Perhaps I’m in need of some medication, but it seems that nearly every day of this political season I hear these dueling voices in my head:
Anti-Trump: I just don’t see how I can, in good conscience, vote for Donald Trump. I think I’m going back to what I’ve done for most of my adult life, voting Libertarian for president. I like Gary Johnson quite a bit.
Pro-Trump: What a waste! It’s about time you realize that Donald Trump is what the people, or at least Republicans, want because they’re so angry with business as usual, the “establishment,” and generally by a GOP that has shown so little spine standing up to the many tyrannical acts, large and small, of the Obama administration.
AT: Although I’m independent, not Republican, I share their anger and agree with the diagnosis of the cancer that our Leviathan government has become on our nation, but Trump seems more like taking cyanide than chemotherapy.
PT: Let’s not exaggerate. If you want to talk about national political suicide, that’s Hillary Clinton, especially after eight years of Barack Obama. If we get Hillary, her Supreme Court nominee(s) will wreck what’s left of the Constitution and rule of law in the United States, we’ll never get rid of Obamacare, the national debt will continue to skyrocket, and while all that is going on we’ll have to hear her condescending screeching for four or eight years. You’ll want to kill yourself if you love your country or your sanity (the latter already dubious given this conversation).
AT: The problem for me is twofold: First, I have no idea if Mr. Trump actually believes anything — it doesn’t help that he often seems to believe two contradictory things in one speech and three in one day. Therefore I don’t know what he will do except that he seems strongly against free trade and against entitlement reform, each of which represents a way of thinking potentially as economically harmful, in both the short and long term, as anything Hillary is likely to accomplish. Second, I can easily imagine a wave of Republican victories in the 2018 mid-terms if Hillary is president and then a Republican unseating her in 2020 whereas I can imagine Trump destroying the GOP, losing both houses of Congress in 2018 and then the presidency (in fact, I can imagine him not running for re-election) in 2020. And if Dems get full control of the government again, as they had in 2009-2010, they won’t repeat Obama’s mistake of focusing all of their attention on one issue (health care) and neglecting to advance the rest of their left-wing agenda. They will then truly destroy the America that you and I love.
PT: You’re overthinking this. Even if you’re right that that’s a possibility, and I’m not saying it’s impossible, what is certain is the negative impact that Hillary Clinton will have. Again, I can’t overstate the importance of the Supreme Court — and even you have to believe that Trump would nominate a far better justice than Hillary would. She would massively expand the already-smothering regulatory state. She would destroy jobs through misguided anti-fossil fuel policies and a big hike in the federal minimum wage. And although it’s harder to measure, she would continue the most egregious part of the Obama legacy: his intentional fracturing of the American people along race and “class” lines; Obama and Clinton are both disciples of Saul Alinsky, a truly evil man who hated everything that the Declaration of Independence — and therefore this nation — stands for.
AT: I don’t disagree with that, but I just don’t know if it’s enough to get me to vote for a man who is an unprincipled populist nationalist with no understanding of basic economics or foreign policy or anything else that a president needs to understand. I hate to say it, but I sort of agree with Hillary Clinton’s characterization of Trump as a “loose cannon.”
PT: First of all, even a loose cannon hits a target once in a while. But more importantly, let’s get this straight: You’re having a hard time deciding whether to vote for Donald Trump, knowing that if you vote Libertarian again it’s basically a vote for Hillary, whom we both know is a corrupt incompetent self-serving money-grubbing radical leftist liar?
AT: I don’t buy that argument as a matter of math. If the election were tied and I hadn’t voted, and then I vote for Gary Johnson, that is not a vote for Hillary, and the election would still be tied. But the short answer is yes, because I’m just not convinced that, on any time scale longer than two years, Trump would be better for the country or, less importantly, for the Republican Party — which I only care about insofar as it is the only real tool available to beat Democrats.
PT: So now we get to the crux of it: You will never vote for Hillary Clinton because you know what she is and what she’ll do. But you’re leaning against voting for Donald Trump because you don’t know what he is and what he’ll do?
AT: I suppose that’s accurate, though I also have the longer-term concerns about the impact on the GOP and Trump’s potential to hand complete control of the country to Democrats in just a few years.
PT: I grant you the longer-term possibility that you’re worried about, but I think you should also consider the alternative that he might surround himself with smart advisers and take their advice (such as recently asking Steve Moore and Larry Kudlow to help him modify his tax plan), and actually get some good things done for America. More importantly, however, I think you’re making a yuge mistake giving roughly equal weight to the damage you know Hillary will cause and the potential problems that concern you but that you don’t know will be caused by Trump.
AT: That’s a valid point. Still, I don’t see how I can look my children in the eye and explain to them a vote for a man who is so offensive in so many ways, from his personal behavior to his lack of understanding of key policy areas. Also, for those who hope he will become “more presidential,” I think the 25-year old recording of Trump pretending to be Trump publicist “John Miller” shows that he’s been this same guy for most of his adult life and will never change. How am I to support for president a man whose behavior and, to a large degree beliefs, I spend every day trying to make sure my children do not acquire?
PT: How are you going to look in your children’s eyes and explain to them how you did not do everything you possibly could to stop the election of Hillary Clinton, the most corrupt and flawed presidential candidate of your lifetime, a woman whose legacy, particularly on the Supreme Court, will harm your son and daughter for years and decades beyond her time in office?
AT: I cannot vote for “the lesser of two evils” when they’re both evil.
PT: I think you are overstating Donald Trump’s negatives but even so, deep in your heart, you know that Hillary Clinton’s best day will harm the country as much as Donald Trump’s worst day.
AT: I don’t actually know that, but I also can’t be sure that you’re wrong. Which is why this is the toughest political decision I’ve ever had to make.
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