Will Erick Erickson Leave the GOP Over Trump?

I don’t know if Erick Erickson is representative of a lot of voters or not. He’s a wackadoodle, in my honest opinion, but there is no shortage of wackadoodles in this country, obviously. I guess one way of looking at this is to ask whether many social conservatives will follow his lead in pledging (in their hearts, at least) to never, ever vote for Donald Trump. To answer that question, we probably ought to begin by looking at the factors that Erickson cites to explain his pending defection from the Party of Lincoln.

Erickson isn’t just an anti-choice crusader; he uses the most intemperate language to wage his battle against reproductive rights for women. He promises us that hell awaits us if we support this barbaric practice. This is a child’s hell. Dante’s hell. A very literal hell. And Erickson has used the most graphic and disgusting language to describe what Planned Parenthood is falsely alleged to have done with the sale of “baby parts.”

In his mind, Planned Parenthood isn’t a health care provider but some kind of totemic symbol of the purest demonic evil. So, when Donald Trump says that Planned Parenthood does a lot of worthwhile things, that’s not a kind of nuance that can be processed in the dichotomous mind of Erick Erickson.

Donald Trump believes the federal government should fund Planned Parenthood. Donald Trump believes there are good things the child killers do…

…Jerry Falwell, Jr. has joined the whores of Moloch, defending Trump’s Planned Parenthood statement on Twitter. Falwell presides over an institution that expels students who have abortions, but is willing to give positive lip service to Trump saying there are good things Planned Parenthood does.

When Jerry Falwell, Jr. sees too much grey area for you, you might just be an extremist.

But we need to drill a little deeper here. It’s not just that Erickson can’t abide Planned Parenthood getting any funding at all for any purpose at all, it’s that he doesn’t believe that Donald Trump is sincerely anti-choice. He thinks Trump is pulling a con on anti-choice voters and that he’ll revert to his true self if he’s actually elected president.

I have become convinced that Donald Trump’s pro-life conversion is a conversion of convenience. Life is the foremost cause in how I vote. Therefore I will not be voting for Donald Trump at all. Ever…

…Frankly, if Trump is able to get the nomination, the Republican Party will cease to be the party in which I served as an elected official. It will not deserve my support and will not get it if it chooses to nominate a pro-abortion liberal masquerading as a conservative…

…Donald Trump has had no “road to Damascus” conversion. He only wants to date the preacher’s daughter. Once he’s gotten in her ballot box, he’ll be back to his pro-abortion New York values self. I’ll play no part in this farce.

Part of me says that it doesn’t matter if Trump is sincere or not because if he’s elected with a particular coalition of voters, he’ll have to do things to keep that coalition largely intact if he wants to get reelected. That means, he’ll have to sign anti-choice legislation, have his Justice Department defend that legislation in court, nominate anti-choice judges to rule on those cases, and use his executive authority to further the anti-choice cause. Might he be a little less vigorous and committed than the anti-rape/incest exception candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio?

Yes, that’s likely. But I don’t see him doing a one-eighty and coming out as a champion of reproductive freedom. On the other hand, I agree with Erickson that it is quite likely that Trump is not sincerely anti-choice. Where we differ is that I don’t think that matters a whole lot.

To his credit, though, Erickson has a few other reasons for opposing Trump and refusing to vote for him. Erickson correctly notes that Trump “preys on nationalistic, tribal tendencies and has an army of white supremacists online as his loudest cheerleaders.” Erickson disapprovingly insists that “I know for certain a large number of Trump supporters will not rally to a Cuban.”

He even has a Sandersesque critique:

And on top of it all, the oligarchs would be just fine. They would coddle and humor a President Trump, a man of mountainous ego, and get their way while the very people Donald Trump promises to help would get table scraps.

I’ll give Erickson credit for mentioning these latter objections, but looking at the tax plans and anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and sometimes anti-gay rhetoric of Trump’s remaining opponents, I can’t see how Trump is an outlier here. Gov. John Kasich of Ohio is the least offensive of the bunch in these matters, but Erickson doesn’t support Kasich.

But, getting back to the point here, how many people view the world like Erickson does and simply won’t vote for Trump because he’s not adequately anti-choice or sincere in his Christian conservatism?

I don’t think there are too many, which is one reason why Trump seems to doing well with white evangelical voters, including in the Deep South. There certainly isn’t a concentration of enough of these Erickson voters in any battleground states to make a difference in the outcome of the presidential election.

But, there might be a different kind of problem, which is the overall cohesiveness of the conservative movement over time. The most committed ideologues are the ones who will bolt the party over Trump’s stance on abortion. But they are the leaders of the movement. Or, they’re one of the legs in the stool, anyway.

There’s always a chance these folks will pack up their tents and go home…kind of give up on the political system as a viable avenue to pursue their goals. Losing any near-term hope of controlling the Supreme Court could help that along, which may also go a long way toward explaining the GOP’s leadership’s refusal to let that happen before the voting in November is completed.

I think Erickson has some influence on these kinds of matters. Not a ton, and there won’t be a line of people under his banner walking out the door if Trump is nominated. But he could be a bit of a canary in a coal mine in terms of longer term effects.

There are other Republicans of different persuasions who will bolt the party over Trump. Those people aren’t supporting Rubio or Cruz, though. They’re upset by the religious extremism of the party, but it’s either the economic unorthodoxy of Trump or the fascistic element of Trump’s pitch that’s going to drive them away.

As I’ve said before, if he’s nominated, Trump will change the shape of the electorate. How many media hypnotized folks he wins, how much he can offset his traditional Republican losses with an influx of previously disengaged bigots and wannabe stormtroopers…those are the things that will determine whether he’ll be another Goldwater or our next president.

I do have one final question about all this, however. Does Erick Erickson’s very principled stand here have anything to do with Donald Trump calling him a deviant insider loser?

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.