Home/Daniel Larison/Anti-Trump Republicans Can’t Find a Candidate

Anti-Trump Republicans Can’t Find a Candidate

Some anti-Trump Republicans are still trying to find someone crazy bold enough to launch an independent presidential bid to thwart Trump. The Republican National Committee chairman isn’t pleased:

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus did not mince words as he urged party figures laying the groundwork for a third-party bid to suspend their operation.

“They can try to hijack another party and get on the ballot, but, look, it’s a suicide mission for our country because what it means is that you’re throwing down not just eight years of the White House but potentially 100 years on the Supreme Court and wrecking this country for many generations,” Priebus said on “Fox News Sunday.”

An anti-Trump protest campaign would indeed be futile and silly, but it still wouldn’t do as much harm as Priebus says. It would guarantee a Clinton victory, but it’s not as if a Trump-led GOP has much of a chance of prevailing anyway. If the stakes were as high as Priebus claims, almost every anti-Trump Republican would find a way to support the nominee, but they are never that high. Every four years, party officials and pundits insist that this is the “most important election” in a generation or more, and it is almost always a huge exaggeration. Whenever a partisan tells you that the fate of the country for generations hinges on the outcome of the current election, it is typically nothing more than a desperate attempt to boost turnout and manufacture enthusiasm for the party’s flawed nominee.

Even so, this is how a top Republican official is reacting to the mere suggestion of a protest campaign. We can just imagine how bitter and angry the recriminations against the spoiler candidate will be if die-hard anti-Trump people manage to find someone gullible enough to take the job. Those recriminations will only get worse if the candidate has even the slightest success in undermining the Republican ticket, and that is the main and arguably sole objective of this effort.

It is telling that none of the would-be recruits want to play the part cast for them by the protest campaign’s organizers. Robert Costa reported over the weekend that no one is interested in running a doomed campaign:

Again and again, though, these anti-Trump Republicans have heard the same tepid response: Thanks, but no thanks.

It’s not a surprise that no one wants to accept the offer. The idea doesn’t make any sense, and it almost certainly spells the end of the political career of any Republican who agrees to do it. The entire effort is being run by sore losers who tried to oppose Trump during the primaries and failed. Even though they failed with an electorate that is presumably more receptive to their arguments, they are determined to press their case with a larger electorate that has much less sympathy for their goals. That two of the biggest boosters of this effort are Mitt Romney and Bill Kristol–a losing candidate and perpetually wrong pundit–should make clear just how foolish and pointless it is. The fact that Romney keeps trying to talk other people into doing what he refuses to do confirms that even he knows it is a terrible idea that won’t work.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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