During the campaign season, we Never Trumpers said that Trump was a despicable man, that he did not truly hold conservative values, that he would lead our country in a deeply misguided direction, and that he could never beat Hillary Clinton.
We were wrong about at least one of these things.
Trump ended up defeating Clinton in an (electoral) landslide, far outpacing his polling projections and mopping up nearly every swing state. If you ask his true believers, it’s only due to our snooty disloyalty that he didn’t win more soundly than he did — not an entirely discomforting thought.
We are now faced with a new dilemma: how does a movement entirely predicated on preventing a Trump presidency deal with a Trump presidency that had the gall to occur?
The solution is very simple: no matter what happens, we must abandon our pride. The vice of pride has two corollary virtues: humility and graciousness.
If Trump succeeds in passing the conservative agenda many of his supporters promise he will, we must be humble enough to acknowledge that our opposition to his candidacy was in many ways mistaken. Even now, we must own up to the fact that Trump’s fans already have one point on us: they believed he could be elected, and they were right.
But if Trump’s presidency is the dumpster fire many of us fear it will be, we must be gracious enough to acknowledge that many of his supporters were not malicious, but merely mistaken — mistaken that Trump was our country’s last, best chance to secure its borders, to defend life, to stop the long slide into whatever tyrannical globalist fantasy lies at the cold, cold center of George Soros’ heart. It speaks much more to the lunacy of the Democratic Party than to the bigotry of the American voter that so many people who strongly opposed Trump in the primaries turned out to vote for him in the general election.
But whether Trump goes on to be a new Reagan or goes down in flames, we anti-Trump conservatives must be utterly unyielding on two points.
First, we must hold fast to the principles that Trump still threatens to expunge from the Republican Party and the conservative movement.
If Trump persists in promising enormous infrastructure expenditures instead of utterly necessary budget cuts, we must continue to oppose him from within. If he reneges on his latter-day promises to uphold life and battle Washington corruption, we must strain to frustrate his efforts.
We must do this even at the risk of excommunication from the party Trump now calls his own.
Second, we must continue to insist that we will not support future candidates who conduct their lives and campaigns as dishonorably as Trump has done for the past year.
For the entire election season, we adamantly insisted that electing Donald Trump would be too costly a victory, that electing leaders of good character was as important as electing leaders who could achieve our goals.
If a successful Trump presidency causes us to abandon this principle, then we have been hypocrites and liars. It is essential that future candidates know that a portion of the voting public will not support a scorched-earth campaign like the one Trump ran, whipping his base into a frenzy by demonizing all dissenters, lying and bullying his way to victory. If we yearn for real statesmen, we cannot sell ourselves to demagogues.
We Never Trumpers got the election wrong. For the sake of the country, we’ve got to get the rest right.
Mr. Egger is a senior studying history and journalism.