Having thought about it a lot, I’m about to commit what many will believe is heresy: I believe conservatives should suck it up and vote for Trump so as to avoid a hard Left presidency. Trying to save the Republican party at this juncture is an intellectual and practical dead-end, akin to doing CPR on a pulse-free heart attack victim even as the sarin gas is leaking under the door, through the keyhole, and over the transom.
As a predicate to my argument, let me say two things. First, the more I know of Trump as a person, the less I like him. He is rude, crude, coarse, mean, and vicious. I think that he speaks to everything that is low in the human condition. Second, I deeply respect those who are stating a principled opposition to a Trump presidency, men such as David French, George Will, and Ben Sasse.
Respecting them, though, doesn’t mean that I think these men, and other like-minded people, are making the right call. From where I sit, the mere fact that Donald Trump was nominated means that the Republican Party is already dead. We can drag it around for a bit, and dress it up nicely, but it’s still a rotting corpse and one that cannot be resuscitated.
Perhaps my different take comes about because, unlike French, Will, Sasse, or other prominent members of the #NeverTrump crowd, I am not a lifetime Republican. The party doesn’t hold any emotional resonance for me. I wasn’t there intellectually during the glory days of Eisenhower or Reagan. I came to conservativism at the beginning of the 21st century by dint of very hard intellectual work.
Reaching conservativism meant that, after a lifetime of unthinkingly checking the boxes next to every Democrat candidates’ name, I had finally figured out that no Democrat policies worked to achieve the promised goals — and, indeed, that all of these policies were counterproductive:
- Welfare did not raise people out of poverty; it mired generations of people in poverty.
- Federal money flooding into higher education did not lower costs; it inflated costs, while federal dictates resulted in propaganda displacing education.
- Allowing and supporting government unions didn’t make for better public schools or other government entities; it created a money laundering system for the Democrat Party and turned government agencies into hard-Leftist institutions, especially when it came to public schools.
- Being friendly to the world’s bad actors didn’t make them like us more and become nicer to America; it made them disrespect us and become more hostile.
- Unfettered abortion did not make abortion safe, rare, and legal; it made abortion responsible for the deaths of millions, with minorities accounting for an unreasonable number of the dead.
- Favoring minorities over Caucasians to offset the damages from slavery and Jim Crow did not erase racism; instead, it gave an incentive to race hustlers to fan the flames of racism (even if they had to fake crimes to do so) in order to keep money and accolades flowing their way, never mind the damage done to the race hustler’s pawns in America’s ghettos.
- Government oversight and control of business didn’t make American business fairer and more efficient; it consistently caused costs to go up and quality (and accessibility) to go down.
At every turn, my long-standing belief that bigger and better government was a remedy to all ills was proven wrong. The truth is that which Reagan preached in the 1980s: the bigger the government, the bigger the damage it inflicts. (Just think about the fact that there’s a straight line leading from the Wilson era’s belief that people could be perfected through expert-run government and . . . #TrigglyPuff.)
Moreover, as a student of history, I finally figured out what I should have realized much sooner: The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen. None of the world’s dictators — especially that 20th-century crew of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, and Pol Pot — could have inflicted the damage they did (around 100,000,000 dead and untold numbers of lives brutally destroyed) if they hadn’t first deprived citizens of those rights that exist in America’s Bill of Rights and that we take so much for granted.
And of course, looking at that same vile crew of murderous dictators, I realized that, although it’s placed second in the Bill of Rights, a citizen’s uninfringeable right to bear arms should really be the first item in our Bill of Rights. If we can’t defend ourselves against our own government, every one of the other rights is meaningless. If you can’t enforce your covenant with the government, you’ve got no covenant.
As I said, I figured all of this out around 2000 or 2001, at which point I realized, “Hey, I’m a conservative.” My second, logical, thought was “I guess I’m a Republican.” Except I quickly realized that I’m not a Republican at all.
As a convert and a zealot, I’m a purist when it comes to conservativism. Large parts of America’s current Republican establishment, however, aren’t conservative at all. These men and women are patriots and they’re more willing to defend America against enemies both at home and abroad than are Democrats and Progressives, but mostly they’re Democrats-lite. They understand that votes and money go together, so they’re just as happy to spread around federal money — thereby keeping the government growing — as are the Democrats.
On many issues, the only real difference between too many of today’s Republicans and their Democrat opponents is that the Republicans cluck more about how much things will cost — but then they go ahead and authorize them anyway. Establishment Republicans may try to slow the money flow to the Left, but they don’t stop it.
To those of you saying that my last charge against today’s Republicans isn’t fair because it ignores political realities, such as the fact that they’ve had to work with a Democrat president who retains veto power . . . well, I sort of agree with you. From my perspective, though, as a late-arriving outsider, Congressional Republicans and the Republican Party never try very hard to draw lines that they will not cross. Moreover, when people come along who do draw those lines (people such as Ted Cruz), instead of turning to those people as conservative standard-bearers, the Republican establishment utterly savages them, as it did to both the Tea Party as a whole and to Ted Cruz specifically.
The milquetoast Republican party and its politicians don’t exist in a vacuum, of course. They’re supported by voters who hate government spending except when it’s spent on them (their subsidized loan, their kids’ school getting the grant, their low-cost electric car, etc.). The newly-minted Republican politicians who go to Washington undoubtedly mean to change things, but once they get there, the pressures from Democrat politicians, old Republican war horses who have survived the game, and constituents who keep saying “pay me and I’ll fund you,” seem to turn them into gelatinous simulacrums of actual conservatives.
And that leads me to my second point, which is that conservativism in America is also a dead letter. I don’t mean that the ideas underlying conservativism are dead. They are timeless and eternally applicable to a vibrant, free, prosperous society.
What I mean is that, by allowing the Left to take over America’s news, entertainment, and education establishments, we have allowed 50 years of almost unlimited Leftist indoctrination. That’s created two generations of people who lack the mental furniture to understand conservativism. All they have is a slavering, feral hatred for anything or anybody associated with that term or those ideas.
Think about it. Or better yet, read Dennis Prager’s laundry list of America’s fundamental ills, all of which are antithetical, not just to conservative politics, but to a conservative worldview. I’ll just summarize the key points:
Up to 40% of Americans 18-34 would outlaw free speech to avoid so-called “hate speech.”
Almost 50% of Americans between 18 and 29 believe that the government owes them food, shelter, and healthcare as a “right.”
More than 50% of young Americans do not support capitalism, which they see as class robbery, rather than understanding that it is a system that has raised more people out of hunger, poverty, and early death, and created more peace between nations, than any other economic system in history.
The majority of young Americans view the Founders as sexist, racist, homophobes whose ideas, no matter how good (ideas such as individual liberty, protection from tyranny, and freedom of choice), must therefore by disregarded. Throwing the baby out with the bath water is encouraged in today’s education world.
Half the country now agrees that biological sexual differences are a myth. Instead, gender identity is a mental construct personal to each individual, and we are all required to respect each individual’s choices, no matter how antithetical they may be to public health and safety, or to personal privacy, or to actual reality.
Those who believe that a child does best with a married mother and father are guilty of committing a hate crime.
More than 40% of American babies are born to unwed mothers, which is virtually a guarantee of childhood poverty. The numbers are really bad for black babies (71% have unwed mothers) and Hispanic babies (53% have unwed mothers). Not only are those children poor, really, poor, they’re also at terrible risk. One of the biggest threats in a small child’s life arises when it single mother has a boyfriend with no genetic connection to the child. Those are the children who are horrifically abused and killed.
As the meltdown across American universities shows, America’s “best and brightest” — its future leaders, one could say — believe America is utterly evil. The ideas driving that notion are many and varied, with the predominant ones being
- That all whites are racist and unfairly privileged;
- That all minorities are the victims of racism;
- That 20% of women on campus will be raped, making an American college more dangerous than a South African slum (although probably less dangerous than a German New Year’s celebration);
- That all men are rapists, except for Muslim men who do rape but can’t be expected to know better;
- That all male military personnel are rapists and baby killers;
- That the Republican party, which fought slavery and Jim Crow, is that party of racial hatred;
- That Israel, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, is a dangerous Nazi-like country that is committing ongoing genocide against a Palestinian population that paradoxically keeps on growing; and
- That everyone who disagrees with them is a hater who must be silenced lest they trigger unpleasant emotions in the minds of these students.
Which gets us to where we are today. Half the country has become economically communist, desperately desiring a theoretically “fair” government-run economy, as well as being socially delusional, whether it’s about race, gender, feminism, or any other social issue you care to name.
The other half of the country, the half that still clings to some semblance of economic and social sanity, looks at the Republican-lite Party and thinks to itself “No one there is going to be either willing or able to help us.”
And then along comes Trump. He’s the personification of the rage living in those Republicans and Democrats who still value a meaningful border, who think that it’s insane to invite in tens of thousands of unvetted Muslims who come from cultures that hate everything we stand for and want to kill us, and who hate above all being silenced by political correctness.
Keeping Trump from the White House will not assuage that rage; instead, it just might worsen it. And it certainly won’t engender a love for the moribund Republican Party.
Keeping Trump from the White House won’t turn two generations of Republican-lite politicians and their party organ into hardcore, constitutional conservatives. Remember, when the conservative wind was at their back, they instead chose to fight the Tea Party tooth and nail.
Keeping Trump from the White House will not suddenly make conservative ideologies de riguer among two generations of Americans who have been brainwashed to think communism is the answer, while conservative, free market, liberty-centered government is an irremediable evil.
And that’s why I think the Republican Party is dead or almost dead, and will leave nothing but a rotting corpse in its wake. It’s also why I believe that we are in no position to revive conservativism as a political or social doctrine in 2016.
Where does that leave us, the conservative voters? It leaves us trying to calculate what vote in November will do the least damage, not to the putrifying Republican party, but to America as a whole. From which administration will we best be able to recover in the years ahead? (For purposes of answering these questions, I’m assuming that the special delegates will ensure Hillary’s nomination as the Democrat Party candidate.)
We know that both Hillary and Trump will govern with scant regard for Constitutional limitations. Obama has shown them the way, and neither will be slowed down by conservative principles or reverence for the Constitution, because neither believes in or cares about those ideas.
We know that both Hillary and Trump intend to expand Obamacare, because they’ve both assured us that they will do better than Obama when it comes to providing free health care for all.
We know that both Hillary and Trump will engage in crony capitalism of the type that will make the Harding administration look sea-green incorruptible. The money flowing between favored financial constituents and the White House will be sickening.
We know that both Hillary and Trump will support amnesty. Hillary’s been open about it and Trump more covert, but it’s part of both their agenda.
We know that both Hillary and Trump believe in destroying political enemies and will undoubtedly quite cheerfully use the power of their office to achieve that goal.
We know that both will support the continued assault on biological reality, by supporting the “gender fluidity” movement that says to all of us, “Who are you going to believe? The 6′ tall, heavily bearded man with his dick out in the women’s restroom claiming to be a woman, or your lying eyes?”
But there are differences, and it is these differences that make me say that I’ll probably hold my nose (God willing I can find a clothespin big enough) and vote for Trump:
Hillary is dedicated to destroying the Second Amendment. Trump has been consistent about supporting it.
Hillary has entirely bought into climate change and will ruin the American economy to try to prevent it. Trump understands that it’s a con.
[UPDATE: In the comments, David Foster adds something that’s a subset of the climate change issue, but is so important it deserves to be referenced here in full: “Hillary wants to destroy fracking. This would have an absolutely devastating effect on the economy, as well as on national security.”]
Hillary is dedicated to continuing the Obama administration’s open-door policy for unvetted Muslim immigration from fundamentalist regions. Trump has never wavered from opposing this immigration until systems are in place to provide at least some protection against incoming terrorists.
Hillary will continue to follow Obama’s lead in using America’s military as a giant social justice experiment, with great cost to military and national security. Trump has never indicated that he sees the military as anything other than a powerful tool in his box, and he’ll want to ensure its power.
Hillary is dedicated to giving the Supreme Court a strong Leftist majority that will surely and irrevocably undo any semblance of constitutional law in America. Although worryingly supportive of his sister, a Leftist judge, there’s reason to believe that Trump would be willing to nominate conservative Supreme Court nominees who will support constitutional principles.
Hillary is dedicated to continuing unlimited abortion in America. Trump, a late comer to the pro-Life movement, seems to be in sync with most Americans, who are opposed to unlimited abortion.
Hillary is hostile to Israel, and says just enough supportive things about it to pander to Jewish Democrats and keep them in the fold. Those in the Jewish community who know Trump say that he genuinely supports Israel and Netanyahu. He may talk about his amazing deal-making skills, which leaves many fearing that he’ll force a bad deal on Israel, but his Jewish supporters don’t believe he’ll sell Israel down the river — and that’s not just because his daughter converted to Judaism.
Hillary will use every government agency possible to further enforce stifling political correctness on America. She undoubtedly applauds the Obama administration’s decision to insert the Department of Justice into the bathroom wars in North Carolina. Trump, on the other hand, has bulldozed political correctness.
Hillary will continue Obama’s policy of dividing the races. While Trump has certainly gotten Leftist Hispanic hackles up with his stated desire to stop unlimited illegal immigration across our southern border, the reality is that Trump is neither a race hustler nor a racist. This means that he won’t run everything he and his administration do through a racial prism, which will automatically drive down the heat when it comes to racial issues.
Hillary, like Obama, will be un-impeachable, in her case because she’ll be the first woman president. President Trump can be impeached at the drop of a hat.
Looking at those lists, it seems to me that both Hillary and Trump will inflict major damage on America and demean the office the presidency. However, unlike Hillary, who will continue Obama’s work of destroying every institution, Trump won’t. With luck, at the end of his presidency, there will be something left upon which true conservatives can build a renewed America.
Given that we cannot elect a candidate in 2016 who will be a positive force for true conservativism, the best that we can do is to elect the candidate who will leave a salvageable America, rather than the candidate who will leave nothing of our constitutional nation. In the meantime, we need to stop looking at the White House for salvation and must start looking down ballot. Way, way down ballot. We need to make sure every dog catcher, school board member, city councilor, state senator, and Congress person is a true blue conservative. Not a Republican-lite, not a Leftist, but a true conservative.
And lastly with Trump blazing the way, we need to cry foul on political correctness. Go Alinsky. When they try to silence you, accuse them of hate speech and outshout them. No more apologies, no more silence, no more marginalizing. We’ve got very little time to save what little is left.
I am heartbroken that Sen. Ted Cruz was unable to win the Republican nomination. I think he’s the brilliant political mind of our generation, and he’s certainly the politician with the most reverence for our sublime Constitution. A Ted Cruz presidency would have been conservative catnip . . . or maybe not. After all, he’d still be trying to govern a nation damaged by two generations of relentless anti-American, anti-reality, anti-science, anti-free market, anti-conservative propaganda.
Ted Cruz is still young. Let’s work at the grassroots level to make the country ready for him the next time he runs for office.
UPDATES: I’ve already had enough comments and emails that I want to add a few things here. First, I reserve the right to change my mind. I’m still malleable on this, and a lot depends on what Trump says and the people with whom he surrounds himself in the coming days and weeks. He may still prove himself even worse than Hillary.
Second, when there still looked like a way for Cruz to win (and I’ve seldom, if ever, seen a more brilliant rearguard offensive than Cruz’s), I was a #NeverTrump. Now? Well, I remind myself of a friend of mine who died long ago from AIDS.
When death was real, but still distant, my friend assured me that when things got bad, he’d commit suicide. The closer death came, though, the more he could tolerate that much-feared “badness,” until he eventually died from the disease, rather than suicide.
When Trump was hypothetical, I was #NeverTrump. Now that he’s real, I find that, like my dear, dead friend, he’s more tolerable than I had originally thought. Instead, the really scary thing is a hard Left presidency, rather than a merely bad presidency (which is the best I think we’ll get from Trump).
Changing perspectives certainly change decision-making algorithms.
Third, I do feel as if we Americans are much like the Jews who willingly fled the fleshpots of Egypt and then, in the desert, panicked and resumed pagan worship of the Golden Calf. God decided that the current generation was too damaged by life in Egypt to withstand the rigors of Canaan. He therefore kept them wandering for 40 years until the soft generation was gone, and the pure generation was allowed into the Holy Land.
America has become corrupted. It took 40-50 years of relentless Leftist indoctrination at every cultural level to make that happen. Perhaps we need our 40 years in the political wilderness to undo it.
With that thought in mind, my goal is to preserve some semblance of a nation, rather than to risk destroying it entirely. Sen. Cruz was my idea of perfect. With him gone, I’m thinking I would be a fool to let the perfect (i.e., #NeverTrump) be the enemy of the good (i.e., a nation that can last long enough for a generation who deserves it to take over).
But as I said, I fully reserve the right to change my mind again.
ANOTHER UPDATE: One of my favorite bloggers is Mike McDaniel, at Stately McDaniel Manor. Like me, he’s a constitutional conservative. Unlike me, he’s had an amazing and varied career path (military, law enforcement, English teacher), which gives him an incredible breadth and elegance when he writes. What fascinates me is that he and I came to pretty much the same conclusion: With Hillary, America as we know it is dead; with Trump, it may be better than we expect, and at the very least, there’ll be something to salvage. If you like my post, read his; you’ll like it even better.