Well, the verdict is in. Donald Trump is officially the presumptive GOP nominee for president of the United States. Trump’s decisive victory in Indiana and Senator Ted Cruz’s withdrawal from the race have all but assured that Trump will acquire the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the nomination on the first ballot at the GOP convention next summer. Unless you’re Joe Scarborough, you probably didn’t see this coming when the primaries began. But here we are.
I have made no secret of the fact that I am a #NeverTrump guy. If you want to know my reasoning behind this, you can read it here. What I want to offer here is a handful of reflections on this moment.
1. Those who think the #NeverTrump effort lost tonight do not understand what #NeverTrump is all about. It is not merely about keeping him from the nomination. It’s about keeping him from the presidency. And that effort is only just getting started. If Trump is the man we think he is, politicians and delegates of principle have to pull out all the stops to keep Trump away from the presidency. The surest way to keep him out of the presidency is to deny him the nomination. It is too risky to pursue any strategy that might make the nomination easier for him. If there are measures to preserve the GOP and conservatism along the way, I think that’s fine. But the priority is not conservatism or the GOP. The priority is protecting the country from an ignorant lecherous Machiavellian demagogue who will tyrannize our constitutional order.
2. I know, I know. It is probably too late to prevent Trump’s nomination at this point. Nevertheless, if there is any first ballot chicanery that can deny Trump the nomination (within the rules!)—perhaps something along the lines that Andrew Sullivan has suggested—then the GOP should not shrink back from pursuing it. If this alienates Trump voters from the party, then so be it. If it has negative consequences down-ballot, then so be it. Allowing Trump to be the nominee is just too risky—not just for the GOP or even for conservatism, but for the country. It is the duty of patriotic Republicans to keep Trump from the nomination no matter the political cost.
3. Principled conservatives cannot outsource Trump’s defeat to Secretary Clinton. I understand that Trump is very unlikely to beat Secretary Clinton according to most polls. But is there anyone who thinks the polls are set in stone? Is there anyone who thinks that there is a limit to Trump’s demagoguery? Anything can happen between now and November. Men of principle with power to influence the process cannot allow this man near the presidency. If ever the country needed its statesmen to be men of courage, it is right now. If any of you happen to be reading this, I ask you not to make your peace with Trump. If or when he clinches the nomination in Cleveland, actively oppose him through the general election. For the sake of your countrymen, spend every bit of political capital you have to defeat him. Remember Churchill. He was exiled to the political wilderness because he stood on principle. He was dead politically. But when the truth finally became clear to everyone, the nation turned to him—precisely because he didn’t waver when everyone else did. Even if you have to spend the next ten years banished to Chartwell, it will be worth it to stop Trump.
Reporters keep asking if Indiana changes anything for me.
The answer is simple: No.
This from Febr. still holds:https://t.co/yUNSZTHW7E
— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) May 4, 2016
4. The 2016 primaries have given us Kang and Kodos—two completely unacceptable alternatives. Expect the pressure to mount to pick one of the two. Expect people to tell you that you must vote for one. Don’t believe it. Don’t stay home. You still need to vote. You can write-in a candidate or perhaps even an acceptable third-party alternative, and then you can vote for those who represent your principles down ballot. There are principled alternatives to voting for a demagogue. Pick one.
5. There are a host of characteristics that render Trump not merely a flawed candidate but a real threat to our constitutional order. Look at how he orders his supporters to perpetrate violence against protestors. Look at how he promises to direct the U.S. military to commit war crimes if he becomes commander-in-chief. If he is willing to advocate and defend such gross violations publicly, how do you think he will use (or abuse) the powers of his office if he were to become President? Do you think he might use his powers to punish dissent? I think he would. Even if he were solid on the abortion issue (which he isn’t), these other items disqualify him. I don’t think it is hyperbolic to say that he is a Mussolini-in-waiting. He must never be allowed near the Oval Office. Ever.
There are many good people still in the “Stop Trump” camp who oppose his candidacy now but who will support him if he becomes the GOP nominee. I think they hold this point of view in good conscience because they don’t want to lose the Supreme Court for a generation. They believe Trump to be wrong on a range of issues but to be otherwise benign. While I share their concern about the Supreme Court, I think they are sadly mistaken that he is otherwise benign.
I hope I’m wrong about the menace that I think he presents to our country. I really do. But I think there is more than enough evidence that I am exactly right about who this man is and what kinds of things he would do. And the uncertain chance that he might accidentally appoint good justices doesn’t overcome these other disqualifying concerns. That is why I will never support him, and I hope others won’t either.
The soul of this nation is being revealed before our eyes. We are witnessing an unfolding self-inflicted tragedy. God help us. Only He can.
— Albert Mohler (@albertmohler) May 4, 2016
Never. Ever. Period.
— Albert Mohler (@albertmohler) May 4, 2016