When Ben Sasse rode the TEA Party wave to victory by defeating Mitch McConnell and the GOP establishment to win the Nebraska Republican Party primary for the US Senate in 2014, it was viewed by many as another notch in the belt of conservatism.
Later, when he went on to win the general election by defeating Democrat David Domina 64% to 31% to become Senator Sasse, he joined the new Republican majority in the Senate — a majority created thanks to the hard work of the conservative base of the party.
Sasse possessed many of the “right” conservative credentials — pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, anti-Obamacare — and he appeared willing to defend conservative values during Obama’s last two years in office and right into Trump’s presidency.
However, as we all know, conservatism in the Age of Trump has been hijacked by nationalism and a socialist-leaning brand of conservatism that bears no resemblance to conservative values. Additionally, Trump and the GOP have no tolerance for anyone who refuses to embrace the new Republican party dominated by Trumpism.
For a while, it looked like Sasse might be the Senate counterpart to Justin Amash in the House. Like Amash, Sasse often put conservative principles ahead of party, even if it meant criticizing Trump or his fellow Republicans.
During the 2016 primaries, Sasse posted “An Open Letter to Trump Supporters” on his Facebook page where he pointed out the hypocrisy of the Republican party for supporting Donald Trump. At the end of his letter, after providing a long list of grievances, he concluded, “I can’t support Donald Trump.”
At the same time, Sasse reiterated his refusal to support Trump on his Twitter account.
I’ve been asked recently who I'd support between Trump and Hillary.
My answer: neither of them.
— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) February 29, 2016
If Trump becomes the Republican nominee my expectation is that I'll look for some 3rd candidate – a conservative option, a Constitutionalist
— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) February 29, 2016
In October 2017, the Nebraska senator openly challenged Trump for his frequent attacks on the so-called “Fake News” media, accusing him of “recanting of the Oath [he] took … to preserve, protect, and defend the First Amendment.”
In September 2018, it looked like Sasse was considering doing something Amash recently did by leaving the GOP. In a State of the Union interview on CNN, Sasse revealed to host Jake Tapper that he “thinks about leaving the GOP every morning” and said he considered himself an “independent conservative who caucuses with the Republicans.”
Sasse’s “independent conservative” declaration appeared to be intact as recently as February 2019 when he opposed Trump’s national emergency declaration on the border, saying that such an order would make it “almost impossible to go back to a Constitutional system of checks and balances.”
But that’s where it all changed. One month after opposing Trump’s emergency declaration, Sasse voted to uphold Trump’s order, proving that he is willing to abandon the Constitution and conservative principles for party power and a seat at Trump’s table.
Sasse’s sellout paid off, by the way. Two weeks ago, Trump gave him his “Complete and Total Endorsement” for re-election in 2020. As we all know, only those who lay prostrate before King Trump earn such an endorsement.
Senator Ben Sasse has done a wonderful job representing the people of Nebraska. He is great with our Vets, the Military, and your very important Second Amendment. Strong on Crime and the Border, Ben has my Complete and Total Endorsement!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2019
And with that, to quote Charlie Sykes, “One of the last Trump critics in the Senate GOP was brought to heel.”
For his surrender in the war for the soul of conservatism, his capitulation to Trumpism, and for laying aside his principles in the name of political convenience, we enshrine Sen. Ben Sasse in the Gutless On Principles Hall of Shame.
Disclaimer: The GOP establishment does not endorse the G.O.P. Hall of Shame award. My opinions are my own, and I’ve got lots of them. All opinions expressed are 100% “right” and any similarity to actual opinions, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative.
His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.