Back in December 2016, Jonah Goldberg wrote this about the Never Trump movement.
The thing is: Never Trump is over. Never Trump was about the GOP primary and the general election, not the presidency. The Left wants to claim it must be a permanent movement, denying the legitimacy of Trump’s election forever, or we were never serious. Well, that’s not what we — or at least I — signed up for.
We only have one president at a time — and the guy isn’t even president yet. I’ll give him a chance. But I won’t lie for him either.
I think most of us viewed it that way. (Here I’m going to depart for a second and make a few personal remarks. No one, I say again, no one at RedState was more negative about Donald Trump during the primaries and the general than me. These are my Trump stories for that period. Typical is Donald Trump is a Bad Man and Would Be a Bad President. The election is over and I believe that Trump’s success is critical for America and because of that I want the guy to succeed. And I want the left to fail.) But it soon became clear that Goldberg wasn’t all that sincere about what he’d written and that Never Trump became a lifestyle choice and marketing position for a lot of people. I caught grief here for comparing Never Trump to Democrats but now the alliance that has been obvious for a year is out in the open:
Since Donald J. Trump began dominating American politics more than two years ago, Democrats concerned about his policies and behavior have taken solace in a group of influential Republicans who have consistently assailed the president as anathema to the values of their party, and the country more broadly.
In the past year, however, influential liberal donors and operatives have gone from cheering these so-called Never Trump Republicans to quietly working with — and even funding — them. Through invitation-only emails and private, off-the-record meetings, they have formed a loose network of cross-partisan alliances aimed at helping neutralize President Trump, and preventing others from capitalizing on weaknesses in the political system that they say he has exploited.
While this network has mostly eschewed electoral politics, some involved see the potential for it to help form an ideological — and possibly financial — platform to back candidates, including a centrist challenge to Mr. Trump in 2020, possibly from within the G.O.P. or even a third party.
The network — composed of overlapping groups led by Democrats such as the donor Rachel Pritzker and several veteran Obama administration operatives, as well as leading Never Trump Republicans like Evan McMullin, Mindy Finn and William Kristol — aims to chart a middle path between a Republican base falling in line behind Mr. Trump and a liberal resistance trying to pull the Democratic Party left.
I realize that any movement that combined Bill Kristol and Evan McMuffin is fair game for ridicule but they need to be taken seriously. As we saw in 1992 and 1996, third party runs, even daft ones like Perot in 1996, can siphon off enough votes to flip an election. Bill Clinton failed to break 50% in either of his presidential runs and it didn’t make any difference.
The group has held three two-day gatherings outside San Francisco, New York and Washington, to which Ms. Pritzker and her political adviser invited 20 to 40 people per meeting. Gatherings have drawn influential Democratic operatives like Mr. Bassin and the Democracy Alliance founder Rob Stein. They have also attracted big-name Republican and conservative thinkers, writers and operatives including Mr. Taylor, the legal analyst Benjamin Wittes and the foreign policy hawks Mona Charen, David Frum, Robert Kagan, Mr. Kristol and Jennifer Rubin. Also attending were Mr. McMullin, who ran a long-shot independent conservative presidential campaign against Mr. Trump in 2016, and his running mate, Ms. Finn.
Perhaps most significantly, Patriots and Pragmatists gatherings have drawn major donors like William D. Budinger, a former Democracy Alliance board member, and representatives of deep-pocketed grant-writing foundations like Pierre Omidyar’s Democracy Fund and Democracy Fund Voice, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Madison Initiative.
What is sort of amazing about this group is that their only point of unity, as far as I can tell, is being against Trump. It is doubtful that a group like this can actually field a candidate for president and I fully expect, should Trump run in 2020 which I don’t think is a done deal, McMullin and Kristol to hop on the Kamala Harris bandwagon. What is ironic here is that in the cause of defending “muh priniciples,” Kristol and McMullin are opposing s president who has done more conservative friendly stuff in 16 months than George W. Bush (who I really admire and was a die hard supporter of) did in eight years. These people aren’t operating from principle. The are operating from pique. Trump’s mere presence offends them because they just know they are his social and intellectual superiors. The question for the rest of us is what do we do with these people when they come slinking back in 2021?
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