Donald Trump is not going to be president of the United States. As the election winds down, those of us in the Never Trump camp, while wrong about the primary, have been proven absolutely right about the general election. No crowd sizes, enthusiasm gaps, or wave of new voters has emerged to save a candidacy that was doomed from the start.
My greatest fear in regard to the election, a Trump presidency, is not going happen. But my second greatest fear, a Clinton presidency, may well happen. As a voter in safe blue New York I can have no impact on the former—but I can use my vote to influence the latter.
It is very possible that voting for Trump as a protest against Clinton is the best chance I have to stave off a Clinton administration that runs roughshod over the American people and points to us saying, “This is what you asked for.” I understand that maybe a historic landslide is some redemption for the Never Trump GOP. I get that it might, but only might, push Trump’s base toward a more reasonable option in 2020.
That said, a message needs to be sent to Hillary Clinton, Democrats, and the media. For her to enter the White House with a huge mandate is unacceptable. Her flouting of the law, her disregard for the Constitution, the government and media’s unwillingness to hold her accountable for anything, all compel me to send a message with my vote that I do not consent.
The Election Of Repudiation
It is well-documented that the 2016 election features by far the two most unlikable candidates in modern history. One of them has been thoroughly and rightly repudiated. The other is Hillary Clinton. While many on the right have attacked Trump for his temperament, rhetoric, and positions, Democrats largely fallen in line behind their flawed nominee.
It is easy and correct to blame Trump and the GOP who nominated him for the pass Hillary Clinton is receiving. The WikiLeaks emails showing incredible and troubling coordination between her candidacy and the Department of Justice, the media and corporations, have been all but ignored because of Trump’s obscene video leak. Curiously, like clockwork, every time a damaging revelation about Clinton appears, something worse, or at least more salacious, about Trump takes center stage.
It doesn’t really matter why this is happening. The result has been that Hillary Clinton’s lawless, reckless, and tasteless behavior has been buried under the avalanche of anti-Trump coverage. As DNC emails themselves make clear, the Democrats knew very well that Trump was the only candidate they were sure to beat. Even Ted Cruz would have been “even money.”
The Morality Of A Trump Vote
My objections to Trump have been strenuous, and I do believe that it is immoral to cast a vote that might put him in the White House. But at this point, there is almost no chance that my vote could help do any such thing. As a New Yorker, my presidential vote has always been essentially meaningless. But even so, I could not convince myself to cast it for Trump. As Clinton and her party’s reckless disregard for the basic tenets of democracy become more apparent, my view is changing.
Hillary Clinton wants to appoint Supreme Court Justices who “understand how the world really works.” What on earth can this mean other than trashing the constitutional rights of Americans if they seem imprudent? I don’t want a justice who says, “Sure, freedom of speech sounds good, but in the real world we have to punish you for certain political speech or anything we consider to be hate speech.” I don’t want a justice who says, “Sure, there’s a right to bear arms, but in the real world there isn’t.”
Hillary Clinton lied when she said she wasn’t Secretary of State when Obama set his red line against Assad using chemical weapons. For some reason that lie wasn’t called out by the moderators. While it is true that she was out of office when he backed down from his idle threat, she has yet to criticize him for this enormous mistake. In fact, she has praised his cowardly and dangerous decision.
The list of Clinton’s positions, practices, and ideas that are simply unacceptable goes on and on. As the threat of a Trump presidency has dissipated, those of us on the right who opposed him are prepared to focus on her glaring inadequacy. For those of us in non-competitive states, a vote for Trump increasingly appears to be the best way to send that message.
Why Not Support A Third-Party Candidate?
If the idea is to keep Clinton from receiving an electoral mandate, then couldn’t a third party vote, still keeping her vote total low, achieve that goal? Perhaps. But if Clinton beats Trump by 8 to 10 points and Gary Johnson puts up 10 to 15 percent, she still has a landslide. And what do conservatives gain from an impressive Johnson showing?
The point here is to usher Hillary Clinton into office with a poor showing in which she barely beat the worst candidate in American history. We want her looking over her shoulder. We want it to be clear that any sane Republican would have beaten her and that she faces that prospect in four years. She will already be dealing with pressure from the Sandernistas of the far left to abandon the center. Our Trump votes will send the clearest message that such an approach simply will not fly.
We Need to Make Our Protest Votes Count
When the horrible video of Trump jokingly describing sexual assault in an old man’s attempt to seem cool to Billy Bush emerged I felt some sense of vindication. Of course such a video exists—probably many more, even worse videos exist. It was everything that my colleagues and I have warned against come to life. But I felt no joy. Because I realized that Hillary Clinton had just been elected president. And I was a small part of the reason why.
I don’t regret my opposition to Trump. He is neither qualified nor fit to be president. But in choosing him, Republicans gave Hillary Clinton the presidency without a fight, likely the only way she could achieve it. The crisis has passed. As many of us predicted, Trump’s candidacy has imploded in an eruption of awfulness. Hillary Clinton is going to be the president of United States.
Any vote that a Republican casts on Election Day will be a protest vote. Yes, I’m angry at Trump for his war with House Speaker Paul Ryan, I’m angry that he has failed on every level to present himself as a reasonable option for president. But like Ryan, I understand that his loss is not the end of days, and that we need those voters so swayed by Trump back in the GOP next time.
I will cast a protest vote in November. Neither of the two major-party candidates are an acceptable choice. But the purpose of protest is to have influence on policy. I am, and will ever be Never Trump. But in this strangest of elections, while I could never condone him as president, I may well pull the lever to vote for him.