If George HW Bush votes against Trump, he’ll be in good Republican company | Jamie Weinstein | The Knowledge Dynasty

If George HW Bush votes against Trump, he’ll be in good Republican company | Jamie Weinstein

Bush’s opposition can be dismissed as the qualms of a north-eastern moderate. But alongside him are many with unimpeachable conservative credentials.

It wouldn’t be surprising if, as one recent visitor to the Bush compound in Kennebunkport reports, former president George HW Bush will be voting for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump this fall.

After all, the elder Bush president is a moderate from the north-east who has in recent years developed a close relationship with the Clintons. His old patrician sensibility is reportedly offended by Trumps vulgar style. And lets not forget Bush witnessed Trump ruthlessly and gleefully eviscerate his son Jeb during the Republican primary, often in the most personal of ways, and delve into conspiracy theories to attack the presidential legacy of another son, George W.

This is not to say that Bush voting for Clinton is a non-story altogether. When is the last time a former Republican president not only refused to endorse the presidential nominee of their own party but allowed it to get out they were actually voting for the opposition partys presidential candidate? Off the top of my head, I cant think of any parallel in recent American history.

But if you forget for a moment that George HW Bush was once was a Republican president, he is not all that different from the type of Republicans who have crossed party lines in past elections to endorse the Democratic nominee. (Think Colin Powell in 2008 and 2012.)

To understand why this story is more remarkable than notable Republicans crossing party lines to support, say, Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, you have to take a look of the full scope of top-tier Republicans who have refused to endorse Trump, if not declared they will be voting for Clinton.

Yes, you have the squishy north-eastern Republicans such as Bush, Maine senator Susan Collins and former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman. But you also have staunch movement conservatives like Nebraska senator Ben Sasse, Washington Post columnist George Will and radio host Erick Erickson not getting aboard the Trump train.

Now, unlike Bush Sr, this latter group is probably far less likely to let it be known they support Clinton over Trump. But unlike in 2008 and 2012, there are bulwarks of the conservative movement refusing to get behind the Republican presidential nominee, not just those easily dismissed as Rinos (Republicans-In-Name-Only). Thats no small thing.

It is true that as the election draws nearer, some so-called Never Trump conservatives have come around to supporting Trump. Conservative talkshow host Mark Levin is perhaps the most famous example. But many more Never Trumpers seem to be in it for the long haul, even in the face of conservatives who argue that they have to vote for Trump at the very least to prevent Clintons supreme court nominees.

But its not only significant right-leaning politicians, activists and opinion columnists who are refusing to support Trump. The most famous conservative academics are refusing to get behind him as well, including conservative and libertarian legal scholars exactly the kind of people who understand how important the supreme court is.

For instance, you have Princeton professor Robert P George, perhaps the most noted intellectual defender of social conservatism in the country, refusing to back Trump, even as he says he cant back Clinton either. The same goes with some of the top conservative economists, such as Harvards Greg Mankiw. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reached out to 45 past economists who served on the White House Council of Economic Advisers under both Republican and Democratic administrations and not one responded to say they were supporting Trump.

You can make fun of these people as egghead elitists, but the reality is most have fought the intellectual conservative fight in the most liberal of environments their entire lives. These are are not squishy moderates. They are true believers in conservative principles.

So it may be easy to dismiss George HW Bushs putative decision to vote for Clinton (his spokesman refuses to confirm or deny the report). But when you look at the scope of figures from Republican establishment politicians to leaders of the conservative movement to members of the conservative intelligentsia who still refuse to get on the Trump train and likely never will, it is hard to conclude anything other than there is something truly repellent about the current Republican presidential nominee and something deeply awry with a conservative movement that could nominate him.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/20/george-hw-bush-vote-trump-republicans

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