Earlier this week, Jamie Weinstein of the Daily Caller suggested that Republican leaders might offer a “negotiated surrender” to Hillary Clinton as part of a trade: one Supreme Court pick, some rudimentary entitlement reform, and a double-A shortstop to be named later, or something.
Viewed charitably, Weinstein seems to be arguing that a surrender would keep Congress in Republican hands, and preserve a conservatism of sorts. What he fails to understand is that Democrats are hell-bent on maximizing power, and destroying conservatism.
The New York Times, increasingly less coy about its left-wing agenda, proclaimed last week: “Democrats, Looking Past Mere Victory, Hope to End the Trump Movement.” Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe tweeted last month: “It is not enough to simply beat Trump. He must be destroyed thoroughly. His kind must not rise again.”
The left is determined to do what James Carville predicted, prematurely, it had already done in 2008: eliminate conservative opposition, and rule for generations.
Some conservatives are actually rooting for a massive Hillary Clinton win, in the belief they will avoid the consequences. My friend Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal wrote in December, months before the first primary votes had been cast: “Let us now pledge to elect Hillary Clinton as the 45th president of the United States.” Stephens meant that somewhat facetiously, but has since reiterated that “the only hope for a conservative restoration is a blowout Hillary Clinton victory.”
The thinking, for some, seems to be that Trump and his supporters are not really conservatives, and need to be purged from the party. For others, the argument is that Trump’s populist rhetoric and nationalist policies are so disruptive that they must be dealt a shocking defeat so that no Republican ever seeks that path to power ever again.
Whatever the theory, conservatives who hope for a Hillary Clinton victory share the common illusion that they will survive to rebuild the GOP in their image.
The Clinton machine will never give them that chance. She is campaigning, for example, on an explicit promise to overturn Citizens United, re-writing the First Amendment to silence political speech.
And as the Journal‘s Kimberly Strassel shows in The Intimidation Game, Democrats are itching to finish what they started in the IRS scandal — namely, using regulations and disclosure to shut down conservative groups, while letting left-wing groups and unions run wild. (And Clinton’s new Supreme Court picks will help.)
Clinton is also promising to extend President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. The Democrats’ goal has never actually been “immigration reform”; in fact, Obama’s “Dream Act by Fiat” in 2012 made legal immigration much harder.
Democrats simply want millions of new, loyal voters who will permanently change the country’s political landscape so that Republicans are forced to abandon conservatism, and eventually collapse as an opposition force.
Appeasement fails because once you have traded away the means and the will to resist, the first surrender is never the last. We have seen that before — not just during World War II, but during the 2008 election, when Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) joined his opponent and the Bush administration in backing the bank bailout.
By the time McCain arrived at the first presidential debate, there were no longer any real economic differences worth debating: he had surrendered on government’s role in the economy. After that, most Republicans in Washington were only too eager to accommodate the new regime.
The task of rebuilding the opposition fell to the Tea Party and its ragtag populist army, which swept the 2010 midterm elections but struggled to withstand the IRS or to push back against demonization by the mainstream media.
Republican leaders often declined to defend the Tea Party, and failed to satisfy the public’s intense desire for an effective opposition force that could stop Obama and his relentless power grabs. Donald Trump rose through a crowded Republican primary field precisely because he offered that fighting spirit, which has been missing for so long.
Win or lose, what is most important — especially given the failed opposition of the last eight years — is the battle itself. Because in a worst-case scenario — if Democrats control all three branches of government — Republicans must be in fighting shape from Day One, and Democrats must know that if they try to carry out their plans they will be resisted fiercely.
Opposition is not formally entrenched in the U.S. Constitution, except through the weakened checks-and-balances in the government itself, which Democrats have gutted.
To survive, opposition must be a habit. And it is only in the space provided by that opposition that conservative ideas have any hope of flourishing in a left-ruled America.
Beltway Republicans will not last long without the populists they carelessly disdain — the only conservatives the left truly fears.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.