Saturday, September 17, 2016

Resisting the temptation to vote for Trump

As I have continued to follow the presidential campaign, I have been tempted a time or two to throw by lot with Donald Trump.  After being a partisan loyalist for my whole life it is hard to sit this one out.  When Hillary disparages a quarter of the American people by calling them "deplorables," I am tempted to vote for Trump.  When people like Whoopie Goldberg and Al Sharpton and Cher and Rosie O'Donnell promise to leave the country if Trump is elected, I am almost ready to vote for Trump.  When I reflect on what a sleazebag Hillary Clinton is and how much I detest her, I am tempted to vote for Trump.

I am not tempted to join the Trump team because I am persuaded by the argument that not voting, or that voting for Gary Johnson is a vote for Hillary.  It obviously factually is not so.  It is not true that that is the effect of not voting in the presidential election or voting for a third party.  If we had national popular elections then there would be some validity to that argument, but we do not. If I voted for Trump in Tennessee it would not cancel out a Hillary vote cast by a dead person in Chicago. The national popularity contest is not how we elect our president in this country.  We have 50 state elections for president; not a national election. Tennessee has eleven electoral votes and like most states is winner-take-all and unless the race should tighten in Tennessee then Trump is going to win all of Tennessee's votes. I can vote for Gary Johnson or simply not vote for president and it has no impact on the outcome.

My temptation to vote for Trump is an emotional response to my dislike of Hillary Clinton and anger at political correctness and liberalism.  It is not based on logic. My temptation to vote for Trump is more like saying hooray for my team.  When I see Trump edging up in the polls and Hillary falling, I want to cheer for Trump. It is the habit of a loyalist.

Trump is a a Republican who favors (1) Higher minimum wage, (2) Bigger federal government (3) Single payer healthcare, (4) Higher tariffs and trade wars, (5) Gun control, (6) Abortion, (7) Restrictions on the First Amendment, and (8)  Mandatory paid maternity leave. Why is he the conservative choice? I know some will say those are not his positions.  If they are not now, they have been in the recent past.  He also is a hypocrite, (9) claiming support for "made in America" while having his suites and some other products with the Trump label made in foreign countries. Also he has participated in using (10) eminent domain to take the property of others to benefit Trump.  In addition to these ideological and character reasons, there is the question of temperament. I do not want Trump's finger hovered over the nuclear button.  I do not trust Trump with that 3AM phone call anymore than I do Clinton.

I see this race as a race between Democrat A running as a Democrat and Democrat B running as a Republican. Democrat B is crude, egotistical, and bombastic, but other than that I do not see much difference between the two.  I do not see a clear reason to favor Trump over Hillary. 

The one argument for supporting Trump that I almost find persuasive is that he would appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court. I would find that persuasive if I believed I could trust Donald Trump, but I just do not believe he is trustworthy.  He has flip-flopped and lied or changed his mind time and time again.  He has been a life-long Democrat or at least not a declared Republican and has associated with Democrats and contributed to Democrat campaigns. If he is elected, I have no reason to believe he would appoint conservatives to the Court. Just because he said he would is not reason enough.

One reason not to vote for Trump is that he is likely to balloon the debt. Sequestration has been abandoned and Republicans have abandoned brinkmanship for now. The national debt is rapidly approaching $20 trillion. This is not sustainable, yet Trump is not making it a campaign issue.  His plan for dealing with the debt is based on the most rosy scenario that no one believes will be realized. He is not calling for entitlement reform and instead is calling for a major new entitlement.

I think the best outcome for this election is for Hillary to be elected and Republicans to hold the House and the Senate.  That is not that unlikely of an outcome. A lot of Hillary supporters are likely to split their ticket.  If however, Republicans can hold the House, even if we lose the Senate, that might be preferable to a Trump victory. If Trump is elected president, I fear Republicans would not stand up to him but would work to advance his agenda. With Trump elected president Republicans would roll over and play dead and give him what he wants.  With Hillary elected president, Republicans could be counted on to oppose her agenda.  Republican might even be able to keep her from filling a Supreme Court vacancy unless she nominated someone acceptable to Republican.  Four years of gridlock is preferable to advancing a Trump agenda.

If Hillary is elected, I seriously doubt she could win a second term.  The only reason she has a shot this time is because Trump is so despicable. Hillary only looks good in comparison to Trump. She has high unfavorables. The last time the party in power won a third term was when Bush followed Reagan and he only served one term.  Before that we have to go back to Roosevelt-Truman to see a party capture office for four terms and that was in time of war and a death of a president in office. Not only is Hillary unlikely to win a second term, but even if Republicans lose the Senate, they are likely to recapture it two years later.  Much of the Democrat electorate are low-information or low-engaged voters who simply vote in presidential years and otherwise skip elections. There is little likelihood that Republican will lose the House and little likely hood that Republicans will lose the Senate for more than two years.

If Hillary is elected she will only have two years to advance her agenda, then the Republicans can regain the Senate and two years after that can regain the White House. Our Republic can endure that and that may be the best outcome.

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