Essays Over Voting

Essays Over Voting-57
Therefore, he is inclined to hold his nose and vote for Trump, believing that abstention or a “thrown away” vote on a third alternative with no chance to win would be morally indistinguishable from a vote for Clinton.

Therefore, he is inclined to hold his nose and vote for Trump, believing that abstention or a “thrown away” vote on a third alternative with no chance to win would be morally indistinguishable from a vote for Clinton.(Here is a column exemplifying this friend’s view.) Another close friend draws the opposite conclusion, recoiling so powerfully from Trump’s politics of arrogance, folly, and contempt for others that this Republican of many years announces he will pull the lever for Clinton, preferring an enemy he can imagine fighting and partly constraining (and even agreeing with on occasion) to a “leader” who may grievously wound the party, the conservative cause, and the country itself.Neither prospectively nor retrospectively, therefore, can we ever say that we alone are burdened with the whole responsibility of decision in a close election.

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For this friend, any vote not cast for Clinton is “objectively” a vote for Trump and thus a kind of moral calamity.

(Here is a column exemplifying this friend’s view.) My fond regard for these two good and thoughtful friends, lifelong conservatives both, is not diminished by our disagreements. For my part, my conscience is more important to me than the outcome of this presidential election.

Neither Trump nor Clinton has a single redeeming characteristic that recommends him or her to the presidency of the United States—at least none that is not decisively outweighed by some other damning characteristic.

Clinton’s much vaunted “experience” is a career record of ghastly misjudgments in foreign policy, paired with a consistently authoritarian and illiberal “progressivism” in domestic policy, seemingly intent on unraveling the social fabric that makes a decent society.

So, for instance, the choice in 1968 between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey presented conservatives with a not-very conservative Republican, and liberals with a Democrat who was not, like Eugene Mc Carthy, the darling of the anti-Vietnam War movement.

Either man, however—so far as the average voter could tell four or five years before the Watergate scandal broke—was qualified to be president by his character and experience, and so one could choose between them for policy or ideological reasons, weighing them relative to one another as the only realistic prospects for victory in our two-party system.Nor is “choose the lesser of two evils” the right way to think.That way of thinking really only works when at least one of the choices is in fact really evil.I mean to make a much more informal and homely point: it is wrong to think of a vote Leading Contender B. Although, as fellow conservatives, we think very alike on nearly everything in political life, the national disaster of the choice between Trump and Clinton has produced diametrically opposed conclusions.One close friend says that the harm Hillary Clinton would do, building on Barack Obama’s eight years, would be so incalculably awful that the risk of an inept, foolish, and thuggish Donald Trump presidency is worth taking in order to prevent Clinton’s victory.For me and for many others this was true when Bob Dole (1996), John Mc Cain (2008), or even Mitt Romney (2012) was the GOP nominee.It went without saying that voting for Bill Clinton or Barack Obama was out of the question for a conservative, and the idea of a “protest” vote for a third candidate, or abstention from any vote at the top of the ballot, seemed irresponsible, a vote for the Democratic candidate. And we could sympathize, distantly, with Democrats who blamed Ralph Nader’s voters for George W.I cannot in good conscience vote for either Clinton or Trump.What matters for me is that I cannot bring myself to that Clinton or Trump be president, carry out her or his stated policy aims, and bring his or her fundamentally bad character to the highest office in the land.The voter who did not much like either Nixon or Humphrey as ideal could put their policies and probabilities in the balance and choose the lesser evil because in truth each man had much good that could be said of him.Now, however, we really do have two to choose between—or to decline choosing.


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