Emerald Robinson recently wrote a witty piece for The American Spectator puncturing the pomposity of the Never Trump wing of the conservative movement. At least one member of that wing, the thin-skinned Jonah Goldberg, now the holder of the "Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute," was not amused, and he let his readers know, branding Robinson's piece "lazy" and "delusional."
A large part of Goldberg's piece consists of explaining how well the Never Trumpers are doing in the Swamp these days, including the fact that "Bret Stephens [has] moved to the New York Times." It's not clear why Goldberg thinks this refutes Robinson's thesis that the Never Trumpers do not speak for ordinary American conservatives. In fact, it once again makes the point that Chronicles has been making for decades. Way back in 1986, Sam Francis wrote this about Never Trumper George Will: "It is therefore not surprising that his commentary is welcomed in and rewarded by liberal power centers. They have little to fear from him and his ideas and much to gain if his version of 'conservatism' should gain currency. He enjoys every prospect of a bright future in their company."
Goldberg and his ideological allies benefit the left by offering the appearance of an opposition but not the substance of one. The globalism rejected by Trump and his voters has advanced with either the approval or the acquiescence of the Beltway conservatives who could not abide Trump for decades. What's more, the Never Trumpers have aided the left by devoting considerable energy to attacking, marginalizing, and "purging" those to their right, to ensure that no substantial opposition to the left could arise, until Trump somehow managed to win the GOP nomination, and the White House, by emphasizing themes that sounded much more like Sam Francis than George Will.
Goldberg never touches Robinson's central point, which is that the Never Trumpers cannot now claim to speak for the great bulk of American conservatives, no matter how fat dwelling in the Swamp has made their wallets. They did all they could to stop Trump from winning the nomination, and failed. They ran a protest candidate against Trump in November, with no effect. And Trump, despite having done a variety of things that have appalled the Never Trunpers, now enjoys an approval rating of around 90% among GOP voters. At this point, Hillary Clinton stands as much a chance of winning the GOP nomination in 2020 as a Never Trump Republican does.
Finally, the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and the recent retirement of Anthony Kennedy provide a clear vindication of those voters who ignored the anguished pleas of the Never Trumpers and voted for the Donald anyway. A Supreme Court shaped by Trump will not likely overturn Roe v. Wade, although there is a greater chance for that welcome development now than at any time since Planned Parenthood v. Casey. But a Supreme Court shaped by Trump will likely continue to defend Christians and conservatives from hostile, unconstitutional legislation, as it did recently in striking down the California law trying to coerce crisis pregnancy centers, which do so much to save lives, to promote abortion. Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch, who occupies the seat that was open when Americans voted in November 2016, cast the deciding vote in that 5-4 decision. That is why Trump's ability to choose two Supreme Court justices is so important, and why the Never Trump position was fatuous and, frankly, irresponsible.
Thomas Piatak is a contributing editor to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He writes from Cleveland, Ohio.