Diary

The Needless Bleakness of #NeverTrump

Coming to a website to urge an opposite political position is normally too quixotic for me.  But I have sympathy for NeverTrumpers.  Mathematically, our Presidential votes have no real chance of making a difference.  We vote for the fun of it.  (I enjoyed voting for Cruz in the primary, and I expect to enjoy voting for Trump even more.)   The bitterness and despair that #NeverTrump has turned into seems the opposite of fun and joy.  That could be worthwhile if it advanced conservatism in some way.  But #NeverTrump is not philosophically aligned with conservatism.

Conservatism assigns great value to institutions.  That’s not because institutions are inherently great, but because conservatism understands that men are not angels.  So conservatives strive to build a system where self-interest yields benefits for society.  This is why capitalism has served us so well.  It may not be fair, and the desire of socialists to help the poor is not wrong.  Yet reality is that socialism can’t be made to work even with Soviet Russia’s huge government powers and resulting tyranny.

Trump isn’t a nice guy, but our institution of government is sound.  It doesn’t depend on the President being nice, as 8 years of Obama have shown.  So when people talk about fighting the two-party system, it’s hard to avoid eye-rolling.  Just as the benefits of our system are being neglected, we’re being called to help tear it down.

“But Trump is so bad, he’ll destroy the system.”  I see no good reason to think so.  Isn’t his greatest fault that he’s a narcissist seeking public adulation?  But there’s no great popular desire for authoritarian rule or a massive retreat on civil rights.  (I’m always amazed when Republicans fall for this Democratic bugaboo.)  So what would be in this for him?  Self-interest works in our favor yet again.

“But a Republican candidate should stand for higher values.”  That’s a fine sentiment, but it’s not clear what values we’re talking about.  Probably the most black-and-white social issue in public dispute is abortion.  I was #NeverGuilani on this before there were hashtags.  But it’s time to smell the coffee.  Even a candidate as conservative as Ted Cruz rebuked Trump for suggesting a mother should be jailed for abortion.  We are a million miles from making abortion illegal, and voting on such promises is a fool’s game.  But on a social issue we have to fight and can win – keeping “diversity” from becoming the state religion – Trump is fighting where most Republicans have been cowed by political correctness.  If Trump’s more interested in defending his own blather than in lofty ideals, that may limit his effectiveness.  But at least self-interest would keep him fighting.

Or is globalism the higher value in question?  After the messes made by both Bush and Obama, there’s a good argument that interfering with other countries has been taken too far.  Just because isolationism is silly doesn’t mean there’s no opposite error.   On immigration, it’s not surprising people have tired of a system that seems designed to lower American wages and to serve the idol of diversity.  Even when truly motivated by charity to foreigners, it’s reasonable to ask why Americans as a whole have to contribute to the favored cause of some.  Globalism lost the Republican primary fair and square, despite the opposing champion being oafish.  Globalism supporters might therefore consider tuning their positions and arguments before trying to blow up the party in retribution.

Small government?  This is not an ideal that makes many hearts sing; it’s a means rather than an end.  But a small-government conservative should be giggling with glee over a Trump presidency.  Never mind that he doesn’t believe in small government.  His brashness and political incorrectness will make no end of enemies in Congress, the judiciary, and the bureaucracy.   By energizing conflict, Trump could be the best choice in years for reducing the outsize power of the executive branch.

If gentle speech, modesty, and civic knowledge are the values in question, I yield.  If you’ll really have fun voting against Trump, by all means go for it.  I simply suggest that it’ll be more fun without a dirge for the death of conservatism or the Republican party.  They’re doing just fine with Trump, regardless of his opinions.