News and Commentary

8 Reasons Why #NeverTrump Failed

I come not to gloat (much), but to analyze.

Before we begin, let’s stipulate a few things.

1) There are a dwindling number of #NeverTrump diehards who can legitimately claim my obituary is premature, that they have not failed because defeating Trump in the general election is the endgame.


2) #NeverTrump “officially” began with a hashtag a few months ago. Fair enough. Unofficially, however, the organized Establishment push to stop Trump began much sooner, and for the sake of a comprehensive piece of analysis, I’m not going to be dictated to by things like “hashtag start-dates.”

3) Since this piece will primarily be critical of the #NeverTrump crowd, it is important, as I have pointed out many times in the past on Twitter, to acknowledge that there are indeed a number of decent, principled conservatives among them.

We good?

Can we get to it now?


In no particular order…

1. Underestimating Donald Trump

Anyone at all familiar with my work knows that I am no seer. Actually, when it comes to making predictions, I’m something of a coward. In this age of the Internet and social media, where nothing is forgotten, everything I write is self-caveated with the fear that I am in some way handing someone something that someday can be hurled back in my face. One thing I was not afraid of, though, was pushing back on the conventional wisdom that a Trump candidacy would be an automatic joke.

Even before he announced his official presidential bid almost exactly a year ago, I was astonished at how easily Trump was dismissed by some very smart people. When the idea of Trump running was floated in the months just prior to his announcement, almost all the Smart People who are paid incredibly well to analyze and predict the moves and shakes in the political world (most especially presidential politics) responded with dismissive ridicule.

Granted, many times in the past Trump had boasted of running for president. Mocking his intent was therefore fair game. But the unceasing dismissal of his skills, intelligence, and political acumen baffled me.

Trump’s primary life-accomplishment is not becoming a billionaire or altering the skylines of major cities throughout the world with his skyscrapers. It is not the fact that he owns a store worth more than Mitt Romney, or anything like that. Trump’s primary accomplishment is that he has remained a Marketable Pop Culture Brand for more than 30 years.

I just turned 50. Trump was a “thing” when I was in high school.

How many people can say that?

This is a rarer club than the Billionaire Club, and the reason that this is such a rare club is due to the fact that sustaining a marketable brand over decades takes incredible skill, moxie, intelligence and, yes, political acumen.

Underestimating a man who decades ago conquered and stayed atop the New York real estate world? Dismissing a maestro who plays the New York tabloid press like a fiddle? Writing off a popular culture maven enjoying his 14th season with a hit TV series on a major network…?


Granted, it wasn’t until after Thanksgiving that I thought he had a chance of winning the nomination, but that Trump would be formidable was never in doubt.

2. Underestimating the Desire for Change

In the range of 30/70, the right track/wrong track number in this country has been upside-down for going on a decade.

There’s a reason why it’s June and a 147 year-old socialist is giving Hillary Clinton fits, even though the Democrats have completely rigged the game in her favor.

One of the frequent mistakes made by the Smart People in media and politics is the assumption that the average American voter is ideological. To a point we are, but for the most part we are looking for competence and charisma. An ideologically-driven country does not swing from a George W. Bush to a racialist left-wing radical like Barack Obama in just four years.

Because of the complacency that comes with our own personal security and comfort (even our poor enjoy air conditioning, cable television, and cell phones), Americans have a simple faith that our system works. And what comes with that, they believe, is the luxury of looking for a president they want to hang with for four years.

The reason the Smart People in media and politics forget this is because their personal environment is a political one. All day long at the office and studio, all evening long over cocktails, they hang with People Who Really Care About Important Stuff. This skews their worldview and makes them forget why a Scott Walker can win three statewide elections in Wisconsin.

After a decade of stagnant wages, peppered domestic terror attacks, lost wars, government incompetence (from Katrina to ObamaCare), and the like, this same electorate is now completely fed up with politics-as-usual, a political media that shills for government as the solution to everything, and politicians. And again, this is not ideological. The 30/70 slide began under a Republican president and could not be turned around by a charismatic Democrat president zealously protected by a corrupt media.

Voters want change.

Revolution is in the air.

Trump represents that change more than even Bernie Sanders, who simply wants to take us back to Uncle Joe’s Five-Year Plan.

To the great frustration of some principled conservatives, Trump is an apostate on a number of their issues. However, to my everlasting gratitude he is also a belligerent toxin against the cancer of political correctness, a serial violator of every rule that is Supposed To Make A Politician Successful, utterly fearless when it comes to sticking it to a media that ranks just above “child rapist” in public favorability, and like Barack Obama (whose campaign accused Romney of murder), willing to do whatever it takes to win.

Change, baby, change.

3. Trashing Trump’s Voters

This is the one that baffles me more than any other.

It is one thing to say, “Don’t vote for that guy, he’s an asshole.”

It is a completely different thing to say, “Don’t vote for that guy, you asshole.”

Because my aim here is to present analysis, I’m going to try and keep my personal feelings out of this. But as a proud former-member of the Working Class who comes from a Working Class family, and still lives among the Working Class (my neighbors are made up of Marines, electricians, and construction workers), I think it is fair to assume that I speak for many when I say that the unforgivable assaults on the decency, integrity, intelligence (and even the right to exist), of Trump’s working class supporters only served to further breed an already-exploding resentment against the Republican Establishment, and by extension their preferred candidates.

In my 35 years of watching politics, I have never seen a political party’s elites attack and demean millions of their own voters.

Even Bill Kristol’s hand-picked third party savior is guilty of this.

Not only is this class supremacism morally illiterate, un-American, and wildly hypocritical (especially when you are accusing others of bigotry), tactically it is a suicide mission.

Listen, I have one guiding political principle: Defeating Democrats. The pol who is going to earn my support is the one who I believe has the best chance of beating the Democrat. This is why, for most of the primary season, until the pressure launched his slow-motion implosion, I supported Marco Rubio.

And now I’m going to get to my point.

Even when I was on Team Rubio, and again I think I speak for many, these attacks on Trump’s voters (many from Rubio supporters) infuriated and repulsed me — made me very much want to see these people , even if it meant Rubio losing, humiliated by a Trump victory.

4. Disenfranchising Voters

Once #NeverTrump became an official hashtag and movement, all the principled criticisms of Trump (many of which are valid), were lost beneath what was #NeverTrump’s oft-stated goal: to game the convention rules in order to disenfranchise The People’s Choice.

Hey, I’ve heard all the arguments… The fuzzy math (which I’ll get to) of Trump failing to achieve 50% support; the hale and hearty “delegate rules are delegate rules” pronouncements; the argument that we are not a direct democracy…

Sorry, no.

The Smart People laughing like Thurston Howell III at Trump for failing to grasp at why it was “perfectly valid” that he would win a state’s primary and then lose that state’s delegates, were also laughing at me and millions of other voters equally infuriated.

I’ve been following presidential politics since I was 14 years old. I’m no dummy. And I had no idea the GOP primary game was rigged in this way.

Rationalize all you want, the bottom line is that you cannot as a political party present and promote what looks like a public election for a nominee and then pull the rug out from under your own voters when it doesn’t go your way.

“Ha ha! You didn’t read the fine print,” is not an argument.

It’s a con.

5. The Fuzzy Math Arguments

“Trump has a ceiling.”

“A majority of voters oppose Trump.”

“Trump can’t get to 1237 delegates.”

On cable television and in countless rinse-wash-repeat editorials, for months on end, we were barraged with this nonsense — all of it coming from people supporting candidates with 13% ceilings, opposition from 87% of voters, and with no hope of reaching even 500 delegates.

Worse still, as time wore on, many of the same people making this argument were prepared to anoint a nominee who had not won a single vote — a nominee (by their own logic) with a 0.0% ceiling, 100 % opposition, and zero delegates.

While wrapped in Rebel Flag comforters watching bootlegged cable in their double-wide, even chronically-unemployed, toothless oxy addicts were pointing and laughing at this argument.

6. Mitt Romney — The Face of #NeverTrump

Many fought as hard in 2012, but no one fought harder for Mitt Romney than I did — and it was exhausting. Not just because he was a terrible candidate but because I never felt anything for the guy. He seems nice enough. He certainly has a nice family. But starting with the fascistic RomneyCare and ending with getting rolled by Candy Crowley, good luck and goodbye.

Making this two-time presidential loser the face of #NeverTrump; declaring the inventor of RomneyCare (and by extension ObamaCare) the face of principled conservatism; having a man also born on third base — but worth much less than Trump — mock Trump’s business acumen; allowing Mr. 47% to lecture others on civility and temperament…


“In Ohio, you should vote for… And in Florida you should vote for…


Mitt Romney has no constituency, no following. Other than giving Republican Elites and the Corrupt Political Media the vapors, who in the world was he talking to?

Regardless, people don’t vote this way.

Which brings me to…

7. Against! Against! Against!

The failure of the Republican Establishment to coalesce around and make a case for a single candidate was probably their most disastrous tactical error.

This happened for two reasons:

1) Trump’s critics foolishly believed their broadsides against him would look more principled if those broadsides were not seen as attacks on behalf of a Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. Unfortunately for them, instead of looking principled, the attacks looked disingenuous and/or wishy washy.

“Okay, great, we get it-we get it-we get it, you hate the guy. But take a stand and defend the guy you’re FOR?”

2) During an election where GOP primary voters are desperate to win and do not want another Mitt McCain, the Establishment freakin’ hated the one guy who might have had the best chance of defeating Trump — Ted Cruz, another fearless outsider willing to do what it takes to defeat Hillary and her media. Unfortunately…

By the time the Establishment decided to rally around Cruz, it was too late. The Texas Senator had no chance of getting to 1237 delegates and he himself had made the tactical error of gaming the delegate system.

Making common cause with #NeverTrump irreparably tarnished Cruz’s outsider brand (at least in this cycle). His bragging about snatching a majority of delegates in states lost to Trump obliterated any chance he had of being the beneficiary of a voter’s remorse revolt against Trump — a revolt that might have actually given Cruz the People’s Mandate to prevail against the billionaire businessman in a contested convention.

8. Underestimating Evil Hillary and Her Evil Political Media

As much as many remaining #NeverTrump diehards despise Trump, as the general election roars on and we are reminded once again of what a sociopath Hillary Clinton, is and what a corrupt piece of evil the Brownshirt mainstream media is, there will be notable and vocal exceptions, but the erosion and therefore The End is inevitable.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC