2016-11-08 20:54:17 UTC
more thought to a relatively meaningless vote than I have this year.
I knew long before he became the Republican nominee that I could never
vote for Donald Trump. He's an ignoramus and a boor, an almost comical
narcissist and a reflexive bigot. I'm not easily offended, and he has
offended me pretty consistently over the course of this campaign,
beginning with his announcement speech. The list is as familiar as it
is long: His mockery of POWs, his ridicule of the disabled, his
reliable misogyny, his open prejudice, his casual and unapologetic
dishonesty, his contempt for ideas and people who care about them.
As I think about the future of the country and the lives of my three
(soon to be four) children, two challenges stand out: national security
and debt. Government shouldn't do much, but it should keep its citizens
safe and it should not burden future generations with debt incurred by
politicians making promises to current ones. Trump complains about the
$20 trillion in debt and opposes reforming the entitlements most
responsible for it. His views on national security range from aspiring
authoritarian to naïve neo-isolationist, and his decisionmaking in
matters of world affairs appears to be driven by ego and bravado rather
than any kind of worldview or national strategy. There is, in my view,
no chance a Trump presidency would seriously address the debt and a
good chance that it would increase global instability and threats to
the U.S. homeland.
Trump doesn't believe in limited governmentat all. To the extent he's
made limited government arguments during the campaign, he's done so for
transparently political reasons. But he's also repeatedly made clear
his comfort with a powerful, intrusive federal government. He's argued
for severe restrictions on the First Amendment, for dramatically higher
taxes, for expanded entitlements, for new regulations on businesses,
for single-payer health care. To the extent Trump has views about
policy that don't directly affect his own well being, he is a
So, noI'm not voting for Donald Trump. (For more of my concerns about
Trump, click here and here.)
And despite the fevered speculation of some Trump supporters, I will
not vote for Hillary Clinton, either. She has campaigned for president
as an extension of the Obama presidency, which has been disastrous,
particularly on the urgent issues of debt and national security. If
that alone weren't enough to disqualify her, then her almost
contemptuous disregard for the rules and laws that govern other public
officials and the rest of the country surely is.
This isn't new. In 1996, William Safire memorably described Mrs.
Clinton as a "congenital liar." In hindsight, that seems almost
generous, as if her behavior was inherited, not chosen. In light of
what we've seen since, we could add other, more accurate descriptors.
She's a habitual liar, an aggressive liar, an arrogant liar. She's a
comfortable liar, an unrepentant liar, even an eager liar. Go back and
review her press conference at the United Nations on March 10, 2015.
She offered excuses and justifications and explanations for her private
email serverand virtually everything she said about it was misleading
or flat-out untrue. (For more of my concerns about Clinton, see here.)
It's no wonder, then, that so many Americans dislike the two major-
party candidates. When Fox News asked voters in late August whether
they believe "Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are terrible
candidates", nearly half of the country (44 percent) responded in the
affirmative. An NBC poll out this week found that 62 percent of
Americans say the election has made them feel "less proud" of America.
(In 2012, only 12 percent said the same thing.)
I'm one of them. So, what should I do? Among the best things I read as
I considered this question was an article published this summer from
Matthew Franck. He writes:
Neither Trump nor Clinton has a single redeeming characteristic
that recommends him or her to the presidency of the United
Statesat least none that is not decisively outweighed by some
other damning characteristic. Clinton's much vaunted
"experience" is a career record of ghastly misjudgments in
foreign policy, paired with a consistently authoritarian and
illiberal "progressivism" in domestic policy, seemingly intent
on unraveling the social fabric that makes a decent society.
And there is no need to rehearse her and her husband's history
of dishonesty, corruption, and irresponsibility, capped most
recently by her obvious breach of the statutes protecting
national security secrets.
As for Trump, was there ever a candidate more obviously
unqualified for high public office, as measured by his dearth
of relevant knowledge and experience, his willfulness and
self-absorption, his compulsive lying and inconsistency, his
manipulative using of other people, his smash-mouth rhetoric
and low character? For anyone professing conservative
principles, the first problem with Trump is that he is not
one of us, has never been one of us, shows no sign or capacity
of becoming one of us, and hardly cares to pretend to be one
of us. Even "what about the Supreme Court?" has no grip on my
conscience when I try to imagine Donald Trump in the Oval
Office. I cannot trust him to choose judicial nominees wisely,
and there are other things whose cumulative weight is greater
even than this variable.
After a lifetime of studying politics, I have finally, thanks
to the electoral annus horribilis of 2016, arrived at an ethic
of voting that I can defend against all rival ethics. It is
simply this: Vote as if your ballot determines nothing
whatsoeverexcept the shape of your own character. Vote as if
the public consequences of your action weigh nothing next to
the private consequences. The country will go whither it will
go, when all the votes are counted. What should matter the
most to you is whither you will go, on and after this
November's election day.
Pretty good advice.
My vote won't affect the outcome of the race for president. I live in
Maryland, a reliably blue state in presidential years. But even if I
lived in a swing state, I'd make the same choice.
I wrote in Senator Mike Lee.
Lee is a principled conservative. He is a thoughtful and consistent
advocate for limited government. He is a constitutionalist not because
it's popular these days but because he believes in the precepts of
I don't agree with Senator Lee on everything. I have concerns about his
proposals on criminal justice reform, and his views on national
security are more non-interventionist than mine. But our differences
come in considering how to limit government, not whether to limit it.
Lee has refused to endorse Donald Trump. But he has nonetheless tried
in good faithin public and in privateto encourage Trump to embrace
those things he considers important. And he has given serious,
substantive reasons for his decision. (See my interview with Lee from
the Republican National Convention this summer, here.) Opposing the
nominee of your party, even one as deeply flawed as Donald Trump, takes
a certain amount of political courage. And with the exception of Ben
Sasse, Jeff Flake, Larry Hogan, and Charlie Baker, too few elected
Republicans this year have shown it.
So, Mike Lee for President.
Or one vote for Mike Lee, anyway.
In other news, somehow Crooked Hillary still isn't in prison...
In other news, somehow Crooked Hillary still isn't in prison...