If You Must Vote Trump, Please Hold Your Nose

 

Peter has made his decision, as announced on the recent podcast. In his view, a national election is indeed an A-B test, and he’s choosing, well, T. He’s with James Taranto and not Kevin Williamson. He’s not going to slink around apologizing for it anymore.

This isn’t surprising (he’s been reasonably clear about his views for awhile) and it’s not my place to scold him. I do think a respectable case can be made for voting for Trump. But I can’t resist the urge to point out that the way Peter has come out for Trump, to me, confirms exactly my reasons for not supporting Trump, and not believing that this can be as straightforward as the A-B test.

The best case for #NeverTrump has always been, in my mind, the Not My Monster argument. At this point is seems mostly settled that a heinously vicious and dishonest person is going to be America’s next president. Would we prefer, then, that that person be ours, or the other party’s? It’s actually a difficult question.

Our monster will, we hope, be at least a bit more susceptible to conservative influence, and a bit more congenial to our ideals and policy agenda. (That’s not certain, but at least it is possible.) The other party’s monster will be more absolutely hostile, but at least that gives us the advantage of being able to remake our party and agenda without the heavily compromising influence of an awful leader. Also, if Washington is a mess over the next four years (likely), it will be easier to win the next election if the monster in the Oval Office isn’t ours. In troubled times, voters tend to let the parties take turns in the executive office. Is it worse to give the Democrats two turns in a row, or to waste one of our turns on Trump?

Honestly, I vacillate week by week as to which candidate I hope to see win. I’m not voting for either, but I wouldn’t condemn everyone who is. Having said that, Peter’s attitude towards Trump these days is troubling.

It’s one thing to stop slinking, but it’s another entirely to stop frowning. It struck me how Peter repeated, I believe, three times in the podcast (but without much vehemence) that no, Trump is not the next Reagan. I thought: the next Reagan? He’s not the next Mitt Romney. He’s not the next John McCain. He’s not even the next John Boehner. We had seventeen choices and he was the worst. It wasn’t even close, in fact. Peter makes a negative comparison, but by choosing the conservative icon of the last four decades for contrast, he leaves the strong impression, “This outcome isn’t ideal, but basically, things are okay.”

Things are not okay. Trump is not just utterly untrustworthy and an awful person; he is also hostile or indifferent to most of the most critical planks of the conservative agenda. And he is running explicitly as a Caesarist, effectively promising to expand the abuse of executive power. It’s hard to decide whether to be dismayed or pleased by the overwhelming impression of incompetence and ignorance in all matters of state.

I was also struck by the way Peter was optimistic about Trump’s SCOTUS list, reasoning that Trump will be unable to violate his promises without totally alienating his voting base. That’s true, of course, and for most politicians it would be a compelling consideration, even for a politician of bad character. But Trump is not only vicious, he is also a complete outsider with no history of allegiance to either Republicans or conservatives. To put the point bluntly: Does he care? He seems to be the kind of guy who enjoys negative attention as much as positive, and his personal friends surely lean leftward. He might be entertained by the howls of betrayal after he picks the next Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

To be clear, I’m not saying with confidence that this will happen. If we were just nominating the selector of the next Supreme Court justice (or two, or three), then yes, I would prefer Trump to Hillary. He might betray us, but then again, it’s possible he won’t. What troubles me is how Peter talks as though he sees Trump’s betrayal of conservatives — in the one thing we most want from him — as a fairly outside possibility. Everything we know about the man suggests to me that it’s a very live possibility, and certainly one that should be considered if we’re discussing electoral SCOTUS implications.

To my mind, this shows exactly the reasons for rejecting the “A-B test” view of elections. If a vote is really just an expression of preference between A and B, it is perfectly possible to choose one without any appreciable level of support for either one. But once we decide to support a particular candidate, we tend to adjust ourselves psychologically to thinking of him as the sort of candidate that merits our support. It’s very hard to make that transition without compromising ourselves and our agenda, potentially quite severely.

Here is my final example, taken from a comment of Peter’s in the thread following that podcast. Peter is explaining that, however bad he is, he can’t be as bad as Hillary. In that context, he writes:

Hillary may be polished where Trump is vulgar, but that’s purely a matter of taste. 

I thought I was losing the capacity to be amazed, but I admit that I was quite thunderstruck. Trump publicly insults women. He winks at white supremacists. He speaks gleefully about torture and war crimes. He discusses the size of his manhood in nationally televised debates. His remarks on immigration are so offensively nativist that Texas Democrats have successfully shrunk the Republicans in that state simply by playing tapes of Trump on the radio. I could go on but it’s all too familiar by now, and to this, the genteel and civilized Peter Robinson says: a matter of taste?

I appreciate that even this level of offense must sometimes be borne when the options are so exceedingly poor. But even if we have to live with it, we should at least try to resist the normalization, shouldn’t we?

Vote for Trump if you must, but please, not this! At least do us the favor of publicly holding your nose!

There are 278 comments.

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  1. Member

    The problem isn’t what happens if Trump loses. The problem is: what if he wins?

    • #1
    • May 22, 2016 at 9:18 am
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  2. Member

    To quote Spin:

    The sooner people realize that the job of government is to secure their rights, not implement their will, the better off we will be.

    The choice now is about whose will should be implemented rather than about who would be best at leading government to the end of preserving our rights.

    • #2
    • May 22, 2016 at 9:23 am
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  3. Member

    Rachel, the reason I think your plea falls flat is that even when I agree with your reservations about Trump, I ultimately realize it’s not about me.

    Nobody cares whether I hold my nose, or whether I’m a good or bad person for supporting Trump, or what the state of my conscience is for doing so.

    The only question is what the consequences will be of who’s in the White House next year.

    • #3
    • May 22, 2016 at 9:29 am
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  4. Member

    Rachel Lu: Vote for Trump if you must, but please, not this! At least do us the favor of publicly holding your nose!

    I have no need to hold my nose for Trump. I have to for Bushies and necons.

    • #4
    • May 22, 2016 at 9:30 am
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  5. Inactive

    The King Prawn:To quote Spin:

    The sooner people realize that the job of government is to secure their rights, not implement their will, the better off we will be.

    The choice now is about whose will should be implemented rather than about who would be best at leading government to the end of preserving our rights.

    KP, I think that has been the choice of the past few decades.

    I think Spin has some cogent words in that quote, but I reject the idea that all of a sudden government is about imposing its will because of Trump’s arrival.

    Just because previously the parties were nicer about imposing the will of others doesn’t make it any less tyrannical.

    • #5
    • May 22, 2016 at 9:35 am
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  6. Inactive

    Rachel Lu: At this point is seems mostly settled that a heinously vicious and dishonest person is going to be America’s next president.

    I’d really like to see you say that in person directly to Melania, Ivanka and the others in the Trump family.

    I’d have no problem saying it in the faces of the Clintons.

    • #6
    • May 22, 2016 at 9:36 am
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  7. Member

    “The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club.” The first rule of party politics is disciplined support for party decisions.

    Party discipline is not something Republican do as well as Democrats, generally, because Republicanism is a coalition of ideologies while Democratism is a coalition of identities seeking political power.

    If you vote for Trump there will always be a party reason for supporting a President Trump. So any romantic notion that you beat Hillary and then frustrate the potential excesses of Trump are nonsense unless you truly want to lose power in 2018 and 2020. Democrats kept an actually impeached Democrat President in power and nearly retained power in the next election; Republicans insured that a Republican President threatened with impeachment resigned — and lost power in the subsequent election.

    Ryan understands this and is doing the best he can to eat around the edges of a crap sandwich.

    So what do you do? You vote for Trump and then start a Conservative Party, probably by seeing if you can get the Libertarians in large part to join in with disaffected Republicans. For those of you who see this as a sure path to failure I cannot disagree, I only point out that from an ideology point of view following President Trump/Republican Party Leader is also a sure path to failure.

    • #7
    • May 22, 2016 at 9:37 am
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  8. Member

    BrentB67:

    The King Prawn:To quote Spin:

    The sooner people realize that the job of government is to secure their rights, not implement their will, the better off we will be.

    The choice now is about whose will should be implemented rather than about who would be best at leading government to the end of preserving our rights.

    KP, I think that has been the choice of the past few decades.

    I think Spin has some cogent words in that quote, but I reject the idea that all of a sudden government is about imposing its will because of Trump’s arrival.

    Just because previously the parties were nicer about imposing the will of others doesn’t make it any less tyrannical.

    Agreed. We lost sight of the true purpose of government long ago, but it’s not like we weren’t warned about the direction we were heading when we first struck the path.

    • #8
    • May 22, 2016 at 9:37 am
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  9. Inactive

    The King Prawn:

    BrentB67:

    The King Prawn:To quote Spin:

    The sooner people realize that the job of government is to secure their rights, not implement their will, the better off we will be.

    The choice now is about whose will should be implemented rather than about who would be best at leading government to the end of preserving our rights.

    KP, I think that has been the choice of the past few decades.

    I think Spin has some cogent words in that quote, but I reject the idea that all of a sudden government is about imposing its will because of Trump’s arrival.

    Just because previously the parties were nicer about imposing the will of others doesn’t make it any less tyrannical.

    Agreed. We lost sight of the true purpose of government long ago, but it’s not like we weren’t warned about the direction we were heading when we first struck the path.

    Indeed.

    My key frustration of this whole Trump phenomenon is center right coming out of the woodwork to discover our federal government may become a tyranny if Donald Trump is in charge.

    When all along the federal government is already a tyranny, its just that it was closer to center right’s priorities.

    Now center right is about to get a big lesson in the adage that a government powerful enough to enforce your will on others is powerful enough to enforce the will of others on them.

    • #9
    • May 22, 2016 at 9:43 am
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  10. Member

    BrentB67:My key frustration of this whole Trump phenomenon is center right coming out of the woodwork to discover our federal government may become a tyranny if Donald Trump is in charge.

    When all along the federal government is already a tyranny, its just that it was closer to center right’s priorities.

    Now center right is about to get a big lesson in the adage that a government powerful enough to enforce your will on others is powerful enough to enforce the will of others on them.

    My big frustration is realizing the base is just barely (if at all) to the right of the democrat party and has either no understanding of classical liberalism or no concern for it as the means and the end of government.

    • #10
    • May 22, 2016 at 9:47 am
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  11. Inactive

    The King Prawn:

    BrentB67:My key frustration of this whole Trump phenomenon is center right coming out of the woodwork to discover our federal government may become a tyranny if Donald Trump is in charge.

    When all along the federal government is already a tyranny, its just that it was closer to center right’s priorities.

    Now center right is about to get a big lesson in the adage that a government powerful enough to enforce your will on others is powerful enough to enforce the will of others on them.

    My big frustration is realizing the base is just barely (if at all) to the right of the democrat party and has either no understanding of classical liberalism or no concern for it as the means and the end of government.

    Interesting view. I was under the impression that the base was much farther right than either party, but that we discovered it was much smaller than previously imagined.

    • #11
    • May 22, 2016 at 9:50 am
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  12. Member

    BrentB67: Interesting view. I was under the impression that the base was much farther right than either party, but that we discovered it was much smaller than previously imagined.

    We may simply be disagreeing over the definition of the base. I’ve held it to mean the majority of voters in the Republican party as opposed to the establishment (those elected or who hold winning elections to be of primary importance) and movement conservatives who I’ve always believed to be both the intellectuals of conservatism as well as the boots-on-the-ground workers. I suppose one could analogize the three to a religious body: establishment is the clergy/employees, the base is the pew warmers, and the movement folks are the ones handing out tracts on street corners.

    • #12
    • May 22, 2016 at 9:58 am
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  13. Inactive

    I’ve said it before, but one silver lining of the rise of Trump is that I’ve been finding common ground with people with whom I’ve previously been generally at odds. Great post Rachel!

    • #13
    • May 22, 2016 at 10:02 am
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  14. Member

    Salvatore Padula:I’ve said it before, but one silver lining of the rise of Trump is that I’ve been finding common ground with people with whom I’ve previously been generally at odds. Great post Rachel!

    I’m contemplating the silver lining being a potential wake up call to the nation.

    • #14
    • May 22, 2016 at 10:13 am
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  15. Member

    Rachel Lu – My test for whether someone opposing Donald Trump is doing so to protect conservative principles is whether they want to see John McCain reelected this year. So do you?

    • #15
    • May 22, 2016 at 10:14 am
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  16. Inactive

    The King Prawn:

    BrentB67: Interesting view. I was under the impression that the base was much farther right than either party, but that we discovered it was much smaller than previously imagined.

    We may simply be disagreeing over the definition of the base. I’ve held it to mean the majority of voters in the Republican party as opposed to the establishment (those elected or who hold winning elections to be of primary importance) and movement conservatives who I’ve always believed to be both the intellectuals of conservatism as well as the boots-on-the-ground workers. I suppose one could analogize the three to a religious body: establishment is the clergy/employees, the base is the pew warmers, and the movement folks are the ones handing out tracts on street corners.

    I agree that the definition of the base and who is included has been muddled this season.

    I used to think I may have been part of the base, but in reality it is probably me using the term incorrectly.

    • #16
    • May 22, 2016 at 10:25 am
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  17. Member

    BrentB67: I used to think I may have been part of the base, but in reality it is probably me using the term incorrectly.

    I think most of us here are more movement conservatives — we care about the ideals more than party purity (establishment), and we’re true believers. We evangelize and proselytize for the cause when we can.

    • #17
    • May 22, 2016 at 10:26 am
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  18. Member

    I took Peter’s “matter of taste” comment as opposed to matters of policy. He was simply suggesting that, however deplorable and destructive Trump’s manner, his likely efforts regarding law are preferable to Clinton’s.

    • #18
    • May 22, 2016 at 10:29 am
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  19. Inactive

    The King Prawn:

    BrentB67: I used to think I may have been part of the base, but in reality it is probably me using the term incorrectly.

    I think most of us here are more movement conservatives — we care about the ideals more than party purity (establishment), and we’re true believers. We evangelize and proselytize for the cause when we can.

    My only small disagreement is with the word ‘most’ in the first sentence.

    • #19
    • May 22, 2016 at 10:33 am
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  20. Member

    Rachel Lu: The other party’s monster will be more absolutely hostile, but at least that gives us the advantage of being able to remake our party and agenda without the heavily compromising influence of an awful leader.

    We’ve already had eight years to do that, what improvements would we be able to make in the next four?

    I’m no Trump fan, but excessive caution got us into this mess, and shouldn’t continue to be our modus operandi.

    • #20
    • May 22, 2016 at 10:35 am
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  21. Thatcher

    Great post, Rachel!

    I certainly understand Peter’s dilemma. He makes his living being a political writer and thinker. Holding his nose and staying out of the fray is not really an option. He’s trying to find the line he can walk that will allow him to stay professionally relevant and connected to his audience,yet still maintain his own values and integrity and remain connected his own beliefs and moral judgment.

    Yet another bad result of the Trump candidacy is that it’s forcing good people like Peter to make impossible choices, then live with the consequences when those consequences are likely to be both unpredictable and severe.

    • #21
    • May 22, 2016 at 10:53 am
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  22. Inactive

    Rachel Lu:

    I thought I was losing the capacity to be amazed, but I admit that I was quite thunderstruck. Trump publicly insults women. He winks at white supremacists. He speaks gleefully about torture and war crimes. He discusses the size of his manhood in nationally televised debates. His remarks on immigration are so offensively nativist that Texas Democrats have successfully shrunk the Republicans in that state simply by playing tapes of Trump on the radio.

    Thank you for saying this. I’m not voting for Trump but I recognize that discrete arguments in favor of doing so exist. To make those arguments without an acknowledgment of the points you note, however, feels like a slap in the face to those of us who thought the party we support had no room in it for invective so directed.

    • #22
    • May 22, 2016 at 11:08 am
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  23. Founder

    Rachel Lu:Trump is not just utterly untrustworthy and an awful person; he is also hostile or indifferent to most of the most critical planks of the conservative agenda.

    He’s pro-life, he’s in favor of strengthening the military, he has demonstrated the ability to find genuinely impressive and thoroughly constitutional judges to appoint to the federal bench, he backs a plan to cut the corporate tax rate, he insists on restoring the rule of law at the border, and he despises political correctness. That’s not all we’d like–his grasp on foreign policy appears tenuous, and who knows what he really makes of free trade–but it’s a start.

    • #23
    • May 22, 2016 at 11:16 am
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  24. Contributor

    So people here are not arguing from justice, but from necessity. Necessity really is something for which we apologize. When one says, I’ve got no choice, one says, sorry. There is always the implication, you deserve better–I wish it hadn’t come to this–I wish I had a choice.

    But it seems like the fact this is a partisan matter has completely taken the shame we feel before necessity out of the picture. It’s great to see we’re all becoming realists. Let’s have more of that ‘none of the shame nonsense’ in more & more parts of life, as indeed, more & more of life will be affected by partisan divides.

    • #24
    • May 22, 2016 at 11:16 am
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  25. Contributor

    Peter Robinson:

    Rachel Lu:Trump is not just utterly untrustworthy and an awful person; he is also hostile or indifferent to most of the most critical planks of the conservative agenda.

    He’s pro-life, he’s in favor of strengthening the military, he has demonstrated the ability to find genuinely impressive and thoroughly constitutional judges to appoint to the federal bench, he backs a plan to cut the corporate tax rate, he insists on restoring the rule of law at the border, and he despises political correctness. That’s not all we’d like–his grasp on foreign policy appears tenuous, and who knows what he really makes of free trade–but it’s a start.

    I think about it differently. Would you want him around your daughter? Would you want your son to work for him?–Mrs. Lu is saying he’s untrustworthy & a bad guy. Do you believe that is true or false or irrelevant?

    • #25
    • May 22, 2016 at 11:19 am
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  26. Founder

    Just for the record, Rachel, I backed Scott Walker until he dropped out, Marco Rubio until he dropped out, and Ted Cruz until he dropped out. As for Trump, I’m not even sure it’s accurate to say I back him at all. It’s more of a grudging admission that he’s not as bad–not nearly as bad, actually–as Hillary.

    In other words, I won’t be turning into Ricochet’s Trump man.

    And since I used only one hand, it took me twice as long to type this as it would have otherwise. (Taking your advice, I used the other hand to hold my nose.)

    • #26
    • May 22, 2016 at 11:21 am
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  27. Member

    Peter Robinson:Just for the record, Rachel, I backed Scott Walker until he dropped out, Marco Rubio until he dropped out, and Ted Cruz until he dropped out. As for Trump, I’m not even sure it’s accurate to say I back him at all. It’s more of a grudging admission that he’s not as bad–not nearly as bad, actually–as Hillary.

    In other words, I won’t be turning into Ricochet’s Trump man.

    And since I used only one hand, it took me twice as long to type this as it would have otherwise. (Taking your advice, I used the other hand to hold my nose.)

    Exactly. Many of us took a similar path. We are at war with the Left, an institutionalized malignancy if there ever was one. Sometimes duty requires that you get your hands dirty.

    • #27
    • May 22, 2016 at 11:24 am
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  28. Founder

    Peter Robinson:

    Dan Hanson:Great post, Rachel!

    I certainly understand Peter’s dilemma. He makes his living being a political writer and thinker. Holding his nose and staying out of the fray is not really an option. He’s trying to find the line he can walk that will allow him to stay professionally relevant and connected to his audience,yet still maintain his own values and integrity and remain connected his own beliefs and moral judgment.

    Actually, that wasn’t what I was thinking. I was–and am–thinking simply as a voter. Unless someone produces a credible independent candidate in the next few weeks, the country is going to have only two choices. One appears less bad than the other. That’s all that I’m thinking.

    • #28
    • May 22, 2016 at 11:27 am
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  29. Member

    Peter Robinson:

    Rachel Lu:Trump is not just utterly untrustworthy and an awful person; he is also hostile or indifferent to most of the most critical planks of the conservative agenda.

    He’s pro-life, he’s in favor of strengthening the military, he has demonstrated the ability to find genuinely impressive and thoroughly constitutional judges to appoint to the federal bench, he backs a plan to cut the corporate tax rate, he insists on restoring the rule of law at the border, and he despises political correctness. That’s not all we’d like–his grasp on foreign policy appears tenuous, and who knows what he really makes of free trade–but it’s a start.

    Patrick Henry’s response:

    You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government.

    This is what Trump doesn’t get. All those other things, sure he says those are his positions, but we have no reason to believe he means it other than blind faith or hope overcoming experience.

    • #29
    • May 22, 2016 at 11:39 am
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  30. Member

    Peter Robinson:

    Peter Robinson:

    Dan Hanson:Great post, Rachel!

    I certainly understand Peter’s dilemma. He makes his living being a political writer and thinker. Holding his nose and staying out of the fray is not really an option. He’s trying to find the line he can walk that will allow him to stay professionally relevant and connected to his audience,yet still maintain his own values and integrity and remain connected his own beliefs and moral judgment.

    Actually, that wasn’t what I was thinking. I was–and am–thinking simply as a voter. Unless someone produces a credible independent candidate in the next few weeks, the country is going to have only two choices. One appears less bad than the other. That’s all that I’m thinking.

    If you’re voting in California it won’t matter who you vote for anyway. Vote again for Reagan and it will have the same effect as voting for Trump in the electoral outcome of your state.

    • #30
    • May 22, 2016 at 11:40 am
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