National Review, the living legacy of conservative hero William F. Buckley, has been louder than almost any other right-leaning outlet when it comes to opposing Donald Trump. They captured national headlines a couple of months ago with an issue that was devoted solely to attacking the Republican frontrunner, complete with some of the most prominent voices in modern conservatism. They have, in other words, made no secret of where they stand on the real estate mogul.
But even National Review has their limits, and the prospect of running a third-party “real conservative” candidate against Trump in the general election may be where those limits lie. The brainchild of writer Bill Kristol, the idea is this: if Republicans fail to prevent Trump from becoming the nominee, donors could support an independent candidate (Mitt Romney and Clarence Thomas being a couple of the spitball possibilities) for president.
Kristol insists that the strategy would not pave the way for President Hillary Clinton, and he notes that the independent candidate could drop out if it looked as though such an outcome was inevitable. He said that Trump and Clinton’s dismal favorability ratings demonstrate that a third-party candidate could actually win for the first time in American history.
But Michael Taube at National Review remained unconvinced:
The third-party option sets a bad precedent for future presidential primaries. Let’s be frank: Whatever happens to Trump in July (at the convention) or in November (in the presidential election), he won’t be the first or last political candidate to be passionately liked or disliked. In time, someone else will run a volatile campaign. It might not be the same as the Donald’s crazy circus, but there will be another cast of characters under the big top. What are Republicans going to do: Abandon ship each and every time they dislike, or disagree with, the winner?
While Taube gave the idea its due and outlined several positive aspects of such a run, he ultimately concluded that Republicans should be wary of doing anything that might give Clinton an easier path to the White House.
But see, that’s not enough. Because everything they’re doing right now is making sure that path is as clean as possible. For the first time in our collective lifetimes, we have Republicans attacking the frontrunner with as much (or more) ferocity as the Democrats. If you didn’t know better, you would think half of these writers and politicians were getting payouts from the Clinton Foundation.
There are still many more primaries to come, and the voters in those states deserve to have their say. But the time has come for Republicans to start accepting what’s coming. They don’t have to like it, but they had better learn to live with it. If we lose this November because of their infighting, it will be the American people who are left to suffer.