Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor George Will urged Republicans to keep Donald Trump out of the White House if he is selected as the Republican nominee for president, writing that political prudence “demands the prevention of a Trump presidency.”
Many right-wing media pundits and commentators have expressed their fear of a Trump nomination, with some joining the so-called “Never Trump” movement. Those conservative have vowed that they would actively oppose Trump even if he became the nominee, with some like Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol vowing to recruit a third-party candidate to run against Trump, and others stating they would vote for Hillary Clinton instead of Trump if she becomes the Democratic nominee.
In his April 29 Washington Post column headlined “If Trump is nominated, the GOP must keep him out of the White House,” Will committed himself to this movement, arguing that the GOP needs to be rebuilt from the damage Trump has done to the party, and urging voters to support Cruz so that the Republican convention can “choose a plausible nominee” who might win a general election, instead of “passively affirm[ing] the will of a mere plurality of voters.” If Trump becomes the Republican nominee for president, Will wrote, conservatives have the task of “help[ing] him lose 50 states” so the GOP can preserve its identity:
Donald Trump’s damage to the Republican Party, although already extensive, has barely begun. Republican quislings will multiply, slinking into support of the most anti-conservative presidential aspirant in their party’s history. These collaborationists will render themselves ineligible to participate in the party’s reconstruction.
Republican voters, particularly in Indiana and California, can, by supporting Cruz, make the Republican convention a deliberative body rather than one that merely ratifies decisions made elsewhere, some of them six months earlier. A convention’s sovereign duty is to choose a plausible nominee who has a reasonable chance to win, not to passively affirm the will of a mere plurality of voters recorded episodically in a protracted process.
Trump would be the most unpopular nominee ever, unable to even come close to Mitt Romney’s insufficient support among women, minorities and young people. In losing disastrously, Trump probably would create down-ballot carnage sufficient to end even Republican control of the House.
The minority of people who pay close attention to politics includes those who define an ideal political outcome and pursue it, and those who focus on the worst possible outcome and strive to avoid it. The former experience the excitements of utopianism, the latter settle for prudence’s mild pleasure of avoiding disappointed dreams. Both sensibilities have their uses, but this is a time for prudence, which demands the prevention of a Trump presidency.
Were he to be nominated, conservatives would have two tasks. One would be to help him lose 50 states — condign punishment for his comprehensive disdain for conservative essentials, including the manners and grace that should lubricate the nation’s civic life.
If Trump is nominated, Republicans working to purge him and his manner from public life will reap the considerable satisfaction of preserving the identity of their 162-year-old party while working to see that they forgo only four years of the enjoyment of executive power.