How I Might Be Wrong

 

On Thursday night, I posted an appeal to Never Trumpers, arguing that they should hold their noses and vote for the slimeball. The heart of my argument was the following claim — which I once again urge you to ponder:

The real issue is whether in the future we will have open discussion of political issues and free elections. Think about what we have now — a federal bureaucracy that is fiercely partisan. An IRS that tries to regulate speech by denying on a partisan basis tax-exempt status to conservative organizations. A Department of State that hides the fact that its head is not observing the rules to which everyone else is held concerning security of communications and that colludes with a Presidential campaign to prevent the release of embarrassing information. A Department of Justice that ought to be renamed as the Department of Injustice, which does its level best to suppress investigations that might embarrass the likely nominee of the Democratic Party. An assistant attorney general that gives a “heads up” to that lady’s campaign. An Attorney General who meets on the sly with her husband shortly before the decision is made whether she is to be indicted. A federal department that promotes racial strife and hostility to the police in the interests of solidifying for the Democrats the African-American vote.

Think about what else we have now — a press corps that colludes with a campaign, allowing figures in the Clinton campaign to edit what they publish. Television reporters who send the questions apt to be asked at the presidential debates to one campaign. A media that is totally in the tank for one party, downplaying or suppressing news that might make trouble for that party, inventing false stories about the candidates nominated by the other party, managing the news, manipulating the public, promoting in the party not favored the nomination of a clown, protecting the utterly corrupt nominee of the other party from scrutiny.

Let’s add to this the fact that the Democratic Party is intent on opening our borders and on signing up illegal aliens to vote. If you do not believe me, read what Wikileaks has revealed about the intentions of Tony Podesta. Barack Obama promised to “fundamentally change America.” He called his administration “The New Foundation.” Well, all that you have to do to achieve this is to alter the population.

To this, I can add something else. Freedom of speech is under attack. Forty-four Senators, all of them Democrats, voted not long ago for an amendment to the Constitution that would hem in the First Amendment. Ostensibly aimed at corporate speech, this would open the doors to the regulation of all speech. The Democratic members of the Federal Election Commission have pressed for regulating the internet — for treating blogposts as political contributions and restricting them. Members of the Civil Rights Commission have argued that freedom of speech and religious freedom must give way to social justice. There is an almost universal move on our college campuses to shut down dissent — among students, who must be afforded “safe spaces,” and, of course, in the classroom as well. There, academic freedom is a dead letter; and, in practice, despite the courts, in our public universities, the First Amendment does not apply.

We entered on a slippery slope some time ago when the legislatures passed and courts accepted laws against so-called “hate crimes” — that punished not only the deed but added further penalties for the thought. Now we are told that “hate speech” cannot be tolerated — which sounds fine until one realizes that what they have in mind rules out any discussion of subjects such as the propriety of same-sex marriage, sluttishness, and abortion; of the damage done African-American communities by irresponsible behavior on the part of fathers; and of the manner in which Islam, insofar as it is a religion of holy law, may be incompatible with liberal democracy. If you do not think that a discussion of these matters is off limits, you are, as the Democratic nominee put it not long ago, “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic.” You are “deplorable and irredeemable.” You are, as she said this week, “negative, dark, and divisive with a dangerous vision.” It is a short distance from demonization to suppression. And, let’s face it, the suppression has begun — in our newspapers, on television, on our campuses, on Facebook, on Reddit, in Google searches.

One more point. The courts are now partisan. Thanks to Barack Obama’s appointees, in many parts of the country, the circuit courts have ruled out expecting people to present picture IDs when they vote. Elsewhere — for example, in Michigan — the circuit courts have ruled out eliminating straight-line party voting. All of this is aimed at partisan advantage — at making voter fraud easy and at encouraging straight-line voting on the part of those not literate in English. Who knows what the courts will do if the Democrats can get a commanding majority on the Supreme Court? We have already had all sorts of madness shoved down our throats by those who legislate from the bench. If you think that it has gone about as far as it goes, you do not know today’s Democratic Party. I doubt very much whether the Democrats will really try to shove through a constitutional amendment in effect revoking the protections extended to speech and religion in the First Amendment. That would be too controversial. They will do it, as they have done many other things, through the courts. Can we tolerate “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic” speech — speech that is “deplorable and irredeemable,” that is “negative, dark, and divisive with a dangerous vision?” Surely, surely not. And this would be easy. If we can punish the “hate” in “hate crimes,” why not punish it or outlaw it in speech? All that you have to do is to “reinterpret” the First Amendment.

To the best of my knowledge, no one who commented on the piece I wrote challenged this judgment — which seems to me to make it a moral imperative that we vote to prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming President. And much as I loathe Donald Trump, it seems to me that he is the only viable alternative.

There is, however, an argument on the other side that long gave me pause and still causes me to wonder whether my prudential calculations concerning the relative damage likely to be done by each of the only two viable candidates are correct. I regard trade policy, immigration, entitlement reform, abortion, kangaroo courts on campus, and a host of other matters of public policy as important. But we can go wrong on any of these matters and later correct course — as long as we can still have an open discussion of political issues and free elections. The reason I focused on the latter is that, if we go wrong on those matters, there is no road back short of revolution. If Hillary Clinton wins on Tuesday, the odds are good that she, her party, and their friends in the judiciary will shut the system down (as they already have in our universities). Whatever defects Donald Trump has (and they are legion), he will not do that; and, even if he wanted to, he would not be able to. Presidents, on their own, are not that powerful, and The Donald will be very much on his own.

But there is another matter of public policy where Trump might well go wrong and a correction of course might well prove impossible. I have in mind foreign policy. Just as I know and like a number of individuals who are over-the-top admirers of The Donald, so I know conservatives who are, I suspect, apt to vote for Hillary on Tuesday. Those within this cohort whom I most respect make the following argument:

Our nation confronts a revanchist Russia; a bellicose, expansionist China; terrorism in Europe; and civil war in the Middle East — in short, a world reeling at  the edge of chaos. The president’s first responsibilities are to maintain national security, advance our national interests in foreign affairs and provide direction for the military. As Alexander Hamilton observed, the framers of the Constitution vested the executive power in one person, the president, to ensure that the United States could conduct its foreign relations with “decision, activity, secrecy, and dispatch.”

Faced with mounting international instability, Trump’s answer is to promise an unpredictable and unreliable America.  He has proposed breaking U.S. commitments to NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, closing our military bases in Japan and South Korea, repudiating security guarantees to NATO allies, pulling out of the Middle East, and ceding Eastern Europe to Russia and East Asia to China.  A Trump presidency invites a cascade of global crises.  Constitutional order will not thrive at home in a world beset by threats and disorder.

I am quoting from an oped published in The Los Angeles Times on 16 August by Jeremy Rabkin and John Yoo. I would urge that you read the whole thing. It is cogent.

Over the last seventy-five years, the United States spent lives and treasure to construct a world order within which we could live and trade in relative safety. That order, which has contributed mightily to our prosperity, was built by men and women educated by the disaster to which our isolationist policies in the 1920s and 1930s gave rise. They understood what “a cascade of global crises” and “a world beset by threats and disorder” could produce. I grew up in the shadow of the Second World War, and I lived the first forty years of my life during the Cold War. The current generation — well represented by our current President — have forgotten just how fragile the international order is. In Europe right now and in the Pacific — thanks in large part to Barack Obama — that order is rapidly coming apart. The last time this happened it cost us hundreds of thousands of lives and treasure beyond imagination. This time, if this happens, it will be worse.

Donald Trump is not a man of ideas. He has impulses and attitudes — some of them sound, many of them foolish — and he is profoundly ignorant. Over the course of this campaign, he has said a great many things that are dangerous. Jeremy, John, and others fear that his foreign policy would make that of Barack Obama look good. I cannot tell you that I regard their assessment of this likelihood as absurd, but I can say this. If their fears are justified, then — despite everything else that I said in my post on Thursday evening — you would be right in voting for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. For she is a known quantity. In its basic outlines, her foreign policy would be a continuation of the foreign policy we have followed since December, 1941.

I do not mean to say that she will not make mistakes. The lady has never done anything well in her life. Do I need to mention her service on the Watergate investigative staff, her handling of Hillarycare and the Russian reset, not to mention the Benghazi Bungle? I merely mean to say that she would not throw away everything that we have gained in the way of a framework guaranteeing our security and that of our commerce and that there are reasons to fear that he might do that very thing.

Why, then, do I still urge you to set aside the disgust that Donald Trump inspires and to vote for the creep?

One reason — and I very well might be wrong in my judgment. I discount the man’s wilder flailings. He is an entertainer — a reality show dramatist — and he is very good at venting the frustrations that have many of our fellow citizens in their grip. I doubt that he is serious in what he says in these offhand remarks. There are two signs. He has indicated an interest in making John Bolton Secretary of State, and he gave a speech on foreign affairs at Gettysburg not long ago that was positively sane. I have heard it praised to the skies by Trump partisans. That I think ridiculous. All that I am asserting is that it was not off the wall — and that is sufficient for me. But I will readily admit that Jeremy, John, and the others who share their opinion might be right. There is no safe choice this year. Whatever you do on Tuesday you will be rolling the dice.

One final point. On Tuesday, you will not be getting married; you will not be choosing a pastor; you will not be joining a church; and you will not be choosing a hero. You will not be doing anything that might leave you with morally dirty or morally clean hands. You will be doing something much more prosaic — something akin to hiring someone to mow your lawn. You will be hiring someone to do for you what you do not have the time or the other resources to do for yourself. And, just as you customarily do when you hire someone to mow the lawn, you should — in this situation also — prudently calculate which of the candidates for the job will do the least damage and the most good. That is the way Jeremy and John approach the question, and that is the way I approach the question. The fact that we disagree is a sign that this year there are powerful arguments on both sides. Thanks to Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the hapless Republicans in the Senate and House, we now live in very dangerous times — times dangerous for our republic, as I argue; and times dangerous for our nation, as Jeremy and John argue.

You can, of course, turn your back on the whole thing — you can stay home or line up with Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, or Evan McMullin. That would, however, be a cop-out. It might make you feel good about yourself, but this feeling of self-satisfaction would be false and unjustified. For to throw your vote away in a time of national crisis is to dodge your duty as a citizen — which is to do what you can to make the best of the situation you find yourself in. What that is . . . there lies the rub.

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  1. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Paul A. Rahe: There is great moral significance to irresponsibility, and it is irresponsible not to calculate the likely consequences.

    Indeed. These numbers are somewhat outdated, so should not be taken verbatim, but they do ballpark the likely (and lottery-like) odds of a person’s vote being decisive depending on state, which should be what you want, if you’re into likely consequences.

    When it comes to likely consequences, we cannot just factor in which outcome might be more desirable, but also how likely our efforts are to influence the selection of outcomes.

    • #121
  2. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    The King Prawn:On Yoo and Rabkin, are they basically arguing that Hillary is bad but remains abhorrent within normal parameters and is therefore less of a threat than Trump who is abhorrent beyond measure? She’s dangerous but in predictable and opposable ways, but Trump’s unpredictability would leave us always playing catch up with his crazy?

    For me that doesn’t reach the level of hazard necessary to affirmatively vote for her, but it does solidify my conviction that voting for him is not appropriate either.

    Setting aside the corruption issues with Hillary, I actually do worry greatly about her “predictable and opposable ways”, particularly on foreign policy.  The traditional Dem disdain for our military, in the form of budget cuts to the wrong areas and needless social experimentation, combined with her disastrous record as SecState, combined with her ossified strategic thinking and lack of vision for the US role abroad, coupled with the alienation of US allies, all have me worried that she’s the far more dangerous wild card with regards to US security.

    I understand the fear that Trump would bumble us into a war or engage in excessive isolationism, but I worry far more Hillary will get us dragged into one in the 21st century equivalent of “some damn fool thing in the Balkans”, likely against Russia or China.

    This administration’s track record is far too eerily reminiscent of 1910’s bumbling.

    • #122
  3. Ontheleftcoast Inactive
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    skipsul: I understand the fear that Trump would bumble us into a war or engage in excessive isolationism, but I worry far more Hillary will get us dragged into one in the 21st century equivalent of “some damn fool thing in the Balkans”, likely against Russia or China.

    She persuaded Obama to overthrow Qaddafi based on her understanding of Responsibility to Protect. That’s part of the rationale for getting rid of Assad.

    Getting rid of Assad is the rationale for a no fly zone. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress that an effective no fly zone over Syria requires goint to war with Syria… and Russia.

    Some say that Clinton is just grandstanding and intends to do nothing, and anyway, by the time she takes office the rebels will be history. True or not, she advocates a policy that requires war with Russia.

     

    • #123
  4. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Ontheleftcoast:

    skipsul: I understand the fear that Trump would bumble us into a war or engage in excessive isolationism, but I worry far more Hillary will get us dragged into one in the 21st century equivalent of “some damn fool thing in the Balkans”, likely against Russia or China.

    She persuaded Obama to overthrow Qaddafi based on her understanding of Responsibility to Protect. That’s part of the rationale for getting rid of Assad.

    Getting rid of Assad is the rationale for a no fly zone. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress that an effective no fly zone over Syria requires goint to war with Syria… and Russia.

    Some say that Clinton is just grandstanding and intends to do nothing, and anyway, by the time she takes office the rebels will be history. True or not, she advocates a policy that requires war with Russia.

    Exactly.  That should scare the bejeebers out of all of us.

    • #124
  5. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    skipsul:Setting aside the corruption issues with Hillary, I actually do worry greatly about her “predictable and opposable ways”, particularly on foreign policy. The traditional Dem disdain for our military, in the form of budget cuts to the wrong areas and needless social experimentation, combined with her disastrous record as SecState, combined with her ossified strategic thinking and lack of vision for the US role abroad, coupled with the alienation of US allies, all have me worried that she’s the far more dangerous wild card with regards to US security.

    I understand the fear that Trump would bumble us into a war or engage in excessive isolationism, but I worry far more Hillary will get us dragged into one in the 21st century equivalent of “some damn fool thing in the Balkans”, likely against Russia or China.

    This administration’s track record is far too eerily reminiscent of 1910’s bumbling.

    Thoughts worth chewing on. From a self interest standpoint, Trump doesn’t know enough about the programs I work with to cut or enhance them, but her side makes it a goal to eliminate much of our defenses, including the part I’m responsible for. I’m partial to having a job, and my kids are partial to eating.

    • #125
  6. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Ontheleftcoast:

    skipsul: I understand the fear that Trump would bumble us into a war or engage in excessive isolationism, but I worry far more Hillary will get us dragged into one in the 21st century equivalent of “some damn fool thing in the Balkans”, likely against Russia or China.

    She persuaded Obama to overthrow Qaddafi based on her understanding of Responsibility to Protect. That’s part of the rationale for getting rid of Assad.

    Getting rid of Assad is the rationale for a no fly zone. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress that an effective no fly zone over Syria requires goint to war with Syria… and Russia.

    Some say that Clinton is just grandstanding and intends to do nothing, and anyway, by the time she takes office the rebels will be history. True or not, she advocates a policy that requires war with Russia.

    The communist movement of Germany, France, Britain and the US have always resented the Russian dominance of communism.

    • #126
  7. John Russell Coolidge
    John Russell
    @JohnRussell

    Paul A. Rahe:

    The King Prawn:

    civil westman: Paul – I believe you have described the crux of it. The lack of opposition, or even outcry, to Obama’s serial tyrannical acts (including those by the IRS and other administrative tyrannies) has only served to embolden the Democrats. If Hillary is elected, they will know they can do as they wish. We will remember the good old days when we could speak our minds on Ricochet. Today’s campus is tomorrow’s polity as to speech.

    And Trump has explicitly said he’ll double down on such tyrannical acts. The guy said he’d give illegal orders to the troops and that they’d obey. In my understanding of morality, supporting such a person is not acceptable.

    Once again, you focus on the man not on the situation. There is no way that he would get away with this. He would not have the backing of Congress or the courts.

    If you were to say to me, “Character matters,” I would agree. If you were to add, “His character is bad,” I would agree.

    But that is not the issue. The issue on which you should judge is this: what is likely to be the consequence. Judging on any other basis is irresponsible and, yes, immoral. Prudence is a moral imperative.

    The assertion,

    There is no way that he would get away with this. He would not have the backing of Congress or the courts

    sounds pretty imprudent to me, almost in the category of famous last words.  Power is corrupting both for those who hold it and for those who observe it from afar.  I would love to believe that Republicans would, indeed, dig in their heels to prevent Trump from implementing his despotic aspirations: but if there is one lesson I have drawn from the 2016 election cycle it is imprudent to rely on Republicans to do the right thing.  Whatever happened to the slogan “Personnel is policy?”  That slogan seemed to hold true during the Reagan administration.  It also seemed to hold true during the Leftists’ long march through the institutions. If one concedes that a candidate’s despotic character renders him unfit for the office of President of the United States (as you seem to do) then how is it prudent to cast a vote that helps put him in that office?  For those late eighteenth century Frenchman who were appalled by the Reign of Terror under Robespierre it was prudent not to back Robespierre: but that did not make it prudent to back Napoleon. And no, I am not equating Trump with Napoleon. For starters Trump is no military genius.

    • #127
  8. John Russell Coolidge
    John Russell
    @JohnRussell

    Basil Fawlty:

    Publius: Morality is actually one of the reasons why I didn’t vote for Trump. I have a long standing policy that I will not vote for pro-abortion candidates and we already have Trump undermining his implausible pro-life conversion story on abortion by telling us that Planned Parenthood does good things. He couldn’t even sustain the farce for the campaign cycle.

    And so you effectively vote for the candidate of partial birth abortion. You may have reasons for not voting for Trump, but morality isn’t among them.

    Are you equating a vote for Evan McMullin with a vote for Hillary Clinton? Are you equating a vote that leaves the presidential line blank with a vote for Hillary Clinton? Either of these assertions sounds like a non sequitur to me.

    • #128
  9. Ontheleftcoast Inactive
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    John Russell: Are you equating a vote for Evan McMullin with a vote for Hillary Clinton? Are you equating a vote that leaves the presidential line blank with a vote for Hillary Clinton?

    In California or Illinois, no. In, say Utah? Yes, with abstention being 1/2 vote for Clinton.

    Professor Rahe has it right. Emphasis added:

    Paul A. Rahe: You can, of course, turn your back on the whole thing — you can stay home or line up with Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, or Evan McMullin. That would, however, be a cop-out. It might make you feel good about yourself, but this feeling of self-satisfaction would be false and unjustified. For to throw your vote away in a time of national crisis is to dodge your duty as a citizen — which is to do what you can to make the best of the situation you find yourself in. What that is . . . there lies the rub.

     

    • #129
  10. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Paul A. Rahe: Absent the firm backing of a party intent on despotism, he would not be able to do anything of the sort.

    Think about the way Erdoğan did it, Paul. I heard exactly the same things in the early 2000s: The military wouldn’t let him, the courts wouldn’t let him, the voters wouldn’t let him, the United States wouldn’t let him. All those safeguards failed. You know the story, so I won’t rehearse it. We’ve already seen Trump bulldoze what should have been impenetrable institutional safeguards. It seems to me extremely naive to imagine nothing of that sort could happen in an America that now has similar social cleavages. We are not genetically immune.

    • #130
  11. John Russell Coolidge
    John Russell
    @JohnRussell

    HVTs:

    Paul A. Rahe: Absent the firm backing of a party intent on despotism, he would not be able to do anything of the sort. Stop thinking solely about character, and think seriously about consequences.

    Your lips . . . Ricochettian ears! Why, for the love of all that’s Holy, is this so hard for otherwise smart, savvy people to understand? I think it’s because they’ve subconsciously adopted the Left’s narrative about the GOP — that it’s always two goosesteps away from a Nuremberg rally.

    See Claire Berlinski’s post (number 130) above.  She addresses the foregoing assertion by Paul Rahe and your follow-up question directly.

    • #131
  12. John Russell Coolidge
    John Russell
    @JohnRussell

    goldwaterwoman:

    Paul A. Rahe: On Thursday night, I posted an appeal to Never Trumpers, arguing that they should hold their noses and vote for the slimeball.

    He is not a slimeball.

    The statement, “He is not a slime ball,” reminded me of a statement by Richard Nixon, to wit, “I am not a crook.” I confess that I do not find either of these assertions dispositive

    • #132
  13. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf
    @BrianWolf

    Paul A. Rahe: You can, of course, turn your back on the whole thing — you can stay home or line up with Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, or Evan McMullin. That would, however, be a cop-out. It might make you feel good about yourself, but this feeling of self-satisfaction would be false and unjustified. For to throw your vote away in a time of national crisis is to dodge your duty as a citizen — which is to do what you can to make the best of the situation you find yourself in. What that is . . . there lies the rub.

    Making the best of a bad situation is exactly why it is important not to support Trump or Hillary.  Voting for either in a time of national crisis is simply choosing your favorite flavor of poison.  What good is that if you want to avoid death?

    As for this…

    Paul A. Rahe: To the best of my knowledge, no one who commented on the piece I wrote challenged this judgment — which seems to me to make it a moral imperative that we vote to prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming President.

    I don’t think you read the comments on your previous piece.

    • #133
  14. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Publius:

    Basil Fawlty: And so you effectively vote for the candidate of partial birth abortion. You may have reasons for not voting for Trump, but morality isn’t among them.

    This is why I’m skeptical that center-right will be able to come together after this all is done. Accusing each other of immorality, questioning motives, and accusing each other of self-righteousness are going to cause wounds that won’t heal easily or quickly.

    When you claim the mantle of morality to justify your vote, don’t be surprised if people disagree with your description of your clothing.

    • #134
  15. The Whether Man Inactive
    The Whether Man
    @TheWhetherMan

    Paul A. Rahe:

    EB:So your post didn’t convince people the first time, so you just decided to post it again?

    The first one convinced most people. I reposted in order to raise questions about the validity of my argument. I reposted in order to try to do justice to the likes of John Yoo and Jeremy Rabkin. No one thus far has taken up that theme.

    Hah!  Oh man, thanks. That was a badly needed laugh.

    I’ll grant that you convinced 100% of the people who already agreed with you.  But nothing you add here is actually new to this long, infernal debate. Time to let the people make their judgment call and vote how they see fit, even if it doesn’t fit your parameters of an acceptable vote. I doubt anyone made their decision lightly this year.

     

    • #135
  16. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Paul A. Rahe: Absent the firm backing of a party intent on despotism, he would not be able to do anything of the sort.

    Think about the way Erdoğan did it, Paul. I heard exactly the same things in the early 2000s: The military wouldn’t let him, the courts wouldn’t let him, the voters wouldn’t let him, the United States wouldn’t let him. All those safeguards failed. You know the story, so I won’t rehearse it. We’ve already seen Trump bulldoze what should have been impenetrable institutional safeguards. It seems to me extremely naive to imagine nothing of that sort could happen in an America that now has similar social cleavages. We are not genetically immune.

    And why beholdest thou the Trump that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the Clinton that is in thine own eye?

    • #136
  17. Spiral Reagan
    Spiral
    @HeavyWater

    Paul A. Rahe:

    There is a difference between the Democratic Party of FDR, McGovern, and Carter and the Democratic Party of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. They upheld the First Amendment. They did not seek to bring an end to freedom of speech. Re-read what I wrote about what has already happened. Then extrapolate.

    In 2008, President Obama was elected and the Democrats won large majorities in the US House and US Senate.

    Why did Obama and the Democrats fail to bring an end to freedom of speech?

    If Obama failed to bring an end to freedom of speech in 2009, when he was a popular and charismatic president with a Congress ideologically aligned with him, why should be believe that Hillary Clinton will succeed in ending freedom of speech as an unpopular president with at least the US House and perhaps the US Senate unaligned with her?

    • #137
  18. Robert Zubrin Inactive
    Robert Zubrin
    @RobertZubrin

    The two pillars of the world order since 1945 are free trade and collective security. These have been so successful in preventing another global depression or another general war that for the past 70 years, all presidential candidates of both parties have supported them. Until now.  Trump wants to abandon both. Consequently it would be insane to elect him president.

    The choice in this election is simply this: Do you prefer the world as it was before 1945 or the world as it has been since 1945?

    Vote accordingly.

     

     

    • #138
  19. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    EB:

    Paul A. Rahe: The first one convinced most people.

    Most of who? Commenters? Ricochet? The world?

    How did you arrive at your conclusion?

    Most of the members of Ricochet had already indicated that they would be voting for Trump.

    • #139
  20. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Spiral: Why did Obama and the Democrats fail to bring an end to freedom of speech?

    Be patient.  The IRS is working on it.

    • #140
  21. Spiral Reagan
    Spiral
    @HeavyWater

    Paul A. Rahe:

    Show everyone that I am wrong in my estimation of the danger. Show that freedom of speech is not in question, that election integrity is not threatened, that illegal immigration does not matter. Unless I am wrong about this, your argument is unsound.

    I agree and disagree with your estimation of the danger.

    Illegal immigrants voting.  I agree that allowing illegal immigrants to vote in our elections undermines election integrity.

    However, illegal immigrants have been voting in our elections for decades and Republicans have won majorities in the US House, the US Senate, in state legislatures and have won governors races and presidential races during this period.  Even in places where illegal immigrant voting is significant, places like Arizona and Texas.

    In places where illegal immigrant cast fewer votes, like Washington state, Oregon, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Vermont, the Democrats have been winning more frequently than in Arizona and Texas.

    Illegal immigrant voting is a problem, but not one that has prevented conservatives from winning elections.

    Freedom of speech.  Freedom of speech has been restricted in a significant way since the 1970s, when the Democrat controlled Congress passed campaign finance reforms.  For example, I am currently prevented by law from donating more than a fixed amount of money to a candidate for US Senate.  This is a violation of the 1st Amendment.

    Yet, while these restrictions on speech have been in place, conservatives have won elections at all levels of government.

     

    • #141
  22. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Paul A. Rahe: You can make a gesture by not voting or throwing away your vote

    It is not a gesture. It’s a choice.

    Not buying the hot radio is not a gesture just because someone else will buy it.

    By participating, you are saying this system is legit.

    • #142
  23. Spiral Reagan
    Spiral
    @HeavyWater

    Spiral:Yet, while these restrictions on speech have been in place, conservatives have won elections at all levels of government.

    Also, conservatives won elections when ABC, NBC and CBS had a monopoly over political discourse.

    Therefore, one may agree with your assessment that illegal immigrant voting undermines the integrity of our election results and that the 1st Amendment has been violated in the past, is being violated currently and will be violated in the future while still believing that just as conservatives and Republicans were able to win elections despite these disadvantages in the past, they will be able to win in the future.

    If Trump is elected and is a failed president, however, it will be much more difficult for conservatives and Republicans to make their case.  Trump’s failed presidency will be Exhibit A, evidence that voting for “conservatives” and Republicans harms the interests of the average citizen.

    Therefore, conservatives may be better off if Hillary Clinton wins if one is willing to look beyond the next four years.

     

    • #143
  24. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    The King Prawn:

    Paul A. Rahe:

    The King Prawn:I think some of the difficulty in coming to agreement in this as a language barrier. When we start in with morality and prudence you are speaking in Catholic, but I am hearing in Protestant.

    I thought so. Sometime, perhaps, we could go back and forth on the best way to fight abortion — whether, for example, to accept half a loaf with an eye to getting a full loaf later or to insist on the full loaf now, knowing that one will get nothing. I am told by an evangelical friend who works sometimes with Focus on the Family that most evangelicals lean to the latter position. We Catholics tend to be Aristotelian in our understanding of politics. Half a loaf will do . . . for now.

    This is one of those rare areas where I can get behind “if it only saves one child…”

    The Catholic brothers and sisters here have done yeoman’s work in educating me on this and other topics. I can, alas, be both thick and stubborn, so their patience is always much appreciated.

    Your view on this is my view, and I extend it to all political matters.

    • #144
  25. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    The King Prawn:On Yoo and Rabkin, are they basically arguing that Hillary is bad but remains abhorrent within normal parameters and is therefore less of a threat than Trump who is abhorrent beyond measure? She’s dangerous but in predictable and opposable ways, but Trump’s unpredictability would leave us always playing catch up with his crazy?

    For me that doesn’t reach the level of hazard necessary to affirmatively vote for her, but it does solidify my conviction that voting for him is not appropriate either.

    It is a less a question of abhorrence for them, I believe, than a sensitivity to the fragile character of the existing international order and a suspicion that Trump really is an isolationist. They might be right. If I thought they were, I would vote for the crook.

    • #145
  26. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Paul A. Rahe: There is great moral significance to irresponsibility, and it is irresponsible not to calculate the likely consequences.

    Indeed. These numbers are somewhat outdated, so should not be taken verbatim, but they do ballpark the likely (and lottery-like) odds of a person’s vote being decisive depending on state, which should be what you want, if you’re into likely consequences.

    When it comes to likely consequences, we cannot just factor in which outcome might be more desirable, but also how likely our efforts are to influence the selection of outcomes.

    Indeed.

    • #146
  27. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    skipsul:

    The King Prawn:On Yoo and Rabkin, are they basically arguing that Hillary is bad but remains abhorrent within normal parameters and is therefore less of a threat than Trump who is abhorrent beyond measure? She’s dangerous but in predictable and opposable ways, but Trump’s unpredictability would leave us always playing catch up with his crazy?

    For me that doesn’t reach the level of hazard necessary to affirmatively vote for her, but it does solidify my conviction that voting for him is not appropriate either.

    Setting aside the corruption issues with Hillary, I actually do worry greatly about her “predictable and opposable ways”, particularly on foreign policy. The traditional Dem disdain for our military, in the form of budget cuts to the wrong areas and needless social experimentation, combined with her disastrous record as SecState, combined with her ossified strategic thinking and lack of vision for the US role abroad, coupled with the alienation of US allies, all have me worried that she’s the far more dangerous wild card with regards to US security.

    I understand the fear that Trump would bumble us into a war or engage in excessive isolationism, but I worry far more Hillary will get us dragged into one in the 21st century equivalent of “some damn fool thing in the Balkans”, likely against Russia or China.

    This administration’s track record is far too eerily reminiscent of 1910’s bumbling.

    You have an argument. Her track record is terrible.

    • #147
  28. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    John Russell:

    Paul A. Rahe:

    The King Prawn:

    civil westman: Paul – I believe you have described the crux of it. The lack of opposition, or even outcry, to Obama’s serial tyrannical acts (including those by the IRS and other administrative tyrannies) has only served to embolden the Democrats. If Hillary is elected, they will know they can do as they wish. We will remember the good old days when we could speak our minds on Ricochet. Today’s campus is tomorrow’s polity as to speech.

    And Trump has explicitly said he’ll double down on such tyrannical acts. The guy said he’d give illegal orders to the troops and that they’d obey. In my understanding of morality, supporting such a person is not acceptable.

    Once again, you focus on the man not on the situation. There is no way that he would get away with this. He would not have the backing of Congress or the courts.

    If you were to say to me, “Character matters,” I would agree. If you were to add, “His character is bad,” I would agree.

    But that is not the issue. The issue on which you should judge is this: what is likely to be the consequence. Judging on any other basis is irresponsible and, yes, immoral. Prudence is a moral imperative.

    The assertion,

    There is no way that he would get away with this. He would not have the backing of Congress or the courts

    sounds pretty imprudent to me, almost in the category of famous last words. Power is corrupting both for those who hold it and for those who observe it from afar. I would love to believe that Republicans would, indeed, dig in their heels to prevent Trump from implementing his despotic aspirations: but if there is one lesson I have drawn from the 2016 election cycle it is imprudent to rely on Republicans to do the right thing. Whatever happened to the slogan “Personnel is policy?” That slogan seemed to hold true during the Reagan administration. It also seemed to hold true during the Leftists’ long march through the institutions. If one concedes that a candidate’s despotic character renders him unfit for the office of President of the United States (as you seem to do) then how is it prudent to cast a vote that helps put him in that office? For those late eighteenth century Frenchman who were appalled by the Reign of Terror under Robespierre it was prudent not to back Robespierre: but that did not make it prudent to back Napoleon. And no, I am not equating Trump with Napoleon. For starters Trump is no military genius.

    I have little respect for the Republicans. But I know this. They will not back his crazier moves, and his administration will be peopled with the likes of Mike Pence. These people will dig in their heels as well. Most important, he will not have the courts, and in today’s America most really awful things are done through the courts. Hillary will have the courts. Obama already has everything but the Supreme Court, and she will get that.

    • #148
  29. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Paul A. Rahe: Absent the firm backing of a party intent on despotism, he would not be able to do anything of the sort.

    Think about the way Erdoğan did it, Paul. I heard exactly the same things in the early 2000s: The military wouldn’t let him, the courts wouldn’t let him, the voters wouldn’t let him, the United States wouldn’t let him. All those safeguards failed. You know the story, so I won’t rehearse it. We’ve already seen Trump bulldoze what should have been impenetrable institutional safeguards. It seems to me extremely naive to imagine nothing of that sort could happen in an America that now has similar social cleavages. We are not genetically immune.

    No, we are not immune. But Trump is no Erdogan. To begin with, he does not control the Republican Party in the House or the Senate, and the courts are firmly controlled by the Democrats. Most important, however, he is 70 and will not be with us for any great length of time. Erdogan used salami tactics. Trump will not have the time.

    Hillary is another matter. The Democrats are poised to have it all locked up. They can do everything they want by executive decree (i.e., regulations that have the force of law) . . . if the courts will back them. And you and I know that they will. Obama’s appointees have been chosen for their loyalty. With the death of Scalia . . . need I go on?

    • #149
  30. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Spiral:

    Spiral:Yet, while these restrictions on speech have been in place, conservatives have won elections at all levels of government.

    Also, conservatives won elections when ABC, NBC and CBS had a monopoly over political discourse.

    Therefore, one may agree with your assessment that illegal immigrant voting undermines the integrity of our election results and that the 1st Amendment has been violated in the past, is being violated currently and will be violated in the future while still believing that just as conservatives and Republicans were able to win elections despite these disadvantages in the past, they will be able to win in the future.

    If Trump is elected and is a failed president, however, it will be much more difficult for conservatives and Republicans to make their case. Trump’s failed presidency will be Exhibit A, evidence that voting for “conservatives” and Republicans harms the interests of the average citizen.

    Therefore, conservatives may be better off if Hillary Clinton wins if one is willing to look beyond the next four years.

    In the past, ABC, NBC, and CBS were more balanced (though never completely balanced) than they are now. The press was never before Obama fully in the tank for the Democrats.

    • #150
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