Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican Party nominee, the #NeverTrump crowd is taking their opposition to the New York billionaire to the next level.
Since their Twitter hashtag alone failed to slow Trump’s momentum, the candidate’s opponents within the GOP are reportedly planning to launch a third party.
Historically, third parties running in American presidential elections have simply leeched support from the Democrats and Republicans, costing them votes, media attention and donations. But a #NeverTrump party might actually drive MORE conservatives to support Trump, because two-time presidential loser Mitt Romney is the one leading the charge.
According to the Washington Post:
Those involved concede that an independent campaign at this late stage is probably futile, and they think they have only a couple of weeks to launch a credible bid. But these Republicans — including commentators William Kristol and Erick Erickson and strategists Mike Murphy, Stuart Stevens and Rick Wilson — are so repulsed by the prospect of Trump as commander in chief that they are desperate to take action. Their top recruiting prospects are freshman Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a conservative who has become one of Trump’s sharpest critics, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who withdrew from the Republican presidential race May 4. Romney is among those who have made personal overtures to both men in recent days, according to several people with knowledge of the former Massachusetts governor’s activities.
The trouble is, Kasich didn’t win a single primary except in his home state, and Sasse is an unknown on the national stage. He’s recently become such an outspoken critic of Trump that he was reprimanded by his own state party convention, in a resolution that passed 400 votes to 8.
Trump’s supporters view him as an anti-Establishment outsider who will shake up the system. Romney and the rest of the Beltway #NeverTrump coalition, meanwhile, represent everything that millions of ordinary Americans are clearly rejecting this year: Not just the Washington conservative elite, but also weakness and failure, personified by Romney.
It’s unclear how this third party will accomplish anything more than increasing division among conservatives, while making a handful of political advisers and insiders richer.