In the wake of Donald Trump’s ascent to dominance in the GOP, conservative leaders blame Republicans for the calamity. But they shouldn’t.

Before we turn to why they shouldn’t, consider why they do.

“There are many reasons Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee,” writes Dennis Prager, but “the biggest reason is this: The majority of Republicans are not conservative.”

David French observes that “the party of Lincoln is in ruins,” calls for conservatives to “stay firm in their opposition to Trump,” and scolds GOP leaders for supporting this “reprehensible man.”

Jay Cost says “the Republican party of 2016 is a spectacular failure”:

Lacking sufficient organization and largely bereft of vigilant leaders, it has proven itself incapable of refining and enlarging public views around a principled commitment to the national interest. It is little wonder that a demagogic, ill-informed outsider like Trump is on the cusp of capturing its most important nomination. The party lacks the strength to resist him.

And Matt Walsh chastises Trump-supporting Republicans who

turned out in droves for a left-wing vulgarian who, when he’s not bragging of his adultery or fantasizing about dating his daughter or mocking POWs and the disabled, has taken to perpetuating conspiracy theories about how his former opponent’s father killed JFK.

Underscoring the insanity of supporting this mess of a man, Walsh recalls that “Trump said himself, he could shoot someone in the middle of the street and these people would still follow him”—and, nevertheless, millions of Republicans have voted for him. “There is no complaining now,” Walsh concludes:

We can’t whine about our demise. We chose it. Well, some of us did not choose it, yet we live in a country where millions of our fellow Americans did . . . And here we are. Thanks, Republicans.

That’s an indication of where conservatives are placing the blame.

First, let me acknowledge a kernel of truth in what these conservatives say: Every Republican who has supported or voted for Donald Trump is partly to blame for the political ascent of this repulsive, power-lusting opportunist. During the primaries, Republicans had the alternative of supporting and voting for Ted Cruz, a flawed but essentially good candidate, whose ideas and positions on the most pressing issues of the day were infinitely better than anyone else’s in the race. So, shame on Republicans who had the means of knowing this, yet supported Trump (or anyone else) instead of Cruz. . . .

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