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.

Members have made 194 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Publius Thatcher

    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.

    I can assure you in no uncertain terms that when I walked out of the voting booth having left the ballot blank for president that self-satisfaction wasn’t remotely what I was feeling. I just felt sad about the whole state of the country where the primary voters of both political parties ensured that no matter what happened, we would end up with a terrible and unqualified president.

    I’m with @jonahgoldberg on this one in that I won’t allow Donald Trump to make a liar out of me. I’ve spent my entire life advocating for liberty with a heavy emphasis on the right to life for the unborn. Voting for Donald Trump would be turning my back on everything that I believed in.

    It’s not my fault the GOP primary voters made an awful decision, but I can at least not ratify that decision by voting for their wretched and manifestly unqualified candidate after voting for every singular one they coughed up during my entire voting history.

    • #1
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:10 pm
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  2. Profile photo of I Walton Member

    I couldn’t agree more with everything you say. I just wish I could say it so well.

    • #2
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:14 pm
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  3. Profile photo of Spiral Coolidge

    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).

    This is a variant of The Flight 93 Election argument. Why should anyone who rejects the premise of the Flight 93 Election accept your premise?

    • #3
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:19 pm
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  4. Profile photo of Arahant Member

    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.

    Given the electoral system, I think you ought to have a caveat on this for those in states like California and Washington where the probability of any victory other than Hillary is extremely low. Let them vote as they will. This is not a strict democracy, thank Cod.

    But as for you and I, I have seen some polls with Michigan close. I shall be right there with you hoping for my vote to matter and hoping for a good outcome afterwards.

    • #4
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:20 pm
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  5. Profile photo of Basil Fawlty Inactive

    As a call to arms this close to the election, I’d have chosen a less ironic title for your post.

    • #5
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:21 pm
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  6. Profile photo of billy Inactive

    Arahant:

    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.

    Given the electoral system, I think you ought to have a caveat on this for those in states like California and Washington where the probability of any victory other than Hillary is extremely low. Let them vote as they will. This is not a strict democracy, thank Cod.

    But as for you and I, I have seen some polls with Michigan close. I shall be right there with you hoping for my vote to matter and hoping for a good outcome afterwards.

    This is an important point. There will be at least one surprise on Tuesday. A usually red state (Arizona?) will turn blue and a blue state (Wisconsin?) will go red.

    • #6
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:26 pm
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  7. Profile photo of Basil Fawlty Inactive

    Spiral:

    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).

    This is a variant of The Flight 93 Election argument. Why should anyone who rejects the premise of the Flight 93 Election accept your premise?

    Because it’s true? (Sorry for the plagiarism.)

    • #7
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:31 pm
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  8. Profile photo of John Russell Thatcher

    Paul A. Rahe:One final point. On Tuesday, 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.

    This argument would be compelling if the landscaper regarded himself as hired help and not my master. I know of no precedent that would support the expectation that Donald Trump would ever view himself as hired help. He is, as I have written elsewhere, a would-be despot. A vote for him constitutes consent to that despotism. And no, I did not vote for Hillary, either.

    • #8
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:38 pm
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  9. Profile photo of Functionary Reagan

    Publius: It’s not my fault the GOP primary voters made an awful decision, but I can at least not ratify that decision by voting for their wretched and manifestly unqualified candidate after voting for every singular one they coughed up during my entire voting history.

    Who cares if it’s your fault, or not? It would be better if you were to respond directly to what Dr. Rahe said on this point: “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.”

    You’re not “ratify[ing] that decision by voting for their wretched and manifestly unqualified candidate,” that decision (which I agree was wretched) has already been made. Whether you want to face it or not, their decision narrowed the field and created the reality that we now face.

    • #9
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:42 pm
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  10. Profile photo of The King Prawn Member

    Paul A. Rahe: to make it a moral imperative that we vote…

    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.

    It cannot be a moral imperative if there is no moral significance to it. This is a confused and contradictory position. If it is a moral decision then there are right and wrong choices not better and worse ones. If it is merely a prudential judgement then more right/less wrong is consistent, and that removes from it any imperative, moral or otherwise.

    Otherwise, it strikes me that we are really choosing is the manner of our destruction, either from within or from without. Or, we can and will survive either scenario, so the imperative is again disempowered.

    • #10
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:47 pm
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  11. Profile photo of Bryan G. Stephens Reagan

    The Democrats, including Secretary of State Clinton, have already started us down the path of ruin. I do not think Trump will be worse, because he will have people in his administration who are not Democrats.

    • #11
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:47 pm
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  12. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    Spiral:

    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).

    This is a variant of The Flight 93 Election argument. Why should anyone who rejects the premise of the Flight 93 Election accept your premise?

    If you think that I am wrong about what the Democrats are up to, show me. I laid out evidence. What grounds to you have for what you think?

    Is this really just another election?

    • #12
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:51 pm
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  13. Profile photo of Publius Thatcher

    Functionary:

    Publius: It’s not my fault the GOP primary voters made an awful decision, but I can at least not ratify that decision by voting for their wretched and manifestly unqualified candidate after voting for every singular one they coughed up during my entire voting history.

    Who cares if it’s your fault, or not? It would be better if you were to respond directly to what Dr. Rahe said on this point: “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.”

    You’re not “ratify[ing] that decision by voting for their wretched and manifestly unqualified candidate,” that decision (which I agree was wretched) has already been made. Whether you want to face it or not, their decision narrowed the field and created the reality that we now face.

    As I’ve written countless numbers of times over the past eon that we’ve been arguing over this, I find Donald Trump and Hillary Clinto manifestly unqualified for the job, therefore, I did not vote to hire either one of them.

    The primary voters of both major parties decided they would ensure that an unqualified person would get hired to mow the lawn or whatever silly analogy we’re using on this one. I’ll mow my own darn lawn long before I’d hire any of the candidates that were on my ballot.

    • #13
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:52 pm
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  14. Profile photo of Spiral Coolidge

    Basil Fawlty:

    Spiral:

    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).

    This is a variant of The Flight 93 Election argument. Why should anyone who rejects the premise of the Flight 93 Election accept your premise?

    Because it’s true? (Sorry for the plagiarism.)

    Not everyone agrees that if Hillary Clinton wins next week, future election results will be of no importance.

    Are you planning on moving to New Zealand if Hillary wins? What about Sean Hannity?

    If not, why aren’t we entitled to view that argument by Dr. Rahe and the Flight 93 argument as hyperbole?

    • #14
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:52 pm
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  15. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    Arahant:

    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.

    Given the electoral system, I think you ought to have a caveat on this for those in states like California and Washington where the probability of any victory other than Hillary is extremely low. Let them vote as they will. This is not a strict democracy, thank Cod.

    But as for you and I, I have seen some polls with Michigan close. I shall be right there with you hoping for my vote to matter and hoping for a good outcome afterwards.

    Fair enough. Those in California and Washington can afford to throw away their votes without really being irresponsible.

    • #15
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:53 pm
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  16. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    John Russell:

    Paul A. Rahe:One final point. On Tuesday, 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.

    This argument would be compelling if the landscaper regarded himself as hired help and not my master. I know of no precedent that would support the expectation that Donald Trump would ever view himself as hired help. He is, as I have written elsewhere, a would-be despot. A vote for him constitutes consent to that despotism. And no, I did not vote for Hillary, either.

    You are confusing Donald Trump’s temperament, which you may have right, with his potential, which you mistake. 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.

    • #16
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:56 pm
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  17. Profile photo of Spiral Coolidge

    Paul A. Rahe:

    Spiral:

    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).

    This is a variant of The Flight 93 Election argument. Why should anyone who rejects the premise of the Flight 93 Election accept your premise?

    If you think that I am wrong about what the Democrats are up to, show me. I laid out evidence. What grounds to you have for what you think?

    Is this really just another election?

    Yes, this really is just another election.

    If Hillary Clinton wins next Tuesday, I suspect that you are not likely to move to another country, just as you didn’t leave the US after Obama won in 2008 or after he won reelection in 2012.

    I agree that Democrats are up to advancing Leftism. But this has been true for as long as I have been eligible to vote and I’m 50 years old.

    • #17
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:56 pm
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  18. Profile photo of The King Prawn Member

    Paul A. Rahe: Those in California and Washington can afford to throw away their votes without really being irresponsible.

    Still not buying the overweening statements that a vote in accordance with one’s conscience is throwing away that vote. After all, you argue vociferously that it is merely a prudential judgement.

    • #18
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:57 pm
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  19. Profile photo of Basil Fawlty Inactive

    Spiral:Not everyone agrees that if Hillary Clinton wins next week, future election results will be of no importance.

    Are you planning on moving to New Zealand if Hillary wins? What about Sean Hannity?

    If not, why aren’t we entitled to view that argument by Dr. Rahe and the Flight 93 argument as hyperbole?

    I rest my case.

    • #19
    • November 5, 2016 at 2:59 pm
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  20. Profile photo of Spiral Coolidge

    The King Prawn:

    Paul A. Rahe: Those in California and Washington can afford to throw away their votes without really being irresponsible.

    Still not buying the overweening statements that a vote in accordance with one’s conscience is throwing away that vote. After all, you argue vociferously that it is merely a prudential judgement.

    Also, given that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Leftists, why is refusing to vote for neither of them a bad idea? Maybe this could persuade the Republican party to refrain from nominating a Leftist in 2020.

    • #20
    • November 5, 2016 at 3:00 pm
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  21. Profile photo of The King Prawn Member

    Spiral:

    The King Prawn:

    Paul A. Rahe: Those in California and Washington can afford to throw away their votes without really being irresponsible.

    Still not buying the overweening statements that a vote in accordance with one’s conscience is throwing away that vote. After all, you argue vociferously that it is merely a prudential judgement.

    Also, given that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Leftists, why is refusing to vote for neither of them a bad idea? Maybe this could persuade the Republican party to refrain from nominating a Leftist in 2020.

    Patrick Henry said, “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.” Both Clinton and Trump fail this test.

    • #21
    • November 5, 2016 at 3:05 pm
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  22. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    The King Prawn:

    Paul A. Rahe: to make it a moral imperative that we vote…

    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.

    It cannot be a moral imperative if there is no moral significance to it. This is a confused and contradictory position. If it is a moral decision then there are right and wrong choices not better and worse ones. If it is merely a prudential judgement then more right/less wrong is consistent, and that removes from it any imperative, moral or otherwise.

    Otherwise, it strikes me that we are really choosing is the manner of our destruction, either from within or from without. Or, we can and will survive either scenario, so the imperative is again disempowered.

    Wrong, wrong, morally wrong. It is morally wrong to be politically imprudent. Prudence is not the same as cunning. There is great moral significance to irresponsibility, and it is irresponsible not to calculate the likely consequences.

    Jeremy and John may be right; I may be right. Time will tell. But you are advocating moralistic gestures, not moral action. I am not suggesting that you embrace Donald Trump (or Hillary Clinton). I am suggesting that trying to make things less bad than they would otherwise be is a moral duty.

    I may be wrong in my calculations. I am not wrong in my assessment of the moral choices we have to make.

    • #22
    • November 5, 2016 at 3:06 pm
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  23. Profile photo of Functionary Reagan

    Publius: I find Donald Trump and Hillary Clinto manifestly unqualified for the job, therefore, I did not vote to hire either one of them.

    I agree that they are both unqualified. But, yes you are hiring one or the other of them (unless your non-vote or your advocacy for not voting for one or the other have no impact on the outcome – which may be the case).

    • #23
    • November 5, 2016 at 3:07 pm
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  24. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    Publius:

    Functionary:

    Publius: It’s not my fault the GOP primary voters made an awful decision, but I can at least not ratify that decision by voting for their wretched and manifestly unqualified candidate after voting for every singular one they coughed up during my entire voting history.

    Who cares if it’s your fault, or not? It would be better if you were to respond directly to what Dr. Rahe said on this point: “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.”

    You’re not “ratify[ing] that decision by voting for their wretched and manifestly unqualified candidate,” that decision (which I agree was wretched) has already been made. Whether you want to face it or not, their decision narrowed the field and created the reality that we now face.

    As I’ve written countless numbers of times over the past eon that we’ve been arguing over this, I find Donald Trump and Hillary Clinto manifestly unqualified for the job, therefore, I did not vote to hire either one of them.

    The primary voters of both major parties decided they would ensure that an unqualified person would get hired to mow the lawn or whatever silly analogy we’re using on this one. I’ll mow my own darn lawn long before I’d hire any of the candidates that were on my ballot.

    This lawn you cannot mow yourself, and one of the two will end up with the job. Your choice is to walk away from your moral responsibilities.

    Set aside your anger and frustration (which are justified), and think about our future.

    • #24
    • November 5, 2016 at 3:09 pm
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  25. Profile photo of Spiral Coolidge

    Paul A. Rahe:This lawn you cannot mow yourself, and one of the two will end up with the job. Your choice is to walk away from your moral responsibilities.

    Set aside your anger and frustration (which are justified), and think about our future.

    As we think about our future, we must think beyond the next four years.

    If Trump wins the election and ends up being a failed president, Democrat wave elections in 2018 and 2020 are likely. Thus, we would confront exactly the problem you are trying to avoid by electing Trump.

    If Hillary Clinton is elected and she ends up being a failed president, Republican wave elections in 2018 and 2020 are likely. We could end up with conservative Republicans dominating the White House, the US House and the US Senate.

    If one looks beyond just the next four years, a Trump defeat could be a blessing.

    • #25
    • November 5, 2016 at 3:14 pm
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  26. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    Spiral:

    Basil Fawlty:

    Spiral:

    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).

    This is a variant of The Flight 93 Election argument. Why should anyone who rejects the premise of the Flight 93 Election accept your premise?

    Because it’s true? (Sorry for the plagiarism.)

    Not everyone agrees that if Hillary Clinton wins next week, future election results will be of no importance.

    Are you planning on moving to New Zealand if Hillary wins? What about Sean Hannity?

    If not, why aren’t we entitled to view that argument by Dr. Rahe and the Flight 93 argument as hyperbole?

    You are, indeed, entitled to view my argument as hyperbole if you think this. But do you not owe us an explanation why I am wrong? I owe John Yoo and Jeremy Rabkin and the rest of you an explanation why I think that they are wrong. They have an argument and a cogent one. So, I will hazard, do I. If this is your view, explain why. Show your cards. It might be of use to everyone here.

    As for Sean Hannity, I know next to nothing about him; I have no idea what he thinks; and I care even less. As for New Zealand, I will be there to give a talk in February. I will not be thinking of moving, but there will be someone with me who has raised the question.

    • #26
    • November 5, 2016 at 3:15 pm
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  27. Profile photo of Casey Member

    Paul A. Rahe: I doubt that he is serious in what he says in these offhand remarks.

    This is at the heart of what I don’t understand. Trump and his supporters have been consistent in emoting what they want. While the statements are wild and crude and crazy, they always fall in line with his theme. “We should be in charge.”

    Obama said “We won.” This is what voters are reacting to. They say, “Oh yeah! How about if we win?”

    Once we get into this tit for tat then conservatism isn’t relevant anymore. Sure he won’t act to shut is down like she will but the effect is the same.

    I wish we’d think more about politics and less about policy. This gets us into so much trouble.

    • #27
    • November 5, 2016 at 3:15 pm
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  28. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    Spiral:

    Paul A. Rahe:

    Spiral:

    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).

    This is a variant of The Flight 93 Election argument. Why should anyone who rejects the premise of the Flight 93 Election accept your premise?

    If you think that I am wrong about what the Democrats are up to, show me. I laid out evidence. What grounds to you have for what you think?

    Is this really just another election?

    Yes, this really is just another election.

    If Hillary Clinton wins next Tuesday, I suspect that you are not likely to move to another country, just as you didn’t leave the US after Obama won in 2008 or after he won reelection in 2012.

    I agree that Democrats are up to advancing Leftism. But this has been true for as long as I have been eligible to vote and I’m 50 years old.

    I repeat myself. Show me the evidence. What do you make of the attack on the First Amendment? On the scale of illegal immigration? On the campaign to register illegal immigrants to vote? You have an opinion and an attitude. Produce an argument. Write a post. Show me wrong . . . if you can.

    • #28
    • November 5, 2016 at 3:18 pm
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  29. Profile photo of Functionary Reagan

    I’m struck by the nonsense about morality coming from some folks about hiring Trump to serve as President. Those of you of the Jewish or Christian faiths must know that God chose many immoral people to serve him. The best example is probably King David, who had the man he cuckolded [I hate that word] killed; but it’s clear he was God’s choice to lead the Kingdom of Israel. So, what is all this morality nonsense. Please criticize Trump’s immoral behavior, but I don’t think it’s a very biblical perspective to say that he can’t serve us better than the alternative on offer.

    • #29
    • November 5, 2016 at 3:18 pm
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  30. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    The King Prawn:

    Paul A. Rahe: Those in California and Washington can afford to throw away their votes without really being irresponsible.

    Still not buying the overweening statements that a vote in accordance with one’s conscience is throwing away that vote. After all, you argue vociferously that it is merely a prudential judgement.

    Merely? You underestimate the moral imperative to be prudent. If you have a family and an unpleasant boss, would you quite your job out of pique? Or would you consult the interests of your family? Would that not be a moral imperative? Let me be blunt. It is immoral to ignore the consequences of your conduct.

    • #30
    • November 5, 2016 at 3:21 pm
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