“It is not the bad dictators who made the world bad; it is bad thinking. It is in the realm of ideas that we will have to restore the world.” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Over the past few months, I’ve often been asked why I’m #NeverTrump. To those people I’ve given the typical answers regarding his character, incompetence, the fact that he’s not conservative, etc. But I never sat down, clarified my thoughts, and really reflected on why I have decided that I can’t vote for Trump under any circumstances.
This diary is the culmination and distillation of all those thoughts and reasons. I don’t intend to persuade anyone with it, I know the vast majority of Americans already have their minds made up about Trump, and the ones who haven’t are going to be persuaded by emotion, not logical arguments. I wrote this so that years from now I can look back and have something to point to when people ask me what I believed about Trump and what I did to stand up for conservative principles. I believe these points and arguments will stand the test of time, and I hope that at least in hindsight many of my fellow conservatives will see the truth in them and learn from their mistake of voting for Trump.
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Right off the bat, let me take on the main argument Trumpsters use to try to convince us that we should vote for him. They say we have to vote for Trump because if Hillary is elected we already know she’ll appoint liberal justices, and we don’t know that for sure with Trump. I’ve already written about the flaws in this argument, and explained why it’s not a sound one. Others have as well. On its face it seems like a fair and sincere argument, but when you look beneath its surface, you realize it’s nothing more than a bait and switch tactic, and the only one they have left.
Notice that Trumpsters never make the case for why we should vote for Trump based on his economic plans. Why is that? It’s because he won’t touch entitlements, which are the biggest driver of our debt. That puts him on roughly the same page as Hillary on arguably the most important issue of this election, even if nobody’s talking about it. Most economists say if we don’t reform entitlements and make them fiscally solvent, they’ll bankrupt us. Therefore a vote for Trump is a vote for national bankruptcy, which makes everything else, including the Supreme Court, far less relevant than Trump supporters would have us believe. When you have no money to feed your family, you aren’t gonna care that much if the Supreme Court is dominated by liberals. At least I wouldn’t.
If I were to use an analogy, both Trump and Hillary would be taking our train off the cliff, the only difference is Hillary would be doing it at 120 mph, whereas Trump would be doing it at maybe 80 mph. Either way the train is gonna go off the cliff because of their disastrous economic plans, so why does it matter if there are a few differences between them? It doesn’t, in the big scheme of things.
So why do Trumpsters keep making this argument? I think it’s for two simple reasons: 1)It’s the only legitimate one they have left, and 2) They’ll use it to blame us when Trump loses. They wanna make the case that winning is all that matters because the costs of losing are simply too great to be ignored. The problem for them is that recently Sean Spicer, the Communications Director for the RNC, undermined this argument himself and thus revealed their motives and the game they’re playing.
What about if the party control of the Senate were up for grabs—and with it, the fate of the Supreme Court? Would the RNC consider backing Duke in that scenario?
“At some point, you have to stand up for some kind of principle, and David Duke does not speak for where the Republican party is,” Spicer said. So what is that limiting principle, and where should national Republicans draw the line?
I couldn’t have said it better myself. This is what #NeverTrump conservatives have been saying all along. This is proof that at least a certain percentage of conservatives who plan on voting for Trump believe the same thing I believe, which is that there’s a line that can’t be crossed when it comes to principles and the character of a candidate. The only difference is they draw it at David Duke, whereas I draw it at Trump.
Spicer’s comments on David Duke prove that the entire “it’s a binary choice” argument made by the GOPe and Trumpsters (not all Trump voters) was never a sincere argument on their part. It was a gimmick that they’ve been using to pressure us to vote for Trump, because they know they can’t convince us that he’s fit to be president or can be trusted to govern as a true conservative would. You could say it would be a binary choice if David Duke was the GOP nominee too, but that wouldn’t make a vote for him any more defensible or justified, and we all know it.
The Supreme Court isn’t the most important factor for conservatives to consider in 2016
Losing the Supreme Court to liberals would be bad, but it’s not the worst thing that can happen to the country. There’s something even worse which would happen under a Trump presidency- long-term damage to the conservative movement.
I believe there’s one thing that would kill it, and that’s the rise of nationalist populism. But that populism can only gain a foothold in the country and in the GOP if it has a dominant leader, and that leader is Trump. If he’s elected president, he’ll be the face of white nationalism, populism, and big gov’t protectionism all rolled into one.
Conservatives are always worrying about who will control the courts, and rightly so, but why do we worry? It’s because so many cultural issues that used to be decided by the states are now being decided in lower courts and eventually make their way to the Supreme Court. So the next logical question to ask is, how do we prevent that from happening in the future? The answer is by having a strong conservative movement that fights these culture wars on the local level and beats back the tide of progressivism that threatens to sweep over the entire nation. In fact conservatives have already been doing that on issues like abortion, transgender bathrooms, school choice, and more, in part because under Obama’s reign we’ve dominated the governors’ mansions and state legislatures.
But if we don’t have conservative Republicans controlling the governors’ offices and state legislatures across the country, there will be nothing to stop liberals from passing more laws that restrict our freedoms, take away our religious liberty, and generally push us further left than we already are.
A Trump presidency will hurt our efforts in this regard because he’ll be a disaster as president, and will likely turn the country against Republicans even in some red states, possibly causing down-ticket losses across the board. For proof of this look no further than the polls consistently showing him tied or losing in red states such as Kansas, Georgia, and even Utah. What happens then? Conservatives fighting these battles in the larger culture war will have no other option but to take liberals to court because they’ll no longer control the states. They’ll be dependent on the courts to determine who wins the fight on many issues, and that’s not something we wanna risk, either under a Clinton or a Trump presidency.
The whole point of wanting to control the Supreme Court is so that we can use it as a buffer to protect us from the cultural advances of the left, who use the courts to try to change things that should only be changed by the people at the ballot box or by their state representatives. But what’s the point of having that buffer if our president, who will become the de facto representative of the conservative movement, is a national embarrassment who turns an entire generation of people off of conservatism?
The damage of a Trump presidency to the conservative movement
Remember how fed up the country was with George W. Bush after about 7 years of his failures in office? He did a terrible job of representing conservative principles and ideas, yet people still associated him with conservatives. We were smeared with that brush, and the left advanced under his presidency just as much as it would have under a President Gore, arguably even more so, because with Bush they essentially had a recruiting tool that they could use to inspire their hardcore activists to get out and push for the cultural changes we now see all around us. Plus, it didn’t help that Bush nominated someone like Roberts to the Supreme Court, who ended up being the deciding vote in favor of upholding the “constitutionality” of Obamacare. Well, if you think all that’s bad, under a President Trump we’d have all that multiplied by a factor of 10.
Due to his failures and misrepresentations of what it means to be a conservative, we’d be losing the battle on the ground for the soul of this country even more than we already are. It would demoralize our activists, the people who fought for Sen. Cruz, and it would keep many minorities and young people from joining our cause, which they may have done if we had a more inspirational, inclusive candidate, like a Marco Rubio. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that it’s highly unlikely Trump would fight for a conservative Supreme Court justice once the Democrats block his nominee, which is a good possibility.
Furthermore, when Trumpsters ask me “Do you really want the Supreme Court to be in the hands of liberals for a generation?” My response is: “Of course I’m not ok with that, which is why I want to join the fight already underway by some groups to get Congress to pass a constitutional amendment creating term limits for the Supreme Court. That way every time an older justice dies or retires we don’t have to spend all of our time worrying about the next presidential election so that he or she can be replaced with “one of our guys”.
The bottom line is that to some degree it wouldn’t even matter if Trump did miraculously find the motivation and guts to fight for something or someone other than himself and get a conservative appointed to the Supreme Court because his presidency would effectively end the conservative movement as we know it. Without that movement being at full strength, the battles on the ground as part of the larger cultural war would be won over and over again by liberals, who could simply point to Trump and ask their fellow citizens if they want the laws of their state to reflect that kind of Republican and the values and beliefs he represents in their eyes.
Why I’m firmly in the #NeverTrump camp, no matter what
Unlike Ben Shapiro, who has said that he’s at least open to the possibility of voting for Trump if he somehow transforms into a consistent conservative between now and November, I’m not even open to that possibility. For one thing, we already know who Trump is, so if he somehow became a “consistent conservative”, we would know it’s nothing but an act, which means he could take it all back once he became president.
But secondly, the point is that no matter what he does now, as President he’d be the worst possible spokesperson for the conservative movement, if he was one at all. Even worse, he’d more likely be a spokesperson for all of the white nationalists out there, which would leave no room in the national discourse for Constitutional conservatives, effectively shutting us out of the political arena for four years.
Beyond that, Trump would be wildly incompetent, and Republicans and conservatives (often not one in the same as we’ve seen so often in this election) would have to defend and own his many failures, gaffes, and embarrassing decisions and behaviors in the White House. I believe this would destroy whatever is left of the Republican brand and cause the GOP to lose the Senate and possibly the House in the next midterm elections, if it didn’t already in 2016. So I don’t have to wait in suspense to see what Trump will do from this point on, or even pay attention to the race, because I know who he is, he’s made that abundantly clear over the past nine months, and indeed, over the course of his entire life for those of us who’ve researched him.
This election is not just a test of our fidelity to conservative principles and to character, it’s a test of our mental fortitude. It’s so tempting and easy to give into peer pressure and say we’re at least open to voting for Trump. Especially for conservatives in the media and public spotlight, that would make their lives so much easier. But we can’t give in, because if we give in when the temptation is greatest and when we have the most to lose, both personally and professionally, then what’s the point of holding those principles and values in the first place? They weren’t meant to be only applied when they’re convenient or easy for those who hold them.
Here’s the way I see it: I’m glad the Supreme Court hangs in the balance, and that our votes for someone other than Trump could potentially cause Hillary to be elected and cause us to lose the court for decades. Unlike Jonah Goldberg, who I respect, and who has said he might vote for Trump if he was the tie-breaking vote between Trump and Hillary, I wouldn’t vote for Trump, even in that scenario.
Why? Because only when we have the most to lose and the least to gain is our character and mental fortitude given the greatest, and thus most effective and revealing test. If we can hold fast to our values and principles under the worst possible conditions, and when there will be little to no reward and plenty of blame for standing firm on them, then we’ll have proven to both ourselves and the world that they were worth fighting for, and that we had the inner strength and conviction to do that fighting.
If we can stay true to what we believe in now, and stand together with our fellow conservatives who share our beliefs, then we’ll be confirmed in our beliefs and be stronger for it, and will be empowered to go on and fight more battles in the future for those beliefs. If we can fight against the status quo and all the forces that threaten to divide and destroy us and our movement now, then fights in the future will seem trivial by comparison. We’ll be battle hardened and ready, like a grizzled veteran that just came home from a tour of duty, only ours is an intellectual and ideological battle. But it’s a battle nonetheless. One that requires sacrifices from all of the soldiers on the side of the good guys.
The fourth branch of government- We The People
As conservatives, we’ve fallen into the same trap the Left has fallen into: We’re putting all our eggs into the presidential and Supreme Court baskets. We’ve watched their successes in that regard and thought if we could just replicate their strategy to control the White House and the courts, everything else will fall into place. But what the Left doesn’t realize, and what conservatives must now realize, is that in our constitutional republic, the presidency isn’t the most important part of it. Neither is the Supreme Court. The Congress is more important than the other two branches because it is the only one that directly represents the will of the people and controls how money is spent and what laws are passed. We should focus on getting conservatives elected to Congress every election cycle, not just one where the top of the ticket is represented by a buffoon who wouldn’t know what conservatism is if it smacked him in the face.
But there’s a fourth branch of gov’t, as far as I see it, that should have more power than all the other three combined. What is that branch? It’s us, We the People. The less power the three branches of the federal gov’t have, the more power the fourth branch, the American people have. We should be able to govern ourselves without all the laws and regulations that have been added to the system for the past 40+ years.
We’ve fallen into this paradigm where all the hype and media attention is on the presidential race every four years, where most Americans look for a national savior who will address our desires and concerns, fight our battles for us, and solve all of our problems. The weaker our relationships with God, and as a result, with others become, the weaker our communities will become, and the weaker they are, the more we turn to a powerful and charismatic national figure to fill that void for us.
When we’ve allowed ourselves to become empty inside and spend little to no time turning inward and examining what we need to do to improve ourselves and our lives, we turn outward and begin to subconsciously look for people and things that will distract us from our emptiness and give us a reason to feel better about our lives, often by blaming other groups of people or events that are out of our control. I believe this phenomenon explains the rise of Trump more than anything else, and the demographic polling data regarding what kind of people voted for Trump in the GOP primaries backs up this theory, as this article does an excellent job of explaining.
By focusing all of our attention and energy on winning the presidency, we automatically neglect our duties as citizens to make our country a better place. That starts from the ground up, first within our families, by keeping them intact and strong.
Of course that requires stable two parent families, and when you have around forty percent of all births in the country being out of wedlock, it just perpetuates the breakdown of the family that’s been occurring for decades. It’s parents, more than our public schools, who need to do the lion’s share of the work in raising their kids and teaching them what I mentioned above. That means adults need to start waiting til marriage to have kids, and not just settle for any guy or gal who shows interest in them, but instead look for the kind of man or woman who will stay with them through good times and bad.
This bottom-up change needs to take place within our communities as well, by actually getting to know our neighbors and volunteering to help the less fortunate among us. If we focus on creating a culture of life, love, and compassion for our fellow man, and on developing and using the talents and abilities God gave us to be productive members of society, we won’t need an all-powerful gov’t or an all-powerful tyrant to “Make America Great Again”.
Education is a big piece of this puzzle. In fact it’s a crucial piece. A big part of the reason why we keep voting for incompetent politicians who keep putting in place liberal policies that fail is because the average American is woefully ignorant about our system of gov’t, economics, and our history, among other things. Teaching our kids how to think critically, to use reason and logic to solve problems, and to teach them about the values, principles, and ideas that made this country great would go a long way to creating an informed citizenry that would make more responsible decisions when it comes time to pull the lever in the voting booth at all levels of gov’t.
We can make this country great again on our own, without the help of the courts and without the help of the president, although they certainly have an important role to play. This was the vision the Founding Fathers had of this country, and we’ve drifted so far away from it we don’t even know or remember what it looks like. It’s time we rediscover it, and in so doing, we might rediscover who we are both as individuals and as a nation.