- - Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Many “Never Trump” conservative Republicans have joined Democrats in declaring Donald Trump to be an existential threat to American democracy as we know it. Consequently, they will vote for Joe Biden, a libertarian, or not vote at all. 

In this, they remind me of the Shaker cult of the late-18th to mid-19th centuries. The Shakers were millennialists who believed that Christ would return in the form of a woman. They were also celibate and did not reproduce; thus, they depended on new recruits to increase their numbers until the second coming at which point numbers would no longer matter. The Shakers ensured their own eventual extinction. Never Trumpers seem bent on emulating them.

Mr. Trump did not help his case with the Never Trump conservatives by refusing to say whether he would accept the results of the coming election. Presumably, he expects the election to go into the courts as a result of mail-in ballots and other potential election irregularities resulting in a legal fight. No one in his right mind thinks he would try to use the military or federal law enforcement officials to hold onto power; but there are a lot of people not in their right minds these days, and most of them are on some form of social media where lunacy is bipartisan.

Mr. Trump has pushed the powers of the presidency to their limits — as did his three predecessors — he is a populist, but he will never be a dictator. He has tried hard to implement his campaign promises, but the separation of powers mandated by the U.S. Constitution have prevented a significant portion of his agenda from being implemented.

The Founders consciously avoided designing an efficient government, and they deliberately prevented the government from being able to impose tyranny in the form of momentary popular passion. Athens was a popular democracy, and it destroyed her. Mob passions killed some of her wisest leaders when they made unpopular decisions, and mob rule led Athens into the disastrous Peloponnesian War. The Founders wisely foresaw the potential of tyranny of the majority.

The current Democratic Party agenda is the real threat to the Constitution. Several of the initiatives popular with the left wing of the Democratic Party are designed to undermine the concept of checks and balances that the Founders envisioned. The packing of the U.S. Supreme Court is the most egregious proposal being floated by Democrat Party activists. Anticipating that the party will gain the presidency and Congress, the activists hope that a packed court will ensure permanent one-party rule.

The second initiative that will be in play is the abolishment of the Electoral College, which would virtually ensure that the country would be dominated by liberal large population areas. The Founders were justifiably concerned that urban mobs could disrupt governance and impose the kind of Jacobian terror that infested France several years after we adopted our Constitution.

There are several other deep leftist agendas even more threatening to our traditional concept of checks and balances. Mr. Trump may verbally attack the “mainstream media,” but he has not used the power of the executive to suppress any network news outlet. There are ominous rumblings on the left that a Democratic administration might well attempt to lift the licenses of right-leaning outlets such as Fox News and EIB. This brings us back to the issue of a packed Supreme Court, which would threaten First Amendment freedom of the press.

Academic freedom is already nearly dead on the campuses of many American universities, and there are those on the far left of the Democrat Party who would make safe spaces mandatory and ban speech deemed as offensive — read not politically correct — for universities receiving federal funding. Undoubtedly, one of the first things a Democratic administration is likely to do is reverse the ban on Critical Race Theory indoctrination of federal workers.

Never Trump Republicans who consider themselves to be traditional conservatives should carefully consider one thing in the days leading up to the election. If he wins, Mr. Trump will only be around four more years. If the Democrats take the White House and Congress, we may have set the scene for one-party rule forever should they manage to pack the Supreme Court as well. When I voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, he was not my choice as the Republican nominee; I was voting against the alternative. Never Trumpers are the equivalent of zebras sacrificing themselves to a pack of hyenas because they dislike the herd leader.

• Gary Anderson lectures in Alternative Analysis at the graduate level.

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