Although I’ve only been a lurker and occasional commenter at GayPatriot over the past two and a half years (between working full-time, earning another degree, and making a move, I haven’t felt like I had much time for blogging), I still check in regularly to see what’s going on and what people are talking about. From comments V the K, ColoradoPatriot and the other contributors have made here, I gather I’m in the minority among the blog contributors–but in sync with many readers and commenters–in my willingness to support Trump in this election.
Trump was definitely not my first choice: I would have originally put him somewhere near the middle of the pack of 17 declared candidates, and, among the final four candidates, I would definitely have preferred Cruz. As someone who considers himself a constitutional conservative, I would have preferred a nominee with a clear record of supporting such principles, but now that Trump is the Republican nominee, I am willing to back him.
My willingness does not come from blind party loyalty, but instead, from a clear understanding of my priorities and what is at stake in this election. While I am more than conversant with Trump’s faults, as I will explain below, even some of his faults provide good reasons for backing him rather than voting in a way that would–directly or indirectly–lead to a victory for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.
Although I could begin by outlining my points of agreement with Trump and then detailing and responding to various points of concern, others have done so already elsewhere, and for the sake of my particular argument, at this point, it is more useful to say a few words about my philosophy of voting. While many people hew to an idealistic vision of voting whereby you are supposed to vote for the person who shares most of your views or principles, anyone who has been voting very long quickly realizes that such a vision rarely squares with reality. So what to do? One can vote, as the saying usually goes, for “the lesser of two evils,” which is how many of the people I know think about voting in presidential races, or one can approach it in some other way. Some people say they vote for issues rather than parties or candidates, others say they vote for the person and not the party, and still others have other approaches.
Many people’s views on voting evolve over their lifetimes. During Bill Clinton’s first term, it became evident to me that voting on character was in many respects more important than voting on issues because I’d rather vote for a person of character who will try to do what he says he will do, than for a slippery, dishonest snake who will lie and “triangulate” and poll-test all of his positions just for the sake of holding on to power. I reasoned that even when I disagree with the person of character, I can act on that disagreement to oppose policies or proposals that I disagree with.
But what happens when all of the candidates seem to have objectionable characters in some respect or another, and no candidate adequately represents your views on the issues? One response is to throw up your hands and say you won’t be part of the process, and many say they are going to do that this year. My response is to say that in such a situation, one has to vote strategically in order to best achieve one’s objectives.
Anyone who has ever taken a class in strategy or game theory will have come across topics such as decision trees, Nash equilibriums, and games such as the prisoner’s dilemma. Without going into too much detail, what one learns from studying such matters is that often the best strategic choice is not necessarily the choice that appears to be in one’s best interest at first glance. Sometimes the best strategic choice involves taking risks that one wouldn’t ordinarily decide to choose.
In this election, as a constitutional conservative, I believe that in a contest between Trump, Clinton, and a variety of third-party candidates, voting for Trump offers the best strategic choice for advancing constitutional conservative principles. I say that while fully recognizing that Trump is more of an opportunist than he is a conservative.
But let’s examine the situation. We know that Hillary Clinton is no constitutional conservative. We also know that Hillary Clinton is no Bill Clinton, an opportunist willing to “triangulate” for the sake of power. Hillary is a committed leftist who is proud to think of Republicans as “enemies.” That’s not hyperbole, but Hillary’s own words from one of the debates. She views herself as a “progressive…who can get things done.”
During her time in the Senate, Hillary had tried to craft an image as a somewhat “moderate” Democrat, but that didn’t help her against the leftist Obama in 2008, who not only appealed more to their party’s leftist base, but, as a relative unknown, had none of Hillary’s baggage and the added bonus of more melanin. When she became Secretary of State, however, she quickly reverted to the kinds of behaviors that had earned her so much distrust during her husband’s time as president. And with the Clinton Foundation, she and her husband had found a new way to enrich themselves through their so-called “public service.”
So what would a Hillary Clinton presidency look like? This excellent piece written a few months back by the always worthwhile Daniel Greenfield offers a persuasive preview:
The national debt will go up. So will your taxes. Hillary Clinton is promising a trillion dollar tax hike. And that’s during her campaign. Imagine how much she will really raise taxes once she’s actually in office.
Two Supreme Court justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy will likely leave office on her watch. That’s in addition to Scalia’s empty seat which she will fill resulting in an ideological switch for the court. Additionally, Kennedy, for all his flaws, was a swing vote. Hillary’s appointee won’t be swinging anywhere. The Supreme Court will once again become a reliable left-wing bastion.
Even if the Democrats never manage to retake Congress, they will control two out of three branches of government. And with an activist Supreme Court and the White House, the left will have near absolute power to redefine every aspect of society on their own terms without facing any real challenges.
And they will use it. Your life changed fundamentally under Obama. The process will only accelerate.
You will have less free speech. You will pay more for everything. Your children and grandchildren will be taught to hate you twice as hard. Local democracy will continue being eroded. Your community, your school, your town, your city and your state will be run out of D.C. You will live under the shadow of being arrested for violating some regulation that you never even heard of before.
Every day you will notice basic aspects of life that you took for granted just vanishing while a carefully selected multicultural audience cheers on television.
Hillary Clinton had a man sent to jail for uploading a video about Mohammed. What do you think she’ll do to even more vocal critics of Islam? How long will it be until a new Supreme Court decides that a Mohammed cartoon is “shouting fire in a crowded theater” and not protected by the Constitution?
I wish I could say Greenfield is exaggerating, but I know that he is not. As Glenn Reynolds always says, read the whole thing.
And I haven’t even touched on the reckless dishonesty and unquestionable corruption of the Clintons. As Fred Barnes noted in a recent piece, “Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt person ever to get this close to becoming president of the United States.” Barnes notes:
Is there any public figure who lies as routinely as Clinton? Not in my lifetime in Washington. Not Richard Nixon. Not LBJ. Not Donald Trump. Not even Bill Clinton. She skillfully, though probably unconsciously, spreads out her lies to lessen the impact. But when you pack them together, as Rep. Trey Gowdy did while questioning FBI director James Comey at a House hearing, they’re shocking.
And in that case, he is just talking about the e-mail scandal. The Clinton Foundation is another story completely, and an even more appalling one on its face.
The Clintons are so unscrupulous in their quest to gain and hold on to power while enriching themselves that they could teach a graduate-level course on political corruption and political machines that might shock the denizens of Tammany Hall.
For those reasons and many more, my political position this year has always been one of “Never Hillary.” Hillary Clinton must not become president. If she does at this point in time, the damage she will be able to do to the country will be irreversible.
So then, why Donald Trump? Honestly the main reason, the most basic reason, is that Hillary is a guaranteed disaster, and Trump is admittedly a gamble, but in a desperate situation a gamble is the best choice.
I’m more than sufficiently aware of the case people make against Trump: he’s a narcissist, he’s dishonest, he’s impetuous, he’s unscrupulous, he’s not a “true conservative,” and, last but not least, he displays authoritarian tendencies in many of the things he says.
Of those, the most significant complaint is that he may have authoritarian tendencies, and that may appear to be the most challenging concern to reconcile with my claim that I consider myself a constitutional conservative. How can one vote for a candidate who may be tempted to act like an authoritarian after taking office?
For me, the answer to that question is one of faith, not in Trump, but in the genius of our constitutional system. Ever since it became evident that Trump would be the nominee, my thinking about this issue has remained the same: Trump may try for unconstitutional power grabs, but Congress and the courts can and will block him along the way.