It’s been exactly three months since election night, when Donald Trump walked away with 304 electoral votes– making him set to become the 45th President of the United States. However, during both the primary and general campaigns one movement was determined to prevent Trump from ever stepping foot in the Oval Office: #NeverTrump.
In fact, this movement persisted well beyond election night, launching numerous bids to the Electoral College in efforts to convince electors from abandoning Trump when they officially cast their ballots on December 19, 2016.
Voters and politicians from both major political parties jumped aboard the Never Trump train, with some of the most well known faces including (at one point or another) Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Ohio Governor John Kasich, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and businessman Michael Bloomberg.
In particular, #NeverTrump Republicans (some of whom either symbolically or literally destroyed their party registration cards after Trump became the Republican Party’s presidential nominee) have had a difficult time finding their footing in politics as the new administration took the stage.
However, while members of the #NeverTrump movement may have failed in their prime objective of preventing a Trump presidency, there is still room for them in Trump’s America – if they can find it.
For members of the GOP who refused to vote for Trump in both the primary and general elections, taking that Never Trump mentality to task now means having beyond the outrage and into pragmatic approaches. It means the onus is on them to hold the president accountable for representing conservative ideals and advancing the Republican platform as the head of the party.
Whether this is done directly (after all, the President is quite fond of Twitter), or indirectly (by calling senators and representatives and pushing that they use their legislative checks to oppose any dangerous policies), Never Trump Republicans can remain faithful to their party without having to simply concede to Trump every time he makes a new statement or decision.
Some Congressmen who have set a great example by refusing to simply toe the party line include Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Both men have been unafraid to publicly criticize the President as they question and challenge Trump’s policies when necessary. In particular, McCain has become a vocal critic of Trump’s stances regarding Russia, as the President’s policies regarding the region represent a stark departure from where traditional Republicans stand on the issue.
However, being a #NeverTrump Republican also means being willing to applaud the President when he makes smart, conservative policy decisions (like nominating Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, or enacting a temporary federal hiring freeze). Refusing, however, to acknowledge the President’s successes simply for disagreement’s sake is just as detrimental to the health for the party as mindlessly praising him is. Like all good politics, this should be a balancing act.
While many Never Trump Republicans felt (and may still feel) as though their party was hijacked by Trump, a man whose values and policy proposals are inconsistent with standard conservative ideology, the (perhaps uncomfortable) truth is that not all of his policies run counter to conservatism, and some of the current proposals the administration has put forth have actually been good for furthering the conservative agenda.
If Never Trump Republicans wish to counter the rising populist branch of the party, which almost always blindly accepts all of Trump’s proposals regardless of how out-of-step they may be with standard Republican policy, they must be willing to both praise and challenge the President as necessary.
For these Republicans, accepting the objective reality that Donald Trump is, in fact, both the president and the head of the party does not detract from any ability they may have to sway his politics– if anything, it is a necessary first step in affecting change.
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