Bidding Three No-Trumps

I'm supporting Hillary Clinton for president this fall.

This comes as little surprise to you, assuming you've read anything in this journal before now, but you may be curious as to why. The obvious reason, in all its fiery orange glory, has been presenting itself to the world for months now, and I don't really see a whole lot of reason to present anything further at this point; I can't possibly offer you better reasons not to vote for Donald Trump than Trump himself is offering.

Yet there are reasonable people out there who know they can't vote for Trump (which is one way in which you can tell they are reasonable) but don't yet feel they can vote for Clinton. I'm not talking about the misogynists who can't bring themselves to vote for a woman, who typically identify themselves by use of the word "cankles" when discussing a former Senator and Secretary of State; these people are not reasonable. No, I'm talking about those who fall primarily into one of these camps:

1) Habitual Republican Voters.
These are folks who don't necessarily feel passionate support for specific GOP proposals, but who have a generally conservative worldview and aren't comfortable with change. Many of them are big fans of Reagan, though they may not remember the parts of Reagan's presidency where he traded arms for hostages, ignored the rise of AIDS, cozied up to Saddam Hussein, supported the apartheid regime of South Africa, kicked off his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and stuff like that--but by gosh, they remember "Tear down this wall!" and the idea that government is the problem. They've pretty much voted GOP for the last three decades, but now Trump is saying all kinds of things that Reagan never mentioned, and they're not really comfortable with that. What can they do? Vote for a Democrat? Has it come to this?

2) Team Norquist. These are people, generally Republicans, whose votes are based almost exclusively on the issue of their pocketbooks. Grover Norquist's push for Lower Taxes, Period, has been the one unifying element of the GOP in my voting lifetime, and it remains a central part of the party's dogma: no matter what the situation might be, no matter what the country might need to spend money on, my taxes should always be lower. Always. In 2012, the assembled GOP candidates were asked whether they would support a plan where ten dollars of spending would be cut if taxes were raised by a dollar; in a stirring demonstration of just how little deficit reduction actually mattered to them, every single candidate said no. And it's that kind of fervent anti-tax philosophy that draws the votes from this group: problem is, many of them are economically sophisticated enough to be terrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency. Will he support tariffs? Free trade? Deficit spending? Who really knows? Besides, the British pound just tanked in the wake of a vote supporting Trump's nativist brethren in the U.K., and these folks are well aware of it. But is the chance that HRC might support a tax increase worth gambling on?

3) The BernieBros. Not all Bernie supporters are BernieBros (heck, many aren't even Bros in either the social or anatomical sense), but there is a population of hardcore Sanders fans so upset at Clinton's primary victory that they don't want to support her in November. Some of them fall into the aforementioned "cankles" category above, and others have defied all reason by grumpily complaining that there is no difference between Clinton and Trump (which is like saying there's no difference between drinking castor oil and drinking Pennzoil), Still, there are numerous others who are legitimately unhappy with Clinton's positions. They disagree with her on issues such as student debt, foreign policy, free trade, etc., and fear that she is too beholden to Wall Street and the corporate elite, and they don't wish to offer her even tacit support, so they will either stay home on Election Day or cast a protest vote for Jill Stein, or Gary Johnson, or some other third-party candidate.

I understand why each of these groups is unhappy and frustrated; believe me, when you grow up with Jesse Helms as your Senator, no matter HOW many times you vote against him, you learn very early that the ballot box isn't always your friend. Still, I'd like to reassure the members of the groups above that a vote for Clinton is not actually a bad idea.

For one thing, a Clinton administration is likely to be fairly similar to the one we've lived through for the last eight years--eight years during which the economy has pulled out of a nosedive and made steady improvements--so if you're scared of big changes, HRC is probably the best candidate to back.

If you're troubled by the vague and uncertain economic policies and promises that Trump has strewn about the landscape as the spirit moves him--such as simultaneously promising to lower America's debt and deficit while lowering the corporate tax rate (see #4 at the link)--you can take heart in the fact that Clinton's policies are laid out in depth, and that she has an actual record of governance by which to judge her. 

And if you're pondering a third-party protest vote, let me just remind you of the last president put in office by third-party protest voters:

mission accomplished.jpg
In other words, I'd like you to consider the pragmatic consequences of your vote. Are you having a legitimate crisis of conscience? Do what you have to. But please don't pretend it won't make any difference.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on July 6, 2016 1:00 PM.

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