• May 27, 2024

A Collective Mugging: Why a Vote for Trump May Be WORSE Than a Vote for Clinton

That didn’t take long. The mics have barely cooled from the Cleveland Follies and the Trump campaign has lurched into elegiac meltdown mode.

Panicked by the smell of panic, Branch Trumpidians are tripping over themselves in a mad rush to finger-point and cast blame over fall-out from Oompah Loompah Grande’s latest gaffe, misstep, imbroglio du jour or sheer lunacy. “Dropping out” rumors are running like a three year-old at the Kentucky Derby.

Apparently snake oil isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I know. I know. El Trumpo is The Nominee! So step right up and get along, little Republican doggies. Fall in line behind The New York Snake Oil Salesman. Or. Else. Hillary.

Distasteful as Snake Oil a la Donald may be, some conservatives are reluctantly slurping it up. It typically tastes like: Donald Trump may not be perfect, but he’s better than Crooked Hillary! This election is all about the Supreme Court. Clinton appointees will be a disaster! If Hillary gets elected, sayonara republic! Republicans must UNITE behind ‘our’ nominee!

Often lost in the cacophonous hand-wringing is a dark reality looming larger than any peril posed by the November contest between a New York carnival barker and a New York carnival barker: The collective mugging of the conservative movement.

Ben Shapiro points this out in his fine essay in National Review. Here’s a salient portion:

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. We’ve already seen supposed conservative “thought leaders” go silent when Trump does something unthinkable; we’ve already seen Chris “Shinebox” Christie and Reince “The Enforcer” Priebus and Newt “Dude, Who Stole My VP Slot?” Gingrich embrace the Trump-or-bust logic that puts conservatism under the wheels of the Trump Train.

… In short, too many conservatives seem perfectly willing not only to pull the lever for Trump — understandable — but to lie for him, to justify his foolishness and ignorance and instability and overall insanity. That’s why the second justification for voting Trump — that if you don’t vote Trump, you’ll be responsible for Hillary’s presidency — destroys the first rationale: It suggests that anything that harms Trump, including honesty, must be morally deficient.

The moral framework of conservatism is based on honesty and decency. Trump is neither honest nor decent. 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.

Is it worth it?

Put another way: If conservatives are willing to “hold their nose” and back a GOP nominee who’s as manifestly unfit for the Oval Office as is The Donaldus, what can we expect in the future?  If the bar is set so low now, what’s the likelihood of raising it down the road? How does backing one Democrat against another Democrat advance conservatism? For those willing to play the “Because Hillary” card in November, what then? How have you moved the conservative ball down the field?

With regard to the “Trump may not be perfect, but at least he isn’t Hillary” chorus emanating from the Amen Corner, have you thought about that for more than 10 seconds? Because guess what else “isn’t Hillary”? Michael Moore isn’t Hillary. Jane Fonda isn’t Hillary. Heck, Daffy Duck isn’t Hillary. Would you support them?

Lesser of Two Evils?

The “lesser of two evils” argument is a popular one in this context. It typically comes out like, Trump may not be perfect, but at least he isn’t Clinton.

It’s a false dichotomy. The argument is predicated on the assumption that a Trumpidian presidency would be better than a Clintonian one. So suck it up buttercup, and vote Trump. Except for one thing: There’s precious little in Trump’s campaign or track record to support the notion.

In fact, the exact opposite may be true: A vote for Trump in order to stop Clinton may be worse than voting for Shrillary outright. Why? For two main reasons:

  • Voting for a candidate who doesn’t represent you in order to get rid of another candidate who doesn’t represent you gives you an elected who doesn’t represent you. Zero sum gain.
  • Voting for a crummy “Republican” nominee simply because he’s the Republican nominee enables the GOP to advance more crummy non-conservative nominees. Two steps forward, three steps back.

Here’s how that works (the short version):

If conservatives are willing to reward the party with their votes no matter how lousy the Republican candidate, then there’s no incentive to change or improve. Both can continue behaving like spoiled brats – or in Trump’s case, a raving lunatic – knowing the consequences at the ballot box will be nil. Moreover, the chance of a clear choice and a solid conservative in the next election shrinks ever smaller because the GOP doesn’t need either if it knows it’ll get your vote anyway. That’s why voting for “lesser” means getting more “lessers.” So if that’s what you’re willing to settle for, don’t expect anything different. Or better.

Just What?

Think of it this way: If GOPers and “conservatives” freely dump conservative values and vision in order to win in November, just what, exactly, have we won?

By the way, pillorying those who aren’t drinking Branch Trumpidian Kool Aid as “a vote for Hillary” isn’t a great tactic on the “unite” front. It’s also hogwash. A vote for Trump is a vote for Trump. A vote for Clinton is a vote for Clinton. If not voting for Trump is a vote for Clinton, then not voting for Clinton is a vote for Trump. Zero sum gain. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

While we’re on the “unity” topic we must ask, “unite around what?” How bad does a nominee need to be before conservatives refuse to sell their political souls for 30 pieces of political expedience?

Three Options

That being said, what’s left? As mentioned previously, here are three options:

Door #1 is the ABC approach: Anyone But Clinton. Pulling out all the stops to elect Trump because even Cheeto Jesus is better than another Clinton in the White House. And perish the thought of Hillary appointments to the Supreme Court (which still face Senate confirmation).

Door #2 is the Knick-Knack, Paddy-Whack, Give-The-Dog-a- Bone approach: Hold your nose and vote for Trump in order to derail Hillary, but stop short of actively campaigning for or endorsing The Donald.

Door #3: Is the USA for Ted Cruz Write-In campaign. This is gathering steam in my state, the People’s Republic of Washington. The basic rationale runs something like this:

Washington State will break for Hillary anyway. Even if every single Republican and non-Democrat voter in the state votes for Trump, Hillary will still win. Given that inevitability, why waste your vote on a sure loser?  Make a statement instead. Write in your conscience and make your vote count. (Offer may be null and void in key battleground states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.)

Back at National Review, Shapiro wraps up his commentary with:

Human beings have a rough time with cognitive dissonance — the possibility of voting for Trump while also speaking honestly about him is too much of a burden for many conservatives. But conservatives had better get comfortable with such dissonance or dump Trump. If they embrace him, his stink will be on them and the conservative movement for generations to come.

Mugged By Reality

As long as the GOP knows you’ll faithfully march down to the polls like a good little boy or girl and reward it with your vote no matter what, why should it change? Or take you seriously? If an awful candidate can count on your vote as long as he or she wears the right jersey, what reason does s/he have to be un-awful?

Whether you love The Donald or plan to hold your nose and vote for him in order to stop Clinton, there are bigger questions in play. Here are few:

  • If we “embrace the stink” now, then what?
  • How bad does a party need to get before conservatives stop rewarding it with auto support?
  • How bad does a nominee need to be before conservatives stop rewarding him or her with their vote?
  • If we’re willing to settle for and support lousy nominees, when do we get good ones?
  • Does Vote for Trump Lock-stepitis represent the greatest collective mugging in modern American politics?

Finally, will a vote for Trump so damage, dilute and derail the conservative movement in America that it fades and folds like morning fog under an August sun?

Is he worth it?




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