Alright, #NeverTrump: Show us what you’re made of

After blowing out Ted Cruz in Indiana yesterday to the point at which the lizard person and possible Zodiac Killer dropped out of the race, Donald Trump has officially become the presumptive nominee for the Republican nomination for president. Of the United States. Of America.

North America.

Cruz’s exit, which all but secured Trump’s nomination, prompted swift and emphatic calls from prominent Republican commentators, operatives and even a handful of politicians to oppose Trump in November. However, these #NeverTrump Republicans have, for the most part, failed to articulate exactly what they mean when they say that. After all, there’s more than one way to Never a Trump, and some ways are more efficient than others.

The most obvious route to opposing Trump for voters who don’t consider him a real Republican would be to back an independent or third party candidate. Mitt Romney’s name was thrown around last night by a number of Republicans who may just want to save the GOP the embarrassment of seeing a Democrat win Utah, which Hillary Clinton could very well do in a head-to-head matchup with Trump. Justin Amash and Rand Paul both hinted at support for a Libertarian presidential candidate, who could maybe be poised to garner five percent in the general election this year instead of the usual two. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse is sticking with his guns and insisting that he plans on voting for a “Constitutionalist” — whatever that means.

Of course, this all assumes that these white knights on minor party horses are able to get on the ballot in time. They probably can’t. Filing deadlines in most states are fast approaching, so any new candidates who want to throw their hats in the ring need to start gathering signatures in a big way.

Donald Trump, screenshot via 60 Minutes

Donald Trump, screenshot via 60 Minutes

Then again, #NeverTrump Republicans could hold their noses and back Hillary Clinton. Especially for neoconservatives who are meh on the Republican Party’s racism but heavily invested in maintaining the military-industrial complex, Hillary Clinton may actually represent their views better than both Trump and Cruz, both of whom had expressed skepticism regarding America’s continued involvement in foreign countries not named Israel. If Clinton plays her cards right, she can leverage conservatives’ utter horror at the prospect of having to say “President Donald Trump” into getting a few of them to vote for her out of a sense of both sheer embarrassment and personal responsibility.

The final route — the one I think most committed #NeverTrump Republicans will take — is to do something to the effect of sitting out this election entirely. Either they stay home, or they write in a famous dead person like Ronald Reagan or Thomas Jefferson. Bear in mind, many of the same people beating their chests over how they will refuse to vote for Trump have also been conditioned over the last thirty years to believe that Hillary Clinton is the literal spawn of feminist Satan. I have a hard time believing that many of them wind up casting ballots for her.

To be clear, even (especially) in a close race between Trump and Clinton, it wouldn’t take too many would-be Republican voters choosing any of these three paths in order to deny Trump the White House. To be clearer, I have yet to hear many #NeverTrump Republicans say which path they plan on taking. And the longer they hold out, the more likely it becomes that they wind up shrugging their shoulders and voting for the Republican nominee in November. We’ve already seen a few major waffles and defections. Never say never, Bill Kristol, amirite?

The point being that Donald Trump won the most Republican votes by saying things that lots of Republicans agree with. And as he turns his attention to Hillary Clinton, he will continue to say things that lots of Republicans agree with. This being the case, I have a hard time believing that many of the same folks insisting they won’t vote for Trump now find a reason to change their minds between now and November.

Though they’re more than welcome to prove me wrong.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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