Friday, May 06, 2016

Where do we go from here?

Now that Trump is the presumptive conservative nominee, what should conservatives do? In the short term, this story doesn't have a happy ending. We're out of good options for the time being. 

1. I'm no expert on the nuts and bolts of the convention. Technically, it may be necessary for Trump to have more than 1237 delegates to win on the first ballot. That's because, as I understand, not all the delegates are bound delegates. In theory, some could bolt. So he might need some extra delegates as a margin for error. 

That said, it seems like Trump's nomination is a foregone conclusion. Theoretically, the RNC could change the rules to deny him the nomination, but surely that's not going to happen, even if it should.

2. Assuming he's the nominee, what's the next step for conservatives? Some conservatives believe that given a choice, we should support Trump over Hillary. I disagree, but there are reasonable arguments for that position. We're in a very tough situation.

3. Others don't think Trump is better than Hillary. Or they don't think the reasons for supporting Trump withstand scrutiny. Take three examples:

4. That brings us to the NeverTrump position. But that, by itself, is not a plan of action. Some conservatives think we should actively oppose Trump in the general election. Run a third-party candidate. 

Here we need to distinguish between not supporting Trump in the general election, and opposing Trump in the general election. I think it's a mistake to actively oppose him in the general election. 

It's one thing not to help Trump win. It's quite another to positively help Hillary win by siphoning votes away from Trump. I don't think conservatives should help either one. 

At one level, I think conservatives should get out of the way and let Trump and Hillary duke it out. That way, if Trump loses, the Trumpkins can't blame it on conservatives who sabotaged their candidate. At this point, we need to let it play out so that Trumpkins will find out the hard way how wrong they were. Don't interfere with the downfall of their candidate. Let them see for themselves the dire predictions come true. They need to learn a hard lesson. They need their own idol to disillusion them. Watch him underperform. 

That wasn't the case in the primaries, but we've passed the final exit on the freeway. 

5. That doesn't mean there's nothing left for conservatives to do:

i) We should educate the American public on conservative ideology. Explain what it is. Explain why it matters.

ii) We should explain what's wrong with Hillary's positions. We should call attention to her scandals. 

iii) To the extent that Trump has any stable, detailed policies, we should explain what's wrong with those.

And not just during the campaign, but after the election–whoever wins. 

6. Liberal ideology contains the seeds of its own destruction. For instance, if gov't officials aggressively promote transgender policies regarding restrooms, locker rooms, intramural sports, and professional sports, that has the potential to antagonize and mobilize tens of millions of voters, many of whom reflexively vote Democrat. 

David French has additional suggestions:

7. The Trump nomination doesn't represent the repudiation of conservative principles. It's not as they were tried and failed. No, they were never put to the test. 


  1. Keith Burgess-Jackson, an otherwise reasonable man, is completely unhinged in his affections for Trump. The daily drumbeat of "get right with Donald" posts renders his blog virtually unreadable.

    1. I'm always suspicious of people with hyphenated last names.

  2. Shapiro does not support Trump. If he ever did, it was very early in the primary season. He's been an outspoken critic of Trump and his supporters.

    1. I was going to type the same thing. He daily lambasts Trump (often multiple times a day on facebook).

    2. Shapiro often praised Trump's debate performances. However, after Trump was on a roll, Shapiro became consistently critical.

  3. Regarding suggestion no. 5: It would be a great help if conservatives had some sort of venue or platform from which to attempt said education and explanation. Practically all of the public square is in enemy hands.

  4. Steve said: "That way, if Trump loses, the Trumpkins can't blame it on conservatives who sabotaged their candidate."

    I think I already mentioned this, but if not I'll say it here anyway :-) I believe that it's a GOOD thing that Conservatives get blamed for Trump losing. Seriously, if the party says "It's your fault we lost because we needed your support" then you just respond, "Inasmuch as you just admitted you cannot win without us, you better start governing in ways that will get us to vote for you."


    1. I suppose it's the difference between not doing anything for or against Trump vs. actively opposing Trump.

      I don't think Trumpkins could say much if conservatives did nothing to help but also nothing to hurt his chances.

      However, I think Trumpkins would blame conservatives if we were to actively oppose him after he's become the nominee. Such as if some conservatives were to continue to promote the #NeverTrump movement, form a third party, etc.

    2. Trumpkins will blame everyone anyway because the alternative is self-examination, which is something they are incapable of doing.

    3. Peter, you ignored my distinction between not supporting Trump and aiding Hillary by effectively joining forces with HIllary to defeat Trump. Do you think it's good for conservatives to be blamed for forming a de facto alliance with Hillary by taking down her opponent?

      You recast what I wrote, then proceeded to comment on something I didn't say.

    4. Peter, there's a difference between Trumpkins blaming conservatives anyway and giving them a reason to blame conservatives.

      In addition, although they are impervious to reason, if they see their idol fall of his own dead weight, that then will disillusion some of them, precisely because they judge him, not for ideology, but his invincible posturing. What happens if he turns out to be a "total loser"?

    5. I notice that you say two different things as if these are interchangeable claims:

      "the Republicans are going to blame Conservatives when Trump loses..."

      "Trumpkins will blame everyone anyway..."

      Trumpkins and Republicans are not equivalent groups.

    6. "Trumpkins and Republicans are not equivalent groups." Any Republican who votes for Trump makes it an equivalent group. Republicans who don't vote Trump are a different group, yes.

      I disagree that it's "effectively joining forces with Hillary" to vote for someone other than Trump and to seek to make Trump lose. Or would you say that Hillary is effectively joining forces with Conservatives by running against Trump and making Conservatives take a stand to try to get Republicans to actually govern Conservatively in the future?

      As to the specific question: "Do you think it's good for conservatives to be blamed for forming a de facto alliance with Hillary by taking down her opponent?" Well, since it's predicated on a lie (i.e., that it's a de facto alliance) then no, that's not good; but inasmuch as Republicans learn they cannot get elected unless they govern at least SOMEWHAT as a Conservative wishes then it's a good thing. I am more than willing to stand up and argue that it's not a de facto alliance, and would much prefer THAT error to the reality that no Conservative Republican will ever have a shot of winning another election if Conservatives don't show backbone and protest vote against Trump.

      I respect that you disagree with me on it, and I can empathize with some of the reasons that you've mentioned, but at the end of the day I see anything short of demonstrating that if Republicans don't act Conservative they won't get the Conservative vote is a loss to Conservativism.

    7. ''I disagree that it's 'effectively joining forces with Hillary' to vote for someone other than Trump..."

      Peter, since I never said that or said anything like that, I have no idea what you think you're responding to.

  5. Peter, most Republicans voted against Trump during the primaries. So although there's some overlap between Republicans and Trumpkins, the two groups are far apart overall.