In a way, you kind of have to feel sorry for the NeverTrumpers. After mounting their own version of Operation Chaos in 2018, urging all true conservatives to vote Republicans out because Orange Man Bad, they decided to parlay their perceived success in flipping the House of Representatives back to Nancy Pelosi by going all-in for whichever Democrat would go up against Donald Trump for the White House in 2020. Of course, that was back when the smart money was on Joe Biden, a man with establishment credentials every bit as impeccable as Hillary Clinton, the last presidential candidate for whom they proudly—and loudly—cast their vote. But then Iowa happened, and New Hampshire after that, and with Nevada now in the rear-view mirror it’s become increasingly clear that Biden is cooked, and that the man at the stove is none other than Bernie Sanders—a socialist so unrepentant that he is given to romantic flights of fancy such as this:
In “60 Minutes” interview, Sanders goes out of his way praise elements of Castro’s reign of Cuba.
“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but it’s unfair to say everything’s bad. When Castro came into office you know what he did? He had a literacy program.”
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) February 24, 2020
Was that before or after he ordered Che Guevara to line up all the political prisoners and shoot them in the head? I guess it’s like Stalin said about omelettes and eggs—the libraries may be packed floor to ceiling with commie propaganda, but at least the people can read it.
After that came a great disturbance in the Farce, as if millions of NeverTrumpers suddenly facepalmed themselves in frustration and were suddenly silenced. After all those months, all those tweets and all those Bulwark articles saying that the most conservative thing you can do is to vote for a tax-raising, government-expanding, abortion-loving corporate cronyist for President, the Democrat base decides it wants the guy who literally honeymooned in the Soviet Union? You were supposed to let us pick your nominee! Don’t you people know how this is supposed to work? Alas, it seems, Pierre Omidyar’s money only goes so far, leaving the dwindling NeverTrump contingent shocked, shocked to discover that the hard left would rather nominate someone who is hard left.
Unfortunately, that leaves the Bill Kristol and Tom Nichols types in something of a pickle. How do they advocate voting for an actual socialist while still claiming the conservative mantle for themselves? Well, as it turns out, they think they’ve found a way:
1) Bernie cannot bring socialism. He cannot rule by decree. None of his big plans will happen.
2) But that doesn't mean he's harmless. His presidency would be bad for America.
Our parties are failing to produce fit candidates. Do not endorse their failures with your vote.
— David French (@DavidAFrench) February 24, 2020
To be fair, French goes on to say that he’ll go third-party or write in a candidate before he votes Bernie—but in this tweet, it does seem as if he offers absolution for those who choose otherwise. That’s because they needn’t worry—none of those Big Socialist Plans will ever come to fruition. There will be no Green New Deal, no student debt forgiveness, no ban on fracking. That’s all just a pipe dream, you see. Bernie cannot rule by decree! David French promises it.
And yet, and yet. . .this is the same man who routinely argues that Donald Trump’s presidency is such a singular threat to Constitutional governance that he must be stopped at all costs, even if it means ensuring a Democrat majority in Washington.
How is this argument even remotely consistent?
Trump’s imperial tendencies are such a threat to the rule of law that French advocates tearing the GOP down to get rid of him—and yet somehow a Sanders administration would merely be “bad for America” and therefore tolerable? That seems naive at best, positively delusional at worst—but not surprising, given how deeply NeverTrump is invested in seeing the President fail. To them, whether or not the country succeeds is merely incidental. All that matters is being proven correct, and reasserting their control over the conservative movement.
If that means making common cause with a socialist—or dismissing his plans as irrelevant—then so be it.