Which is More Important: Political Combat or Your Conscience?

I received my ballot a few days ago and as of the time of this writing, I still can’t bring myself to fill it out.

I’m not certain why I feel such a hesitation to vote, but it could have been the still, small voice that suddenly spoke up when I sat down and tried to go ahead and get this chore done last weekend. As my pen hovered over the list of presidential candidates, a thought filled my mind. “Wait. You have until the 8th of November.” I set my pen down,  tossed the ballot onto my overflowing mail basket and haven’t looked at it since. It occurred to me that I wasn’t yet ready to make a choice.

So what’s the big deal? The deal is that I wasn’t mentally prepared to consider Trump as one of my choices, but being as he’s one of only three candidates (the other two are third-party) who have mentioned support for Israel and gave a string of promises to pick Scalia-level supreme court justices, I had to at least think about it. He swore to his crowds over the last several weeks that he is ardently pro-Life. The question is, do I believe him? Plus there’s the fact that back in May, I’d signed not one but several statements swearing that I’d stick with #Nevertrump.

I’ve got a long list of reasons for signing this vow, chief among those being that I have disliked Donald Trump since 2011. There are many reasons for that, which I’ve been arguing about since last year. While wading through the barrage of propaganda that surrounds this election season, many people signed that statement as well. One of the petitions I looked at had over 20,000 signatures. So we flash forward almost 6 months later and most of those who swore they were #Nevertrump have since boarded the Trump Train. Unsurprisingly, many of those same people are currently nagging and guilt tripping other hold-outs like me into voting for Trump.

Why? Because Hillary.

But was that really the reason? Is that reason good enough? Most would say yes. I agree, Hillary would be a terrible president. Unlike many a Nevertrumper who gladly cast aside their pride and jumped back into the online fray, though, I sat back and kept my mouth mostly shut. As a conservative activist, I’d been mentally preparing to argue the case for a Ted Cruz or other solid conservative candidate for at least six years. Then along came Trump. When Ted Cruz decided to back Trump, I guess I couldn’t blame him. Like a lot of people, maybe he also wanted to jump back into the fight.

He wasn’t alone. One by one, I watched as dozens of strongly pro-Cruz friends slipped off over the fence to the Trump side, while others went to join the pro-Hillary crowd. The ones who remained sat with me on the sidelines, picking through third-party candidates or bickering whether or not to do a write-in. As a Christian, I also toyed with the idea of not voting at all. So while I lurked on Facebook and Twitter, posting almost nothing while Trump fans argued with the remaining Nevertrumpers and the Democrats, I found that I missed being in the fight. I could either pick Trump or Hillary and be right back in it or I could cling to my principles and sit this one out. And as a conservative activist, being quiet is hard to do.

Many people have given their reasons for choosing one side or the other. I respect their decision and I know why they did it. But then they feel they have to come back to badger every other friend on their list who remains undecided or simply refuses to support their guy. After several conversations with former-Cruzers-turned-Trumpers, it’s not just that they fear a Hillary presidency – even though I understand that motivation. It’s that they love the political combat and hate sitting on the sidelines. Even if it means losing friends because of the name-calling and verbal abuse they suddenly take up after joining Trump, they’re back in the fight. They’ve been doing it as long as I have and when they’re online, they get a rush from it. Yes, Christians too.

I completely understand, because I sometimes feel like saying to heck with it and diving back into the trenches myself. But I can’t. The reason is that I can’t walk away from everything I believe in just to argue with a bunch of people I don’t know over two candidates I can’t stand to listen to. I believe that a person’s character matters, that morals and Constitutional principles matter.

That’s why I haven’t filled out my ballot. I’m about 90% convinced I’ll pick Darrell Castle and a GOP down-ballot. The other 10% of me seems to want to wait for a miracle. Maybe Trump or Hillary will decide they’d had enough and will drop out and someone new will step in – someone I feel I can vote for with a clean conscience. As unlikely as that is, I still have a feeling that I should wait. Others have said the same thing. Yes, people will still tell me I’m stupid or stubborn (or both, along with a few expletives describing my brains, my looks etc.) but that’s okay. It’s not easy being a Conscientious Objector. If it was, everyone would do it and we’d get a third-party candidate for president instead of the two crap sandwiches we’ve got now.
I rest easy, knowing that the longest guilt trip in history is almost over. Oh, don’t worry, I’m not voting for Hillary, either. I voted Ross Perot instead of Bob Dole or Bill Clinton, going with my conscience then just as I’m going to do now. In the end, a person is no better than their word.  I gave my word and “never” means just that: Never.

JKSC 26 Oct., 2016