Last year, I signed an anti-Donald Trump letter that circulated among national security types and made crystal clear, in numerous articles, my opinion of Trump’s quasi-isolationist, protectionist campaign rhetoric. So I was not exactly waiting by the phone after the election for the transition to call and offer me some plum post.
I had, admittedly, briefly entertained the hope that, for the sake of the nation, Trump would let bygones be bygones and would call not on me but on other national security professionals for help, even those who opposed him during the campaign. If that were to happen, I suggested right after the election, other Never Trumpers should be willing to serve for the good of the nation. It was not to be, with the Washington Post reporting that Never Trump Republicans are being blacklisted by the transition team. Rumors of enemies lists are circulating, and some of the erstwhile Never Trumpers are said to be chagrined at their inclusion.
While Trump is making a mistake in not seeking out his political opponents — as Richard Nixon did when he appointed Nelson Rockefeller’s loyalist, Henry Kissinger, as his national security advisor — Never Trumpers are also making a mistake if they cavil at not getting the call. There is nothing wrong with serving any president, even this one, but there is also an important role to be played by the loyal opposition, a principled voice to criticize Trump when he falls short of their ideals, which will be often, and to praise him on those occasions when he does something right.