On Wednesday night, Fox News’ Sean Hannity, apparently desperate to begin casting blame for Donald Trump’s November election loss in August, called out conservatives unwilling to vote for Donald Trump. “Get my point, all you stubborn Republicans?” Hannity ranted. “Hillary Clinton, well, she’s proven she does not have the character, she does not have the temperament to be the President of the United States.” He then accused Republicans of “sabotage” and brought on Trump RNC speaker Laura Ingraham to agree: “They are clearly cheerleading Hillary Clinton, there’s no doubt about it…if you call yourself a conservative and a Republican, it’s actually immoral not to vote for Donald Trump, if only for the reason of the Supreme Court.” She concluded, “I mean, it’s so selfish.”
It’s rather ridiculous to hear from the respective Trump Train conductor and engineer that Trump losing will be due to conservatives not coming out for him. A strong part of their argument for Trump was that Trump supporters stayed home for Mitt Romney in 2012, and that Trump would bring them forth; at no point did they blame the New Trump Voters™ for the last four years of Obama. And Hannity and Ingraham assured Americans that Trump wouldn’t just be competitive against Hillary Clinton, he’d defeat her because he knew how to play the game in a different way than other Republicans.
But now they’re preparing the “stabbed in the back” myth for when Trump goes down and people ask them why they pushed so hard for the most unpalatable Republican candidate in history.
But let’s take the argument on its own merits: it’s immoral not to support Trump. Here’s the logic: Trump would be preferable to Hillary Clinton, warts and all. Therefore, it would be immoral not to support Trump.
Here are a few responses:
1. Trump As President Will Damage The Country More Long-Term. If you believe that only small-government conservatism will save the country, having a big government corporatist nationalist with no underlying conservative principles hijack the only supposedly conservative party in America is a recipe for disaster. Trump isn’t going to fulfill his promises to conservatives. And as I’ve written at National Review:
That brings us to the real reason to oppose Trump’s candidacy: the attempt to turn the conservative movement into a nationalist populist one, complete with shilling for Trump’s incomprehensible decisions and statements. If you believe that the only solution to America’s problems is true conservatism, your greatest fear is not a Hillary presidency: It’s the perversion of the conservative movement itself, the corruption of conservatism in favor of power. Hillary Clinton’s presidency does not snuff out conservatism, even though it provides a serious danger to the republic. Trump’s presidency does. Why? Because conservatives are already tailoring their morality, decency, and political sense to fit Trumpism….Barack Obama has taken America toward a cliff at 100 mph; Hillary will press the accelerator further, so that we’ll be moving at 120 mph; Trump would presumably press the accelerator only slightly, so that we’d be cruising toward that cliff at 110 mph. The difference: Trump will force his conservative passengers to rip out the reverse gear in order to justify him. Conservatism will become Trumpism. Conservatives will prioritize winning over truth.
2. There Are Costs To Supporting Trump If He Loses. Let’s say for the sake of argument that all the polls aren’t SKEWED and Trump isn’t going to PIVOT – he’s going to be the crapshow he’s been for the rest of the election cycle. Let’s say he loses by a historic margin. And let’s say that conservatives blew off Trump’s ridiculous stupidity and nastiness in order to win 9 percent of the under-30 vote and 1 percent of the black vote and -33 percent of the Hispanic vote. Next time around, how easy will it be to disown the legacy of Trump – after defending him for months – when running for office? Trump’s stink isn’t contained to Trump. It sticks to those who embrace him.
3. Your Vote Is A Moral Endorsement, Not Just An Instrument Of Policy. Yes, your vote is a choice between Hillary and Trump. But it’s something else, too, particularly for Republicans talking about the election regularly: it’s a statement of principle. You are willing to vote for a longtime Hillary Clinton donor and supporter, but with an R by his name. That’s the new standard for conservatism and Republicanism and morality. So long as a candidate is “not a Democrat,” that’s enough. It doesn’t matter if he’s embraced the vast majority of the Democratic platform at one point or another. It doesn’t matter if he’s personally disreputable, a moral junkyard, a congenital liar and unstable narcissist. All that matters is beating Hillary, and that only matters because anything is better than Hillary.
Okay, if that’s your standard of morality, so be it. But there is another moral calculation that says that it’s better not to grant your endorsement to such a person. This is why those conservatives who oppose Trump don’t support Hillary, either: she doesn’t meet any moral or political standard.
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.