The NeoMugwump Express

January 8, 2020

Dennis Sanders

Happy New Year and welcome to the first issue of the NeoMugwump Express. I’ll be sharing some of my own writing and links to other articles you should be reading. Here we go!

Musings: Decision Time for Never Trump

What is the future of the NeverTrump movement?

As a NeverTrumper myself, it has been interesting to observe the changes within the movement or group. Early in the Trump Administration, there was hope that the Trump era would end and everything would go back to normal, with Trump becoming a distant memory. As we enter year three of Trumpland it is becoming more and more plain to people that many of the politicians that people supported and admired like Marco Rubio and Nikki Haley are willing to bend the knee to Trump and debase themselves.

What this means is that little by little a cleavage is forming between the NeverTrumpers and the Trumpified GOP. The break might be permanent, splitting the conservative movement in two.

The thing is, a lot of NeverTrumpers haven’t really come to terms with this, at least not yet. But they will have to soon decide where is this movement headed. Earlier this week I wrote an article wondering what is the endgame for this remnant:

NeverTrumpers have lived in denial for years and now it is time to wake up and soberly decide how they will respond to Trump’s destruction of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. They can create a new party or movement. They can face facts and wait a few years or they can make their stand. But something needs to be done. Walking away or becoming Democrats will not change things.

What is the endgame for NeverTrump? Time will tell.

I also wrote a short post on the Lincoln Project, a new organization started by a number of GOP operatives. Its main goal is to defeat President Trump and his Republican enablers at the ballot box. However, it isn’t doing this by finding non-Trumpy Republicans to primary incumbents; instead, it plans to support Democrats at least temporarily instead. In a storm like what is going on now, maybe that makes sense. But again, it fails to come to terms with the present.

Most of the people behind the Lincoln Project are political strategists who know how to win campaigns. That’s important, but you also need people who can rebuild. There has long been a wish from moderates and later Never Trumpers that a massive and embarrassing loss will become an impetus for change. But people hoped this would happen a decade ago. Losing an election can spur change, but it can also cause people to dig in and not change at all.

Reading and listening in places like the Bulwark, you can sense a disillusionment from writers who are now wondering if what they once believed in was all a lie.

Republicans are not good dissidents. When they are on the outs they don’t start building and organizing a counter movement; they complain and then drift to the Democrats. This is what happened with moderates and I’m worried it will happen with NeverTrumpers. There is a lot of anger and disgust, but it is not directed towards creating a new movement that counters the main conservatives.

At some point, moderates and NeverTrumpers have to believe that reforming the center-right means getting down to good ol’ organizing and doing hard work. It’s time to put the big boy pants.


Good Reads

Since we are either going to war against Iran or not, you should take a look at Ross Douthat’s latest column in the New York Times. He correctly pins Trump’s take on foreign policy as Jacksonian ( named after Andrew Jackson). This viewpoint is suspicious of institutions like NATO and is very nationalist. His voters tend to be Jacksonian as well. If the Jacksonian policy fails at the ballot box this year, it might be replaced by another one of the four typologies: the Jeffersonians which are represented now by Bernie Sanders.

My brother-in-law’s family lives in a small town midway between Fargo and Grand Forks, North Dakota. They had a small discount store chain, Alco that went bankrupt. The city was able to get Shopko to come, which was another discount store chain found in small towns in the Midwest. But Shopko also went bankrupt last year and that store was closed. There is a Dollar General next door, but if you are looking for a discount store like a Target you are out of luck. This article from MinnPost explains how small towns are trying to use the space left when retailers leave town. As much as Amazon makes life convenient, it is making it difficult for people in distant places that needs or wants to get something nearby.

The New York Times has an interesting piece about a study that showed in communities where an auto plant has closed, there were 85 percent more deaths. There is speculation that the opioids crisis and the shutting down of auto plants are related. There might be something to this since many of the hardest-hit areas like Ohio are also places that have suffered the shutdown of a factory. Some researchers are not pleased about the correlation because it takes away from the pharmaceutical companies and doctors that pushed these drugs into communities. But I think there is a link here that should be explored. Having hailed from Flint, Michigan the loss of auto plants are devastating in so many ways. Over the years, I think economists and politicians have told themselves that the loss of manufacturing jobs weren’t big things and these people could find new work. To be honest, I even think that’s why some doctors don’t want to focus on the plausible link between factory closings and the rise in opioid use. None of this means companies should never close plants, but we as a nation have to decide how to help communities and people who fall victim to the changing economy instead of hoping things will work themselves out of just ignore it.

Andrew Donaldson over at Ordinary Times takes on the bad job Time Magazine did in helping parents explain the US-Iran situation and then offers his own advice from his experience as a parental unit.

Is Joe Biden the presumptive nominee before a vote is even cast? Or is he already an also-ran? The Atlantic last month dubbed him “Schrödinger’s Candidate,” after the famous feline thought experiment from the Austrian physicist. Edward Issac Dovre writes about how Biden could flame out or could be the 46th President of the United States.

I’ve had my druthers about the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which wants to move the founding of the United States from 1776 to 1619 when the first slaves came to the Virginia colony. The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf argues in favor of 1776, arguing that it honors America’s diversity in a way that 1619 doesn’t.

If you aren’t reading David French, you should. The conservative columnist and Trump critic has fascinating insights on guns, race, religion and that’s just the start. He has a good column about the proposal that allows Traditionalists to leave the United Methodist Church, hopefully putting an end to a nearly 50-year fight on sexuality and same-sex marriage. French rightly notes the wrangling was about more than just LGBTQ issues.

That’s all for the first issue of the NeoMugwump Express. Check out articles on the NeoMugwump Magazine on Medium and please share this email with others. See you soon!