by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
During the 2016 presidential campaign, I was right there with many of these Never Trumpers. I even voted for McMullin in the general election. I remain chagrined by the low tone Trump has brought to the office, which needlessly alienates would-be political allies and coarsens our civic discourse. Nevertheless, I think the solution that many of the Never Trumpers are pushing is a terrible idea.
For starters, let’s take the subtitle of Wilson’s book, “A Republican Strategist Gets Real about the Worst President Ever.” Allow this political historian to get real: Donald Trump is not the worst president ever. It’s not even close. Franklin Pierce (1853–1857) and James Buchanan (1857–1861) were both northern presidents in a northern-majority nation when slavery was coming to be seen as the abomination that it is. Yet neither of them mobilized the North to battle slavery. Instead, they gave the slaveholders every opportunity to expand into the West. If you want to rank presidents, they are at the bottom.
Now, what about Schmidt’s recommendation that the GOP be destroyed, a view I’ve seen echoed in multiple places? This is similar to the irresponsibility and even nihilism espoused by some tea-party Republicans during the policy battles of the Obama administration. Frustrated by the “establishment” GOP, tea-partiers often called for helping the GOP destroy itself.
But if the Republican party “burns to the ground,” the Democratic party wins by default. I cannot believe the following needs to be said, but here we are: This would be a very bad outcome for conservatism!