I don’t like Donald Trump for president, but I do like Trump voters. It is the job of the presumptive nominee to unite the party and I am pausing for a few breaths, at least before deciding to go third party.
The very thought, though, of uniting behind a independent candidate, as Ben Sasse is urging, exposes my trouble with the Never Trump movement. Any serious third-party effort requires uniting the Cruz and the Kasich factions, and I’m not sure that is either doable or desirable.
You see many stories floating around about how Trump’s rise proves that social conservatism is dead. This is absurd. Trump located himself as a social conservative. He opposes abortion and promised to pass a late-term abortion bill. Right now, the Human Rights Campaign is pounding him for agreeing, in response to a letter that the American Principles Project sent him, to sign the First Amendment Defense Act.
Some social conservatives are leading the Never Trump effort in part because they do not believe Trump will keep his promises and in part because of the man’s character flaws. But the candidate himself defined himself as at least as strong a social conservative as Romney or McCain were. Social conservatives would likely be disappointed by a President Trump but no more than they would have been by a President Romney or a President McCain.
No, the really revolutionary change in policy that Trump represents is on foreign policy and — and this is key — on Republican economics, which has degenerated over the years into Chamber of Commerce economics: protect job creators and all will be well. This is a form of special-interest pleading and the antithesis of what Reagan and Kemp did. It is very similar in fact to the losing economic message of the Party of Ford: spend less and accelerate depreciation.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project and can be followed on Twitter @MaggieGallaghe.