On Benson & Harf last evening, prominent conservative author and thinker Ben Shapiro explained why he's "much more apt" to vote for President Trump in 2020 than he was in the 2016 cycle, during which Shapiro was a vocal leader of the right-leaning 'Never Trump' movement. With fewer 'unknowns' in the mix this time around, Shapiro expanded on some thoughts that he offered several weeks ago on Bill Maher's HBO program, swinging the door open to voting for Trump's re-election in two years. In our discussion, he reasoned that the downsides to initially supporting Trump are now built into the existing status quo, whereas the policy consequences of allowing a liberal Democrat to unseat Trump are clearer than ever.
The president's personal flaws remain unchanged, Shapiro conceded, and his effect on perceptions of the Republican Party still poses a long-term challenge -- but he highlighted his conviction that Trump's policy agenda and outcomes have been far stronger than he'd ever expected. After laying out a three-pronged test, and running through his assessments of Trump's performance on each point thus far, Shapiro articulated his current attitude toward his voting calculus ahead of the next presidential cycle:
Now, we have a track record. We know what [Trump] will do policy-wise, which is a lot better than anything I thought he would do. And then there's what he's done personally, as far as toxifying politics, and I think it's fair to say [what's happened is] pretty much what a lot of us expected to happen..He's governed basically as Mike Pence would. His actual governance has been very down-the-line conservative overall, although he is obviously a big spender...I have to measure the fact that a bunch of things that I thought were going to happen already have happened and are not going to be cured by avoiding voting for him, with the fact that his policies have been overall pretty good, and the fact that he's going to be running against, presumably, a radical Democrat...
I don't think sitting out the next election cycle actually changes things on the ground in a lot of the ways I was talking about before, and the fact that he's governed much more conservative than I thought he was actually going to, I'm much more apt to vote for President Trump in 2020 than I was in 2016...He's done a lot of really good things in terms of governance. His Middle Eastern policy I think has been quite great. His regulatory policy has been very good. The tax cuts are very good. The judges are spectacular. All these things are great. I was very skeptical that we were going to get virtually any of them when he was elected because he was so all over the place during the election cycle, but obviously he has governed fairly down-the-line on all of these major issues, and that changes the math.
And what about rumors of a more traditionally conservative figure mounting a (perhaps quixotic) primary challenge against Trump from the more purist or principled Right? Would Shapiro consider backing such a candidate? The Ben Shapiro Show host not only rejected such an endeavor as a "major mistake," he said it could end up harming the very ideas and principles Trump's hypothetical Republican challenger would be attempting to champion:
I think it would be a major mistake, actually. I think trying to primary Trump when his approval rating inside the Republican party is 92 percent is not only a waste of time, it actually is likely to backfire because what it is likely to do is actually toxify the more conservative agenda attached the primarying candidate. So let's say [Nebraska Senator] Ben Sasse [or someone else] runs against Trump. It won't just be that people are angry at Ben Sasse for running against Trump from inside the Republican Party; it would be that all of the principles that Ben Sasse brings to light that are in conflict with President Trump's principles -- [on which] I'm probably more likely to agree with Sasse than with Trump -- are likely to become less popular as a result of primarying Trump than they would be if Trump weren't primaried in the first place.
Also on the show last night were Turning Point USA Founder Charlie Kirk, reacting to his unsettling and unprovoked harassment at the hands of an Antifa mob, and former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci -- who reflected on his brief stint at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and offered advice for the Trump administration:
Lots of really interesting stuff here. The Mooch says he’d 100% take the WH job all over again, criticizes Trump’s approval-harming “nonsense,” says Trump’s rhetoric/approach can set off counter-productive racism “alarm bells” & pegs his re-elect chances at 80-85%. LISTEN: https://t.co/23ARISlRF5— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) August 7, 2018