Message to #NeverTrump: Your Vote Isn’t About You

By Calvin Freiburger Published on June 5, 2016

Few truisms are more maddening than, “get out and vote, no matter where you stand!”  It’s popular in schools and non-partisan initiatives aimed at getting young people involved in democracy, as if “letting your voice be heard” is a noble end in and of itself — never mind that elections have real consequences for the freedom, safety, health and livelihood of other people.

The ballot box isn’t a personal survey; if one doesn’t understand the issues, not voting is manifestly the more responsible choice. Rejecting feel-good, self-validating pap like this was one of the things I admired about the conservative movement … but then the 2016 election happened.

It’s understandable that Donald Trump winning the Republican presidential nomination, despite his incoherence on policy and atrocious character, has so appalled conservatives that many say they can’t bring themselves to vote for him even against Hillary Clinton. Until recently, I was one of them.

But at some point, disgust has to give way to sober reflection on what happens after January 20, 2017, and the latest round of hype over National Review’s David French as a potential independent candidate only gives conservatives an excuse to delay that reflection. That makes it doubly lamentable that Bill Kristol dragged French — a veteran, principled conservative and sharp analyst who doesn’t deserve the ugly attacks he’s already gotten — into this mess.

It was already unrealistic to expect any newcomer to sweep in and become president by throwing the election to the House of Representatives (and even if it did, what makes anyone think most Republicans would risk angering constituents who chose Trump?), but to expect it with someone unknown outside conservative commentary circles is astonishingly delusional.

Of course, many would-be French voters understand that, and think punishing Trump and the GOP is worthwhile anyway, some because they think the net outcome of his presidency would be worse than Hillary’s, others simply because they’ve decided voting for Trump would compromise their honor. These would be defensible positions … if everything Hillary did could be reversed by her successor.

But her presidency would begin with filling Antonin Scalia’s seat and likely continue with swapping old leftist justices for younger models, making a lasting, 6-3 activist Supreme Court the best-case scenario (and heaven help us if we lose 68-year-old Clarence Thomas in the next 4-8 years). Amnesty is near the top of her wishlist, and if she successfully puts millions of illegals, disproportionately left-wing and susceptible to government dependence, on a path to citizenship, conservatives will lose the ability to win another national election for generations.

Oh, and 3,000 Americans are dead today in part because of the last time a Clinton was president. Can anyone justify gambling that his wife will be any less negligent, having already lost four Americans on her watch?

Yes, Trump will be a terrible president. No, he doesn’t believe his good promises. But few, if any, of the various #NeverTrump manifestos confront the full extent of the damage Hillary can do. How will a Republican Congress that hasn’t stood up to Barack Obama’s agenda grow a spine in time to block Hillary’s? Where’s the political will to resist a judiciary even more emboldened to invalidate conservative policies and mandate leftist ones? What do we do when Democrats’ dream of amnestying their way to a permanent national majority finally becomes reality?

#NeverTrump has no answer to these questions. The closest it comes is theorizing that losing would somehow teach GOP elites the error of their craven ways … but Republicans never take the right lesson from defeat anyway. Trump’s loss should teach them not to make their base desperate enough to turn to a con man by neglecting their values and priorities, but instead they’ll just infer, as Mitch McConnell is already laying the groundwork for, that the next nominee should be milder on immigration.

That leaves #NeverTrump with no other purpose than to symbolize its moral superiority to the Trump cult.

And for all the Trump cult’s sins, that isn’t even close to a good enough reason to sacrifice the country’s fate.

How you vote isn’t about you, or your reputation, or your self-image. It’s about what happens to millions of your countrymen — whether their freedom shrinks or their wallets get lighter. Whether they live or die at the hands of a terrorist, gunman, or abortionist. Whether they retain any means of reversing their government’s direction.

Does resentment of Trump outweigh the suffering we know Hillary will inflict on the country? Is it worth gambling that she might not succeed in laying the groundwork for perpetual left-wing dominance, just to make a statement? Does purity justify risking the end of the conservative movement? Because make no mistake, these are the stakes of staying home, voting for David French or Gary Johnson, or any other decision that makes President Clinton II more likely.

We’re in this mess because Trump’s primary voters put their emotions ahead of their moral duty to objectively consider the country’s best interests. It would be a bitter irony if his opponents completed the tragedy by doing the same thing.

 

Calvin Freiburger is a Wisconsin-based conservative commentator. His work can primarily be found on Live Action News and his personal website, Conservative Standards. Follow him @CalFreiburger

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  • 6thinclass

    Calvin Freiburger, this is the same conclusion I have reached. The lessor of 2 evils would be D Trump. Also, it makes my prayers for God’s forgiveness toward our nation & the hedge of protection on the USA more important!

    • Puddleglumm

      Well said. Agreed.

  • Rick

    Probably the 1st advocate for Trump I’ve read that could actually state valid reasons. I’ll think about it.

    • Thank you, although I still cringe at the label “advocate for Trump.” 🙂

  • Charles Burge

    While I in no way think giving blanket amnesty to millions of illegal residents would be good policy, I reject your assertion that, should it happen, they would become de facto lackeys of the Democratic party. Like with any constituency, conservatives can (and should!) engage them and explain to them why conservatives policies will be good for them. Most Latinos are very family oriented, and the ones who risked everything to come to America (even if illegally) would be responsive to a message that centers on personal responsibility and enterprise.

    • I’m all for appealing to those who are open to us. Unfortunately, your hope is addressed in the link above about them being disproportionately left-wing. There is extensive polling data showing that as a whole, immigrants and Hispanics in the US are more supportive of government health insurance, affirmative action, larger government, gun control, and environmental regulation; less supportive of capitalism; no more conservative than the general public on gay marriage; and only somewhat more pro-life but less likely to make abortion the dividing factor to their vote.

      Then, on top of that we have to factor in how disproportionately poor and government-dependent those who enter illegally are (also elaborated on in an above link). If made voters, they will have powerful incentives to stick with the party that continues their government services, wants to let in and legalize their relatives, etc.

      • Charles Burge

        Thanks for the response. I’ll concede your points. As to the larger point of your article, however, I still cannot bring myself to vote for Mr. Trump. I’ll hold no ill will towards those who do, but for me, it’s a matter of integrity. He’s vain, belligerent, shallow, and utterly repugnant to me. And I think he presents very real dangers of his own, such as driving away international allies, and alienating key constituencies within the Republican party. If Mr. Trump becomes the standard-bearer for the conservative movement, the movement itself will be set back for more than a generation. It might even be better for him to lose in November, so that we can regroup and present a better nominee in 4 years.

  • Cassandra

    Mr. Freiburger, I hate to break it to you, but my vote is not about you either. You blame the mess on the emotions of the Trump voters. Yet, here you are giving your own emotional reaction: that of fear. The argument of voting for the lesser of two evils, by definition, advocates voting for evil. I realized the folly of that long ago. The grim reality of our system is you have to suffer the consequences of its inherent flaws.

    Once the culture is corrupt, there is no fixing the political realm which is a reflection of the culture. The Republican principles–if you can call them principles–are incoherent. The party has devolved to pandering to the corrupt culture. The culture can not be fixed by political means.

    If you can’t come to terms with that and wish to continue to hope for some quick fix to voter ignorance (or malice), then start advocating for a return to the State Legislatures directly picking the Electors. That will, at least on the presidential level, eliminate your complaint about voter ignorance and emotion.

    However, that will be little more than rearranging the deck chairs. No civilization has survived the kind and level of corruption that has overtaken our culture. America is not so special that it is immune from human nature and the consequences of human folly. The sooner you come to terms with that and start digging deeper than mere politics for answers, the sooner you can overcome your fear. Only the long term view, perhaps even beyond our lifetime, offers any hope.

    In the short term, I will vote not for evil, but good regardless of whether in the short term it effects change. Cultural change starts with the individual. As long as you advocate voting for evil to combat evil, you are waging not only a losing battle, but endorsing the continuing corruption of the individual. That not only fails to solve the problems, but frustrates the efforts to do so.

    • I hate to break it to you, but my vote is not about you either.

      Then it’s a good thing I never suggested it was.

      here you are giving your own emotional reaction: that of fear.

      Nope. I made an argument based on specific consequences of Hillary’s presidency that the majority of #NeverTrump seems to be ignoring. I note that your reply doesn’t actually address the points I raised.

      The argument of voting for the lesser of two evils, by definition, advocates voting for evil.

      Repeating a cliche does not change the fact that consequences of a Trump presidency are vastly different than the consequences of a Hillary one. One will be a bad president whose mistakes a successor can reverse; the other will do everything in her power to cement evil’s victory in every national election for the rest of our lives.

      Once the culture is corrupt, there is no fixing the political realm which is a reflection of the culture. The Republican principles–if you can call them principles–are incoherent. The party has devolved to pandering to the corrupt culture. The culture can not be fixed by political means.

      Agreed. But that has nothing to do with anything I’ve written. I’m urging people to wake up to the fact that if Hillary gets her way, we will never be able to reform the culture.

      If you can’t come to terms with that and wish to continue to hope for some quick fix to voter ignorance (or malice)

      Continue? Nowhere did I ever START to hope for any quick fixes.

      As long as you advocate voting for evil to combat evil, you are waging not only a losing battle, but endorsing the continuing corruption of the individual.

      No, I’m advocating the people not let prideful notions of self-righteousness blind them to the fact that they are deliberately giving the real evil an opportunity to secure evil’s permanent victory.

  • MofPennsy

    We arrived here with the Hold Your Nose to Get Power voting. Is it better to affirm GOP in Trump image, or to vote Principles, take what comes? Fighting Big Government and Imperious Presidential/Federal Power would be much more clear without the unpredictable presumptive candidate.

    • I don’t think think it’s principled when the “what comes” we’re taking is giving the Left their long-desired opportunity to establish a permanent national majority that will insulate for generations to come abortion on demand, the all-encompassing centralized state, living Constitution theory, and the steady erosion of our every freedom and value.

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