The movement once known as “NeverTrump” faded as President Donald Trump took office, but has resurrected itself through the various media controversies surrounding the Trump administration, especially the Russia conspiracy theory.
Unlike the left and the media, who appear to regard attacks on Trump as part of a larger effort to replace and undo the entire administration, there seems to be no strategy, no endgame for the NeverTrump crowd.
What motivates NeverTrump is the desire to avenge their defeat in November, and to recover the media pinnacle on which they once stood — posturing as the “principled conservatives” who would rebuild the Republican Party after Trump and his supporters had been humiliated.
But there is no broader plan, and no sense of the political consequences if NeverTrump succeeds in bringing down the most conservative administration in decades, as judged by its actions.
Were the shoe on the other foot — were Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, for example, the target of a sustained campaign of delegitimization — it is inconceivable that Trump supporters would have piled on with the left and the media.
We know this because Mitt Romney, who was not the Tea Party’s first choice as a presidential candidate, consistently did better among Tea Party voters than Republicans as a whole, leaving aside the sniping until after Election Day.
While there is not a complete overlap between Trump voters and Tea Party supporters, the most vocal Tea Party leaders never tried to undermine the last, best chance to stop the radical left-wing policies of Barack Obama.
That loyalty was not a matter of “party over country” — the accusation routinely hurled by NeverTrumpers against Trump supporters. It was a matter of country over self. No candidate is perfect, but in every contest there is one that will advance the cause of liberty more than the other. And Trump, in office, has undoubtedly proved to be that.
Trump has been magnanimous in victory, even hiring some NeverTrumpers to staff his administration. But because many in the NeverTrump movement burned their bridges to the rest of the party — sometimes literally burning their Republican membership cards — they struggled to summon the humility to repair their relationships.
They had once eagerly awaited the opportunity to punish Trump supporters; they have now found a way, they think, to so so again.
NeverTrump is ubiquitous in the mainstream media, just as it was during the election. Their articles are quoted by CNN; their faces appear on split screens and in panel discussions, where they purport to represent the conservative view of the ongoing “scandal.”
But they represent almost no one: only 9% of Republicans believe that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, down from 18% in April. This is about them, and them alone — not truth, or right.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.