Never-Trump Derangement Syndrome

“Quite impressive for a farmer with a pitchfork, wouldn’t you say?” – Colonel William Tavington, as portrayed by Jason Issacs, in The Patriot

Those of us who refer to ourselves as Never Trump Conservatives knew we were a small force when we saw Republican primary voters embrace the racist, misogynist, and corrupt real estate hustler as their standard bearer. The point was further driven home as legions of our fellow conservatives – including so many we had considered close friends of good character – either made their peace with Trump’s “leadership” or hid behind the anti-anti-Trump wall of whataboutism.

However, we haven’t gone away, and this week revealed just how important we are, ironically thanks in part to Trump himself.

It all started when the Lincoln Project – a collection of Never Trump GOP consultants – slapped up the “Mourning in America” ad. It’s a powerful rebuke to the bizarre Lego-Movie-Theme-like nonsense coming out of the White House (“Everything is awesome…”), but its initial impact was as modest as one would expect from a minute-long ad that had just hit a few cable networks.

Then Trump noticed it and all hell broke loose.

He proceeded to blast the folks behind Lincoln Project, including a reference to George Conway as “Moonface” (a slur against Asian-Americans) around 1AM on Tuesday morning. That gave the ad its own news cycle and turned it into a revenue generator (CNBC):

The Lincoln Project, which is run by Republican operatives who oppose President Donald Trump, raised $1 million after the president ripped the group on Twitter this week – marking it the super PAC’s biggest day of fundraising yet.

Reed Galen, a member of the Lincoln Project’s advisory committee, told CNBC that the total came after the president’s Tuesday morning Twitter tirade in reaction to an ad titled “Mourning in America,” which unloads on Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. It recently aired on Fox News, which Trump often watches and praises. Galen said it was the Lincoln Project’s best single-day fundraising haul.

Lincoln Project co-founder Jennifer Horn announced on Twitter that the ad would now be aired in battleground state media thanks to the infusion of funds.

That begs the question: why was Trump so eager to bring attention to them in the first place? After all, every election leads to some voters moving between the major parties; it would be impossible for that not to happen with an electorate approaching 200 million voters.

I would humbly submit Trump isn’t thinking about the politics here; he’s thinking about post-president monetization.

Over four years ago, I speculated that the goal of Trump’s 2016 was not the White House, but a new business model of turning his primary supporters into his primary source of income. We further discovered that Jared Kushner had begun talks about a Trump TV Network in October 2016. Most Americans let all of this fade as Trump won in November. I didn’t.

Deep down, I still think he’s hoping for that – which is why Never Trump conservatives bother him so much. We’re challenging his market share. We’re risking his business model. To prevent that from happening, Trump must belittle us every chance he gets – and makes sure his followers go along.

As a result, most if not all of the Republican Party has come down with Never Trump Derangement Syndrome. We are their targets because we are his targets; we are his targets because we threaten his post-presidential plans.

It was never about what Trump could do for America. It’s always been about how much he could make off America.

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