David Harsanyi at National Review explains the transaction nature of the conservative Never Trumper’s current support in ‘Never Trump’ Revisited:
Granted, for me, a less energetic Washington is a blessing. Contemporary American political life features a series of unbridgeable divisions. Gridlock on a national level is a reflection of our intractable political differences. Frustrating as it may be, the system is working as it should. The nation is too big, too diverse, and too divided for the kind of centralized and efficient federal governance that many seek.
So while I don’t like Trump any better today than I did when writing those critical pieces, I do live in the world that exists, not the one I wish existed. And that world has changed. What I didn’t foresee when writing about Trump’s candidacy was the American Left’s extraordinary four-year descent into insanity.
My own political disposition during the past four years has hardened into something approaching universal contempt. When I defend the president — as far as I do — it is typically in reaction to some toxic hysteria or the attacks on constitutional order that Democrats now regularly make in their efforts to supposedly save the nation from Donald Trump — whether they’re calling for the end of the Electoral College or for packing the Supreme Court, or they’re embracing shifting “norms” that are wholly tethered to a single overriding principle: get Trump.
As the Democrats’ allies in the media stumble from one frenzy to the next, it has become increasingly difficult to believe any of it is really precipitated by genuine concern over Russian interference or improper calls with a Ukrainian president or dishonesty or rudeness. The president has become a convenient straw man for all the political anxieties on the left, which have manifested in an unhealthy obsession and antagonism toward the constitutional system that allowed Trump to win.
Many of us would prefer a more articulate and chaste classical liberal as our president. I don’t have any special fondness for Trump, either, but I also don’t hold any special antagonism for him. Political support is a transactional arrangement, not a religious oath, and Trump has done much to like. I support policies, not people. If Trump protects the constitutional order, he deserves to be praised for it. If not, he doesn’t. But the notion of some Trump critics that conservatives have a moral duty to uniformly oppose the president for the sake of principle or patriotism — or because they once opposed him during a GOP primary — is plainly silly.
My only criticism is the example of abortion as the moral dividing line- not because I not empathize with his belief but because so many reject everything that follows once that position is posted. He does represent a wide group of reluctant Trumpers who still harbor their reservations but fear the growing lunacy of the left more. It foolish to believe that Republicans will reject him on principle when the result would be to relinquish all political power and betray even larger principles. Adults understand tradeoffs.