That view of GOP leadership, along with the perception among many once-liberal constituencies that the Democratic Party took them for granted, led to the nomination and election of Trump.
I have no love for Trump. As someone who grew up in Queens and lived in the New York City area throughout the 1980s and 1990s, I was well aware of his schtick long before he hit the national political stage. I was disgusted that he made his bones resurrecting the absurd Obama birther conspiracy. In 2014, long before anyone had heard of the Never Trump movement, I wrote a blog post imploring conservatives to stop playing footsie with Trump and tell him to get lost. In December of 2015, while writing for RedState, I listed five reasons why I wouldn’t vote for Trump if he was the GOP nominee. Like many others, I thought Trump wouldn’t make it past the primaries, but I was wrong, and I kept my word.
After Trump’s inauguration, I didn’t become a blind Trump partisan, defending him at every turn, nor did I become a blind Trump critic, opposing him at every turn.
I supported the GOP health-care plan. I supported the GOP tax-cut package. I supported moving the embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. But I’ve criticized Trump’s attacks on the press, on the Justice Department, on the FBI, and on Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Whatever good comes from specific policies, Trump has inflicted wounds on the GOP that will take a long time to heal. His horrific trade policies, his general ignorance of world affairs, particularly his embrace of strongmen and dictators at the expense of our true allies, and his overall temperament and demeanor have left the GOP in a bad place.
But I am not about to abandon the party as a result, let alone vote for Democrats in Congress, as some conservatives have pledged to do in the near term. George Will, Max Boot, Tom Nichols, and others have said they will back Democrats as a necessary step in saving our democracy from Trump.
The anti-Trump extremists have apparently determined that criticizing the president is no longer good enough—anyone who cares about our democracy must now actively thwart the whole Republican Party. Supporting GOP legislation, voting for GOP lawmakers, or supporting Republican judicial nominees is viewed as “enabling” the president. This mind-set led them to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
For me, the Kavanaugh story had nothing to do with Trump. It had to do with vengeful Democrats, hell-bent on doing all they could to stop Kavanaugh from getting confirmed in the hope that if they gained control of the Senate, they could keep the seat of retired Justice Anthony Kennedy vacant until after the 2020 election.
And yet some conservatives supported the Democrats’ antics, even as Democratic lawmakers embarrassed themselves by cross-examining Kavanaugh over quotes in his high-school yearbook. And some—including Tom Nichols, in The Atlantic—criticized Senator Susan Collins, who showed true leadership in her speech explaining why she was voting for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.