Third-Party Conservative: A Dangerous Delusion

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Donald Trump has officially clinched the Republican nomination. Unless the Republican National Committee pulls off the heist of a lifetime at the Cleveland convention, this race is over. Trump is no longer a possible nominee, a likely nominee, or even a presumptive nominee. He’s it. After all the talk and all the punditry, he got to the magic number: 1,237.

But that doesn’t mean that everyone is going along with it. While many anti-Trump Republicans have resigned themselves to supporting the nominee, others have not. Some in this latter group may eventually come around; House Speaker Paul Ryan is unlikely to keep dodging the big question for much longer, for instance.

Others, though, have ruled out the possibility of ever getting behind Donald Trump. Two of the most prominent being Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and former Republican nominee Mitt Romney. And for the last month, they have been whispering about a third-party run – a conservative alternative to Hillary Clinton and Trump. And now, bitter about how things have turned out, they are starting to take up Trump’s anti-establishment mantle.

“The Republican National Committee and the Trump and Clinton campaigns are trying to sort of strangle it in its infancy,” Kristol said of the third-party movement. “Because they’re scared of it.”

Well, maybe, but just saying that they’re scared of it doesn’t mean there’s any value there. A man might be scared to let grizzly bears live in his home, but his fear doesn’t magically transform a domesticated Kodiak into a good idea. You might be scared to implement one of your employees’ ideas. Not because you’re hard-headed and set in your ways, but because the ideas are ludicrous.

And so it is with Kristol’s third-party fantasy.

Furthermore, the statement itself is hilariously false. Yes, the Republican National Committee is probably trying to squash Kristol’s efforts. Yes, the Trump campaign is probably not thrilled about it. But if Kristol really thinks that Hillary Clinton is “scared” of his third-party movement, he’s even more delusional than we might have imagined. Candidate Mitt Romney (or Ben Sasse or Paul Ryan or whoever else they can come up with) would not only make it easier for her to win, he would make any other outcome nearly impossible.

To see it any other way is delusional.