Donald Trump is simply not, under any circumstances, an acceptable candidate for the office of President. In a previous post, I detailed the many compromises which I would have to make in order to vote for Mr. Trump. At the end of the day, I have to live with myself and my conscience, and I know that I would have a difficult time living with myself if I voted for Donald Trump. Others need not live with my conscience nor I with theirs, but here I stand. If the primary voters of the Republican Party are foolish enough to foist this man on voters as the other major party candidate opposite Hillary Clinton (or, theoretically, Bernie Sanders), then they cannot count on my vote.
This, of course, raises the very reasonable objection: “but if you vote third-party, you are helping to elect Hillary Clinton”. And in one sense, I cannot disagree, at least in theory. Given that I have been throughout my life a particularly-reliable vote for the Republican nominee*, to not vote for the Republican is to take away one vote upon which Republicans could reliably count. I get it, I really do, and I’m sympathetic with that reasoning–but only to a point. Reduced to its barest essentials, it suggests that even a hair’s breadth of preference for one candidate over another is enough to vote for “the lesser of the two evils” (of course, as long as we vote for “the lesser of two evils”, we’ll get an evil). Hitler runs against Mussolini, and I guess you vote for Benito, under this logic. And for those who believe this to be the absolute case, that under any circumstance we might find, we ought to so vote, I will be charitable even in disagreeing.
My belief is that this argument has limits to it, and from my perspective, this situation pushes us over the boundary. I need not enumerate the many, many reasons why Hillary Clinton is an utterly unacceptable candidate for president. She is an ethical pygmy, an inept administrator whose terms as Senator and as Secretary of State were undistinguished, at best, whose incapacity for shame is legendary, and for whom the truth is only employed when convenient for her political aspirations. She is no feminist; the fact that she has served in those ways is due only to her having the good insight to hitch her political wagon to one William Jefferson Clinton. It should be obvious that while she is an intelligent and able woman, she would be practicing law somewhere, unknown to the masses, if not for her marriage. She is by most accounts a humorless, super-demanding, ungrateful patrician with a superiority complex and a loathing for the hoi polloi. She espouses a big-government leftist agenda that promises more intrusion into our affairs and the concomitant loss of freedom which always attends such endeavors. She promises to largely continue the horrid agenda of the Obama administration, and this man has done more than any individual in American history to tear down the foundational principles of our country. I could not possibly vote for Mrs. Clinton, of course.
But neither can I vote for a man like Donald Trump. For those who care, the truth is out there and it is plentiful; I need not rehearse it in more than broad brushstrokes here. Morally, he is in most respects the lesser of Mrs. Clinton. While it has been said (and I agree) that “we aren’t electing a national pastor”, and of course everyone has their particular weaknesses, it nonetheless strikes me that the highest office in the land ought to be held by someone who at least has a modicum of moral respectability; I find none in Mr. Trump. He is one of the few people I can name who makes Barack Obama look humble by comparison. He does not project strength; he evinces a bravado which seems to mask some real insecurities. He does not seem to respect other people (at least anyone who dare cross him) in any meaningful sense of the term; while I will not call him a racist, a sexist, or a bigot, he has made a plethora of statements which seem to paint those pictures. He displays a reckless disregard for factuality. He shows a casual lack of interest in acquainting himself with some basic knowledge of critical situations that ought to be de rigeur for a candidate for the highest office in the land, preferring to wing it and speak off the cuff. He is a rank novice at a time when our nation desperately needs solid experience, he is a moderate when we desperately need to return to conservative principles, and he is a fool when our country desperately needs a leader with wisdom. He has changed his political positions, his party affiliation, his allegiances, and his perspectives enough times that it would border on the insane to believe that who Donald Trump says he is now is the man he will be once elected to office, and I am not willing to vote for a fill-in-the-blank, principles-to-be-named-and-or-changed-later type of person. To give the title “Commander in Chief” to a man this reckless, this fickle, this insecure, and this inexperienced is a prospect that ought to scare the living bejeebers out of any thinking person. And frankly, there are many, many other things that could be said. When I say that I cannot vote for Donald Trump, it is not as though if the man would tweak a position here, massage a point there, or repudiate a nonsensical piece of double-talk there, I could consider voting for him. Donald Trump is eons from getting my vote, and he isn’t going to make it up in ten months; not a chance.
And so the potential of a Hillary v. Donald matchup leaves me without a horse in the race; two grossly unacceptable candidates, the support of either of which would render many things I’ve said, done, and believed in the past to be mere preferences rather than convictions. This is a price I cannot pay, because I have to shave this face every morning and answer to this conscience. Therefore, I am doing whatever I can to express my contempt, not for these people, but for the idea that they might be fit to serve as president, with the hope that some might join me to help ensure that we are not faced with this terrible choice. The frustrating-to-the-point-of-infuriating thing about this particular election is that there have been several extremely well-qualified, strong candidates, people who have accomplished real results and can articulate a clear, conservative alternative to the Obama/Clinton progressivism, and these would be formidable opponents to a woman whose life and campaign are built on insincerity, misdirection and prevarication. Several of these, unable to compete for airtime with the drunken loudmouth at the end of the presidential bar whose insults, one-liners, and gaffes have mesmerized many and have captured continuous headlines, have dropped out of the race. Others barely hang on, rarely able to get a word in edgewise in this silly environment.
But I digress; my point is that I am voting right now, most every single day, by attempting to point friends away from people like Hillary and Trump. This is my vote; this is my patriotic participation in the political process. I am casting my vote in every way I know how, right here, right now. And I may not be successful, but I will continue to cast it. It is a vote for the potential of a brighter future, and against the ghastly prospect of a Trump or Clinton presidency. I am not “wasting” my vote at all as I cast it so regularly. And so, after doing all I am trying to do, if I fail, and if America proceeds down the sad course of Trump/Clinton, then I will rest content at night knowing that I have done what I could do as a citizen. By that time, I won’t have the energy to journey on some guilt trip that others might want me to take.
*In 1996, with the re-election of Bill Clinton a foregone conclusion, I chose to cast a third-party vote in protest of the Republicans’ determination to award Bob Dole the “next man up” designation as nominee, when Dole was DOA as a candidate.