I will never vote for Donald Trump.
I will never vote for Donald Trump because I stand with certain principles. I stand with small government and free markets and religious freedom and personal responsibility. Donald Trump stands against all of these things. He stands for Planned Parenthood and trade restrictions and targeting of political enemies and an anti-morality foreign policy and government domination of religion and nastiness toward women and tacit appeals to racism and unbounded personal power. I stand with the Constitution of the United States, and its embedded protection of my God-given rights through governmental checks and balances. Donald Trump does not. I stand with conservatism. Donald Trump stands against it.
I stand with #NeverTrump.
The counterargument to the #NeverTrump movement comes down to two words: Hillary Clinton. Trump will supposedly close the borders (a lie); Hillary will not. Trump will appoint conservative Supreme Court justices (unlikely); Hillary will not. No matter how bad Trump is, the argument goes, conservatives have a duty to back the anti-Hillary.
I think Trump will get blown out in a general election. But let’s assume that these critics of #NeverTrump are right. Let’s assume that but for we #NeverTrump voters sitting out the election, Trump would become president, and Hillary would go down in flaming defeat. And let’s assume that Hillary Clinton will appoint terrible justices, destroy the military, and usher in the apocalypse. Why in the world would conservatives live with President Hillary Clinton on their consciences?
Because first, it’s not on our consciences. It’s on the consciences of the people who went along with this nomination. We did not select Trump. We will not vote for him.
And if we are going to save the country, it will not rest on one or two justices on the Supreme Court. It will rest on the will of the people to resist tyranny. That will start at the state and local level. It will start with the people.
It will start with conservatives willing to say “no.”
Because if we never say “no,” we will never have the opportunity to say “yes.”
We must have a conservative party. The Republican Party is not that party, and has not been for a very long time. The Obama administration has brought about a unique moment – a transformational choice for the Party. Will they abandon all conservative principle in pursuit of victory, or will they turn back to the conservatism they supposedly espouse? This entire election cycle, the answer has been the former. In fact, for virtually my entire life, the answer has been the former. Establishment Republicans abandoned Reaganism for Bushism, and then abandoned Bushism for McCainism, and then abandoned McCainism for Romneyism. Until the last five minutes, they were ready to embrace Trump himself rather getting behind Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). Now they call for conservatives to swallow hard and unify behind a man who opposes all conservative principles – to save conservatism!
In every election cycle, the establishment insists that we unify behind a candidate who does not reflect conservatism because elections are always a choice between the two worst options. They blackmail conservatives into supporting candidates who undermine the message and morality of our mission. Now Trump does the same. The establishment created the Donald Trump phenomenon with their “best of two bad options” logic, and now Trump is using that logic to destroy conservatism openly. The establishment doesn’t object to Trumpism. They only object to Trump. Strip the drunken boor antics from Trump, and you’ve got John McCain who will lie transparently to pander to the populist wing.
We don’t have to be complicit. As Ben Domenech is fond of citing, Alexander Hamilton once wrote, “If we must have an enemy at the head of government, let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible.” Let us not be our own enemies.
Now is the time to say no.
“No” is a useful tool. If conservatives don’t say “no” to Nelson Rockefeller in 1964, there is no Ronald Reagan. If conservatives don’t say “no” to Gerald Ford in 1976 and George H.W. Bush in 1980, there is no Ronald Reagan. And if we don’t say “no” to Donald Trump now, we will continue drifting ever further left, diluting conservatism into the vacillating, demagogic absurdity of Trumpism. Conservatism will become the crypto-racist, pseudo-strong, quasi-tyrannical, toxic brew leftists have always accused it of being.
And we will have been complicit in that.
I will not be complicit in that. I stand against the establishment that sowed the seeds of Trumpism. I stand against the Republican Party that insists that victory matters more than principle, because victory without principle isn’t just meaningless, it’s counterproductive to my belief system.