Ted Cruz once called Trump a “pathological liar,” a “narcissist,” and “utterly amoral.” but back then it was personal. Now that the primaries are over and few Republicans have anything personally to gain from challenging Trump, they have largely gone silent. Once in a while John McCain still says something bold, but for all his talk he reliably buckles under when it’s time to vote.
It’s beginning to look like the only way to stop Trump from wrecking our constitutional order is to throw all of our political weight behind the left. This should not be necessary. Representative government faced an extinction event in the 20th century. We were rescued by an international left/right alliance led by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. Conservatives, perhaps more than anyone else, understand the threat to personal liberty and rule of law posed by the Trump administration. So where are they?
In the wake of the Women’s Marches over the weekend, you may hear conservatives claim that they are being elbowed out of the resistance movement. Pro-life groups made much of the fact that two small pro-life organizations were from blocked from the sponsor list for the marches. Their whining complaints were drowned out amid the triumph of millions of people in the streets.
Sincere Trump opponents on the right must grasp this essential fact: No one on the left is going to hand over platforms they constructed with their own organizational influence, sweat, and money to a few dozen opponents who want a chance to grandstand. Conservatives will have to build their own credible resistance to earn a place at the table. Until there is a meaningful movement on the right against Trump, no one on the left has any need to take them seriously. Building that resistance will not be easy.
Groups on the left benefit from an organizational advantage in this fight. Their entire existing institutional base is committed to support them. Conservatives face a very different landscape. For all the talk about Republican victories, the party has been ruined by the Trump wave. Where institutions are still functioning, their leadership has been subverted or replaced. Those replacements are not merely Trump-friendly, they are horrifyingly incompetent. Conservatives concerned about the damage from Trump cannot turn to the Republican Party infrastructure for support. In fact, they can expect an aggressive purge to commence very soon, probably before the StormTrumpers turn their energies toward the left. Trump prefers weak targets.
That means conservatives will have to build an opposition movement from scratch under opposing fire from both the Democratic left and from the frothing zombie corpse of the Republican Party. Despite the hostile conditions, there are courageous, principled people out there working. Some of people to watch (and follow on social media) include:
John Weaver: Former staffer for McCain, Hunstman and Kasich staffer.@
Charlie Sykes: Conservative talk radio host in Wisconsin, recently retired but still writing and speaking. @
Rick Wilson: Florida political consultant and writer. @
A haunting realization looms over the remnant of the principled right. Perhaps the GOP was never a conservative party and the movement behind Reagan was never animated by conservative values. As the entire project is boiled down to its essence, we are left not with smaller government, or judicial restraint, or constitutional principles, but with a nasty broth of racist rhetoric wielded by an aspiring petty tyrant. Watching the Reagan wave quietly releases its last energy on the beach, conservatives have to consider this ugly possibility: Maybe this song was never about us.
By the beginning of next year, anyone serious about putting sweat and money into a Trump resistance will need to be up and running. If they haven’t lined up their organizational partners and donors by that time, it may be too late to matter. If there is no organizational resistance to Trump by the spring of ’18, then conservatives will face the possibility of being snuffed out as a political force. Between a steamroller of opposition from the left and the racists and sycophants on the new right, conservatism in the Reagan mold is facing its end.
**** PS – Just saw this today from Evan McMullin, the release of Stand Up Republic. Click the link to sign up and contribute.