Why #NeverTrump doesn't equal #ReadyforHillary

The latest craze by the pro-Trump horde is to suggest those proclaiming #NeverTrump are really #ReadyforHillary. It’s a similar strategy as the “A vote for is a vote for Obama/Kerry/Gore,” previously used by Republicans of all stripes in hopes of convincing people to vote for the GOP nominee (the Democrats do this too). I’ve no idea if the strategy actually works, but the fact it keeps being used suggests it must sway some people. The problem is this line of thinking isn’t based on reality, but on the notion of “every vote matters,” which isn’t true in presidential elections.

Reason looked at this before the 2012 election and found there have been seven congressional and state elections decided by one vote, with the last coming in 1910. No presidential election has ever been tied or decided by one electoral vote in over a 100 years, and the 1876 election between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden is the only contest to be decided by one Electoral College vote. The 1968 election is the last election where the winner won by less than 600K votes (not counting the 2000 election), so this idea that the country is so split that “EVERY VOTE MATTERS!!!!1111!!” is just pure hogwash. Reason’s article found even the stats prove it:

The numbers just get more ridiculous from there. In a 2012 Economic Inquiry article, Columbia University political scientist Andrew Gelman, statistician Nate Silver, and University of California, Berkeley, economist Aaron Edlin use poll results from the 2008 election cycle to calculate that the chance of a randomly selected vote determining the outcome of a presidential election is about one in 60 million. In a couple of key states, the chance that a random vote will be decisive creeps closer to one in 10 million, which drags voters into the dubious company of people gunning for the Mega-Lotto jackpot. The authors optimistically suggest that even with those terrible odds, you may still choose to vote because “the payoff is the chance to change national policy and improve (one hopes) the lives of hundreds of millions, compared to the alternative if the other candidate were to win.” But how big does that payoff have to be to make voting worthwhile?

It’s also important to note there are plenty of the #NeverTrump declarers who aren’t sure which candidate they’ll go for. Some may drift towards the Libertarian Party, others may go Constitution Party, some may vote for Hillary Clinton, there’s a group which probably won’t vote at all (unless a Republican decides to run as an Independent), and some might change their minds and vote for Trump. Even then, there is no guarantee Trump would beat Clinton if the #NeverTrump crowd didn’t exist because the polls mostly show Clinton ahead. But it’s still March, and who knows what the polls will show in the fall.

There’s one other thing that’s bothering me about this entire “NeverTrump = #ReadyforHillary debate. Why is it perfectly fine for Trump to be an authoritarian, when it’s NOT okay for Clinton and Barack Obama to be one? Are people seriously blind to Trump’s style of governance because he has an “R” next to his name or do they not care? Is it just because the GOP Establishment is more reviled than Justin Bieber and Nickleback combined or is it just strong man syndrome because Trump appears to fight? Or is it a case of voters deciding the president might as well be a dictator so let’s get “our guy” in power? If it’s the latter, then count me out because I’m not at all interested in a dictator or a king.

This isn’t saying any of the other GOP candidates on the ballot would push policy I support (or that I’d even vote for them), but the #NeverTrump crowd isn’t full of a bunch of Establishment shills. It’s full of people from all right wing political ideologies, from Constitutional conservatives to social conservatives to libertarians to GOP Establishment members. It’s probably one of the few times you’ll see a group like this come together, even though no one seems to agree which candidate should drop out. This is just one of the reasons why the #NeverTrump crowd hasn’t quite been as successful because there no real opposing candidate to rally around. Mitt Romney’s suggestion of forcing a brokered convention by supporting whoever is in second place in certain states makes a bit of sense, but is still a risky strategy because Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio supporters don’t get along. A brokered convention would be fun from a chaos standpoint, but not if the GOP decides to pick an also-ran as nominee (So no “third time’s a charm” for Romney).

But let’s not fall into the #NeverTrump = #ReadyforHillary fallacy. A majority of the #NeverTrump crowd is rejecting authoritarianism, which is a good thing because America was founded on the principles of individual liberty, free markets, and (mostly) saying “No” to the all powerful state. To suggest they just want Clinton to be president is ridiculous. They’re just not interested in choosing between one autocrat vs. another come November. That’s not a bad position to take and to suggest otherwise is either blindness, foolishness, a combination, or just plain deceit. It’s up to you to decide which category it is.

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