Home/Daniel Larison/Sasse and the Futility of #NeverTrump

Sasse and the Futility of #NeverTrump

Jim Antle reports on the efforts to draft Ben Sasse for a hopeless campaign presidential bid against Trump and Clinton:

He suffers the same dilemma as the rest of the conservative third-party project. If he runs and doesn’t do particularly well, as better-known third-party candidates than him have done, he will look small. If he helps flip the election to Hillary Clinton, in four years the averted dangers of a Trump administration will be forgotten and Clinton’s sins—and the Ralph Naders of the Right who enabled them—will be on conservatives’ minds.

The problem for Sasse is that there is no scenario in which he emerges as the winner. If he refuses to follow through on his anti-Trump position by drinking the poisoned chalice of a third-party protest campaign, his biggest fans will reproach him for his lack of courage. If he allows himself to be suckered into going through with it, he will almost certainly wreck what could probably be a long political career. No competent politician would be interested in the awful bargain that anti-Trump Republicans are offering Sasse, and it is to his credit that he doesn’t want to incinerate his career to gratify the fantasy of a few ideologues.

The desire of some movement conservatives to recruit Sasse for their pointless, doomed effort might seem strange until you remember that these people excel at identifying future political talent in the GOP and then going out of their way to destroy it by seeking to promote it too quickly. The moment they see a promising first-term senator or second-term governor, they start talking about him as the party’s deliverer, but no politician is ever able to live up to the hype. If Sasse were foolish enough to listen to the people trying to get him to run, he would be humiliated and then the same people that urged him on would cast him aside and look for the next new talent to waste.

If you think highly of Sasse, it makes no sense to encourage him to make himself politically radioactive to the vast majority of Republicans, but it is perfectly in line with the mentality that has touted and ruined one Republican “rising star” after another. Given time, Sasse might eventually become a credible national figure with a shot at higher office someday. His increasingly silly #NeverTrump fans want him to throw all of that away right now to satisfy their need to make a point.

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.

leave a comment

Latest Articles