Wednesday, July 29, 2020


Savvy voters know the stakes in November. If the president loses the election and the Senate falls to the Democrats, conservatism, as customarily defined, is unlikely to survive. 

Those on the right were largely celebrating Donald Trump’s policy triumphs — if not all the president’s tweets — in his first three-and-a-half years: major tax and regulatory reform, a roaring economy, the lowest unemployment rate recorded for minorities (ever), Kempian Opportunity Zones to lure business capital to the inner cities, energy independence from the Mideast, and a spectacular right-of center transformation of the courts. And that’s only a partial benefit list.

But guess who’s willing to have all these splendid achievements come tumbling down? The Democrats and the media, with a huge assist from the pandemic, of course, but also a zealous group of pious “Republicans” fueling an increasingly bizarre Never Trump Movement. It turns out this gang doesn’t care a fig if all these conservative policies go down the drain on Nov. 3. 

The movement is not only building a national political operation to oust the president but several crucial factions are working to annihilate the Republican majority in the Senate for refusing to toss him out of office. But how would freeing all branches of government from effective Republican control promote conservatism or responsible republicanism, which Never Trumpers never tire of insisting they cherish?

Among the biggest supporters — or at the very least condoners — of this slash and burn strategy are some familiar names. Bill Kristol, once a respected conservative force within the GOP, has been merrily birthing several organizations that have viewed Mr. Trump as a pariah president. His Republican Voters Against Trump (RVAT) refers to Mr. Trump’s presidency as “deeply un-American” and those who backed him are implored to “inaugurate Joe Biden as the next president.” 

The Right Side PAC, consisting of former Trump and George W. Bush administration officials, is crusading for the former Obama VP in seven battleground states. Founder Matt Borges warns: ”The future of the Republican party depends on cutting this cancer [Donald Trump] out now …”

The Lincoln Project thinks knocking off the president is too mild a punishment for Republican officeholders who have refused to cripple his presidency. So the Lincolns have decided to remove senators cooperating with him even in causes conservatives normally approve. Key members of the Lincolns include George Conway, husband of Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump adviser, and Steve Schmidt, who managed John McCain’s 2008 race for the White House. 

Here’s how the Lincolns think they are improving the political climate for decent Republican values: Ridding the Senate of Republicans with decent Republican values. Armed with several million dollars, the Lincolns, The Hill publication informs its readers, are instructing voters to defeat a dozen senators up for reelection this year, because of their “cowardice” for failing to break with the president. (The 12 irredeemables: Susan Collins, John Cornyn, Tom Cotton, Steven Daines, Joni Ernst, Cory Gardner, Lindsey Graham, Jim Inhofe, Mitch McConnell, Martha McSally, Mike Rounds and Thom Tillis.)

One ad, titled “Names,” features the senators’ images so Republican voters will have the nation’s enemies engraved in their memories before filling out their ballots. “Learn their names,” the ad demands. “Remember their actions and never, ever trust them again.” Reed Galen, co-founder of the Lincoln Project, condemns them for having “abandoned their consciences.”

The Lincolns’ primary target? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, who has proved instrumental in the multiple achievements of the president’s first term, including putting down the Democratic effort to convict Mr. Trump of an impeachable “crime” that didn’t exist. His two most crucial wins that made the president a likely shoo-in for reelection before the pandemic: the tax reform act and his brilliant engineering of a major ideological shift in the federal courts.

His success in transforming the judiciary was so well received that Republicans of various ideological hues have given him standing ovations for his Olympian achievement. Still, the Lincolns demand his ouster.

Even moderate-to-liberal Republican Susan Collins of Maine is being pushed to the guillotine. The Lincolns yearn for her head, even though she’s voted less than 50% of the time with the president in the current Congress. She cast two votes they may have found disqualifying. She was with him on the tax bill and made a brilliant defense of his winning U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanagh, which appears to have moved Joe Manchin, when he was a Democrat, into Justice Kavanagh’s corner. But no good GOP deeds like these, as the Lincolns would have it, should be rewarded if you’re not comfortable putting your knee on the president’s neck.

The Kristols in the Never Trump world have, at least not yet, begun crusading for the extinction of Republicans who side with the president on conservative policies and personnel. That may be a bridge too far. But they have become the Lincolns’ Great Enablers by refusing to condemn their outlandish tactics.

Will the Never Trump coalition be successful? Columnist Max Boot, a lifelong Republican, certainly hopes so. “As far as I am concerned,“ he recently wrote, “all of Trump’s enablers need to be defeated — and that includes the entire Republican caucus in the House and Senate, save for Mitt Romney.”

Seriously, does any rational Republican believe this is the path to GOP prosperity?

• Allan H. Ryskind, a former editor and owner of Human Events, is the author of “Hollywood Traitors” (Regnery, 2015).

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