As I was standing in line to vote today at the Shavano Park City Hall, I noticed that most people in line were reading from their phone, so I decided to join them. I subscribe to the NY Times and one of the first items to pop up was conservative columnist Ross Douthat’s column titled, “An election is not a suicide mission.”
During the 30-minute wait, I read the column. Like the Times’s other conservative columnist, David Brooks, Ross Douthat can’t abide Trump, so I guessed correctly what the column was going to say. He concludes as follows:
- I agree with them that grave evils will follow from electing Hillary Clinton. But the Trump alternative is like a feckless war of choice in the service of some just-seeming end, with a commanding general who likes war crimes. It’s a ticket on a widening gyre, promising political catastrophe and moral corruption both, no matter what ideals seem to justify it.
- It is a hard thing to accept that some elections should be lost, especially in a country as divided over basic moral premises as our own. But just as the pro-life movement ultimately won real gains — in lives saved, laws altered, abortion rates reduced — by accepting the legitimacy of the republic even as it deplored the killing of the unborn, so today’s conservatism has far more to gain from the defeat of Donald Trump, and the chance to oppose Clintonian progressivism unencumbered by his authoritarianism, bigotry, misogyny and incompetence, than it does from answering the progressive drift toward Caesarism with a populist Elagabalus.
- Not because it is guaranteed long-term victory in that scenario or any other. But because the deepest conservative insight is that justice depends on order as much as order depends on justice. So when Loki or the Joker or some still-darker Person promises the righting of some grave wrong, the defeat of your hated enemies, if you will only take a chance on chaos and misrule, the wise and courageous response is to tell them to go to hell.
Douthat’s rationale reflected why I had already decided I would not vote for Donald Trump. Although he is more conservative than Hillary Clinton, his character is so seriously flawed that a Trump presidency is too risky. With President Clinton, conservatives can continue to work the democratic process in favor of our policies, and hope that Mitt Romney was engaged in hyperbole when he warned about the tipping point when government moochers become a majority in America.
But I am unwilling to vote for Hillary Clinton, either, not only because of her progressive policies, but also because of her flawed character. If forced to appoint Trump or Hillary as president, I would appoint Hillary. But as a protest against both of the two leading candidates, I decided to vote for independent conservative Evan McMullin. According to the leading election prognosticators, McMullan has a 20% chance of winning Utah, and if a win in Utah prevents either Clinton or Trump from securing an electoral majority, the US House will decide the election, and McMullan would be an excellent compromise President.
And in any event, if Hillary can’t defeat Trump without the vote of true conservatives like me, heaven help us.