Emotional Rescue

Are progressives and Democrats overestimating just how many conservatives and Republicans will support Donald Trump in the privacy of the voting booth?

Yes, as Salon’s Heather Digby Parton has observed, it is profoundly disturbing to see conservatives and Republicans falling in line behind Trump merely because of political tribalism. Yet the general election is still several months away, and it is not a guarantee that the same folks pledging allegiance to Trump now will be there when he needs them on November 8.

When the Boston Globe recently reported on Hillary Clinton’s efforts to reach out to Trump-skeptical Republicans, I had to admit I initially laughed at this passage:

Some of these voters hear Clinton’s message and believe it’s actually closer to the GOP candidates of yesteryear that they’ve supported.

“If you’re looking for a moderate Republican, Hillary is the candidate for you,” said Meghan Levins, 34, who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, but proudly wore a pro-Clinton sticker with a blue “H” at a rally.

I laughed because I didn’t quite understand how someone who embraced Romney–Mr. Self-Deportation, Mr. Binders full of women, Mr. 47 percent–could have a problem with Trump, who is doing a louder, crazier version of what Romney did in 2012. However, upon reconsideration, I should not have laughed at Ms. Levins. The difference between Romney and Trump is simple: for all of the similarities between the Republican nominee of 2012 and the Republican nominee of 2016, Romney met the bare minimum of qualifications to be the President of the United States. Even Ronald Reagan, whose campaign also bore striking similarities to Trump’s campaign, met the bare minimum of qualifications to be President. Trump simply doesn’t.

In the fall of 1983, just one year after Ms. Levins was born, ABC broadcast the classic made-for-TV movie The Day After, about the aftermath of a nuclear war. An estimated 100 million viewers saw the graphic and brilliant film; it appears that Trump was not one of them. One wonders if progressive groups (or what remains of the conservative #NeverTrump movement) will launch a grassroots effort to get as many Americans as possible to watch the film, so that those too young to see the original broadcast–or those who have not seen the film in decades–can face the grim reality of what could happen if a man so reckless about the use of nuclear weapons became president.

The legacy of The Day After is not the only thing that could stand between Trump and the presidency. CNN.com’s John Sutter has noted that Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si is believed to have  played a role in increasing conservative and Republican acceptance of climate science.  How many of  these conservatives and Republicans will actually vote for the guy who thinks climate change is a Chinese-crafted crock?

Yes, there will be a number of conservatives and Republicans who cannot bring themselves to vote for the Democratic nominee (or even the Libertarian nominee). However, that number could be smaller than many progressives and Democrats fear. Without question, Trump is leading the most dangerous cult of personality in modern American history–but a significant number of conservatives and Republicans could deprogram themselves before November 8.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.