This just in from The Hill– top conservative political operatives, terrified by the prospect of having Mr. Trump represent them this November (or worse, for the next four years,) are circling the wagons and looking for a champion:
“Conservative activists led by Erick Erickson, a writer and radio host, and other well-connected strategists plan to hold at least two organizing conference calls before the weekend to figure out their strategy.
“A number of movement conservatives fiscal and social are actively now looking at third-party and independent options,” Erickson said Thursday. “We all find Trump unacceptable. We don’t think he can beat Hillary Clinton regardless of whether there’s a third party or not, so why not put an alternative out there.””
Absent a majestic figure like Paul Ryan (who is probably more effective as Speaker than as a sacrificial lamb) it’s not clear that there’s anyone who could be more than a placeholder.
Case in point- look who they’re considering.
Ben Sasse? Freshman Senator. We know what happens to them when they run for President…
Tom Coburn? Admirable guy, but who under the age of 40 has ever heard of him?
Rand Paul? Give me a break. Not in the Age of ISIS, not a chance.
Gary Johnson? Gary Freaking Johnson, the presumptive nominee of the Libertarian Party? For real?
I actually wonder if more than 10% of the population would actually vote for any of these people. After all, there aren’t a whole lot of movement conservatives out there; the neoconservatives would sooner vote for Hillary; the white working class base has clearly gone to Trump. It seems that the conservative activists running a third party candidate would be mostly embarrassing themselves, revealing the once-great conservative movement to be a mere hollow shell of its former self, still beloved by a few professionals, donors, and wonks, and abandoned by everyone else.
The Conservative Movement is dead, for all intents and purposes, both in its Bush iteration and its Cruz iteration, as Ross Douthat emphasizes. It may mount a last gasp of tax-cutting and democracy-mongering under Speaker Ryan between 2017 and 2018, but it’s very unlikely that it’ll survive much longer beyond that absent a literal miracle. The third-party nominee this year will go down just as any third-party nominee.
So what comes next?