After Trump’s decisive primary victory in Indiana, neither of his remaining opponents – Ted Cruz and John Kasich – believed a path to the nomination existed. As a result, they each announced the termination of their campaigns, leaving Trump as the only Republican still running. Unless something utterly catastrophic occurs between now and the convention, Trump will be the official Republican nominee.
Many people who ardently defended the #NeverTrump mantra throughout the turbulent primary have relinquished their rebellion and succumbed to the pressures of the Party. I am here to tell you that, for a number of reasons, you do not have to, and should not, support Trump if you previously subscribed to #NeverTrump.
“I stand here before you today to alert you that you are justified in your #NeverTrump campaign, and you do not have to fall victim to the false paradigmatic duality of contemporary American politics.”
Those who refused to vote for Trump listed innumerable criticisms of the infamous billionaire. Many of these condemnations were such that they should preclude Donald from holding political office: Trump would disregard the Constitution; he completely lacks the temperament to successfully execute the powers of his office; he displays wild and reckless inconsistency; he aided Hillary in her previous pursuits of elected office; and he has denigrated conservatives for the entire duration of his campaign.
It becomes hard to trust that the individuals offering these criticisms genuinely believed them if they subsequently abdicated their #NeverTrump campaign, for if they did believe them, they could not in good conscience support Trump in his bid for the presidency. A man they claimed was manifestly unfit to hold the office should not suddenly gain credibility merely because he is the only one left running. Unless Trump underwent a dramatic metamorphosis in character, policy, and temperament, he remains the same candidate who inspired disdain and disgust among the #NeverTrump contingencies.
I understand that it becomes convenient to abjure a campaign such as this when faced with a barrage of accusatory remarks that imply that the sole responsibility of a Hillary Clinton presidency rests on the #NeverTrump cavalry. However, a display of character ought not relent in light of criticisms such as these.
Not only are these critiques incorrect, they are irresponsible because they encourage a renunciation of principle in favor of collectivist party preferences. But what purpose does a party serve if not to represent the principles one considers vital in political leadership? Parties should not be negatives of their opposition; they should concoct positive statements that are distinct and independent from that which the other primary party offers.
“The righteous indignation generated by Trump’s conformers in response to #NeverTrump betrays the very ideas on which their support for Donald is premised.”
A number of prominent Republicans have announced their intent to support Trump as the nominee, including principled conservatives such as Rick Perry and Rand Paul. On the other hand, members of the right whose political virtues inspired less certainty and fewer ardent followers, such as Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney, have remained steadfast in their opposition to Trump. They have received accusations that they are facilitating a Hillary presidency rather than those who have pushed a candidate who is utterly incapable of and disinterested in consolidating the conservative faction of the right.
The underlying assumption, of course, is that Trump is entitled to votes simply because he happened to obtain a slim majority of Republican delegates while failing to obtain a majority of overall votes (so far: given that his opponents have suspended their campaigns, he may garner a majority by the end). Indeed, this entitlement attitude held by America’s elected leaders has led to an apathy and disinterestedness wherein political leaders largely renounce their accountability because they assume the voters will support them by virtue of the letter next to their name. And the great irony of the Trump contingency is that they support Donald because they perceive current leaders to be taking voters for granted while ignoring their interests but simultaneously lambast #NeverTrump for having not been won over by a candidate and for believing he will not represent their interests or demands.
Thus, their message becomes, “We are righteous in our support of a protest candidate because the establishment no longer represents our interests, but don’t you dare fail to support Trump even if you believe he will not represent your interests!”
“It becomes vital in times like these to vote for the person and not for the party.”
They adopt a false moral high ground constructed upon their hypocrisies. Their protests are legitimate, but #NeverTrump’s are not? They can conform political behavior around the notion that a leader would not represent their interests, but #NeverTrump cannot? Of course, the fuel of partisanship is contradiction, but the righteous indignation generated by Trump’s conformers in response to #NeverTrump betrays the very ideas on which their support for Donald is premised.
So I stand here before you today to alert you that you are justified in your #NeverTrump campaign, and you do not have to fall victim to the false paradigmatic duality of contemporary American politics. Candidates exist that can translate your preferences into office. Candidates like Libertarian Austin Petersen exist, whose lack of name recognition does not dictate the strength of his policy positions.
It becomes vital in times like these to vote for the person and not for the party. Otherwise, any vestige of principle will wholly dissipate into eternally increasing dilution of character and strength of political virtue.