The results in the Feb. 9 New Hampshire Republican Primary were a surprise for some, but a clear prediction-come-true for many conservative leaders, when real estate mogul Donald Trump took 35 percent of the Republican vote.
Despite the warnings of leaders such as Lindsey Graham, Erick Erickson, and Russell Moore about the threat that they believe Trump poses to the Republican party, voters rushed in support of Trump. These three prominent figures–Graham, Erickson, Moore–are representative of the resentment toward Trump which stems from multiple facets of American conservative ideology.
For many conservatives, nominating Donald Trump would be a colossal mistake for the Republican party, and this trio of leaders is acting together to urge Republican voters to prevent it. They represent a three-branched movement against Trump and are each doing their part to reject the notion of a Trump presidency among GOP voters.
“You know how to make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell,” U.S. senator Lindsey Graham declared on CNN’s “New Day” television show. Graham, a prominent figure in Republican foreign policy circles, voices a hawkish approach to military and defense issues in the party, and has the capability to sway voters with his passionate opposition to Trump’s candidacy.
Being renounced by such a strong figure in the Republican party could mean bad things for the Trump campaign, which seems to have a foreign policy approach based on isolationist ideals and the infamous proposal for a “giant wall” on the border with Mexico.
The movement to oppose Donald Trump has also expanded to include prominent conservative blogger Erick Erickson. Erickson, known for his strong conservative social stances and traditional values, has called Trump a “pro-abortion liberal masquerading as a conservative, who preys on nationalistic, tribal tendencies and has an army of white supremacists online as his loudest cheerleaders.”
Erickson also points out that he believes Trump is a pseudo-conservative who is simply taking advantage of the party’s supporters and also states that he refuses to be part of a party that would support a nominee like Trump. Such a conservative voice that threatens to renounce his own party if Trump is nominated is evidence that the Trump campaign could be in danger.
Erickson argues that to preserve the values and presence of the Republican party in future presidential races, Trump needs to be phased out by informed voters.
He says, “Trump has had no ‘road to Damascus’ conversion. He only wants to date the preacher’s daughter. Once he’s gotten in her ballot box, he’ll be back to his pro-abortion New York values self. I’ll play no part in this farce.”
Donald Trump has boasted in the past about his evangelical credentials and his support from Christian voters, but his now-famous “Two Corinthians” line should make voters hesitant when it comes to trusting his familiarity with and commitment to the values which many of them hold dear.
Moreover, if Donald Trump considers himself to be such a devout Christian politician, then why is he met with disgust by prominent American evangelical theologian Russell Moore? Moore is the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which is the public policy branch of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has repeatedly attacked the “moral values” of Trump, writing the following passage:
“Still, the problem is not just Mr. Trump’s personal lack of a moral compass. He is, after all, a casino and real estate mogul who has built his career off gambling, a moral vice and an economic swindle that oppresses the poorest and most desperate. When Mr. Trump’s casinos fail, he can simply file bankruptcy and move on. The lives and families destroyed by the casino industry cannot move on so easily.”
If Trump can gain so much at the expense of other people through his casino swindling, then who is to say that he couldn’t do the same if he becomes president? This seems to be the point Moore is trying to drive home to evangelical voters. To many conservative religious leaders, Donald Trump lacks the moral values necessary to be president. Moore could play an important role in swaying future evangelical voters away from Trump. His discontent with Trump completes the “three-legged stool” of adversaries that stand against the real estate mogul in the name of conservatism.
These three prominent conservative figures represent the heart of the “#nevertrump” movement, and their public opposition to the current frontrunner for the nomination of the Republican party will play a major role in determining whether the dream, or nightmare, of a Trump presidency ever becomes reality.