What Happened to the Never Trumpers?

Try counting the number of Republicans who refused to support Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign even after he won the GOP nomination and Hillary Clinton was the only alternative.

We at American Liberty Report tried counting the people in the “Never Trump” movement. We’re still counting. Five of his rivals for the GOP nomination didn’t vote for him although they SIGNED A PLEDGE that they would support the GOP nominee: Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich, and George Pataki. Graham voted for Evan McMullin; Kasich for John McCain.

Twenty-two members of Republican cabinets were Never Trumpers, including former Secretaries of State George Shultz, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice and George W. Bush’s last Attorney General and secretaries of the Commerce, Homeland Security, and Treasury departments. Eleven of the 22 publicly endorsed or said they voted for Clinton.

The Never Trump list also included 11 governors, 12 ex-governors (Mitt Romney voted for his wife), 10 U.S. senators, eight ex-senators, 32 members of the U.S. House, 32 ex-House members, 28 former high-ranking State Department officials, 16 former high-ranking Pentagon officials, 25 former high-level national security officials, 21 other former high-ranking government officials, several prominent political advisers for the Bushes and GOP presidential nominees, and 11 business leaders who identified themselves as Republicans.

As much as establishment Republicans despised Trump, conservative media figures might have despised him even more. Wikipedia lists 60 academics and journalists, including Glenn Beck, The New York Times “conservative” columnists David Brooks and Ross Douthat, Erick Erickson, George W. Bush speechwriter and columnist David Frum, the late Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, P.J. O’ Rourke, Ben Shapiro, radio host turned MSNBC commentator Charlie Sykes, and The Washington Post columnists Max Boot, Jennifer Rubin, and George Will.

Don’t bother adding the numbers because some people are in more than one category and the list doesn’t include many signers of anti-Trump petitions. A petition signed by 75 retired Foreign Service officers, including many ambassadors for GOP presidents, called the 45th president “entirely unqualified” to be president and said they would all vote for Clinton. A petition signed by 50 national security officials — all Republican — said Trump lacks character and values, would put the USA’s security at risk, and would be the “most reckless president in American history.

The Never Trump movement was launched informally at about the time he declared his presidential candidacy in June, 2015, or at least when he became the frontrunner for the nomination during the summer of 2015. It’s now more than three years old.

What is the status of the Never Trump movement? American Liberty Report decided to examine this issue after The Weekly Standard magazine folded just over a week ago. The conservative publication founded by zealous anti-Trumper Bill Kristol, who spent much of 2016 begging conservatives to run against Trump even after he won the nomination, remained devoted to the anti-Trump cause until it folded. Paid circulation declined 10 percent during 2017, the last year that figures are available.

“The Weekly Standard officially folded yesterday, making it the first actual fatality attributable to Trump Derangement Syndrome.” wrote Thomas Lifson in the conservative publication American Thinker.

Leaders Following People

The most important criterion for determining whether a Never Trumper changed is his or her dependence on the 45th president’s loyal followers, but Trump proving he is a conservative has also been a factor.

Perhaps one of the most telling factors is that most current politicians who opposed Trump in 2016 support him now, including Lindsey Graham, who has become a close ally of the president following his impassioned speech following the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. Jeff Flake didn’t change and his popularity plunged so much that he had to “retire” from the Senate at the age of 55 knowing he didn’t have the support to get reelected in 2018.

The same principle applies to journalism. Like The Weekly Standard, the National Review was an implacable foe of Trump in 2016. It isn’t today.

“During the Republican primary, the journal published an “Against Trump” issue, but over time has placated its pro-Trump donors and readers by adding voices supportive of the president,” reported Politico.

National Review editor Rich Lowry is one of ten 2016 Never Trumpers listed in this article about who is still in the Never Trump movement. The article reports that seven of the 10 have changed their views with Boot, Frum, and George W. Bush being the exceptions. Lowry has praised Trump’s judicial appointments, deregulation policy, tax cuts, and rollback of the Title IX civil rights law.

“President Donald Trump is compiling a solid record of accomplishment,” he wrote. “Much of it is unilateral, dependent on extensive executive actions rolling back President Barack Obama’s regulations, impressive judicial appointments, and the successful fight against ISIS overseas.”

Lowry is far from the only ex-Never Trump journalist as Never Trump diehard Boot points out that identifies Erickson and Shapiro as well as foreign policy analyst David Blumenthal as the “latest conservatives to turn from Trump foes to fans.” Boot implies there are few anti-Trumpers left.

“As we come to the end of Trump’s first year in office, a remarkable number of those Never-Trump conservatives have changed their minds,” wrote William Mayer in the Boston Herald in January. “Whatever else may be said of Trump’s first year, he did not turn out to be a closet liberal.”

Mayer hit the nail on the head. A large part of the resistance to Trump was a belief that he was not really a conservative. As more Never Trumpers realize this, their resistance to him has declined. In fact, many of the most diehard Never Trumpers are foreign policy experts who now want to work for him according to Foreign Policy magazine.

“Several younger Republican experts who did not want to be named said they regret signing the petitions,” said the article, which reports that many Never Trumpers haven’t been hired because of their past critiques. The most noteable example is Matthew Kroenig, an expert on nuclear nonproliferation who signed one of the petitions but now supports “much” of his ex-foe’s foreign policy. Former high-level Pentagon official Mary Beth Long also said she changed her mind.

The Never Trump movement is now dead, buried totally during the Kavanaugh confirmation fight, according to The Daily Beast. Erickson once wrote an article “I Will Not Vote For Donald Trump, Ever,” but he suggested recently he will vote for Trump in 2020.

“Trump is neither an ambassador for my values nor the articulate champion of my principles I would prefer,” Erickson wrote. “But he is a safe harbor in a progressive storm that seeks to both destroy my values and upend our constitutional republic.”

Seems like President Trump has changed the hearts and heads of many of his former critics—this just two years into what is likely to be an eight year presidency.

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226 Responses

  1. He will never be respected becauuse he is contemptable. An embarrassment for our country. As much of an embarrassment as our congress!

    1. No it’s people like you who are comtemptable . I doubt if you would stand up for your own self . Much less a country that gives more than any other country in the world . Our money and our blood is good enough to save other countries. But not our own . If you live in America you had better learn some history . Trump just saved our country and cut the constant expense of money and lives . The war mongers Kelly and Mattis kept the flow of money for guns to ISIS going . Now that’s cut off and there will be no califate !

      1. I like your summation of where we are at today. I love what he is trying to do for our Country and the success he has had without much help from the GOP and only one Democrat, Joe Manchin.

  2. Trump is our President that has been fighting for us Americans
    I think he’s doing a get job.
    I definitely will vote for him again
    We Deplorables will back him up
    Anyone can say negative things about him. For that we don’t care
    We will continue to support him

    1. I think Mr. Couch’s article was right on. KEEP AMERICA GREAT.
      Thank Ericson for coming our way. Merry Christmas

  3. Trump is better than any of the NON-Trumpers. They all must be jealous of him. He Is a Reagan. Give him a chance, will ya? All you Non-trump guys, including the media & demonrats, had their minds made up before he took office. Does this mean you would have preferred Hillary sneaking a few of her schemes to kill more of us to his saving the USA to as it has been? The demonrats want to let in all Mexicans to use the hard US earned tax money for US citizens – the mexicans didn’t put a penny into it, not illegitimate mexican aliens on Welfare, health care, daycare, food, economic, are were good as long as we keep people from outside nations, Mexico included, out of the job market. Trump is doing a great job. Just wish the media & non-Trumpers would get off his back. All they are is showing & proving what idiots they are by giving moronic opinions based on false data substantiated by NOTHING but false claims.

  4. Much much better than the alternative. America now has a fighting chance. Thank you president Trump.

  5. Trump is a disaster. He is not intelligent, he is self-centered to the point where it is destructive. And it is looking more and more like he is an agent of Putin’s.


      1. You are a bitter hag who is wishing violent, torturous death on someone for calling out Trump’s flaws? I am so finished with you immoral, Godless, hate-triots who are too ill-bred and poorly raised to have a rational discussion. The Never-Trumpers are biding their time. The way the pathological liar has denigrated John McCain and the Bush family will never be forgotten by our troops. They was he has lied right to the faces of our men & women in harm’s way is tucked away until the time is right. The instant McConnell give the word, the Senate will flip on the bone-spur wimp. You will never see it coming but know, it is coming. Every decent conservative, every American of faith who values honesty and respect will celebrate once that KGB-thug loving criminal is incarcerated.


  7. Finally an article with a positive report . At least it wasn’t another hate filled article by people with so much hate in their hearts that it will eventually kill them . Their goal is to kill us first but that much hate goes all the way to the bone . Those who hate Trump are telling their fellow Americans everyday they hate us worse than the Trumps . Because we just came off the worst 8 years our people ever lived the through . And it appears through the act of dead people voting and illegals and printing of new ballots , way after an election was over. We are about to be face with the same vile creatures that were responsible for those 8 years of destruction. Our President serves us . Not like the democrats or the republicans in democrat clothing.

  8. All Americans should work as hard for our President as some do against him. A Nation divided will not stand.

  9. I’ve often pondered how successful Republican leadership could have been if the never Trumpers would have followed our conservative fight against the left now socialist left.But it took Donald Trump s messages to open my mind to expose the corruption and unfair politics to light SWAMP GOD bless Donald Trump and May GOD bless AMERICA

  10. The ones against Trump are the socialists, communists that have infiltrated the government due to the voters not watching who they vote for. The deep state is also a threat. Both of these groups are trying to destroy our constitutional government. They would like to turn America into a third world type of government. Some of them would like a one world government. This is why there is so much fighting against true Christianity and our second amendment because the elite and those in power would not want to feel threatened. You would lose a lot of your rights such freedom of speech and so forth, plus the crime rate would greatly increase because they would not give the money required to maintain the level of law enforcement we presently enjoy. How much self protection could you have since no weapons would be allowed?

  11. The title of the article caught my attention then the content grabbed my attention. I could not stop reading until the end. I have often wondered how citizens could remain so blind to what good things are happening in our country. Can the left be so blind or are they so infused with hate that they cannot give credit where credit is due? Alan Simpson hit the nail on the head when he said at Pres Bush’s funeral that hatred corrodes the vessel it is carried in. I thank God for President Trump and his being able to withstand the relentless attacks he faces every day. Please pray for his health and wisdom to carry this nation forward.

  12. The political establishment hasn’t come across a man like Trump in a very long time and their feeling got hurt. Here is a man that truly wants to help this country and its people and he has been doing it. There is much he has done that the media hasn’t even reported on, but Fox news has. Here is a man that gets up in the wee hours of the morning and goes to work and goes to bed in the wee hours of the night, which means he probably only gets about 4 hours of sleep each night. I wonder how long some Republicans and Democrats sleep? Here is a man that does not get paid for what he does, as he told the Government he doesn’t need a pay check from them. Here is a man that has been bucked every way possible to push him out, been lied about, fingers pointed at, children been harassed, wife talked negatively about, accused of things he hasn’t done and proven out. A man the people voted for and the Dems trying like crazy to get impeached. I’m sure the Dems are trying to wear him down, but I think it will be pretty hard to do, as I think he is finally beginning to ignore their insane ways and still working toward making this country great again. The wall is something he knows we need desperately, even though what is there now, they are working their hearts to death to keep bad people out, the wall will make it so much easier, but the Dems don’t want that. I refuse to blame Trump if it doesn’t happen, because he has tried so hard and the Dems have been stopping him from having that money. With Obama they about let him have any thing he wanted [ don’t believe it, go back to 2008 and read onward from there, you’ll find out a lot.]. I for one will still vote for Trump when that time comes, as I know with all the crap he’s had to put up with has not been because he hasn’t tried, plus I know he also has accomplished a lot in the first 2 years. All I can say is…shame on those that have done wrong by him and the people of this country. I pray that all will soon see threw these very selfish human beings and do what is right for this country when its time to vote again.

  13. President Trump has been thinking of America and I thank GOD for him. Now lets get rid of Nancy and her gang.

  14. Most excellent reporting. This should be mandatory for the Talking Heads at CNN, MSNBC especially Joe and his wife Mika…………two Cable TV PUKES.
    Finally, let #45 do his job, he is a true America Patriot, not a Democrat or Conservative but a “TRUE PATRIOT”

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