With Donald Trump poised to assume power over the federal government, individual Republicans must decide whether they are on Team Trump, Team Conservative or Team America. The overwhelming majority will choose the first, and most expedient, category. They will use Trump, and be used by him, to advance their own ambition, trampling underfoot whatever conflicting principles they previously claimed to hold.
There will, however, be a few notables who align themselves either with conservative principles, or with the broader, less ideological cause of supporting democratic norms, pluralistic political culture and American cohesion. This small band, aided by Democratic allies, will determine how much damage Trump inflicts while making America great again.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, for example, has already raised concerns about Trump's crush on Vladimir Putin and about Trump's position on torturing suspected enemies. There's nothing uniquely conservative about either concern. Similarly, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is not enthusiastic about Trump's plan to deport young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. It's a humane position, but not an especially conservative one.