With his midterm election blunders, Trump vindicated Never Trumpers

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump speaks to guests at Mar-a-lago on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

With his midterm election blunders, Trump vindicated Never Trumpers

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Republicans who claim the Never Trump mantle should feel some vindication after the midterm elections. Instead of a red wave, the GOP experienced a trickle. Democrats who went into full-blown “end of democracy” panic mode have relaxed. Meanwhile, Republicans are left with questions, concerns, and plenty of blame that needs a home.

While there are elements of Never Trump that are indeed moderate or left-leaning, a fair number of its members, such as myself, are frustrated conservatives or Republicans who want neither the Left nor the former president. A Trump-free right side of the aisle is the goal. Six years since its inception, that objective seems closer than ever. And former President Donald Trump himself is responsible.

REPUBLICANS MUST CHOOSE: ELECTORAL SUCCESS OR TRUMP?

It’s no secret that Trump-supported candidates have a large following among a certain subset of Republican voters. But that instant popularity also comes with a major price. Trump is as polarizing a political figure as they come. Given his continued obsession with the 2020 election and repeated, false claims that it was stolen, the candidates he openly supports are assigned the same extremism, whether they accept and vocalize it or not.

One such example is Republican Don Bolduc, who lost the New Hampshire Senate race. On Truth Social, Trump derided him by saying, “Don Bolduc was a very nice guy, but he lost tonight when he disavowed, after his big primary win, his longstanding stance on Election Fraud in the 2020 Presidential Primary. Had he stayed strong and true, he would have won, easily. Lessons Learned!!!” It’s no surprise that voters were turned off by the candidate, the connection to Trump, or a combination of both. Given the less-than-spectacular results for Republicans across the board, this scenario is certain to have played out in more than one race.

The problem with Trump has never just been his “mean tweets.” If anything, the 2022 midterm elections and disastrous showing by Republicans are proof that Trump’s influence goes beyond his boorish behavior on social media. His effect on the party was a negative one long before the first votes were cast this week. In this election, his connection to candidates was costly. That is real-world, long-term damage.

Consider also his animosity toward Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is younger, experienced, and more likable. Just recently, Trump called him “Ron DeSanctimonious” and stated if DeSantis runs for president, “I would tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering — I know more about him than anybody — other than, perhaps, his wife.” On Wednesday, following DeSantis’s decisive, powerful win in Florida, Trump took to social media and questioned his margin of victory. The reason for such behavior is Trump feels threatened by his possible successor. That is the only explanation for nasty, arrogant, faulty criticism of a man who has achieved much for the party.

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Trump will dominate the political scene, especially on the Right, unless there is a collective repudiation of him. He is too much of a liability for the party’s present and future goals. The best thing for conservatism would be a growth in Never Trump sympathies. Those who settled on this mindset years ago are more than happy to welcome others. The conservatives who are Never Trump don’t subscribe to leftism. They also don’t embrace Trumpist populism. They want what is best for the country and party and don’t appreciate the distraction of narcissists who are billed as saviors.

Those who are or have been Never Trump for a while may have the desire to say, “I told you so,” in the wake of the midterm elections. But that’s not what’s important. What matters is moving forward as conservatives, once and for all, finally untethered from Donald J. Trump.

Kimberly Ross (@SouthernKeeks) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog and a columnist at Arc Digital.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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