I agree with all of this except what happens in 2020.
I’ll vote for Evan McMullin tomorrow. He shares my political and cultural values more than anyone else on the ballot. He’s not a “lesser evil.” He’s a good man. And when I vote for McMullin, I will be weakening Trump or Clinton. That’s one less vote for corruption. That’s one less vote for opportunism. If we must have an unfit president, make them weak. You can’t stop Trump or Clinton from winning, but you can reduce his or her margin and mandate. Tomorrow let that be your concrete and valuable public service.
…it’s the practical choice.
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 whatsoever—except 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.
Yep. No matter what happens tomorrow I will always be proud of being part of the #NeverTrump movement. The men and women of #NeverTrump are some of the smartest, kindest, funniest, most patriotic people I’ve ever known. I want to thank the leaders of that movement for standing up for what’s right, in the face of withering criticism and death threats. And I’m grateful that they never lost their nerve or their principles. What I saw in #NeverTrump folks renewed my faith and sense of purpose as a conservative. That’s going to last long after this election.
Someday, maybe, when I’m old and a child asks me what I remember about the awful election of 2016, I’ll say: It was the Big Reveal.
Revealed: That the guiding spirit of the modern conservative movement is neither Burke nor Lincoln. It’s Marx. “These are my principles,” Groucho once cracked, “and if you don’t like them, well, I have others.” Everything Republicans once claimed to advocate—entitlement reform, free trade, standing up to dictators, encouraging the march of freedom around the world—turns out to be negotiable and reversible, depending on Donald Trump’s whims and the furies of his base.
Revealed: That moral clarity and moral equivalence have become interchangeable concepts in today’s GOP. The same Republicans who pontificated throughout the 1990s about restoring honor and dignity to the Oval Office are now eager to rent that office to a man who boasts of his own sexual predations. Why? Because Bill Clinton already did it.
What all this shows is that most conservative intellectuals have proved incapable of self-examination or even simple observation. Donald Trump is a demagogue. Period. The fervor of his crowds recalls Nasser’s Egypt. His convictions are illiberal. His manners are disgusting. His temper is frightening. It ought to have been the job of thoughtful conservatives in this season to point this out, time and again. If they can’t do that, what good are they?
George Orwell said that “to see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” The Big Reveal of 2016 is that most conservatives failed the Orwell test. On Tuesday we’ll learn if American voters can do better.
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