Sanders A Bridge Too Far For Never Trump Republicans

Dennis Sanders

Dennis is the pastor of a small Protestant congregation outside St. Paul, MN and also a part-time communications consultant. A native of Michigan, you can check out his writings over on Medium and subscribe to his Substack newsletter on religion and politics called Polite Company.  Dennis lives in Minneapolis with his husband Daniel.

Related Post Roulette

38 Responses

  1. Doctor Jay says:

    Interesting that they wouldn’t include Elizabeth Warren in this. Maybe it’s because Sanders (Bernie that is!) is leading?Report

    • KenB in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      Probably a sense that Warren’s stances are based on politics and she would do the usual “tack towards the center” thing if nominated, but Bernie really believes the stuff he says.

      Also there’s an Overton Window concern based on Bernie’s “socialist” brand, see e.g. Ponnuru.Report

  2. Chip Daniels says:

    “I Would Vote For My Dead Cat Over Trump”

    “I would vote for my dead cat over Trump,” said Sandy Stanley, 71, at a Biden campaign stop in Muscatine, Iowa. Stanley said she doesn’t like Sanders but wouldn’t hesitate to vote for him if he does become the nominee.
    “I think he’s too divisive and I’m afraid he wouldn’t win over a lot of independents and moderate Republicans, so I’m hoping he doesn’t get it. But Trump, anyone but Trump,” she said, adding that she’s leaning toward Sen. Amy Klobuchar or Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but is also open to Biden. She said she’s also voted for Republicans a few times in the past.”

    This is what the words “Never Trump” actually mean.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      “”Should Sanders emerge, Never Trump Republicans say they and independent conservatives itching to oust Trump in the fall are likely to sit on their hands or vote for a hopeless third-party candidate in protest.

      How to win an election:
      1. Motivate your Stalwarts
      2. Persuade the Persuadable
      3. Demoralize the Opposition

      4. Motivate the Opposition/Demoralize the Stalwarts

      Sounds like Niskanen is still in camp #3; it signals that they’ve moved from #2 to #3, but that’s still a win for the Democrats. Beware #4.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Marchmaine says:

        John Quiggen over at Crooked Timber has a post and article at Jacobin up about the disappearance of libertarians.

        His theory is that they have divided up into Trumpists and vaguely liberal liberaltarians. He considers the Niskanen Center as liberaltarian.

        Ultimately I just don’t think there are enough Never Trumpers or liberaltarians to really matter much; They consume way more internet attention than their numbers would suggest.

        Which is why I ended up just sort of saying it coldly- The Democrats don’t need the David Frums or Jennifer Rubins of the world in order to win elections and the contortions we would need to make to get them would disaffect ten party stalwarts for every one we bring in.Report

        • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Yes, well I’d add that there’s actually a faction of genuine libertarians too but they’re simply too small to be very consequential.
          The liberty libertarians went liberaltarian; The republitarians and their well funded sinecures went Trumpist (with honorable holdouts who stay on the payroll so they can look at themselves in the mirror each morning) and then the genuine libertarians are just left shouting in the wilds. I’d feel bad for them but the wilds are their natural habitat. The whole Time-cover-libertarian-moment thing was the historical aberration.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          “Ultimately I just don’t think there are enough Never Trumpers or liberaltarians to really matter much; They consume way more internet attention than their numbers would suggest.”

          On this we can agree.

          But, and this is important, with regards Jennifer Rubin and Max Boot, no backsies.

          Slightly more seriously, even a consistent Never Trumper doesn’t require that person to vote for a Democrat… just not to vote for Trump.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      I would vote for a dead cat over either one of them.

      Actually, how can I donate to this dead cat’s campaign?Report

  3. George Turner says:

    If something called the “Niskanen Center” is the hub then the movement can’t amount to very much because I’ve never even heard of them. Checking the Wiki, they’re for carbon taxes and big government climate-change measures, open borders, increased numbers of Guatemalans, universal basic income, increased welfare, and social democracy, etc. In 2016 they backed Bernie Sanders, saying “The libertarian case for Bernie Sanders is simply that Bernie Sanders wants to make America more like Denmark, Canada, or Sweden … and the citizens of those countries enjoy more liberty than Americans do. No other candidate specifically aims to make the United States more closely resemble a freer country.” Not mentioned is that to be like Denmark, we’d have to move to the right, with almost a flat tax rate, even for homeless people, and no minimum wage.

    There is nothing remotely conservative or Republican about these people except that they used to work at the Cato Institute. This brings up an old observation about endowments, charities, trusts, and other “philanthropic organizations”, which probably applies to almost any think tank in DC: All such organizations shift left over time because the recruiting pool for charities, even at the top, is almost entirely made up of liberals, or people who think like liberals. That’s why, when you watch PBS, all the big sponsors seem to be endowments from long-dead right-wing business tycoons.

    One thing Trump Derangement Syndrome revealed is that a lot of long established conservative pundits, such as Bill Kristol, George Will, and most of the folks at National Review are so focused on inside-the-Beltway social status and remaining an elite that they have absolutely no idea how most Republicans even think. And if they don’t understand Republicans, and they don’t understand Democrats, how can they prognosticate about anything?Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to George Turner says:

      In 2016 they backed Bernie Sanders, saying “The libertarian case for Bernie Sanders is simply that Bernie Sanders wants to make America more like Denmark, Canada, or Sweden … and the citizens of those countries enjoy more liberty than Americans do. No other candidate specifically aims to make the United States more closely resemble a freer country.”

      I was skeptical of the Niskanen Center when they launched 10-15 years ago, but this is even worse than I expected. That’s really disingenuous. First, the claim that those countries are more free than the US is based on indices that throw together a bunch of different subjective metrics with arbitrary weighting. They’re not terrible, but they’re not precise enough to put much confidence in the relative rankings of countries that only differ by a few tenths of a point out of 10.

      Also, when Bernie Sanders says he wants to make the US more like those countries, he doesn’t mean the actual Sweden or Denmark. He just uses them as a stand-in for a fantasy country that implements all the policies he wants and magically isn’t a total economic basket case. He’s not saying that he wants to cut the corporate income tax rate, or cut back on onerous regulations. He’s saying he wants to jack government spending up to 70% of GDP and impose a bunch of new onerous regulations.

      The Niskanen Center was supposed to meet “liberals” in the middle, not shoot right past them and end up on their left.Report

  4. LTL FTC says:

    Never Trump voters will find a reason to vote against any Dem candidate, most likely. With the NTers eventually joining their corner, I suspect the libertarian nominee will get at least 50 more votes.Report

  5. JoeSal says:

    I think it fitting that a communist pretty near death would be representative of the Democratic party and possibly a sizeable portion of the republican party. Somewhat hits it right in the truth.Report

  6. Saul Degraw says:

    The number of #NeverTrump Republicans is about big enough to fit in the mid-sized conference room of the Spokane Airport Hilton Garden Inn. They are not going to decide the election.

    I’ve seen people freak out that a moderate candidate is going to lose to Trump in a McGovern or Mondale style blow out. I’ve seen people say the same about Sanders. The electorate now is very different than in 1972 and 1984. Trump is vastly unpopular compared to Nixon or Reagan. I think people are discounting how much Trump is loathed by many, maybe even a majority. I mean really, really loathed.Report

    • “The number of #NeverTrump Republicans is about big enough to fit in the mid-sized conference room of the Spokane Airport Hilton Garden Inn. They are not going to decide the election.”

      This is true. It’s a far smaller number than in 2016.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Trump is a good mini-example of why fighting fascists is hard. The fascist is generally such a big juicy target that lots of ambitious politicians want to be the one that takes him out. Every anti-fascist believes that his or her cosmology is one true antidote to fascism.Report

    • I don’t think this will be a replay of 1972 or 1984 (or 2004). But “many, maybe even a majority” really loathing Trump might not be enough to defeat him. I suppose one concern is that the numbers who actually loath him are sparser in the swing states that any Democrat would have to win in order to unseat Trump. Would a candidate like Sanders (or Warren?) turn off some potential voters….maybe not enough to vote for Trump, but enough to vote for a 3d party or stay home? I don’t really know, of course.

      We might not need NeverTrump Republicans, but we do need support from people whose loathing of Trump is set at less than 11.

      At the same time, maybe you’re right. Maybe it’s better to have a candidate who stands for something rather than a candidate who’s riding mostly on “anybody but Trump.” I suspect McGovern, Mondale, and Kerry were all banking on the supposed unpopularity of their opponent to carry the day, although McGovern, at least, stood for something more tangible than, “I’m better than the other guy.”Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to gabriel conroy says:

        I think people vastly underestimate the amount of loathing there is for Trump. Does this mean he will lose his reelection bid? No but he has never really had majority approval ratings, he has never really gone above a 45-46 percent approval rating.

        Yet if you talk to people, they think Trump is going to get a 60 percent approval rating any day now and that is just bonkers to me.

        Nixon was popular in 1972 before anyone knew about Watergate. Reagan was really popular in 1984. There was some really early polling in late 1983 that showed Mondale as a formidable candidate but that is about it. Trump has never even gotten close to their levels of support.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Did people vastly underestimate the amount of loathing there was for Bush in 2004?Report

        • JS in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Trump is in a very unusual position. No other President, as best I can tell, has had such static approval polling. His full range, from day one of his Presidency, has been between 46% approval and 35% approval. For the last two years he’s bounced between 40 and 44%.

          His disapproval has never been lower than about 45% and has been static above 51% for three years.

          Look at any other past President — Obama, Bush, Reagan, Ford, Nixon, Clinton — you see a lot more variability. Much higher highs, some deeper lows, but much more movement.

          Certainly no other President has managed to never crack 50% approval, nor spend so much time with a majority disapproval. I expect his approval numbers will rise as the election approaches — he might even reach 46%, but I don’t really expect his disapproval numbers to drop.

          52/42 underwater — his current numbers — leave about 6 points left. I expect at least 2/3rds of those are Republicans who will decide they approve of Trump much more as an election approaches.The 52/42 that have already drawn the line in the sand? Not so much — three years is a very, very long time and opinions held that long are not easily shakeable.

          How that will play out, I don’t know. I do know that if I were President, I would not be super happy in January of an election year at 52/42 underwater, and having lived there for the last three years. It’s not a great starting spot.Report

        • All that is very true. And for the record, I’m not one of those people who think he is going to get 60 percent approval. But if a strong number of that 45% who do approve–even after all he’s done and all he’s shown himself to stand for–actually make a point to go out of their way and vote for him, then he can win.Report

          • Or think of it this way:

            It’s very clear to me (and to you, I know) that Trump’s base is a group of people who subscribe viscerally to a “white” identity. It’s not necessarily based in explicit racism, although that racism plays in my opinion a large and multi-faceted role. But it’s based on the appeal of a white identity for a large number of people.

            Now, think of this as the obverse (converse? I’m not sure which is the right word) of the situation with Obama. African Americans comprise only about 10-15% of the American electorate, and their support supposedly helped him greatly in his election prospects. (I “supposedly” because I don’t know, but it was certainly what a lot of people seemed to be saying especially in 2012 when the race was a little tight.)

            Now, if whites feel a strong identity for “their” preferred candidate and show a comparable devotion to reelecting Trump….they’re likely to be much more powerful than the African American voters were.

            To be clear, I’m not positing a strict equivalence between black voters and white voters. I also acknowledge your point that many, many white voters loath Trump in a way that much fewer people loathed Obama. But still, the “power of the white vote” can be strong. That’s the logical consequence to the recognition of Trump’s appeal to a racist constituency.

            Or….one of the reasons we must oppose him is the very reason that he might win.

            And finally, I’m NOT saying all who support Trump or who vote for him (not necessarily the same thing) are racist, at least not in any simple way. But a very large part of his constituency is and even those who aren’t are apparently okay enough with his racism to vote for him. (In their view, they might have good reasons, almost as a “take the good with the bad proposition.”)Report

  7. Urusigh says:

    I regard these sort of articles as the pundit version of “If x wins, I’ll move to Canada”. Lots of people say it, only a tiny minority actually do it. Given that voting is anonymous anyway I fully expect these people to just stay home and then lie about it. Either way extremely unlikely to budge the needle even slightly on election day.Report