It’s every man for himself out there in this post-Trump conservative movement. Defiant warriors of the Resistance, and most particularly my platoon mates in the #NeverTrump brigade, are largely lacking a singular leader around whom to rally. We watch in anguish as Rick Perry—who previously called the orange-hued demagogic clown a “cancer” on conservatism—comes around to not only endorse the charlatan, but to proffer himself as a potential vice presidential running mate. We squirm as we watch Paul Ryan slowly raise the white flag of surrender to the “alt-right” dear leader. We are agonized as we watch Marco Rubio painfully double down on his vow to support the eventual nominee, whomever he or she is. Even the great Mike Lee, who (accurately) noted that the orange-hued clown “scares [him] to death,” could not quite bring himself to join fellow constitutionalist Ben Sasse on team #NeverTrump.
I’ve done much thinking and reading over these past ten days on what I think is the best path forward, and here is a breakdown of our best options, in order. Consider it a #NeverTrump cheat sheet.
- 1. #FreeTheDelegates – Yes, this is what some refer to as the “nuclear option,” in which the RNC’s Rules Committee votes to unbind as many delegates as possible on the first ballot. The Branch Trumpidians, the personality cultists, the “alt-right” fascists, and the Twitter zombies will all cry foul about the “will of the people” (whatever that means in a country expressly founded upon lower-case “r” republican, and not lower-case “d” democratic, principles; go read some James Madison, Trumpkins) being thwarted. At this point, to borrow a phrase from the other party’s terrible presumptive nominee, what difference does it make? This is still our best option, even if it is not entirely clear whom the delegates should then vote on. Erick has written about it here and here, and Steve has also done so.
- 2. Run Multiple Third-Party Candidates – Brian Sikma wrote a great piece here the other day on conservatives’ “unorthodox roadmap” for a presidential win. Brian’s argument boils down to the belief that, if we are to hold all presidential candidates under 270 votes in the Electoral College and thus send the election to the House of Representatives as the Constitution requires, then the operative playbook is less 1912 (where Woodrow Wilson swept 40 states and 435 electoral votes despite only winning 41.8% of the popular vote) or 1992 (where Bill Clinton won 370 electoral votes despite only winning 43% of the popular vote) than it is 1824 (where four candidates with differing regional appeals sufficiently split the vote to send it to the House, where John Quincy Adams was victorious despite only winning 30.9% of the popular vote). This is admittedly a daunting task, not least because—pursuant to the Twelfth Amendment—we would need to ensure the actually conservative challenger finishes in the top three in the electoral vote. But it is possible: some western and heartland states have shown themselves proudly defiant of the orange-hued clown, and proudly in favor of Ted Cruz-style constitutional conservatism.
So there we have it. The #FreeTheDelegates “nuclear option” is definitely our best bet, but we as a movement need to be doing whatever we can to assist the option (2) and (3) contingency plans. Whatever happens, the Resistance must not cave to the darkness of “alt-right” Trumpism.
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