DANIEL VAUGHAN: Weld, Walsh, and Lincoln Project are not ‘Never Trump’ – they’re Democrats

Politico put out a report over the weekend that lambasted Bill Weld and Joe Walsh, two candidates “challenging” Donald Trump in the Republican presidential primary. For all the complaints Weld, Walsh, and others in the so-called “Never Trump” movement have made, they’ve failed to even file paperwork to get on the ballot in the early stages, the outlet reports.

It’s just the latest sign that the political movers in this group aren’t making some principled stand — they’re just pouring money into personal PACs and platforms.

Politico’s reporters found that “[Joe] Walsh won’t be competing in more than half of the 30 states and territories whose filing deadlines have already passed, while [Bill] Weld won’t be contending 12 of them.”

They published their report as both Weld and Walsh failed to qualify for the Virginia Republican primary, leaving Trump unopposed on the ballot.

Both Walsh and Weld’s campaigns blame Donald Trump’s campaign for taking over the GOP and preventing any challenge. But Politico poured cold water all over those allegations by pointing out neither Walsh nor Weld had done any of the work to qualify in states where getting on the ballot is easy:

Neither Walsh nor Weld will be running in Kentucky, where candidates can qualify simply by paying $1,000, filling out a statement of candidacy form, and proving that they’re on the ballot in 20 other states. Walsh failed to get on the ballot in Louisiana, where it costs just $1,125. Weld won’t be running in Oklahoma, where a presidential aspirant only needs to cut a $5,000 check.

The two are also MIA in some of the country’s most delegate-rich battlegrounds. While Walsh, a former congressman, didn’t file in his home state of Illinois, Weld’s attempt to get on the Ohio ballot was rejected by election officials who said he didn’t meet the state’s requirements.

If Donald Trump and the Republican Party were the only obstacles these guys faced, you’d think they could at least qualify on the ballot in places where its a cakewalk. But they aren’t even trying.

They aren’t making a principled stand for anything or anyone; they’re just asking for political donations into their PACs and personal campaigns.

It’s reminiscent of another candidate: Evan McMullin, who ran for the White House in 2016. McMullin’s campaign still owes $670,000, which remains unpaid as of 2018. And the Federal Election Commission has issued several warnings to him about violating campaign finance laws. Meanwhile, former staffers for McMullin’s campaign said his claim to any principle was undercut by the fact that he was myopically focused on free cable news hits and building his platform instead of paying vendors or pushing for changes in government.

Candidates like these, who are utter failures, should also raise red flags about the latest endeavor from this group: the Lincoln Project.

The Lincoln Project is the brainchild of such luminaries as George Conway, who is using his opposition to his much more influential wife, Kellyanne Conway, as a platform booster. (The only political leach larger than George Conway, grabbing onto the fame of their much more famous spouse to launch their ambitions, might be Hillary Clinton.)

The Lincoln Project — the launch of which they announced in the New York Times editorial pages, if that tells you anything about their audience — is “dedicated to defeating President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box and to elect those patriots who will hold the line.”

For the Lincoln Project, defeating Trumpism doesn’t mean challenging the president or his staunchest allies in Congress; it means targeting moderate Republicans like Colorado’s Cory Gardner and Maine’s Susan Collins. They’re trying to knock out Republicans who don’t espouse any rhetoric close to that of Donald Trump.

They’re not targeting the president; they’re aiming to help Democrats in tight races.

The Tea Party, when it kicked off in earnest, put candidates in at every level. But one thing it sought to do was change the Republican Party from the ground by replacing long-term Republican office-holders with more conservative and libertarian options. The point wasn’t to help Democrats win; it was building a stronger conservative movement in the party.

By contrast, the Lincoln Project is outright helping the Democratic Party move into easy-to-win states. These people don’t represent conservatism, libertarianism, or anything remotely resembling the Republican Party before or after Trump — they’re Democrats by another name who want their old jobs back in the Republican Party.

Criticizing Donald Trump is perfectly fine, and I’ve done so here. But jumping from that to electing Democrats, who are — just so we’re clear here — currently debating whether or not to nominate for president someone like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who would represent actual socialist platforms, is insane.

These people represent a tiny slice of elite society, sitting in cable television green rooms trying to figure out how to get rid of people they don’t like out of power. They’ve decided to throw their lot in with Democrats.

That’s fine, but it’s not fair to use the term Never Trump with them anymore. They’re just Democrats now, and they don’t represent any segment of the Republican Party, the conservative movement, or anything remotely resembling a principled stand.

If conserving conservatism means attacking moderate Republicans to elect progressive Democrats, it’s not conservativism.