Longtime conservative columnist tells why he’s a ‘Never Trumper’

Posted at 12:07 PM, Oct 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-30 14:07:13-04

Conservative writer Jonah Goldberg calls himself a “Never Trumper.”

“I don’t think I should change my positions about all sorts of things just because (Trump’s) a Republican,” Goldberg told David Axelrod on “The Axe Files,” a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.

Goldberg, a columnist for the National Review and the author of “Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Nationalism, Populism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy,” believes strongly in identifying the flaws within one’s own party, even when it comes to the President.

“What bothers me, and what I think is so corrupting of conservatism and of the Republican Party, is that we are hardwired evolutionarily to resist the idea that our leaders are bad people.”

Here are three reasons Goldberg cited for considering himself a “Never Trumper”:

1. President Donald Trump doesn’t stick to a single ideology

“The problem is that Trump himself is beholden to no coherent intellectual or ideological program. And so at some point it’s sort of like, do you play the man or do you play the ball?”

Goldberg predicts that loyal followers of Trump will inevitably find themselves in a “dilemma” trying to back him up.

“Do they defend the ever-serpentining Donald Trump, or do they defend the ideas? And you can’t do both, because he’s going to flip-flop so much.”

Goldberg doesn’t even identify the President’s point of view as an ideology: ” ‘Trumpism’ isn’t an ideological or intellectual program. It’s a psychological phenomenon, both in terms of understanding the President and understanding his biggest supporters.”

2. Trump has serious ‘winner’s bias’

“Trump kind of is a black swan in that way: Because of his ego, he retroactively thinks that anything he did is the reason why he’s where he is,” Goldberg said.

Goldberg cites the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh as an example of Trump’s “winner’s bias.” By inserting himself into the hearing through publicly mocking Christine Blasey Ford, Goldbberg said, the President believes he is the reason for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“So many of Trump’s supporters and Trump himself think that’s why they won the Kavanaugh fight, when in fact, he put the Kavanaugh confirmation in more jeopardy at that moment than at any other point,” said Goldberg

“They have now internalized, once again, that the way you win is to be the most obnoxious, most cantankerous, most pugnacious person in the fight.”

3. Trump doesn’t take criticism well

“Traditionally, the way you guide or herd a president to a certain position is you say nice things about him when he does the things that you like, and you criticize him when he does the things that are wrong. The problem is, is that Trump has none of the normal reactions to criticism,” Goldberg said.

In order for Trump to respond, “it has to be praise,” according to Goldberg. This, in turn, leads to notable repercussions that can “distort our understanding of how politics works.”

So instead of openly criticizing the President, even those who disagree with Trump will flatter him publicly.

“Rand Paul, who has probably done more than any other Republican to undermine huge chunks of the Trump agenda,” Goldberg said, “sucks up to Trump in public. … And this is the mechanism of a cult of personality.”