I Thought This Deserved a Post of Its Own

 

In the thread for our recent Harvard Lunch Club Podcast — the Rigged Podcast — we reverted again, with the inevitability of Groundhog Day, to the eternal Trump versus #NeverTrump argument. I thought it worthwhile to recapitulate the discussion. Apologies to those who have reached the stage of nausea in this issue. In the podcast my partner Todd Feinburg and I discuss the recent Victor Davis Hanson article advocating a vote for Trump for conservatives. We both think that it is a no-brainer and we both think that, even had we not been for Trump since long ago (say we had supported Rubio) we would have recognized that bruised egos aside there was really only one choice … which is essentially what VDH had to say (though he said it very well indeed).

In response, member rebark makes the following observation:

I always find it remarkable how foreign and mystifying the ideas of Never Trump people are to the HLC hosts. The utter bafflement with which they confront the fact that people looked at the same facts that they did and reached a different conclusion.

My first inclination is to blame my own side for failing to explain itself well, but there has been so much ink spilled on the subject that I can’t help but wonder whether there is a certain willful blindness to their approach. For the tired old argument of “just admit you’re for Hillary” to be trotted out requires an astonishing level of misunderstanding.

To put it simply: I do not see a lesser evil. I doubt that there is an iota of difference between us in terms of how negatively we perceive Hillary – she will be terrible for the country and terrible for conservatism. Trump might implement the occasional conservative policy, but he will destroy what little reputation conservatism has. I believe he would do at best a mediocre job as President that would be spun into such a disaster by the media that his election would pave the way for even worse Leftist ideologues down the road. I can’t tell you which is worse, and so I can only tell you that I don’t want to have supported either.

I hope they have some good conversations at tomorrow’s Ricochet debate watching event.

Member Eugene Kriegsmann weighs in with:

Michael, in response to your question to Rebark [what did he think of the VDH article?] I went over to NR and read Dr. Hanson’s post. There is little new in it. He had held this position since the majority of NR editors and writers put together their anti-Trump screed. Hanson’s argument really comes down to what I have read over and over on this site, that Trump is bad, but Hillary is worse. Hillary will do terrible damage to the country.

That well may be true. There is, however, another possibility, that Hillary will be essentially spayed politically by a Republican dominated congress, and that, given her apparently fragile health and the incredible demands of the office, that she will likely not even make it through one term, much less two.

On the other hand, we have Trump whose commitment to our country is so minimal that he would destroy not just his own chances of achieving office, but those of every other Republican running this year. How do we trust such a person with the most powerful office in the world and with the future of this country?

The problem for me is, I don’t see any difference between them. I could never vote for Hillary, nor could I give Trump a vote that would confirm all he wants to believe about himself, that he actually should be President of the United States. It is a choice that I simply refuse to make. I think I will write in Pence for President.

And, forgive me for taking the last word, I said this:

Rebark and Eugene, I have only this to say. Make a choice! Whatever you can say about how difficult it is to evaluate whether Hillary’s Presidency or Trump’s Presidency will be worse, it is blatantly obvious that they will be different. Very different! So forget the past. Forget the agony of what could have been. Think through the problem as it confronts you today. What are the odds from your perspective of different possible futures with Trump and with Hillary? Evaluate the distributions, apply risk analysis, do the algebra and reach a conclusion and vote. Don’t whine about how it’s hard to decide. Don’t withhold your vote because you are angry at what happened in February. The future lies ahead. You have only two options (eh?). Pick one.

Is this not, my Ricochetti friends, the bottom line?

See you in NYC tonight!

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  1. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    Michael Stopa: I thought it worthwhile to recapitulate the discussion.

    Why is that exactly?  Because not enough has been said about the subject?  For the last 4 months if not the last year?

    • #1
  2. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Michael Stopa: Rebark and Eugene, I have only this to say. Make a choice!

    Choose between two turd sandwiches on different types of bread?  I think you overestimate the value in making such a choice.

    • #2
  3. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

     

    I believe there is a lot of good that could come out of a Trump presidency. I believe that a Republican administration will more likely embrace innovation and solutions to problems that are in the best interest of our country over time. And I trust the Republicans to use these four years to avoid having a candidate run for president that the party really doesn’t believe in. The candidate should reflect the party’s important ideals, which means the party’s platform should precede the nomination process. I have complete confidence that the Republican “home office” is looking at all of its systems and procedures to prevent this from happening again.

     

    • #3
  4. RyanM Member
    RyanM
    @RyanM

    I think it is also worth noting that Trump is utterly disastrous on trade.  I do not believe that anyone can reasonably say which would be worse for the economy between Hillary and Trump.

    As for choosing, that is a false choice… nobody is obligated to participate.  Do you think, Michael, that I am obligated to vote in the Seattle mayoral election between a socialist and a female socialist? (that is a hypothetical)  If I supported the conservative candidate, and he did not even win the nomination, I have already fulfilled my duty to participate.  I voted.  Granted, Cruz had already dropped out when the time came for my vote to be counted… I suppose I could have written-in Walker.

    But to say “make a choice!” is absolutely nonsensical.  I choose conservatism, and there is nobody on the ballot who will advance that.  Therefore, my choice is to vote against every initiative in Washington State (described, here), and to vote for every conservative running down-ballot.

    • #4
  5. RyanM Member
    RyanM
    @RyanM

    Frank Soto:

    Michael Stopa: Rebark and Eugene, I have only this to say. Make a choice!

    Choose between two turd sandwiches on different types of bread? I think you overestimate the value in making such a choice.

    Exactly.

    Please, somebody explain the utility of voting for one of two equally bad options.  Is it a moral imperative, and if so, from what is it derived?  Is it my social obligation?  If so, why is my vote not counted equally?  I had 2 choices on the Washington State ballot for the nomination:  Trump and Kasich.  If I have a social or moral obligation to vote for president, why do I not have the right to participate in the nomination process?

    • #5
  6. RyanM Member
    RyanM
    @RyanM

    Although Michael, I do agree (as was very well put by Andrew Klavan in yesterday’s podcast) that the election is “rigged.”

    Trump is not the answer to that.  Deleting our facebook/twitter/youtube/google/whateverelse accounts is the answer.

    Why is there not a competitor to Youtube?  Do they own some sort of patent on the idea of videos posted to the internet?  Why is there no version of Twitter – hell, call it “free Chatter” and open it up to everybody with no restrictions.  Make it a literal twitter clone, but without the fascism.

    There is no reason why we cannot do these things.  There are plenty of leftists who appreciate free speech.

    • #6
  7. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    RyanM: Why is there not a competitor to Youtube? Do they own some sort of patent on the idea of videos posted to the internet?

    As a rule, people prefer to use the one that everyone else is using to attract the largest possible audience and have access to the largest variety of content.

    • #7
  8. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    To me, the issue is that in voting for president, we are voting for one group of people versus another.

    It truly is Republicans versus Democrats.

    I want as many Republicans in office as possible.

    I like most of the Republicans I have known.

    That said, if my choice were between socialists and communists, I don’t know what I’d do.

    I’m sure that’s the desperation people feel right now. Can’t move ‘cuz we’re stuck here. Can’t change it.

    They must be really upset. You can work to change it, but that is a long-term project and we have families and businesses to take care of.

    • #8
  9. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    Michael Stopa: You have only two options (eh?). Pick one.

    I don’t fall for false dichotomies. There are other candidates and there is the option of not voting and I don’t vote for a leftist, especially when the two leading candidates are both ardent leftists.

    • #9
  10. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    I have done the algebra and here’s what I find.  First, the givens:

    1. Both would almost certainly make bad presidents; but
    2. The bell curves describing how bad are different for each.

    In theory, Trump’ll be surrounded by Republicans, maybe even a few serious, smart ones.  So at the margin, we can expect some decent decisions that we probably can’t expect from Hillary.  Given Trump’s propensity to fire anyone who isn’t a “yes man,” I’m not sure how much this is worth, but given his inattention to detail, it’s probably worth something.  So Trump’s “mean” — the average of his probable badness, the zero standard deviation point for him — is probably a little less bad than Hillary’s mean.

    On the other hand, the dispersion of possible outcomes is much wider with Trump than it is with Hillary.  Hillary is a known quantity.  We can estimate, with some confidence, where and how Hillary will be bad.  Hers is a relatively tall, narrow, bell curve.

    Trump has no experience, record, knowledge or integrity and has a propensity to contradict himself in the same sentence without even realizing it.  So predicting how bad he’ll be is harder.  His bell curve is more a wide sloping curve.

    When you overlay the two, what you find is that while Hillary has a “badder” average outcome, there’s a pretty sizeable area of Trump’s curve that is a lot worse anything on Hillary’s curve.

    (con’t)

     

    • #10
  11. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    (cont.)

    So the choice is:  the devil you know, much like the devil we’ve endured the last 8 years, or another devil with a little expected upside, but a ton of risk of potentially very large downside.

    I’m convinced that the NeverTrump phenomenon is all about aversion to that downside risk.

    • #11
  12. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    This problem the Republicans are having right now is so easy to fix.

    All we need to do is produce a list of written qualifications (not divorced more than twice, for example) and a list of terms that the candidate would have to agree to (not adding any new regulations or taxes or fees, for example) before the person would be allowed to attach himself or herself to the Republican brand.

    Trump would understand this better than anyone: he is a brand, and I’m pretty sure he would not allow the Econo Lodge to call itself a Trump hotel. :)

    • #12
  13. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Cato Rand: I’m convinced that the NeverTrump phenomenon is all about aversion to that downside risk.

    I understand that in a way. I was very grateful that McCain didn’t win. I’m convinced he would have done everything Obama did, but it would have been called McCainCare, and I would have felt responsible for it. It was rather nice to hear Obama blamed for a lot of things that I think McCain would have done too. I was glad the Republican name wasn’t on it.

    For this election, I know that Trump will pay attention to the immigration and refugee issue, and that is important to me. I know that under Clinton, we will be taking in more refugees than we would under Trump.

    We have 12 million illegal immigrants now—that is the number of refugees that Europe is facing at the moment. I want to say to the United Nations, “We can’t take any more right now. We have housing and hospital issues to deal with with our existing 12 million.”

    • #13
  14. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    MarciN:

    Cato Rand: I’m convinced that the NeverTrump phenomenon is all about aversion to that downside risk.

    I understand that in a way. I was very grateful that McCain didn’t win. I’m convinced he would have done everything Obama did, but it would have been called McCainCare, and I would have felt responsible for it. It was rather nice to hear Obama blamed for a lot of things that I think McCain would have done too. I was glad the Republican name wasn’t on it.

    It would have been easier to understand if I knew how to draw and post graphs.  Unfortunately, I’m a technical nincompoop.

    • #14
  15. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Cato Rand: I’m convinced that the NeverTrump phenomenon is all about aversion to that downside risk.

    This is part of it.  For me though, I am also considering the future effects on the conservative movement should Trump win.  When I factor that, I cannot conclude his average damage caused is lower than hers.

    • #15
  16. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    Frank Soto:

    Cato Rand: I’m convinced that the NeverTrump phenomenon is all about aversion to that downside risk.

    This is part of it. For me though, I am also considering the future effects on the conservative movement should Trump win. When I factor that, I cannot conclude his average damage caused is lower than hers.

    A fair point.  No argument from me.  Perhaps “all about” was too strong.

    • #16
  17. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    More whining from Trumpers. Blah, blah, blah make a choice. Well I made a choice you just don’t like it. Trump also made a choice he chose to not do or say anything that would make me believe he is going to be anything other than a horrible president.

    So you’re mad that Hillary will win. Okay, but why aren’t you mad at the people who vote for her instead of someone who won’t vote for her? Go yell at some young collage educated single women, or African Americans in the big cities. Tell them how Trump is the lesser of two evils.

     

     

    • #17
  18. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Valiuth: So you’re mad that Hillary will win. Okay, but why aren’t you mad at the people who vote for her instead of someone who won’t vote for her?

    I suspect that most of his supporters (reluctant or enthusiastic) believe that the reason he is not at least matching the performance of past losers like Romney is because of Republican support which has abandoned him.

    In reality, Republicans are only about 30% of the population.  They come close in most elections because there are many non-republicans who lean republican.

    We picked a candidate who appeals to a minority of those who tend to prefer Republicans but are not actually Republicans.  That is why Trump is struggling to hit 40%.

     

    • #18
  19. Xennady Member
    Xennady
    @

    Frank Soto:

    Cato Rand: I’m convinced that the NeverTrump phenomenon is all about aversion to that downside risk.

    This is part of it. For me though, I am also considering the future effects on the conservative movement should Trump win. When I factor that, I cannot conclude his average damage caused is lower than hers.

    The conservative movement that existed is dead, dead, dead.

    It was destroyed by the feckless ineptitude of the Republican party, which has compiled a record of failure now going back decades. It doesn’t matter if Jeb! or George or Mitt or Paul think the party is doing a bang-up job. Rank-and-file conservatives have given up on the usual suspects, because we believe it has failed.

    That’s why Trump won.

    The carcass won’t be revivified, especially after so much of the so-called conservative leadership has worked so hard to undermine the Republican nominee.

    • #19
  20. The Question Inactive
    The Question
    @TheQuestion

    It’s not that strange that this issue would be this contentious.  There are downsides to each candidate winning, and the exact extent of those downsides cannot be predicted reliably.  Hillary will act predictably progressive, but maybe she won’t be effective, and maybe, I think more likely than not, the cycle of politics will return the White House to Republicans in 2020.  The cycle of politics likely would have returned the White House to the GOP this time, except the Republicans nominated Donald Trump.  On the other hand, maybe she will be so bad that the problems of a Trump presidency will be worth it to keep Hillary out of power.  The biggest downside of Trump, as I see it, is that he is antagonistic to and drags down other Republicans.  He doesn’t oppose other Republicans for not being conservative.  He opposes them for not supporting him.  My sense is that Trump does more damage to Republicans than he does to Democrats, and that for the long term fight against progressivism, it would be better to concede this election and try for a better candidate in 2020.  I’m 0nly about 60% sure of that, and I may end up voting Trump.  I really can’t wait for this to be over.

    • #20
  21. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Xennady:The conservative movement that existed is dead, dead, dead.

    It was destroyed by the feckless ineptitude of the Republican party, which has compiled a record of failure now going back decades.

    This is utterly wrong.

    • #21
  22. Trinity Waters Inactive
    Trinity Waters
    @TrinityWaters

    Xennady:

    Frank Soto:

    Cato Rand: I’m convinced that the NeverTrump phenomenon is all about aversion to that downside risk.

    This is part of it. For me though, I am also considering the future effects on the conservative movement should Trump win. When I factor that, I cannot conclude his average damage caused is lower than hers.

    The conservative movement that existed is dead, dead, dead.

    It was destroyed by the feckless ineptitude of the Republican party, which has compiled a record of failure now going back decades. It doesn’t matter if Jeb! or George or Mitt or Paul think the party is doing a bang-up job. Rank-and-file conservatives have given up on the usual suspects, because we believe it has failed.

    That’s why Trump won.

    The carcass won’t be revivified, especially after so much of the so-called conservative leadership has worked so hard to undermine the Republican nominee.

    Good summary about the GOP, Xennady.  That organization has given fresh and clear definition to the word quisling.

    • #22
  23. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    It is fun to watch Drudge only report polls that show Trump doing well while simultaneously pushing every possible angle of the rigged election myth.

    An entirely predictable election outcome will end up shocking a whole lot of people because of the bubble they’ve created for themselves.  Many will see malfeasance as the only explanation.

    • #23
  24. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    Frank Soto:

    Xennady:The conservative movement that existed is dead, dead, dead.

    It was destroyed by the feckless ineptitude of the Republican party, which has compiled a record of failure now going back decades.

    This is utterly wrong.

    I think we have to allow some time for the Trump supporters to sit back and reflect on what they’ve done.  In time, most will come to accept that they got conned by a skilled conman.  Moreover in time the obsession with Trump will fade from memory and the interests that conservative leaning people share will reassert themselves.

    • #24
  25. The Question Inactive
    The Question
    @TheQuestion

    Xennady:The conservative movement that existed is dead, dead, dead.

    It was destroyed by the feckless ineptitude of the Republican party, which has compiled a record of failure now going back decades. It doesn’t matter if Jeb! or George or Mitt or Paul think the party is doing a bang-up job. Rank-and-file conservatives have given up on the usual suspects, because we believe it has failed.

    That’s why Trump won.

    The carcass won’t be revivified, especially after so much of the so-called conservative leadership has worked so hard to undermine the Republican nominee.

    I’m not sure what you’re talking about.  Just taking illegal immigration, the Republicans did stop amnesty from passing in Congress.  When Obama used an executive order to oppose amnesty, the Republicans sued to stop him, and the court imposed an injunction.  No conservative immigration legislation can be passed while Obama is president.  If you think the Republicans should be doing more, you’re probably right, but I really have no idea why one would think Trump would do better.  When Paul Ryan declined to campaign with Trump, it is pretty clear that he is trying to save GOP House seats, which seems like the right thing for him to do.  The idea that supporting Trump is the gold standard of conservatism is bonkers.   If the GOP loses the Senate and House, we’ll see what it really looks like when Democrats get everything they want.

    • #25
  26. Xennady Member
    Xennady
    @

    There is, however, another possibility, that Hillary will be essentially spayed politically by a Republican dominated congress,

    Because the GOP has been so adept at stopping the left so far? Really?

     given her apparently fragile health and the incredible demands of the office, that she will likely not even make it through one term, much less two.

    This is the epitome of failure and impotence: Hoping your enemy will simply die, saving you the trouble of defeating them.

    Trump whose commitment to our country is so minimal

    Incredible. Hillary Clinton had a completely insecure server installed in a bathroom somewhere, allowing everyone on the planet to search through her emails, no matter how classified- yet Trump is the candidate with no commitment to our country.

    I get the sense that Hillary could openly promise to abandon the Constitution and throw her opponents into camps, and the nevertrumpers would still be busy hating him, believing that she would restrained somehow by someone, because Trump is the real problem.

    No matter what she does.

    • #26
  27. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Xennady: Because the GOP has been so adept at stopping the left so far? Really?

    They really have been.  Before they took the presidency and both the house and a filibuster proof majority in the senate, the left hadn’t had a major accomplishment in policy in over 30 years.

    As soon as the Republicans retook the house they were stopped dead again.  I will never understand how you cannot see this.

    • #27
  28. The Question Inactive
    The Question
    @TheQuestion

    Cato Rand:

    Frank Soto:

    Xennady:The conservative movement that existed is dead, dead, dead.

    It was destroyed by the feckless ineptitude of the Republican party, which has compiled a record of failure now going back decades.

    This is utterly wrong.

    I think we have to allow some time for the Trump supporters to sit back and reflect on what they’ve done. In time, most will come to accept that they got conned by a skilled conman. Moreover in time the obsession with Trump will fade from memory and the interests that conservative leaning people share will reassert themselves.

    From your lips to God’s ears.

    • #28
  29. Trinity Waters Inactive
    Trinity Waters
    @TrinityWaters

    Frank Soto:It is fun to watch Drudge only report polls that show Trump doing well while simultaneously pushing every possible angle of the rigged election myth.

    An entirely predictable election outcome will end up shocking a whole lot of people because of the bubble they’ve created for themselves. Many will see malfeasance as the only explanation.

    Frank, I have zero expertise in poll evaluation or reportage, but I suspect that there’s a new dynamic this cycle.  Either way, it will be interesting to evaluate their accuracy next month.  Only the polls taken at the last moments will matter, though.  The last two election cycles were so disappointing to the base conservatives that we were overcome by excessive optimism.  Lastly, I view Drudge kinda as the National Enquirer of right-leaning reportage.  Sometimes he breaks new stories, sometimes they’re true, but always they’re titillating.  Can I still use that word?

    • #29
  30. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    Frank Soto:

    Xennady: Because the GOP has been so adept at stopping the left so far? Really?

    They really have been. Before they took the presidency and both the house and a filibuster proof majority in the senate, the left hadn’t had a major accomplishment in policy in over 30 years.

    As soon as the Republicans retook the house they were stopped dead again. I will never understand how you cannot see this.

    Xennady can speak for himself, but I do understand some of the frustration, even if I don’t blame Paul Ryan for it.  It’s not just the Obama administration, it’s the last 80 years.  It seems it’s a one way ratchet and the conservatives/republicans are always playing defense — always trying to stop the next encroachment . . . never rolling back the previous ones.  “They didn’t beat us up as bad as they might have” is better than “they beat us up as bad as possible” but it’s not exactly material for a pep talk.

    • #30
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