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Post-Election Reflections of a ‘Never Trump’ Republican

Trump in Red Hat
Written by Kris Hammond

It turns out that Donald Trump was right: the election was rigged.

On November 8, Hillary Clinton won a majority of votes cast, approximately 1.5 to two percent more than received by Trump, but Trump will become the new president in January. Constitutions have consequences.

The following are observations and predictions from a Republican who strenuously opposed Trump at the Republican National Convention and continued that opposition through election day.

The Trump Victory Offers Both Silver Linings and Potential Pitfalls

Trump’s victory is a bittersweet moment for “Never Trump” Republicans. Clinton will not be president. A Republican will fill the Supreme Court vacancy. The opportunity exists to end Washington gridlock and reverse Barack Obama’s liberal policies. If congressional Republicans can get past a Senate filibuster, Obamacare can be repealed and replaced. Immigration reform legislation can be passed on Republican terms. Taxes will be lower than they otherwise would be. If only losing could always be this good.

The downsides: Trump is ethically-challenged; has thus far lacked the temperament for the office; will reverse longstanding Republican policy positions on trade and fiscal responsibility; and possesses a disquieting authoritarian disposition. If he continues to display hostility towards women and minorities, he will solidify the party’s negative perception among those groups. Furthermore, the unethical political operatives who strongly backed Trump during the campaign will not be marginalized, but empowered with cabinet appointments and other rewards.

In addition, Trump’s lack of concern about policy details increases the probability of massive policy failures. For example, consider that Trump relentlessly campaigned to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, but the replacement was always theoretical. In order to satisfy tremendous pressure from the Republican base, will Trump demand that Obamacare be repealed even without a well-defined replacement? Will congressional Republicans pass a plan in time to prevent millions of people from losing their coverage? Policy missteps by a party and candidate who have not paid attention to policy details could result in severe political consequences. 

Trump’s Election Victory is Not a Mandate

The reasons for Trump’s win are not entirely clear (CNN devised 24 possible reasons), although clearly the issues of Supreme Court appointments, Obamacare, and immigration drove many Trump voters to the polls. Despite Trump’s Electoral College majority, the election was exceedingly close. Trump lost the majority vote, and he won fewer votes than either John McCain or Mitt Romney. Clinton failed to attract black and Hispanic voters more than Trump won them. Those voters mainly voted for third party candidates or failed to vote.

Clinton supporters are somewhat justified in believing that the election was not a fair contest. Based on the best intelligence available, it appears that Russia intervened in the election by hacking the e-mail accounts of Clinton staff and dumping those emails into the public domain over the course of many weeks. FBI Director James Comey’s letter to congressional leaders 11 days before the election, announcing a review of newly-discovered Clinton-related emails (emails which later turned out to be completely inconsequential), turned the public’s focus to Clinton’s alleged corruption at the worst possible moment for her. On the other hand, there is some truth to Trump partisans who contend that the media was biased against him.

The Republican Party is Still Sitting on a Demographic Time Bomb

The Republican National Committee’s Growth and Opportunity Project report warned that the party faced electoral oblivion unless it found a way to become more appealing to minorities (especially Hispanics) because, with time, those groups will become an ever-larger larger percentage of the electorate. Many Republicans will conclude that Trump’s win means that the party doesn’t need to work hard to diversify itself and that Never Trump Republican concerns about Trump’s alienation of non-white voters was overblown. They are wrong.

 Trump did better than expected with minority voters and women, which will lead many Trump supporters to believe that all is well. Most of the post-election demographic comparisons in the media have compared the performance of Trump (8% black voter support, 29% Hispanic support) with that of Romney (6% black voter support and 27% Hispanic voter support). However, Trump ran against a white woman with serious character issues, but Romney ran against a black man with no major character issues. A better historical example would be George W. Bush in 2004, who performed better than Trump with blacks (11%) and Hispanics (44%). Trump underperformed at a time when the GOP needed to gain ground on the Democrats.

American Politics Will Become More Machiavellian

The American political elite learned some lessons this election cycle. Demagoguery works. Making up facts about your opponent works. Ignore the fact-checkers and keep telling the lies. Promise to fix what may be unfixable and worry about the details later. Delay confirmation hearings on a Supreme Court nominee for ten months in order to permit your party’s president to pick the nominee.

The Republican hardball tactics succeeded. As a result, Democrats will be very angry in 2017 and will likely retaliate. The real change wrought by Trump may be an increase in Machiavellian tactics and the decline of civility.

Never Trump Republicans Should Stay with the Party—For Now

Some Republicans opposed to Trump are already leaving the party. However, Republicans of conscience will be more influential if they stay in the party and attempt to check its excesses from within. It’s certainly possible that Trump will grow in the office and be more inclusive and statesman-like. After all, he repeatedly confounded conventional wisdom in 2016. His critics should brace themselves for the possibility that Trump will indeed make America great again.


Currently the principal of Everest Law Firm in Alexandria, Virginia, Kris Hammond has served as an attorney for a district court judge, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the U.S. Department of Justice in its Civil Rights Division. He has run for office twice and was an elected delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention.


  • Trump won in part because he used Democratic tectics against his opponents in the primaries and then against Hillary in the general election. Unfortunately it does say much for the American people. Both major party candidates spewed lie after lie and yet well over 90% of voters voted for one of them anyway.
    The only hope for Republicans is to roll up their shirt sleeves and meet with minorities. For the last 20 years the Democrats have been telling minorities how racist Republicans are – with little response from the Right. The values of the right are actually more in line with the beliefs of many minorities. However, when you constantly here that how bad the Republicans are, that is what you are goin to believe.

  • He did win the mandate. He has brought House Speaker Paul Ryan to heel, he has the full backing of the power donors like Phyllis Schaffly, he has the chairman of the RNC (Priebus) in his camp, he has a supreme court pick as a prize for winning, he also helped down-ballot candidates keep House and Senate, plus pick-ups in the governor’s races. The Democrats were crushed in 2016, Kris. Worse, Sanders and Warren, the two top surrogates, are left holding the bag for the Democratic Party.

    To be fair, you might be right about a retaliation in late 2017. There might even be a spike in Democratic Voters showing up for the 2018 midterms after failing to show up in 2010, which is what has ultimately cost them the House and Senate over the years. I still don’t think it will be enough. The Republican Party has new life, their momentum should keep for a few years.

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About the author

Kris Hammond

Originally from Indiana, Kris has lived in the District of Columbia since 2004. He has served as a federal judicial law clerk for a district court judge, assistant counsel for the National Republican Congressional Committee, and a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in its Civil Rights Division.

He has run for office twice in the District of Columbia, winning his race in 2006 for the office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner. On March 12, 2016, D.C. Republicans citywide elected Kris to be one of the 16 Delegates who will represent the District of Columbia at the Republican National Convention July 18-21 in Cleveland, Ohio.

In the Spring of 2016, Kris founded Everest Law Firm PLLC, located in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.