I’ve made my perspective on this election clear in dozens of articles: I do not believe either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is an acceptable candidate for the presidency. I also understand those who make the calculated decision that a vote for Donald Trump is imperative to foreclose a Hillary Clinton presidency. In the interests of fairness, on this Election Day, here are the best possible arguments for voting Trump, and for foregoing this election at the top of the ticket entirely.
Here are the best arguments for voting Trump:
Your Vote Is An Instrument of Policy Only. Many argue that in voting for Trump, you are not voting for Donald Trump the person, you’re voting for the Donald Trump platform, or against the Hillary Clinton platform. In this view, no moral qualms attach to your vote – it is merely an instrument of policy, a sort of political coupon that expires once every four years, so you might as well cast it. Everybody votes; nobody will blame you for voting for one or the other because you want to stop their opponent. As my friend Dennis Prager says, he believes that voting Trump “is the most decent thing you can do” with your vote – show Hillary Clinton that you can’t get away with this sort of corruption and leftism.
Trump Is Better Than Hillary. Another of my close friends, Andrew Klavan, uses the “binary election” model to positive Trumpian effect today: “In principle, and to some degree in truth, for a conservative not to choose is to give aid to the greater leftist, Hillary Clinton….These people are bad but one of them is going to be president, and if one is better than the other, it’s my patriotic duty to try to figure out which one that is and vote for him or her. Trump is clearly better.” Prager agrees. “The only relevant moral lesson here is not that the lesser of two evils is still evil; it is that choosing the lesser of two evils, by definition increases good.” Prager has suggested that we know Hillary will be awful; Trump may not be. Trump, says Prager, will listen to his advisors like Mike Pence and Newt Gingrich. Victor Davis Hanson makes the same case: “On the Supreme Court, Obamacare, the debt, rebuilding the military, the Second Amendment, school choice, abortion, reforming the tax code, reexamining regulation, energy exploration and production, illegal immigration, sanctuary cities, and a host of other issues, the Republican ticket is the antithesis of Clinton/Kaine – and is recognized as such by nearly all progressives.”
Trump Won’t Corrupt Government The Way Hillary Will. Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir, “Trump has been part of the crony-capitalist machine that has distorted politics and policy, but Hillary Clinton actively corrupted government while serving in public office.” Klavan similarly argues, “Sure, there’ll be moments of grotesque bad behavior that will lower the dignity of the office. But they’ll be nowhere near as damaging as a new Clinton-o-cracy. Trump’s a goon, but if he were as dirty as Clinton, a mobilized left wing press would probably have exposed it already.”
The Democrats Do It. The argument here seems to be that Democrats routinely lie, cheat, and steal, and that Republicans are a systemic disadvantage if they don’t do the same. Yes, Trump is awful. But Democrats constantly vote for awful. So if Republicans don’t hold their noses and vote for Trump, they’re giving Democrats an advantage they cannot afford to give. Trump’s bullying anti-Constitutionalism is acceptable in light of the fact that the Democrats will elect someone far more bullying and anti-Constitutional.
This Is The Last Election. Prager says that he is “not willing to turn America over to four more years of leftism,” saying the damage “could very well be permanent.” He concludes, “America as envisioned since its founding – as the world’s beacon of individual liberty, Lincoln’s ‘Last Best Hope of Earth’ – won’t [be here].” The pseudonymous author of the infamous “Flight 93 election” essay makes the same argument – this is the last election ever. If you vote for Trump, you can forestall the end of the world. If you don’t, it’s all over – Republicans will be foreclosed from ever winning the White House.
And here are the best arguments for foregoing the vote for Trump:
Your Vote Is More Than An Instrument Of Policy. When you vote, you send a message: this is acceptable. You cannot vote against Hillary Clinton without voting for Donald Trump. Everyone inherently understands this. If you can simply vote for one or the other as an instrument of policy, Republicans would vote for David Duke to repeal Obamacare in the Senate. Trump may meet your standard for president. But if he doesn’t, that’s a problem, even if you hate Hillary Clinton. Trump’s knowledge of policy is nil, he’s got isolationist Buchananist notions about foreign policy, he panders to the alt-right, he has no history of listening to his advisors, he has said he wants to cut deals with Democrats, he’s toxic with women, minorities, and young people…he’s the worst Republican candidate as well as the most despicable person to win the Republican nomination in modern history. If he earned your vote, so be it. He may not have done so, and that’s fair.
Fantasy Trump. It’s an exaggeration of Trump’s case to pretend that he’ll keep many of his promises to conservatives. He won’t give you a conservative Supreme Court justice – that requires heretofore spineless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to invoke the nuclear option to ram through a conservative justice. Trump’s not conservative on foreign policy – he’s a Buchananite paleoconservative. He’s awful on trade. His pro-life stance is dicey at best. He says he’ll repeal Obamacare, but he’s also said he would expand Medicaid and ensure the government takes care of everyone. He’s said he doesn’t mind losing the Senate, because then he has a free hand to compromise with Democrats. He will multiply the debt. He’s for no-fly-no-buy on guns. His policy on deportation is unclear, to say the least. He’s good on taxes, school choice, and regulation, as well as examination of legal immigration. None of Trump’s policy choices are trustworthy, because Trump isn’t trustworthy. He has shifted his position on virtually every issue. Trump may outclass Hillary on policy, but there’s no need to pretend that Trump is any sort of conservative.
Don’t Hand Over The Conservative Movement To Trump. Supporting Trump means turning the party leadership over to him. That means carving out the heart of constitutional conservatism and replacing it with Steve Bannon-esque nationalist populism, which is essentially big government leftism on behalf of a Trumpian voting bloc. Trump has no coherent notion of individual rights, no realistic notion of constitutional limitations, and no real world knowledge of policy-making. He’s a testosterone-infused Great Leader type, and he will lead the Republican Party away from any founding notions and toward a far right European-style politics.
Republicans Are Better Than Democrats. Republicans were supposed to be the good guys. If our new argument is that we ought to imitate the Democrats in supporting anyone with an R by their name, no matter how gross and no matter how far to the left, we might as well just have nominated Joe Biden and won this election clean. Republicans used to argue that we stood for character; now we argue that character doesn’t matter so long as the guy on our side has none.
This Isn’t The Last Election. Hillary Clinton will be an awful president. But chances are that she will be a weak one – and that she’ll run again in four years with a recession on her hands, more corruption scandals on her plate, and a record of failure. She’ll also have to fight a Republican Congress – and a larger Republican contingent in the Senate after 2018. Hillary lost to Obama in 2008 and nearly lost to an old socialist nutcase in 2016 and the most unpopular Republican candidate in history. The chances are solid that she loses in four years. By the same token, the chances that Trump loses in four years are sky-high – and that he blows the Senate in 2018 as well. That means Democrats run someone who isn’t a caricature of corruption and horror and win – someone who will be far more powerful and leftist than Hillary, like Russ Feingold or Kamala Harris. Plus, Trumpism alienates Hispanics, blacks, women, and young people. Not just for this election cycle – for a generation. So the next election, 2020, can either be about Republicans defeating a wounded, hamstrung Hillary Clinton with an actual conservative, or Democrats defeating an unpopular, mediocre-at-best Donald Trump with a hard-core leftist and a leftist majority in Congress.
So, there are the arguments. Now it’s up to you.
As some might say, vote your conscience.