Jonathan Bernstein:

Kevin Drum doubts whether #NeverTrump supporters will stick with their pledge. Fair enough, I guess, but in my view, those organizing against Trump deserve appreciation, not ridicule, even if they eventually wind up retreating if Trump is nominated. At least, for those who believe Trump is unusually unsuited for the Oval Office. The truth is that the logic of a two-party, first-past-the-post system makes for impossible choices when one’s party nominates a terrible candidate. The time to act, then, is before the nomination is settled, and the #NeverTrump gang, whatever they do down the road, at least isn’t guilty of just letting it happen.

I get the point here, but I have to differ. I really do think the NeverTrumpers deserve ridicule. Most of them, anyway, and plenty of it. And I also think it actually matters whether they mean it, and no I am not inclined to be sympathetic that they face “impossible choices” when their party nominates “a terrible candidate.”

They deserve ridicule for two main reasons. The first is that they’re basically responsible for Trump. I don’t need to go into all the reasons, but it falls into the Powell Doctrine of “you break it, you own it.”

The second is that there aren’t any palatable alternatives to Trump. So, if you’re telling me that you’ll never ever vote for Trump but Ted Cruz is acceptable to you, then I’m not giving you any credit whatsoever.

Finally, if after all their railing on about how they’ll never vote for Trump, they actually vote for Trump, then they’ve got a different definition of “impossible situation” than I do. It’s possible to not vote, or to vote third party, or to just vote for the downticket races, or to decide that the country is in safer hands with Hillary Clinton and actually cross over to vote for her. It’s ludicrous to say that anyone has to vote for Trump because they have no other choice.

And I’m assuming here that they’ll limit themselves to voting for Trump, but given their careers as party operatives and opinion leaders, it’s more likely that they’ll begin making the case for Trump to the public. I assume that wouldn’t get a pass, right?

Now, do they deserve credit for opposing Trump now?

Maybe a little, but if their main objection isn’t that he’s an incompetent narcissistic bankruptcy expert who panders to the racists and bigots, but that he’s not sufficiently and consistently conservative enough?

Sorry, in those cases, I’m not giving them any credit, either.

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at