To be sure, that doesn’t mean that every anti-Trump Republican who would rather see Clinton elected over Trump actually likes her. “I would say that I look at Hillary as the devil I know,” Howe said. “If my state is not competitive, I will probably save myself the heartache of pulling the lever, but in a contest between Trump and Hillary, I choose Hillary.”
Not everyone sounds quite so reluctant. “I am enthusiastic about supporting Secretary Clinton,” said Mike Treiser, a former aide to Mitt Romney. “Someone who believes in pursuing equality of opportunity and treating everyone with dignity and respect is exactly the kind of person that I, and hopefully a lot of other folks, want as the most powerful person in the world.”
Elmets seems to agree. He even showed up at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to speak in support of Clinton and against Trump. “To my fellow Republicans, if you believe like I do, you believe that loyalty to our country is more important than loyalty to party,” he said, “I ask that you join me in voting for Hillary Clinton.”
To stop Trump, other pro-Clinton Republicans are working hard to win converts. Craig Snyder, a political consultant who once worked with Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, started a super PAC called Republicans for Her 2016. It aims to make a conservative argument for electing Clinton and to provide a safe haven for GOP defectors. “I think there are voters who can be persuaded to vote for the candidate who is sane and competent,” Snyder said.
For his part, Fried said he sent out an email to everybody in his address book urging them to support Clinton “or risk being complicit in a national catastrophe.” There was no pushback. “I got so many responses from people who said they agree completely or told me they are raising money for Hillary,” Fried said. “I don’t know anybody who has anything good to say about Trump.”
Howe certainly doesn’t. He’s raising money for a movie that warns voters about the danger of a Trump presidency. It’s called The Sociopath. He told MSNBC in May that even if Clinton “just represented the status quo, [that] would be better than having a maniac in the Oval Office.” Howe has received pushback for his anti-Trump activism. He has been called a shill, a sell-out, a traitor, and a hack.
Framing the election, as many of these Republicans do, as a choice between a candidate who will tear the country apart, maybe even destroy it, and one who will not, threatens to leave a far deeper rift in the party than any garden-variety disagreement over policy. It’s no wonder then that many disaffected Republicans say that they can’t see themselves continuing to remain a part of the Republican Party if Trump ultimately wins. “I couldn’t possibly be a part of a Trumpified party in the long term,” Boot said. Elmets has started to wonder “if the Republican Party is leaving me, rather than me leaving the Republican Party.” He added: “Yes, if Donald Trump gets elected president and the Party of Trump is solidified, I will switch parties.”