Scaros: Only-Trumpers and Never-Trumpers Need to Take a Lesson from Maybe-Trumpers


Nowadays, there are three main types of Republicans: Only-Trumpers, Never-Trumpers and Maybe-Trumpers. There are subcategories within them, but those are the three principal ones.

For Republicans to win in 2024, these three subdivisions must unite. But before we get to that, let’s clarify what each group believes.

Only-Trumpers will only vote for Donald Trump or for a candidate whom Trump has explicitly endorsed. These voters most likely were never part of the political process until 2016, are completely consumed by the concept of a crooked bipartisan “swamp” in Washington, and believe Trump is the only one willing and able to drain it. These are folks who probably stayed home in the 2000s when George W. Bush ran for president and, if they’re old enough, probably passed on the chance to vote for Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. They are truly “Trump or bust.”

Never-Trumpers are the Only-Trumpers’ polar opposites. Not only wouldn’t they vote for Trump, but they’d cross party lines and vote for Democrats just to stop him from winning.

Some Never-Trumpers are sincere when they say they don’t like Trump’s tone — that he’s too undignified to be president — but others only use that as an excuse, because they won’t admit out loud that they’re only for the rich and Trump’s populism is spoiling their party. They built a cozy, country-club establishmentarian fiefdom, and Trump barreled in, toppling it like a house of cards.

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Then there are the Maybe-Trumpers. They probably voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020 and, if he’s the GOP nominee, would probably vote for him again in 2024. However, unlike Only-Trumpers, who’d probably never vote for anyone else, and Never-Trumpers, who absolutely refuse to vote for him, Maybe-Trumpers are willing to root for someone else if he or she would have an easier time winning the general election and securing solid majorities in both houses of Congress.

Overall, Maybe-Trumpers are very grateful for Trump’s presidency. They’re quick to acknowledge that he did more to reduce the threat of illegal entry into the U.S. than any president in a hundred years.

They point to a vibrant economy, revitalized consumer confidence, a resurgence in manufacturing, record lows in unemployment among women and minorities, and the lowest overall unemployment numbers in 40 years.

They acknowledge that Trump kept Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping in check while also defusing Kim Jong Un’s saber-rattling. They applaud Trump for demanding that NATO members pay their fair share and that the U.S. not be suckered when making deals with other nations.

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Trump’s tweeting illustrates a vivid contrast between the three groups.

Only-Trumpers love Trump’s in-your-face tweets, much like they’d love a high school prank of flushing all of the building’s toilets at once. Never-Trumpers view mean, sophomoric tweets as absolute deal-breakers. Maybe-Trumpers, while they wish Trump would be more presidential, won’t allow something as insignificant as tweeting to stand in the way of voting for the person they believe will generate the best results.

The three groups also go their separate ways when it comes to the 2020 election.

Maybe-Trumpers believe illegal and underhanded tactics by Democrats were at play, resulting in Biden actually gaining more votes. But Only-Trumpers think Trump really gained more votes anyway, but Democrats dumped them, burned them, changed them or otherwise hid them. Never-Trumpers, projecting their own anti-Trump fervor onto the entire country, think it logical that Biden won because, in their minds, Biden was the better candidate.

Unlike Only-Trumpers, Maybe-Trumpers think that the image on Jan. 6, 2021, of a person with a Trump flag, or a Confederate flag, kicking in a Capitol door or vandalizing a Congress member’s office negates four great years of Trump accomplishments in the public’s mind.

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They don’t blame the tens of thousands who attended the rally that day — many Maybe-Trumpers were there themselves — just the few hundred who breached the Capitol building. Only-Trumpers call those invaders “heroes” and “victims” of police brutality. Never-Trumpers think anyone who was there that day defies democracy and worships a cult dictator.

Maybe-Trumpers criticize Trump for his sloppy choice of words, not distinguishing between a “rigged election” and “widespread fraud” (because those are two different notions), but they don’t think Trump “incited an insurrection,” nor do they think he should’ve been impeached either time. Never-Trumpers disagree, claiming that Trump is “a threat to democracy.”

When it comes to criticizing Trump, Only-Trumpers think he can do no wrong, and Never-Trumpers he can do no right. Maybe-Trumpers have nothing good to say about the likes of Mitt Romney or Liz Cheney, because they see through their façade and realize they’re just sore losers because the Trump movement booted their faction of the GOP into extinction.

But they can differentiate between absolutist Never-Trumpers and longtime Trump loyalists like Chris Christie, Lindsey Graham and Mike Pence, who stood by Trump most of the time but called him out when they thought it was appropriate. Only-Trumpers see both sets of Trump critics as the same, and not even very different from Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and the “squad.”

What the three groups ought to realize is what they have in common: All of them are unhappy that the Democrats retained the Senate, barely lost the House and, despite hyperinflation, a border crisis, and the national plague of wokeness, are far from guaranteed to lose in 2024.

I don’t know who the next Ronald Reagan is: Trump? Christie? Graham? Pence? Ron DeSantis? Kristi Noem? Someone else? There’s bound to be a vast difference of opinion.

But I do know that Reagan won 49 out of 50 states in his re-election bid, and if a Republican can even come close to that in 2024, all three groups need to shut their mouths and gratefully accept it as a big win.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Constantinos E. (“Dino”) Scaros, JD, Ph.D., is a presidential historian, educator, attorney, newspaper editor and columnist, and political analyst. He is also the author of several books covering many contemporary issues, most recently "How to Talk Politics Without Arguing," "Trumped-Up Charges!" and "Stop Calling Them 'Immigrants.'" Follow him on his Facebook page: Listen to Dino.