In recent weeks, all sorts of Republicans and conservatives who always/only vote Republican have been ratcheting up their vitriol against the GOP frontrunner for the party's presidential nomination, Donald Trump.
Whether it's National Review's editors attacking Trump for being soft on immigration—they called his plan to forcibly remove 12 million people from America "a poorly disguised amnesty"!—or rival Marco Rubio making dick jokes over the weekend—there's no shortage of Republicans who have vowed never to vote for Trump. Over weekend, #dumptrump and #nevertrump even trended on the Twitter, mostly emanating from right-wing circles.
Because, you know, Trump is simply not conservative enough: Like all the other remaining GOP candidates, he's anti-abortion, anti-Muslim, pro-war, anti-Apple, pro-torture (when it's for the right reasons), wants to screw with the Constitution (in a totally different way than, say Ted Cruz, who wants Supreme Court justices to be subject to recall votes) and on and on. But didn't you hear!?!? Trump said nice things about Planned Parenthood, specifically that the contraceptives they hand out and gyn exams they do for women with federal dollars aren't pure evil. What a fake conservative, even if he is right about Mexicans!
Radio show host and Republican activist Hugh Hewitt, a conservative of impeccable standing (and one who has been insulted by The Donald), is already saying what I suspect many more will say after Super Tuesday: Of course he is going to vote for Trump if and when the billionaire is running against Hillary Clinton.
If Trump is the nominee I will support him for six reasons.
The first three are the existing and probable two additional Supreme Court nominations he will get to make. Judges Diane Sykes and Bill Pryor are two fine judges that Trump has mentioned as possible nominees and he made the right commitment on religious liberty to me on stage Thursday night. He won't screw these up. More precisely, it is a lock that Clinton would screw them up and at least a fighting chance he wouldn't.
Fourth, Trump's an honest-to-God builder and he will rebuild the Navy, which must be done. Soon.
Fifth, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping will at least think twice before crossing him.
And, finally, sixth: Donald's daughter and Svengali Ivanka is a smart, smart, smart lady with an extraordinary intellect and influence on her father. We get the GOP's own Valerie Jarrett, only this one with a sense of America's role in the world and the same resolve to succeed as Jarrett possesses.
These strike me as incredibly piss-poor reasons to support anyone for any office, much less Trump for president. What is it about conservatives and the goddman Navy? As if the mechanics of war haven't changed since World War I, they are bizarrely obsessed with the number of boats countries have (oddly, when they go on and on about our lack of ships, they never talk about, you know, how many more airplanes and bombs we have added since 1918). Supreme Court appointments are routinely overestimated as a perk of power. Not only are they far less transformative than commonly believed—legal scholar Mark Tushnet persuasively argues that SCOTUS decsions are actually "noise around zero"—they are extremely unpredictable (see Eisenhower, Dwight). When it comes to warmongering (if that's your idea of foreign policy), you probably should vote for Hillary Clinton, the Madame Defarge of the 21st century. This is also the first time that I've heard Ivanka Trump, a capable business operator (I guess) who has even less experience in politics (and self-made businesses) than her father, trotted out as a secret weapon to make America great again. Seriously, WTF?
But Hewitt is at least being honest (he's also holding out hope that his crush, Mitt Romney, will swoop in and become the nominee again). As a Republican, he is of course going to vote for the Republican in November 2016.
I'm betting that many of the high-profile folks (and low-profile folks, too) will do the same thing, and not simply because of party affiliation (though that's a big part of it).
It's because they will have many, many months to get their minds around what is perfectly obvious to those of us not blinded by partisan tribalism: Donald Trump is not a threat to Republican ideology. He is a near-perfect expression of everything that the GOP has been moving toward for at least the past 15 or so years, whether it's contempt for restraints on government when it gets in the way of necessity (do you remember all those GOP conservatives attacking Bush for executive overreach in the War on Terror? neither do I), fixation of American exceptionalism, and too-Freudian-for-words obsession with masculinity. The difference with Trump is that unlike Romney and McCain and the current host of wannabes, the billionaire blowhard might just win.
That possibility, along with the uncomfortable fact that on virtually every major policy issue Trump is 100 percent on board with conservatives, will change a helluva minds. Look for something similar, too, to happen on the left side of the aisle among disappointed Sandersnistas, who will come to the late-breaking realization that Clinton isn't a tool of Wall Street and the masters of war but one of the very most progressive politicians EVER.
The real question is for the vast plurality of us who no longer (or never did) consider ourselves Republicans or Democrats: How do we take the two-party meltdown on glorious display and use it to push an agenda that actually might advance social tolerance and fiscal responsibility? Stay tuned.