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Explaining the ‘Never Trump’ Mindset and Voter

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This article originally misidentified the guest host in question as Mark Belling. It was Mark Davis. The author deeply regrets the error.

On June 22nd, Mark Davis substituted as host of the Dennis Prager radio show, and gave a 3-hour lecture on why the #NeverTrump conservatives are wrong. But he was wrong. I don’t mean that he was wrong on the facts. He was wrong in the classic way that “leftists” are wrong when they try to argue: they grant their own assumptions at the outset and don’t listen to try to understand the other side.

I’m not a “Never Trump” guy, at least not yet. But as many (on all sides of the political discussion) have said to me, “I’m going to have a hard time voting for either of these candidates!”

So, to Mark Davis and all those conservatives who claim not to understand the “Never Trump” conservatives, allow me to explain. The “Hold Your Nose and Vote for Trump” conservatives are making two assumptions: (1) That there are two and only two real choices in this Presidential race, so “a non-vote for Trump is a vote for Hillary;” and (2) that Hillary would be a far worse President than Trump. To the reluctant Trump supporter, these premises seem almost self-evident.

Those on the “Never Trump” side of the chasm simply don’t buy one or both of those assumptions.

To the first assertion, that our choice is locked in, I would say that neither of the nominating conventions has even been held yet. This is a little too reminiscent of “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” for me. This is why we have to play the game. Hillary could be indicted. Trump could have something obnoxious in his tax returns. Something could happen before the parties officially nominate their candidates that could make the “two choices” argument false.

Sadly, Davis disparaged the notion that Republican delegates could “vote their consciences” at the convention. This betrayal of the vox populi would be unimaginable, even un-American, he seems to believe. But every conservative talk show host – even the fill-ins – should know that America is a republic, not a direct democracy. The Republican Party is set up with a republican structure, and naturally the Democrat party is set up as an oligarchy. If the delegates must vote in a certain way, why have delegates; why not have direct elections? Perhaps in the Davis Party, all the Party voters and aisle-crossers could pull the lever on one night, simultaneously. No convention necessary.

No, if the Electoral College is a good and sometimes necessary thing, then convention delegates are more than just rubber stamps for the mob.

But to the second assumption, that Hillary would be a far worse President than Trump: Let’s agree that any person in power is a danger to everyone else. That’s a foundational principle of our country. That’s why her Founders sought to diffuse power and set up competition within the government. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (and Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama and all the others) are/were potential threats to the Republic. Now we are talking about a difference in degree, not a difference in kind. The answer in Mark Davis’ mind comes before the question: Hillary is a far greater threat to the Republic than Trump. But, as he seems to acknowledge, Trump is a wild card. His Presidency might not go well.

Those of us who are not (yet) aboard the Trump Train are focusing on the “wild card” aspect, and the times Mr. Trump has changed his position on just about every issue. We see that, yes, he could be a much better President than Hillary, or he could be worse – and not even Mark Davis can tell us with certainty which it will be. There’s an old adage about the “devil you know” being preferable to the devil you don’t know. Hillary is the devil we know. She’s a woman without a conscience. She’s Machiavelli in makeup. Trump is a question mark. Everyone acknowledges he is “not ideological,” which is another way of saying he’s not defined by a set of principles that we can examine beforehand. Every decision is ad hoc.

It’s not my purpose here to make a case against Trump, though every conservative on both sides of this divide must acknowledge that a case can be made. My purpose is only to explain to Mark Davis and others like him what’s the matter with the rest of us. In the end, it’s a matter of conscience. I’m perfectly willing to let conservatives vote for Trump because they see him as the not-the-worst option, and avoiding the worst option is a moral duty. Will those conservatives give their fellow conservatives the same right of conscience to withhold our support for Donald Trump because we just don’t know what he’d do? (And some of the things he might do would be disastrous.)

We held our noses and voted for McCain, and got nothing. We held our noses again and voted for Romney, and got nothing. Are you really unable to put yourself in the position of a person who says, “I just can’t do this again?”



 

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