My understanding of what the #NeverTrump folks were trying to achieve with a third party candidacy is as follows: first, to provide a vehicle to express ideological resistance to Donald Trump; second, to provide motivation for depressed conservatives to come out and vote for downticket candidates; third, to have someone waiting in the wings should Trump utterly implode under the sustained attacks of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in the fall.
To achieve this effectively, a candidate is required who will get on the ballot in most states, who has the resources to mount a credible campaign, and who is known to some degree by the American people, given the fact that Trump and Clinton have near universal name ID and that a newcomer will almost certainly be dismissed as a sideshow.
As I’ve written before, the logical vehicle for any real resistance to Trump or Clinton as the next president would have been the Libertarian Party given that they already have the ballot access hurdle solved. The key was the issue of abortion: an effort with a candidate sufficiently pro-life to satisfy social conservatives would have presented an interesting campaign challenge for Trump and Clinton, given that single issue pro-lifers are going to have a hard time voting for either candidate.
Instead, the Libertarians nominated former Republican governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld – the latter a particularly odd choice, with virtually no libertarian bona fides – both of whom are, unlike every current libertarian-leaning elected Republican in Congress, pro-choice on the abortion issue (and decidedly not classically liberal on religious liberty, but that’s another topic). More’s the pity – but they are the Libertarian Party after all, and no real effort was ever made by conservatives to meet them halfway.
As the only other candidates with significant ballot access and resources, it seems logical that Johnson-Weld is basically your one option to block Trump or Clinton from reaching the 270 vote threshold necessary to become president, throwing the election to the House of Representatives. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Over the weekend, Bill Kristol promised an ‘impressive’ independent candidate to represent the #NeverTrump movement. And who is this person? Apparently it’s David French, the attorney, Iraq veteran, and National Review writer.
The fortysomething French is a best-selling author, an attorney, and a combat veteran of Iraq. A graduate of David Lipscomb College in Nashville and then of Harvard Law School, his legal practice made him one of the nation’s leading defenders of free speech on campus. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including, most recently, Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore. In 2007, having volunteered for military service, French deployed to Iraq, serving in Diyala Province as Squadron Judge Advocate for the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, where he was awarded the Bronze Star. He lives with his wife and children in Columbia,…