When “Never Trump” becomes “Always Democrat”

When news broke last week that Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse was planning to retire from the U.S. Senate to pursue a future as the next president of the University of Florida, I was a little bummed. I like Ben Sasse. Since he came into the Senate in 2015, I think he has been one of the most forthright, plain-speaking, least-shady conservatives working in D.C. There's little doubt that anyone who spends any length of time in our nation's capital gets soiled by at least a little bit of the swamp stench, and so I don't mean to suggest that Sasse was perfect or totally above reproach.

I do mean that Sasse brought some of the most memorable and articulate defenses of true conservative ideas within the walls of the "world's most deliberative body," and refreshingly staked out a reputation as a slave to his convictions more than a slave to any political tribe.

And it's that last reality that had me chuckling as I watched the reaction to the Sasse announcement from the former conservative-turned-anti-Republican grifter class. For instance, here's columnist Amanda Carpenter:

Carpenter, who was once an aid for conservative Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, is now one of the lead writers for Bill Kristol's anti-Republican website "The Bulwark." That makes for an odd irony in her slap at Sasse, given that she herself once wielded significant influence within the office of a powerful U.S. Senator, only to walk away from it to pursue a career predicated around thinking (and writing) rather than "doing."

But more than that, most conservatives have long recognized that politics is downstream of culture, and have been concerned over the adage that the philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next. One of the Left's greatest ideological advantages in our culture, despite its logical, constitutional, intellectual, and moral shortcomings, is a near total stranglehold on colleges and universities.

Therefore, while it's possible that Sasse is leaving Washington because he's on the outs with his constituents, because he sees the life of an academic far easier and less stressful, or for the money, it's also possible that he sees it as a far more effective way to influence the future than casting 1 of 100 often-symbolic votes on pre-determined legislation in the United States Senate. And it's not like this path hasn't been effectively walked by other well-known conservatives, like Purdue president (and former presidential timbre) Mitch Daniels.

Besides, Sasse has had this kind of gig before, having served as president of Midland University in Nebraska before heading to the Senate. Everything about him suggests that he is well-suited for a position like this and could very well shake up some of the tired totems of higher education.

But Carpenter wasn't alone in her criticism. It was a Bulwark bonanza, as Carpenter's colleague Tim Miller – a former Jeb Bush campaign alum – also lashed out at Sasse:

Carpenter seized on Miller's post to take another jab:

Might I respectfully ask, what in the world is wrong with these people? Did Sasse hurt them?

The Bulwark is decidedly anti-Trump, obviously. Carpenter and Miller are vehemently anti-Trump, clearly. But the thing is, by any reasonable analysis, so is Ben Sasse.

  • He was one of the only conservative lawmakers who admittedly did not vote for Donald Trump, the presidential nominee of his own party.
  • He was one of the only conservative lawmakers who voted to convict Donald Trump in the Senate impeachment trial.
  • He was one of the only conservative lawmakers who consistently criticized Donald Trump for conduct unbecoming of a president.

What Carpenter and Miller's anti-Sasse tantrums actually accomplish is confirming the predominant assumption that many so-called conservative "Never-Trumpers" are not actually conservative. Maybe they started out that way, but as I wrote about last Friday, their guiding ideological principle is now nothing more than finding out where "Trump people" are on any particular issue, and then reflexively taking up the opposite. In other words, they've become little more than robotic, reactionary, partisan Democrats.

A.G. Hamilton said it effectively:

As Miller and Carpenter now run interference for and promote pro-abortion, tax-and-spend leftists, I can't help but think of what one of their fellow ex-conservatives, former Rep. Joe Walsh, said recently:

The too often overlooked value of Donald Trump's rise is the way it's unmasked each of us, and revealed each of us for who we truly are.

And that's precisely why Ben Sasse shouldn't lose a minute of sleep over attacks from the bloviating Bulwark.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Not the Bee or any of its affiliates.

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