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May 23rd, 2017

Insight

From Elephant to Tortoise, a GOP Manifesto

Debra J. Saunders

By Debra J. Saunders

Published June 7, 2016

As usual, the GOP primary was sewn up before California's June 7 primary. By late May, Donald Trump had the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nod. Nonetheless, I voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich by absentee ballot, even though Kasich suspended his campaign last month. Kasich is a solid conservative with a record of achievement. His name remains on the ballot, as do my many reservations about the GOP front-runner.

With Trump all but crowned, the pressure is intense to join the #NeverTrump movement. I resist.

Democrats argue that good Republicans must reject Trump because he is not worthy of the office. They don't care that Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has shown that she, too, lacks the character for the job. Witness her reckless email judgment, compounded by her refusal to talk to the inspector general who investigated her emails. If I were a Democrat, I would be outraged that Clinton put the party in the lurch by failing to clear the air on possible criminal charges before the California primary.

On the GOP side, the #NeverTrump crusade began with an air of off-putting self-importance. When conservative big shots at the National Review -- I should note my husband, Wesley J. Smith, blogs for National Review Online -- put out an Against Trump issue, the authors made Trump, a longtime big donor to both parties, look like an insurgent. GOP voters who felt marginalized by the establishment flocked to Trump, while self-described conservative heavyweights looked irrelevant -- and more so every month.

As seasoned Republicans dropped out, #NeverTrumpers failed to coalesce behind one candidate. Thus they united the hubris of insiders who think they know better than the rank and file with the preciousness of shoppers who in a crowded field cannot find a candidate who is good enough for them.

In desperation, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol began floating the name of David French -- a decorated Iraq War veteran, constitutional law expert and National Review contributor. Lacking name recognition, personal fortune and political experience, French bowed to the inevitable Sunday and out of the race. There will be no date at the #NeverTrump prom.

There is an alternative in Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico. Johnson believes in limited federal government, which Republicans like, and less international adventure, which could attract Bernie Sanders' supporters. Some polls show Johnson in low double digits in a three-way race against Clinton and Trump. If the goal is to beat Clinton and Trump, Libertarian could be the ticket.

If the goal is to stop a Clinton-picked U.S. Supreme Court -- amen to that -- then Trump may be the only choice. He won the most Republican votes, there's no way to erase that.

Yes, The Donald's rants against a "Mexican" federal judge suggest that he is a dangerous blowhard with limited impulse control. Likewise, Clinton's email lies shout that she cannot be trusted to put country or party first. In 2016, two deeply flawed, unpopular, me-first candidates lead.

So I'll give Trump time to improve or implode. And then I will decide.

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