylvania.

The latest electoral projections from Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com.

The latest electoral projections from Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com.

Nor does my “Never Trump” position mean that I will be supporting Clinton. It’s a false dichotomy to claim opposing one candidate is to support the other. Every vote cast in opposition to both candidates is a message to the major parties that neither candidate is acceptable. Consider it a warning to the parties that they need to do better in the next election cycle.

But, I confess, it’s easier to make that moral calculation here in Wisconsin, where Clinton is likely to win regardless of my ballot. If I lived in New Hampshire, where the election is likely to be close, I’m not sure what I would do at the ballot box. As President Barack Obama joked at the White House Correspondents dinner earlier this year, “Asked if you wanted steak or fish, a whole bunch of you wrote in Paul Ryan.”

Despite my clear opposition to Trump, I was asked after the panel discussion if I would reconsider my position as we neared Election Day. I pointed out that there was little Trump has said that can be trusted, including his promised appointments to the Supreme Court, and on those things we can take his word, he proves himself to be completely unfit to be president. His actions and statements since winning the Republican nomination only reinforce the “Never Trump” position.

And here I must revise and extend my remarks.

Being “Never Trump” isn’t just about hoping Trump loses. Whether that is the result is certainly beyond the “Never Trump” movement’s capability at this point. It’s about preserving the Republican Party as a hospitable home for the conservative movement and its beliefs. It’s to stand in dissent, to stand athwart the world yelling stop, in the words of National Review.

It will be even more important if Trump wins. We have already seen Trump’s Obamalite proposals for health care and family leave. We know Trump’s “Art of the Deal” instincts may result in his compromising with Senate Democrats to put liberal nominees on the Supreme Court. There must be a source of opposition to this hostile takeover of the Republican Party.

That’s why it was so disappointing to hear Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus threatening that if Republicans did not fall in behind Trump that they would be excluded from the presidential election cycle in 2020. Ironically, Priebus is holding Trump critics to a higher standard than he ever held the Clinton-donating Donald Trump.

When Priebus was the chairman of Wisconsin’s state Republican Party, he would go to tea party rallies and challenge the attendees to hold the Republican Party accountable.

Now it’s the conservative movement’s moment to hold the Republican Party accountable for the decision it made to nominate Trump. During the primaries, many conservatives warned that we would never support Trump. Republicans should not be surprised when that principled opposition continues through November and even into Trump’s first term should he win.

Never, Reince, means never.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

JAMES

WIGDERSON

Thursday, 09/22/2016 Pag.A06 Copyright © 2016 Conley Group. All rights reserved 9/22/2016

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