This should be the last time I write against Donald Trump all year.
Okay, all you conservatives who supported Donald Trump before he officially became the Republican Party’s official nominee last night: Now, you own him. He’s all yours.
When he again spouts asinine or even vicious nonsense — like belittling tortured POWs from Vietnam, likening an opponent to a child molester, smearing an innocent reporter, making fun of another reporter’s disability, or insinuating that another opponent’s father conspired to kill JFK — he’s all yours.
When he again evinces sheer ignorance of basic policy questions, he’s all yours — and when he does worse, such as advocating nukes for Saudi Arabia or the dissolution of NATO, he’s all yours then, too.
If, as seems likely, his tax returns are leaked, and if they contain all sorts of embarrassing revelations about (to name a few hypotheticals) lack of charity, lack of earnings, questionable tax dodges, or unsavory associations, you own him.
If, as seems possible, horrid information emerges relating to the suit alleging that Trump is a child rapist — even if not proving that allegation, but showing a strong likelihood that he knowingly took part in Epsteinian parties where teenagers were openly doing wildly inappropriate things — well, you own that, too.
If, as seems likely, his unprofessional campaign fails to produce the organization or money needed not just to keep the awful Hillary Clinton from the White House, but even to provide an image of Republican leadership decent enough to keep the GOP from getting wiped out in the Senate, the House, and other races down ballot, yes, you own that. (Here’s predicting that he loses in November by near-Goldwateresque margins.)
You own his vulgarity. You own his viciousness and thuggishness, his admiration for tyrants and his own authoritarianism. You own his ignorance, his self-absorption (or worse), his instability, his incompetence, his incontinent prevarications small and outrageously large, his wild streak that tends to lead to serial failures, and his dangerous lack of diplomacy. You also own his misogyny and his bigotry, and his penchant for trampling “ordinary Americans” under his feet. And if some October indictment or health issue befalls Hillary Clinton, and therefore Trump, Lord forbid, becomes president, then you own the dangerous national and international disorder that will ensue.
Yes, Hillary Clinton, for different reasons, is no better than Trump. But she’s also no worse. And if any other candidates appear on the ballot, there is absolutely no moral imperative — none of this “a vote not for Trump is a vote for Hillary” nonsense — to vote for either Trump or Clinton. A vote for Gary Johnson, or whomever else, is a vote for Gary Johnson or whomever else. Period. (In my case, it is especially true: If Trump needs my vote to win Alabama, then Clinton will be winning nationally by a landslide anyway, and my vote won’t stop it.) If one’s conscience cannot allow a vote for either of two utterly unethical, hideous main-party contenders, then nobody should begrudge that conscience. (Some of us have 24 years of anti-Hillary bona fides so strong that only an ignoramus would level a pro-Hillary label on us. One e.g.: Guess who edited the book form of this?)
Nobody is duty-bound to choose between arsenic and cyanide. Thanks, I’ll take castor oil instead.
As for me, except perhaps for a few stray comments in the course of other work — or unless some major, galvanizing conservative superstar enters the race as an independent with the against-the-odds wherewithal to secure enough ballot access and financial support to be viable — this will be the last I write on this presidential campaign. Until Trump officially had the nomination, conscience dictated that those who feel as I do had an obligation to exhaust every last opportunity to stop him. Now that the nomination is, tragically, his, all words against Trump will be ascribed as pro-Clinton, and all words against Clinton will be ascribed as pro-Trump. As neither option is acceptable, I will quietly vote for another candidate, even if far from an ideal one — and will otherwise go about my business and write on policy and culture apart from this sickening presidential campaign.
America faces the worst presidential choice, by far, in its history, and at a particularly perilous time. Here’s hoping that Gary Johnson or some unknown white knight proves up to the moment, able to win a long-shot campaign and then find the character and competence to well serve this wondrous nation. Otherwise, dark days probably await. They will be dark days because Trump won the Republican nomination to take on Hillary, while too many people who should have known better either abetted his effort, or capitulated too soon. Either way, material participation with his evils was and is a grave civic sin. Let’s hope it’s not too deadly.
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