A former Bush administration staffer writes in National Review that there needs to be a kind of bloodletting in a post-Trump Republican Party. Peter Wehner, now ensconced at the highly respectable Ethics and Public Policy Center run by my friend Ed Whelan, wants to rid the GOP of certain smelly strains, specifically those around Breitbart, where I am a frequent contributor. Wehner does not much like the typical Trump supporter.
David French of National Review wrote a heart-felt column about how his family has come under attack in recent months for his outspoken NeverTrumpism. Racist elements, using the Trump campaign to elevate their small numbers, have come after him and his family.
My wife and I put up a Trump billboard on the fence in our backyard that faces a well-traveled street. Someone came onto our property and tore it down and took it away. We went to get another one and the party people asked, “What’s your security strategy?” Security strategy? For putting up a political sign?
Things are ugly out here. I have never seen them uglier, and not ugly far away but close in, in my own backyard.
I belong to several conservative list-serves where like-minded actors in public policy can speak privately and regularly. The give and take can be both boring and sometimes exhilarating. Lately though, they have been marked by bitter nearly non-stop recrimination. I dropped off of one of them after coming under sustained assault.
My wife participates on a list-serve for noted women writers in public policy. You would recognize many of the names. It has gotten so ugly there that many of the participants have dropped out.
Keep in mind, these instances are among those who agree on quite a lot but who have come down on different sides of Donald Trump. Forget Hillary. This is not about her. It is about him.
This did not start with Trump, however. The same kind of internecine warfare went on for months between Cruz and Rubio supporters. Something nasty is in the air.
On one of these list-serves I proposed the other day an idea for a Pact of Non-Recrimination that folks on both sides of the Trump divide could sign. The idea is that if Trump loses—some insist “when” not “if”—and the moment it is announced by the lying cheating news media, we point our rhetorical guns away from each other and toward her, toward the woman who will be the biggest enemy we have ever faced, toward a criminal enterprise that is intent on harming not just our country, and our Church, but us individually.
The impulse, however, will be for the recriminations to start. This is your fault, NeverTrumpers. You poisoned the waters. Instead of going after Hillary every day, you spent your time running down the GOP nominee. As flawed as he was, he was infinitely better than Hillary. NeverTrumpers will say it was the fault of Trump supporters for plumping for such a wicked candidate, a candidate who was guaranteed to lose and drag us all down.
The recriminations would not end that night either. Every day for months the shooting war would continue. Whenever Hillary would do something egregious, as she constantly will, the recriminations would fire up again.
It is and will be a kind of civil war. The NeverTrumpers want to drive certain Trump supporters, like me, my wife and even my mom, out of the conservative movement. A growing number of populist conservatives want to end what they have come to call Conservative Inc., which would include Wehner and others connected to the big conservative money machine in Washington DC. Fingers are pointed at the failure of Conservative Inc. for the fact that things have only gotten worse and worse and utterly worse under their guidance.
When I proposed a Pact of Non-Recrimination, two pretty smart and connected guys jumped in and thought it was a good idea. I think it is a good idea. I think it would be wonderful if on November 8, and Hillary wins, that we level our fire on her and we don’t let up until she is gone.
She made it clear in the last debate that her criteria for Supreme Court Justices is not adherence to the Constitution but to social change on behalf of certain aggrieved minorities. At the Al Smith Dinner, Trump got booed when he said Hillary was anti-Catholic but make no mistake: Hillary hates Catholicism properly understood. It is a part of the political DNA she inherited from Rousseau and the French Revolution.
I don’t know any conservatives who do not understand this. None. Period. And this should be our target. She should be our target. We should dedicate ourselves to ensuring her presidency utterly fails, because its success means failure for all we hold dear. Frankly, she should have been our target from the moment she was nominated. But here we are and the civil war has to end—and end soon—roughly when the polls close in Florida.
But I am skeptical. I am not even sure I can resist some recrimination. This is going to be so hard.
Editor’s note: The image above, titled “Men Arguing About Teddy Roosevelt,” was painted by Robert Robinson and appeared on the May 4, 1912 cover of Saturday Evening Post.