Politico asks Charlie Sykes: What is a Never Trumper to do about Bernie?

    Headshot of Charlie Sykes in 2019
    Charlie Sykes, political commentator, speaking and signing autographs at the UW-Parkside on March 21, 2019. By Ryan Bognar ”>CC BY-SA 4.0

    The question of what to do if Bernie Sanders became the Democratic nominee was dissected around every water cooler at the inaugural Summit on Principled Conservatism, held at the National Press Club in Washington D.C last Saturday. It attracted around 300 Republican leaders and talking heads who are no fans of Donald Trump, even as the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) they likely previously frequented met not far away in National Harbor, Maryland. 

    A March 3 Politico magazine story on the event was titled ‘The Worst Possible Scenario’: Never Trumpers Wonder What to Do About Bernie.” The subhead was even more unthinkable to many Republicans: “Inside the debate among movement conservatives over whether they could — no, should — vote for a democratic socialist for president.”

    Bernie Sanders at Democratic debate in Michigan. Photo by Andrew Roth
    Bernie Sanders at Democratic debate in Michigan. Photo by Andrew Roth

    Reporter Graham Vyse sought an answer to that quandary from Wisconsin’s best known Never Trumper, Charlie Sykes, once of Milwaukee talk-radio notoriety. (Sykes is founder and commentator with The Bulwark, a Never-Trump “fact-based conservative commentary” website where editor-at-large William Kristol basically endorsed Joe Biden on Monday.)

    “This is one of those moments when principled conservatism is in the wilderness,” Sykes told Politico. “Actually, that understates it. We’re sort of on this floating iceberg by ourselves.”

    Sykes distilled the choice between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump down to this nugget: “It’s sort of like choosing between death by hanging versus death by gunshot.”

    Harkening back to his infamous talk radio blasts, Sykes put himself in the Never Trump/Never Bernie column. 

    “Whatever the future of principled conservatism is,” Sykes told Politico, “it is not voting for a Soviet-apologist socialist.”


    Melanie Conklin
    Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.