Nebraska Senator Benjamin Sasse (R-NE) was very recently a rising star in the Republican Party. He delivered powerful speeches before big audiences, had seen some of his commentary in Senate go viral thanks to his direct assault on liberalism, and he’d stirred many conservatives to action with his defense of the Constitution. However, over the last few months his star has faded due in large part to his unwillingness to support Donald Trump. In fact, Ben Sasse is one of the faces of the #NeverTrump movement (only National Review’s Bill Kristol, and conservative pundits Glenn Beck and Erick Erickson have a stronger case for being the face of the #NeverTrump team).
“Lots of Nebraskans adhere to a lesser of two evils theory, and I completely understand and respect that,” Sasse told the AP. “But humbly, I think there’s more to it than that… When you vote, you’re saying that this person is an exemplar of the American system. You’re saying this person has character. You’re telling your kids that this person is a model of civic virtue, and that you hope to have more candidates like that in the future.”
He now routinely faces criticism, heckling calls of being a RINO (Republican in Name Only), and even attacks for being traitorous to his Party.
“If you’re a conservative Republican, he’s doing a phenomenal job,” former Nebraska GOP Chairman Mark Fahleson said. “If you’re a Republican Party activist who has spent your life attending county Republican meetings and Republican conventions, then, yeah, you may be upset.”
This is a sad twist in Sasse’s story, but no sadder than the pummeling Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has taken for his opposition to Mr. Trump. Consider that two of the three most conservative members of the Senate (the other being Mike Lee of Utah) are now two of the most reviled members of Congress, and that angst has come chiefly from other Republicans. Cruz and Sasse have been two of the staunchest defenders of our liberty and of conservative values in Congress, and a wide swath of the GOP has now turned against them.
In fact, that vitriol against Sasse has become so heated that he is now routinely fielding death threats from Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters.
It’s been a long summer for Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, the conservative Republican whose refusal to support GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has led to angry confrontations at local meetings, criticism from leaders in the state party and even death threats.
The Republican Party is treading a dangerous line. The pressure being applied to conservatives who do not support Donald Trump may end up backfiring and forcing them out of the party altogether, which would be a bad result for both the GOP and for American conservatives. The reason these two groups have been aligned for so long is that both sides recognized our mutual need to work together. Without conservatives, the GOP cannot win National Elections; and without the GOP, conservatives will be unable to affect change at a national level. We need each other. The GOP, and the mass of Donald Trump supporters, would do well to ignore the individual cases of #NeverTrump (like Sasse) and focus their efforts on Hillary Clinton and the Democrat Party.
Let’s not cut off our nose to spite our face. We’ll still need each other when this election is finally over.