I've been less critical of the #NeverTrumpers than Charlie Pierce, but it appears that he was right all along. Pierce writes today:
More than a few people have been bothered by my consistent skepticism about the good faith of most Never Trump conservatives. If any of them had abjured 40 years of insane Republican economics, and 40 years of weaponized bigotry, and 40 years of vote-tampering under the color of law, and if any of them had evinced a desire to change American conservatism from a profitable poisonous grift to an actual governing philosophy that didn't require a Thorazine the size of a manhole cover, I'd have felt differently....
But, through it all, I had the sense that most of them were more concerned with damage to the brand than with the damage to the republic.
Damage to the brand? I think that's what some of them cared about, whether the brand was conservatism, Republicanism, or both. But I think Pierce is closer to the mark as he continues. He quotes an essayErick Erickson published this morning, titled "I’ll Be Voting for President Trump and Vice President Pence in 2020."
President Trump delivered on tax reform. He delivered on regulatory rollbacks. He delivered on undermining Obamacare. He delivered on moving the embassy in Israel. He delivered on withdrawal from the Paris Accord. He delivered on withdrawal from the Iranian agreement. He delivered on shifting American foreign policy focus to the Western Hemisphere to deal with Venezuela, Cuba, and other hotspots. He delivered on solid executive appointments, including to the judiciary.
Pierce translates this:
Grab all the pussy you can as long as more of the wealth gets pushed upwards. Conspire and collude with thuggish autocrats as long as I can maintain control over every woman's ovaries. So Ryan Zinke can steal everything in Interior that isn't nailed down? The Eighth Commandment can take a seat while we carve uranium out of the Grand Canyon. What's three dozen indictments compared to hearing Justice Brett Kavanaugh's pronouncements for the next 30 years? Render unto Caesar the crooks that are Caesar's.
Exactly. The main problem the #NeverTrumpers, or at least Erickson and his kind, had with Trump was that they were afraid he wouldn't be fully on board with the mean-spirited, avaricious, bigoted, rapacious program of the contemporary GOP. He might not be a pro-plutocrat tax cutter or a vote stealer or a gun fondler or a deregulator or an abortion restrictor -- or he might sign on to the agenda but manage it so ineptly that its long-term acolytes couldn't win elections anymore.
Now Erickson knows that he can trust Trump with the vast majority of the GOP's program. He also knows that he has no choice for 2020 -- Trump won't lose the nomination, so it's either Trump or (nooooooo!) a Democrat.
The Cause is always paramount. The purpose of life is to bring us ever close the day when the Fox/Koch/NRA/Norquist/religious right counterrevolution has fully triumphed. To Erickson and others, Trump threatened to postpone Utopia. Now he doesn't. MAGA!
Republished with permission from No More Mr. Nice Blog
Editor's note (Frances Langum): On topic, check out the Bonus podcast from The Professional Left on Steve Schmidt walking out on his own podcast rather than discussing Howard Schultz's tax policy.