Over two months ago, I wrote of the need for “heroic fairness” in covering this election, sticking to an evidence-based analytical approach, and disclosing that I planned to vote for Donald Trump despite deep reservations about his character and his campaign. With the polls open today, it’s time for an update on that disclosure, and an encouraging word for fellow conservatives still on the fence.
I’ll spend Election Day in Washington DC, so my wife and I decided to cast our ballots by the absentee process. That turned out to be a good decision; Minnesota has early voting, but the lines have been long enough to snake out of the polling station at our precinct nearly every time we looked. Despite having the ballots weeks ago, we both waited until nearly the last moment to conclude them, wanting to make sure we stayed current with any potential game-changing revelations about any of the candidates.
Finally, this weekend I cast my ballot for Donald Trump, as I had planned to do for the last two months. This may have been the most reluctant vote I have ever cast for a Republican candidate on any level since I began voting, but it may be one of the most necessary votes I feel like I have ever cast as well. Trump might not have the temperament needed for the top office, but the alternative was worse in several significant ways. We’ve covered these in great detail during the campaign, but I’ll sum them up.
First, Trump has been part of the crony-capitalist machine that has distorted politics and policy, but Hillary Clinton actively corrupted government while serving in public office. The Clinton Foundation operated as a pay-to-play channel while the Clintons got personally enriched by the connections she had as Secretary of State, and one need look no farther than Bill Clinton’s $18 million haul as an honorary chancellor at Laureate Education as evidence — although there is plenty more. That includes the Uranium One deal, approved by State under Hillary while the financiers behind Russia’s play to lock up US uranium assets shoved $500,000 into Bill Clinton’s pockets for a speech.
Second, and related, Hillary’s e-mail server clearly had the purpose of hiding her official communications from Congress and the courts. It succeeded in thwarting the legitimate oversight of the executive branch and perverting the constitutional safeguards over the exercise of executive power, at least until a Congressional investigation exposed its existence 18 months after Hillary left office. That’s worse than the grossly negligent exposure of classified information; it portends an executive that will accrue so much power that it will create the imperial presidency that Barack Obama attempted. Richard Nixon claimed that the president was above the law; Hillary Clinton will make that a reality, aided and abetted by a media inclined to support her initiatives. At least a President Trump would get held in check by popular dissent.
Third, Hillary Clinton is the most extreme pro-abortion nominee in American history. Even Barack Obama paid some heed to the bipartisan support of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal tax dollars from supporting abortions. Hillary wants to eliminate it, and refuses to offer any limits to abortion on demand. Donald Trump is a flawed candidate on this point, as was Mitt Romney; both appeared to have highly convenient conversions to the pro-life position when pursuing their presidential ambitions. Trump’s commitment to pro-life action is suspect, too, although he’s at least talking about the issues; I suspect that’s all he’d do as president, too. Even so, Trump will be far less likely to abandon Hyde, and also less likely to appoint jurists who will support abortion on demand.
For these reasons, and pretty much for these reasons alone, I put aside my personal distaste for the Republican nominee and cast a vote against Hillary Clinton in the only effective path left open to me to do so. Conservatives have plenty of reason to distrust Trump and the forces that made him the last option, and plenty of reasons to worry that a Trump victory would give more life to those impulses. It will be far easier to keep them in check with a hostile media facing off a President Trump than it will be to keep all of the corruption in check with a friendly media protecting President Hillary Clinton, and we can despair of keeping the blight of abortion on demand in check even at the horrific levels seen today.
I don’t mean to diminish the concern over the direction the GOP electorate has taken. After this election, no matter the outcome, the Republican Party faces even more soul-searching on its identity. For the moment, the GOP has been overwhelmed by bitterness, insularity, and the kind of corrosive identity politics it used to eschew. It cannot survive long without reaching out to all communities and offering policies that will expand prosperity and individual liberty rather than focus on division. That will be true no matter which candidate wins today, but we will lose a huge amount of leverage to keep the damage limited to that which the GOP inflicted on itself if Hillary Clinton takes control of the executive branch of government.
Take care to remember this when going to the polls today. While you’re at it, pray for our nation, and ask for a future with better choices.