Opinion: “Never Trump” Conservatives Should Leave the GOP
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
In a conversation with Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, President Donald Trump’s Senior Advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, declared that the President had executed a “hostile takeover” of the Republican Party; he was correct in that assessment. The Republican party, in a matter of mere years, has transitioned from the party of individual freedom, pro-business and entrepreneur economy, and law and order to a cult-like coalition centered around Trump.
This is a stark contrast from the Republican Party Americans knew four years earlier. The GOP was previously led by like-minded leaders who believed that limited government and conservative principles allow America to prosper more than it would with liberal Democratic policies. Unfortunately, many such Republicans have fallen in line with Trump after his obtention of the Republican Presidential Nomination in 2016. In fact, the party has become so centered around Donald Trump that the 2020 Republican National Convention (RNC) didn’t even have a platform. Instead, there was a single-page document pledging the party’s undying support for Trump- along with an exact copy of the 2016 platform attached.
However, some Republicans — including Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Former Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio), Governor Larry Hogan (R-Md.), and several unelected Republican activists such as former Trump Director of Communications Anthony Scaramucci and Attorney George Conway — have expressed major concerns and disappointments with President Trump. In fact, Gov. Kasich even went as far as to endorse President-Elect Biden’s campaign in 2020. This outstands from the majority of Republicans who fail to speak up on Trump’s shortcomings. Such leaders are often ostracized from the party and called Republicans in Name Only (“RINOS”) by Trump loyalists, essentially signifying that the modern expectation of a Republican is to be nothing more than a blind follower of the President.
In short, the GOP that these Republicans knew has essentially abandoned anyone not willing to onboard with Trump. Hence, it is time for “Never Trump” Conservatives to break ties with the GOP due to the several negative turns and disturbing developments the party has swiftly implemented over the last few years.
Trump Loyalists have Proven to be Anti-Democratic
There is simply no euphemism for the truth that Donald Trump and his friends in government have deliberately and systematically attempted to undermine democracy throughout their administration. However, this has become particularly clear after the incumbent’s loss to President-Elect Joe Biden in the 2020 General Election.
Alongside other famous firsts committed by the Trump administration — some more troubling others — comes the unfortunate reality that Trump is the first presidential candidate to refuse to accept the results of the electoral college, as well as the first modern presidential candidate to refuse to concede since 1896. President Trump’s justification: baseless conspiracy theories of an election rigged against him.
This behavior goes against the very principles of the Republican Party — the party with limited government and anti-authoritarianism at its core. Normally, it shouldn’t make much of a difference that the President alone is spouting deranged conspiracy theories on the election (though it is still highly embarrassing and dishonorable regardless). The dangerous aspect of these election claims is the fact that those in the GOP — both in and out of office — back these claims. Senators and Representatives alike — such as Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — in the GOP have by and large supported the resident’s dangerous and anti-democratic conduct since the first day of his nonsensical efforts to overturn the election.
It’s not only the Republican incumbents, though. Recent studies from Reuters and Monmouth University have yielded disturbing results regarding the sentiments expressed by common Republican voters. An entire 52% of registered Republicans believe that President Trump is the “rightful winner” of the election, and 77% said that Biden won the election through fraudulent means. A mere 11% of Republicans said that Biden was the fair winner of the presidential election. It is impossible for Republicans who do not succumb to the president to still stand up for conservative values when the majority of their party is riddled with anti-democratic politicians and pure nonsense as its main focus.
The GOP has become an Extremist Party
In 2013, after the defeat of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, the GOP conducted an “autopsy” of sorts to assess the reasons for their loss. One of the main points of weakness in the party seemed to be the lack of enthusiasm for the Republicans from moderate voters and minorities, which cost Romney key tossup states such as Virginia, New Hampshire, and Colorado.
Thus, it was expected that the GOP nominee would be someone moderate who would be able to reach out to a diverse platform of voters. Obviously, however, fate — and President Trump — had other plans. Instead of branching out, the Trump campaign did the exact opposite and doubled down on the resentful working class, often called the “silent majority” or the “forgotten.” This type of unilateral coalition of voters typically results in and has resulted in during the Trump era, a dangerously extremist and isolated bloc essentially united for the sole purpose of disagreeing with the opposition no matter what, even on issues that are typically non-starters.
For instance, in 2020, the Trump campaign and its supporters became infamous for hosting massive rallies and potential COVID-19 super-spreaders despite the ongoing pandemic. Many of the patrons refused to wear masks, citing the virus and the safety precautions associated with it as a “hoax” or an apparent breach of liberty.
Another consequential example of Trump-induced extremism involves the President’s attitude towards racism and other forms of discrimination. Rather than speak out against instances of hate and prejudice in this country, Trump has often encouraged them, inflaming; for example, at the first presidential debate of the campaign, Trump, when pressed on the issue, declined to outright condemn White supremacy. This, alongside several of his infamous moments of perpetuating racism, has led the GOP to begin to cater to extremist ideologies by a coalition containing a large number of voters adhering to racially resentful sentiment.
The worst part of this is the fact that almost his entire party backs such sentiments. That alone should raise concern amongst a growing group of conservatives wondering whether the GOP as it is today is a party that they can, in good conscience, still support.
The only way to fix this problem is for non-Trumpian conservatives to leave the GOP. It is ineffective for traditional and moderate conservatives who cannot support a man such as President Trump, to properly do their jobs, when their party is largely composed of and controlled by Trump loyalists who would support the president in even the most absurd and dangerous of cases.
Furthermore, a growing coalition of extremist and resentful voters may result in a wipe-out of such non-Trumpian conservatives from their party leadership, considering that such voters are beginning to comprise the predominant sentiments in the GOP. Hence, it would be more effective for the apparent minority conservatives to leave the GOP, which many wish to have stayed the way it was prior to the Trump days.
History has taught us that extremism, authoritarianism, and enshrinement of leaders doesn’t age well. As the GOP continues to fall into the chasm of Trumpian corruption, radicalism, and worship-like sentiment for the president, voices of traditional and “Never Trump” conservatives become increasingly faded. As the party distances itself from them, they must, in turn, leave the party. The golden days of the Republican Party are over.