Why campaigning for Hillary (or Bernie) over Trump is a bad idea for conservatives
posted at 12:01 pm on January 13, 2016 by Taylor Millard
There’s now a very small push among some conservatives who aren’t Donald Trump fans to suggest voting for Hillary Clinton is a better strategy. Ben Howe at RedState is one of the first to suggest he’ll be a Clinton supporter if it comes to it because he wants to make sure the Democrats take the reputation hit (emphasis mine).
Let’s be clear: I think Hillary Clinton would be equally detrimental. This isn’t a question of choosing the lesser of two evils. Hillary and Trump are equally evil and untrustworthy in my estimation.
So in a situation where two devils are my only option, where I’m certain the outcome of 4 years will be bad for the country, where I’m positive the party responsible for nominating them will be held accountable and suffer the wrath of voters for years to come… I choose to let the other party take the hit.
I will not participate in destroying my own party’s brand by helping to elect a dangerous and untrustworthy person to office and declaring him a representative of my ideological beliefs.
Instead, I will, should Trump win the nomination, work to make sure that the other dangerous and untrustworthy person, who has declared themselves to a representative of progressivism, takes the job.
Howe thinks Trump is a stereotype of what the media portrays Republicans as: cronyist and xenophobic. It’s why he writes he can’t vote for him. But deciding to vote for Clinton (or Bernie Sanders if he wins the Democrat nomination) in hopes it’ll come back to bite the Democrats in 2020 is a bad idea. It might even give Clinton (and her media allies) more ammunition if it turns out to be a repeat of 2008, when Barack Obama trounced John McCain. So voting for one “evil and untrustworthy” candidate over another is a bad strategy to take. South Park complained about this in 2004 and they’re right because the two major party candidate choices haven’t been great at all for more than a few election cycles. This doesn’t mean people who are anti-Trump should sit there and vote for him because they don’t want Clinton in the White House. Howe gives a pretty good indictment of those who just vote for candidates because there’s an R next to their name.
For years we accused the Establishment of pushing Democrats with an R next to their name onto us. We declared in those instances that they must also be conservative, not just a Republican…If you vote for [ Trump ] just because that R is next to his name or just because you believe (with no evidence) that he will keep his work on his immigration policy prescriptions, then you are the definition of a RINO.
The problem is Howe isn’t considering two alternatives: writing in someone he prefers or just not voting at all. Reason Magazine has actually been a leading proponent in skipping votes if the candidates just aren’t that good. Katherine Mangu-Ward opines the “Vote or Die” push is just ridiculous and the idea every vote counts is a lie because of math.
Let’s start with the basics: Your vote will almost certainly not determine the outcome of any public election. I’m not talking about conspiracy theories regarding rigged elections or malfunctioning voting machines—although both of those things have happened and will happen again. I’m not talking about swing states or Supreme Court power grabs or the weirdness of the Electoral College. I’m talking about pure, raw math.
In all of American history, a single vote has never determined the outcome of a presidential election. And there are precious few examples of any other elections decided by a single vote. A 2001 National Bureau of Economic Research paper by economists Casey Mulligan and Charles Hunter looked at 56,613 contested congressional and state legislative races dating back to 1898. Of the 40,000 state legislative elections they examined, encompassing about 1 billion votes cast, only seven were decided by a single vote (two were tied). A 1910 Buffalo contest was the lone single-vote victory in a century’s worth of congressional races. In four of the 10 ultra-close campaigns flagged in the paper, further research by the authors turned up evidence that subsequent recounts unearthed margins larger than the official record initially suggested.
Mangu-Ward also suggests the notion of “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain” is complete b.s.
Whether there is a duty to be civically engaged, to act as a good citizen, is a separate question from the issue of voting. But if such a duty exists, there are many ways to perform it, including (perhaps especially) complaining. According to [ Harvard economist Gregory ] Mankiw’s argument, the ignorant voter is a far less admirable citizen than the serial-letter-writing Tea Partier who can’t be bothered to show up on Election Day.
The right to complain is, mercifully, unrelated to any hypothetical duty to vote. It was ensured, instead, by the Founders, all of whom were extraordinary bellyachers themselves.
This doesn’t mean people who don’t want to vote for either Clinton or Trump should completely skip the November election. There are plenty of lower ballot races which are important, especially if voters want to make sure gridlock in DC stays in place. The Washington Post named ten seats they expected to switch parties in June and eight were controlled by Republicans. This means a complete flip from the Republicans to the Democrats (or an almost 50-50 split) if people decide not to show up. The rise of executive fiat may make it seem like Congress doesn’t matter, but there are plenty of good candidates out there who believe in freedom and liberty. Deciding to not vote in those races is probably a bad idea, especially for those in smaller districts, because it removes another small government type from DC. There are also state and local office elections which are just as important because all politics start local. Howe’s complaint about not wanting to vote for Trump makes sense, but he’s falling into the trap of “you have to pick Candidate A or Candidate B.” There are plenty of other options out there people should be willing to consider before heading to the polls.