In the aftermath of the 2016 election, major media outlets provided us with a constant stream of stories about the people who voted for Donald Trump. I suspect that the obsession with that storyline came from the shock all of us felt about the outcome of that election. But hearing from the racist nostalgia voters got old after awhile.
We now have a counterbalance. A new website just popped up titled “Republican Voters Against Trump.” Springing from the same people who founded The Bulwark as a home for Never Trumpers, its purpose is to publish videos of Republicans who are vowing to not vote for Trump in 2020. They have already collected almost 100 videos. Here are a few examples.
It is fascinating to listen to these people as a way to understand those who Adam Gopnik once described as “honest opponents” as opposed to “toxic enemies.”
What’s needed against Trump now is…not an ideologically narrow, politically focussed opposition but the widest possible coalition of people who genuinely value the tenets of democracy, meaning no more than the passionate desire to settle differences by debate and argument, rather than by power and cruelty and clan.
While many of these Republicans (or former Republicans) made it clear that they still disagree with Biden on some issues, what they want in a president is, as Tom suggested, someone who can restore dignity and competency to the White House. One of the most common complaints about Trump is that he has put his own interests above those of the country. Many of them also recognize how the president has deepened the divide among Americans by demanding complete loyalty and spreading hate. I was a bit surprised by the fact that the corruption of the Justice Department under Attorney General Bill Barr came up on several occasions. There are those who have given up on the Republican Party altogether and those who have talked about the need for reform in order to, as one person put it, clean out the stench of Donald Trump.
Just as many of these people don’t agree with Biden on some issues, Democrats might reject their claims that Ronald Reagan was a uniter and that Republicans have traditionally been the party of fiscal responsibility. But as one woman put it in her video, the priority right now is to ensure that Trump isn’t reelected, then we can get back to hashing out those differences.
Given that Trump’s approval rating among Republicans has hovered somewhere between 75-90 percent over the course of his presidency, it is clear that the people in these videos represent a minority in their party. But as Amanda Carpenter wrote a few months ago, they could become the “silent majority-makers.”
Trump needs Republicans to win. Not just his MAGA-hat-wearing, self-avowed deplorables. He needs all of them. He needs GOP suit-and-tie Chamber of Commerce types, the suburban yoga moms, and the buttoned-up Sunday school teachers alike. Even those camped out in the farthest nooks and crannies of the most gerrymandered districts in the swingiest of swing states. Why? Because he’s never even entertained the concept of reaching out to Democratic and Independent voters…
Remember, Trump beat Hillary Clinton by a total of just under 80,000 votes in the swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Trump got a shade under 63 million votes in 2016, which means that if he loses one tenth of one percent of those people, his margin is gone…
[R]ank and file Republican voters—the people out there in the suburbs who don’t have to report to Captain Trump, but do turn out in November, pose a very real danger to Trump’s prospects. Therein lies the quiet significance of NeverTrump. While not many Republicans identify as “NeverTrump,” an important bloc vote like they are.
I am not suggesting that Biden should alter his policy priorities to garner support from these Republicans. Based on what we see in these videos, that is not necessary. They already know his history and recognize that they won’t always agree with him. What they want is someone who can beat Trump and restore honesty and decency to the presidency. They’ve already decided that Biden is the man for that job.