David Frum conducts a helpful thought experiment, coming up with the best cases for conservative voters vexed with their choices in the presidential race. Frum starts from the point of view that the hypothetical voter is a principled conservative who can’t stand either Trump or Hillary, but is committed to voting anyway. What should she do? Here are some excerpts.
From the case for reluctantly voting Trump:
You remember what elections do. Elections choose governments, and then empower those governments to do certain things and refrain from doing other things. A President Trump will do more of what you want done than a President Hillary Clinton will; and do fewer of the things you wish not to be done. A President Trump will try to lower taxes. A President Hillary Clinton will try to raise them. Trump will lighten financial and environmental regulation. Hillary Clinton will tighten it. Trump will direct government spending in ways you are likely to benefit from. Hillary Clinton will try to redirect money away from you to benefit her supporters instead. You don’t blame the young and the urban from voting to move money from your pocketbook to theirs. But aren’t you equally entitled to vote to protect what you earned and created for yourself and your family? It’s not as if you aren’t paying a lot of taxes already—and seeing much of it vanish God knows where, and to enrich God knows who.
At least for the first two years, President Trump will face a Republican Congress. You have no illusions about that either. You know that Trump cares nothing about conservatism or the Republican Party. He’s poisoned his relationship with the House and Senate leadership. However, he’ll sign their bills! It won’t be dignified. There will be scandals. It’ll never be like Reagan again. But then, you’ll never be 25 again. This is good enough for now.
From the case for reluctantly voting third party:
What you want to do is send a distinctly conservative protest against both Hillary Clinton’s progressive ideology and Donald Trump’s con-man narcissism. The bigger the protest vote total, the more respect your conservative ideas can demand in future. Hoist the “Don’t Tread on Me” banner, and check out who else is on the ballot: Libertarian, Independent, or Constitution Party.
From the case for reluctantly voting Clinton:
Do you like Hillary Clinton’s program? No. Do you imagine that she will volunteer concesions to you and your beliefs? No again. Would you count the spoons afterward if Bill Clinton came to dinner? For sure. But can she “do the job”—manage a crisis, pay the bills, respond to hurricanes, face national enemies? Obviously. Look at how she’s coped with that maniac Trump on the debate stage. Couldn’t have been cooler. Despite yourself, you’ve been impressed. She’s smart and tough and open to reason. We could do worse. It’s four years—not even. She’ll perhaps be boxed in by a Republican Congress for the first two years; much more probably so in 2019 and 2020. By then, it’ll be time to try again, this time with a Republican nominee not suffering from a major personality disorder.
But whatever happens, you won’t flinch from the reality of the binary decision. Gestural politics are just ways of evading responsibility. “Don’t blame me, I voted for McMullin.” But choices are judged by their consequences, and the consequences here are stark: If not Hillary, then Trump. If not Trump, then Hillary. Since it can’t be Trump, it must be Hillary. You understand why people might evade that unwelcome reality. But you didn’t get where you are by evading realities. You face them, you meet them, you make the best of them. You’ll hope for the best, but at least you’ll know you did all you could to prevent the worst.
Read the whole thing. There’s more to all of them than I am able to highlight here. If you’re a troubled conservative voter, which one describes you? Did any of Frum’s cases change your mind?