The Different Ends of NeverTrump

But an important group of NeverTrumpers identified with the right on a very specific set of issues — support for the 1990s-era free trade consensus, Wilsonian hawkishness, democracy promotion — that are unlikely to animate conservatism again any time soon no matter how the Trump presidency ends. These intellectuals and strategists aren’t particularly culturally conservative, they’re allergic to populism, they don’t have any reason to identify with a conservatism that’s wary of nation-building and globalization — and soon enough, they won’t.

.. Along with Rubin I’m thinking here of Max Boot, her fellow Post columnist and the author of a new book denouncing the Trump-era right, who self-defined as a conservative mostly because he favored a democratic imperialism of the kind that George W. Bush unsuccessfully promoted. I’m thinking of Evan McMullin, the third-party presidential candidate turned full-time anti-Trump activist, and certain Republican strategists from the Bush-McCain-Romney party, whose Twitter feeds suggest that they never much cared for the voters who supported their candidates anyway.

.. But observers trying to imagine what a decent right might look like after Trump should look elsewhere — to thinkers and writers who basically accept the populist turn, and whose goal is to supply coherence and intellectual ballast, to purge populism of its bigotries and inject good policy instead.

For an account of policy people working toward this goal, read Sam Tanenhaus in the latest Time Magazine, talking to conservatives on Capitol Hill who are trying to forge a Trumpism-after-Trump that genuinely serves working-class families instead of just starting racially charged feuds.

.. I don’t know if any of these efforts can pull the post-Trump right away from anti-intellectualism and chauvinism. But their project is the one that matters to what conservatism is right now, not what it might have been had John McCain been elected president, or had the Iraq War been something other than a misbegotten mess, or had the 2000-era opening to China gone the way free traders hoped.

Four species of Beltway Republicans

In focus groups I conduct across the country, even Republican voters who readily acknowledge Trump was not their first or even tenth choice in the Republican primary in 2017 will nonetheless say they are glad he is picking fights, breaking things, and draining the swamp. Last week, Trump’s approval rating among Republicans tied its record high of 90 percent.

.. a taxonomy of Republican leaders with four different categories.

.. [1] The first category of D.C. Republican is the Trump enthusiast. The true believer, the die hard. This is the type of person who was aboard the Trump Train from the get-go, someone for whom the Republican Party of Donald Trump is the party they’ve always hoped for. Tough on immigration and trade, never enamored of Bush-era foreign policy, thrilled to have overthrown the old guard, this is the type of individual for whom a Trump administration has made Washington their oyster.

[2] The second category of D.C. Republican is the establishmentarian. Someone who was perfectly comfortable under the “old ways” but has adapted quickly to survive in their new, harsher environs. They play for Team GOP and Trump is their quarterback, so they’re happy to run his plays as long as they keep winning games. Trump was not toward the top of their list of possible choices for a nominee in 2016, but once he was picked, he was the guy and it was time to fall in line. A significant portion of Capitol Hill and the Republican Party apparatus fits into this category. Do they love the tweeting? Not really. Do they care enough to object? Absolutely not, not so long as regulations are being reformed and taxes are being cut.

[3] .. The third category is the internal opposition. As the continuing echo of the “Never Trump” movement, they view Trump as consistently wrong and categorically dangerous. They have found common cause with Democrats in the #Resistance, holding semi-secret meetings to discuss how to combat what they view as a hostile parasite that has found in the GOP a too-willing host. There is very little that they find praiseworthy about the current moment, and there have even been moments where some, like former presidential candidate Evan McMullin, have actively called for the defeat of mainstream Republicans at the ballot box as a way of teaching the party a lesson.

[4] But there is a fourth group. For lack of a better name at the moment, I will shamelessly steal the name of the excellent podcast hosted by columnist Jonah Goldberg: Goldberg in his introductory episode notes that his show will be neither pro- nor anti-Trump, but rather something for those who feel left behind by the other factions, who live in a constant state of feeling that everyone else around them seems to have gone crazy.

Could Evan McMullin tip the election?

“He can’t do anything, but he hurts us in Utah,” Trump complained. “If for some reason we lose Utah, that could have a very devastating impact on the overall.”

McMullin, a Utah native, promptly tweeted: “@realDonaldTrump, Yes you’ve never heard of me because while you were harassing women at beauty pageants, I was fighting terrorists abroad.”

.. The funny thing is a lot of people in Utah are Mormons, and they don’t drink coffee,” he said, sitting down over hummus and ice water at the Hawk ’n’ Dove on Capitol Hill. “So, we’ve done zero campaigning in coffee shops. If Donald Trump were truly interested in the state and in the voters, he might know a thing or two about that.”

McMullin added with a smile that dessert is “what we do in Utah. We have a lot of desserts, a lot of sugar-infused treats, and that’s what we do instead of coffee.”

.. After leaving the CIA in 2011, McMullin — who has an MBA from Wharton — became an investment banker for Goldman Sachs in San Francisco.

.. In the “Meet the Press” green room on Sunday, McMullin ran into Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, who had joined in mocking the Utahan in the joint interview with Baier, saying: “Nobody ever heard of him.” In person, it was all different. McMullin recalled: “He said it was truly nice to meet me, and I reciprocated, and we wished each other well.”

.. McMullin is the key player in one of two “not-impossible scenarios” that would throw the election into the House. Under what Krueger calls “The Utah Scenario,” if McMullin takes Utah’s six electoral votes, Clinton could wind up with 267 and Trump with 265, both short of 270.

..The LDS Church-owned Deseret News wrote a jaw-dropping editorial in October calling for Trump to resign his candidacy, which essentially outlines why Trump is the antithesis of Mormonism.”

.. “That means the Republican Party is headed more quickly to problems than perhaps the Democratic Party is. But it also means the conservative movement can emerge anew in a more viable way.”