On Tuesday, syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham appeared on Fox News and called anyone who failed to vote for Donald Trump “immoral.” I responded here. My main argument was this:
I have never made and will never make the argument that it is immoral for people to vote for Trump to stop Hillary. I understand that argument completely, and sympathize with it. But lying for Trump is immoral. Pretending his boo-boos aren’t boo-boos is immoral. Pretending he’s something he’s not, and lying to your audience about it – that’s immoral. And most of all, pretending that those who make a different risk-reward calculation from yours are immoral – even while those people hold supposedly similar principles – is immoral.
Now Ingraham has responded, in a piece titled, "The morality of voting for Trump: #NeverTrumpers fail to persuade as Dems focus on helping their candidate win."
And her response embodies the immorality about which I wrote. In order to justify her support for Donald Trump, Ingraham is forced to embrace and purvey a series of lies.
Those lies are why I don’t plan to vote for Trump.
She lies that Trump is conservative.
He isn’t. That’s why I didn’t support him in the primaries, while Ingraham stumped for him: Trump wants to raise the deficit; he ripped Romney for being too tough on illegal immigration before changing his tune, and even now tells The New York Times that his positions are negotiable; he said Obama was doing a great job and funded Hillary Clinton and paid her to come to his wedding; he supported same-sex marriage years ago and has been utterly vague on religious freedom restoration laws on the state level; he backed partial-birth abortion until five minutes ago and says Planned Parenthood does wonderful things; he wants to impose massive interventionist tariffs on free trade. There's a reason Trump gave more money to Democrats than Republicans between 1980 and 2010.
She lies that anyone who opposes Trump is an establishment lackey.
That’s pure nonsense. The people loudly supporting Trump are alt-right ethnonationalist droogs and establishment Republican cheerleaders who make their money by “backing the nominee.” Yes, there are the people who hold their noses and vote Trump, many of them conservative – and as I’ve said, I sympathize and consider whether they’re right every day. But those opposing Trump aren’t the establishment. Paul Ryan, Reince Preibus, and Mitch McConnell all support Trump. Ingraham whips herself into a lather attacking those leading establishment figures, then says that conservatives are establishment if we don’t follow their lead in bowing before Trump.
She lies that Trump won’t damage conservatism.
He already has. She’s the living proof. She’s lying for him every day, informing her audience of positions he doesn’t hold and blaming all his failures and evils on his opponents.
She lies that other Republicans will stand up to Trump.
She knows that one’s a lie – she’s spent most of her career rightly blasting Republicans for caving to President Clinton and President Obama. Yet she somehow maintains that with Trump in power, Ryan and McConnell will turn into models of testicular fortitude – and that she won’t undercut them if they cross Trump.
Finally, she lies that opposing Trump means supporting Hillary.
This is the final resort of the ardent Trump supporter: if you won’t back their man, you must back his opponent. This is simple-minded. I don’t owe my vote to anyone. I certainly don’t owe it to Donald Trump. If I choose to vote for Trump, that’s one vote for Trump and one against Hillary. If I chose, God forbid, to vote for Hillary, that would be one vote for Hillary and one against Trump. If I choose neither, neither gains nor loses a vote.
This is called mathematics.
And by the way, I choose neither. Hillary Clinton is a terrible person, a cesspool of corruption and avarice. I wouldn't vote for her if you put a gun to my head.
But Trump supporters don’t care about my vote or those of #NeverTrump – as Trump himself has said, we’re a small movement. No, they want us to lie alongside them. They want fellow shills. They want people who will spend all their time either ignoring Trump’s inanities and insanities or excusing them.
Lies are not conservative. Worshipful lies on behalf of a petty authoritarian narcissist are even less conservative.
Voting is one thing. Endorsing, praising, and promoting lies are another.
Here’s the simple fact: were it not for propagandists like Ingraham bellowing nonsense from the rooftops about Donald Trump as God’s gift to conservatism, I’d be far more likely to vote for him. But I cannot in good conscience vote for a man and a movement dedicated to hollowing out the conservative movement from the inside, then using it as a meat puppet for anti-Constitutional conservative, nationalist populist tripe. I believe the only way to defeat Hillary’s agenda is to defeat the left. And the left includes Donald Trump as well as Hillary, which is why I’m not voting for either of them.
Laura Ingraham thinks she’s made a moral choice.
She has: to lie for Trump.
Those who don’t buy her lies aren’t abandoning the Republican Party or the country itself, though Ingraham accuses us of doing just that. We just think it’s immoral to lie. There is good logic and a moral argument for supporting Trump to stop Hillary. There is good logic and a moral argument to skipping the vote altogether, to supporting neither.
There is no logic or morality to lying to your audience.
Those at war with the truth are at war with conservatism.
And those ardent Trump supporters promoting Trump’s lies are the chief obstacle preventing the consolidation of conservatives around their man. They’ve turned a lesser-of-two-evils political decision into a decision about the future of the conservative soul. And they’re on the wrong side.