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OpinionColumnistsWilliam F. B. O'Reilly

Never Trumpers must forgive GOP senators

President Donald Trump participates  in the East

President Donald Trump participates  in the East Room of the White House on June 26. Never Trumpers should not take out their frustrations on the president's actions by working to remove Republican senators from office in November. Credit: Getty Images/Drew Angerer

The U.S. Capitol might look very different seven months from now.

If current polling holds, we’re probably looking at a Democratic White House, Senate, and House of Representatives in January 2021.

That’s great news to many Americans — but it shouldn't be to a single political conservative, Never Trumpers included. 

The smartest thing Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did in the past four years is resist President Donald Trump’s insistence on retiring the filibuster, the stabilizing Senate mechanism that requires 60 votes for bill passage. But that’s no guarantee that a Democrat-led Senate would be similarly magnanimous.

If New York Sen. Chuck Schumer becomes majority leader, the filibuster is probably safe — no matter what he says publicly — but there’s a purge going on in the Democratic Party and one can’t be sure that Schumer would survive in the long term. He’s up for reelection in 2022, already a target of a democratic socialist wing of his party that’s been picking off establishment Democrats one by one.

For Republicans who oppose Trump — myself among them — the animosity for GOP members of Congress who have succumbed to Trump and Trumpism is almost visceral. We were looking for heroes, and few emerged. But working to knock off sitting Republicans as a punishment for spinelessness isn’t worth it in this political environment. One doesn’t have to like or vote for certain incumbents on Nov. 3, but proactively working to defeat them may prove deeply regrettable. The country is desperate for stability, and veering from a right-wing populist revolution to an unfettered left wing one wouldn’t be constructive at all.

The argument of Never Trumpers is that the Republican Party needs to be taught a lesson. Only by smashing all vestiges of Trumpism — including those who facilitated it — can the Party of Lincoln be righted. So some noble-minded Never Trump groups are running powerful, deep-pocketed political advertisements against vulnerable Republican Senate and House members. But toward what end, really, other than emotional satisfaction?

Vulnerable Republicans come from swing districts, and replacing them with Democrats would likely result in long-term Democratic House and Senate majorities. Without the filibuster, that could prove disastrous for Republicans and Never Trump Republicans alike.

The concerns of many are allayed by former Vice President Joe Biden’s relative political moderation, but Biden is 77 years old; would he be strong enough as president to keep his leftward-lurching party in check? Because face it, the populist legislative agendas of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are front and center in today’s Democratic Party. Their bills would be first on the docket under a Democratic administration that appears more likely with every passing political survey.

We will all take lessons from the Trump presidency, whether it lasts four or eight years. I have arrived at two: Most people are sheep (taking the course of least resistance is human nature, something conservatives intrinsically understand in supporting a nation of laws rather than a nation of passions) and partisan loyalty is stronger than I ever believed.

Neither of these truisms would be especially worrisome in a Republican Party sans Donald Trump. It’s something Never Trumpers may want to consider before cutting that next ad.

William F. B. O’Reilly is a consultant to Republicans.

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