Trump v. Clinton … and Bush

As NeverTrumpers plot away, a reality check is in order

There is work to be done in this election for all those who care about the future of America.

Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee for president. If she is elected, she will continue the same disastrous policies that have already done so much harm to the U.S. economy.

  • She will appoint radical leftists to the Supreme Court who will cripple the Bill of Rights, take away the powers of state governments, and strip Congress of even more power.
  • She will continue the pay-for-play system, whereby the U.S. government is more responsive to heavy campaign donors than it is to the people.
  • She will ram through trade deals that will give away U.S. sovereignty and jobs, and get nothing of value in return.
  • She will fight against the very idea that being an American citizen has some sort of legal significance, or that American citizens should be given privileges that aren’t shared with every other person on earth.
  • She will use the government to threaten her opponents, intimidate the press, and tilt future elections in her favor.
  • At the same time, she will cower before our enemies abroad — and thus, she will encourage them to continue to treat America with utter disdain and disregard.
  • She will worsen the crisis of confidence and credibility plaguing our entire system.

It should be glaringly apparent to any conservative or independent with common sense and minimal intelligence that Mrs. Clinton will be an absolute disaster for this country, and she must be stopped.

Unfortunately, many so-called “conservatives” have decided that they will not to join this effort. Instead, these “NeverTrumpers” will help Hillary get into the White House by spending all of their time and energy attacking Donald Trump, a man who dominated the GOP primaries and who will be the Republican nominee for president in 2016.

I certainly respect the gnawing discomfort that the NeverTrumpers face. I, too, know what it’s like to watch the GOP nominate a candidate I neither like nor respect. I, too, would have preferred an ideal candidate who would unite us and cruise to an easy win over Hillary. Unfortunately, the conservative movement failed to field such a candidate. Much of this is due to the fact that many so-called conservatives — and their enablers in the donor class — wasted their time and money promoting the candidacies of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, two men who were, and are, utterly unacceptable to almost all actual voters in the Republican Party.

It is ludicrous to pretend that a third-party candidate, running on a platform similar to that which GOP voters already rejected in primary after primary, could somehow gain enough support to win the White House.

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Those of us who warned of the dangers resulting from the Jeb and Rubio campaigns were ignored. Instead, vast sums were raised — and spent — on candidates whom GOP voters do not want. By the time the doomed candidacies of Jeb and Rubio were finished, Trump had effectively grabbed control of the GOP nomination.

So here we are, with a choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Some have suggested that conservatives should throw their weight behind a third-party candidate. This naïve suggestion represents precisely the triumph of hope over common sense that has led the conservative movement to so many disasters since 2004. It is ludicrous to pretend that a third-party candidate, running on a platform similar to that which GOP voters already rejected in primary after primary, could somehow gain enough support to win the White House, or even to throw the election to the House of Representatives. Such a campaign would be seen — and rightly so — as the last desperate gasp of fanatics who have been beaten over and over, and who refuse to accept the fact that the American people reject their agenda. Anyone who supports such a campaign would be rightly seen as someone who has effectively decided that Hillary Clinton, and not Donald Trump, should be the next president of the United States.

Furthermore, a third-party candidate would put GOP candidates in down-ballot elections in the impossible position of either having to offend Trump supporters, or having to offend supporters of the third-party candidate — thus hurting Republican chances of retaining Congress.

The smartest NeverTrumpers recognize these facts, and some of them have begun to explain why they find Hillary preferable to Trump. It would be a big mistake for Trump supporters to waste time trying to re-hash arguments that have already dominated conversations on the right for the last year, and that primary voters have already decided in Trump’s favor.

There is a campaign to win, and time is short. However, many of us have been political allies with the NeverTrumpers for years, and we know plenty of them to be people of good faith who love this country. We would like to have them on our side, and we believe that many of them will eventually realize the importance of beating Hillary Clinton. Accordingly, before turning to the general election, it makes sense to lay out — one more time — why their three primary objections to supporting Trump are unpersuasive.

First, some NeverTrumpers (like the Bush family) violently disagree with Trump on issues relating to immigration, trade, and foreign policy. In each of these key issues, however, Trump represents the traditional views of conservatives like Ronald Reagan, while the supporters of Bushism are locked into an extremist ideology that makes no sense in theory, and has been a disaster in practice.

  • Bushism teaches that immigration is an “act of love,” and that it is fundamentally immoral to close the borders against almost anyone who tries to illegally enter this country — no matter the cost of such a policy to the living standards of American citizens. Reagan disagreed. Yes, he signed the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, granting amnesty to a limited number of “illegal aliens” (a term used by Reagan in his signing statement on the bill). But he did so in the expectations that, going forward, our laws would be enforced. They weren’t.
  • Bushism cooperates with the Clintons and Obama on immigration policy, replacing Reagan’s reasonable compromise with an extremist refusal to enforce the law of the land — an approach that not only hurts many American citizens, but actively undermines the rule of law. GOP voters comprehensively rejected Bushism on this issue in the primaries, and they were right to do so.
  • Bushism teaches that any restriction on trade is “protectionism,” no matter how beneficial such a restriction may be to Americans, and that Republicans must support any and all trade agreements — even if the other signatories to those agreements are cheating. The “free-traders” are, sorry to say, so fanatical in their views that they even support agreements negotiated by President Obama.

Reagan’s approach was far more pragmatic. Yes, he was for free trade, and said so repeatedly. But he regularly waded into trade controversies when he thought doing so would lead to more efficient markets or result in better terms for the American people. His decision to impose tariffs on Japanese motorcycles to help Harley Davidson, his negotiation of voluntary restraints on imports of automobiles and steel, and his administration’s efforts to negotiate fairer and more accurate currency values with Japan are three prominent examples. Oh, and by the way, President George W. Bush imposed temporary tariffs on steel imports in 2002 as part of an effort to preserve that vital industry, which is so important to manufacturing and to national defense.

Given these examples, the notion that “conservatives” have no choice but to tolerate any cheating done by the Communists in China — or that they must support any deal signed by Obama — is simply puerile. Once again, GOP voters rejected Bushism on this issue. Once again, they were right to do so.

  • Bushism teaches that Americans have a moral duty to spend blood and treasure all around the world in order to promote our values — no matter the cost in suffering to folks here at home. Bushism also teaches that we can never reconsider — or even renegotiate — the terms of any alliance that was signed during the Cold War, no matter how harmful those terms may be today. Again, Reagan disagreed. When American troops were killed in Lebanon, Reagan withdrew from that troubled region. And, as explained above, Reagan was not above playing hardball in trade talks with the Japanese, despite the importance of that vital alliance.  Reagan’s approach led Americans to victory in the Cold War. The Bush approach led to disaster after disaster, is directly responsible for the rise of China, and is the primary reason that someone as radical as Barack Obama ever became president. One more time, GOP voters rejected Bushism on this issue. One more time, they were right to do so.

The few who still believe in Bushism are, of course, free to continue promoting it — even by supporting Hillary. Indeed, at this point they are probably right that Hillary is their best champion on each of the issues discussed above. But it is simply unrealistic to expect the rest of us — who disagree strongly with them, and who worked hard to defeat their candidates in the primaries — to change our tune at this point. We will stand with Reagan, and they can stand with Hillary.

Even if Trump changes his mind on some issues, we know Hillary will never change hers — rather, she will do everything she can to transform this country beyond all hope of redemption.

Second, some NeverTrumpers insist that Trump is such a bad person that he is “unfit” for the White House, and that conservatives have a moral obligation to keep him out. If that’s what your conscience tells you, so be it. But history often forces us to work with morally flawed people. Our national capital is named after a slaveholder. Another slaveholder wrote our Declaration of Independence. Should men who hated slavery — men like John Adams and Benjamin Franklin — have refused to work with those people? Should they have taken their chances with British rule instead? FDR and Churchill worked with Stalin in World War II. Should they have refused, and left Hitler in possession of Europe? If your conscience won’t let you work with someone like Donald Trump, and you would rather have Hillary become president, I understand. But you should understand why so many of us are making a different choice.

Finally, some NeverTrumpers insist that Trump is a fraud who has no intention of being anything other than a liberal Democrat — that he would effectively agree with Hillary on almost every issue. In the first place, this argument seems odd coming from people who really do agree with Hillary on immigration, trade, and foreign policy. It also seems odd coming from people who seem to have forgotten that George H.W. Bush lied to us about his tax policy, or that George W. Bush promised us a “humble foreign policy.” But putting these examples aside, are we really supposed to believe that Donald Trump — a billionaire who is married to a model, and who could pretty much do whatever he wants — is putting his life and his family at risk simply to agree with Hillary?

Those of us who will be voting for Trump are willing to work with all people of good faith to stop Hillary Clinton, and reclaim American sovereignty.

Have we become so cynical about this country that we no longer believe it is capable of winning any loyalty, or of persuading a 69-year-old businessman to risk his reputation in order to make it better? And even if Trump changes his mind on some issues, we know that Hillary will never change hers — rather, she will do everything she can, by hook or by crook, to transform this country beyond all hope of redemption.

These are not easy times for anyone on the right. I get that, I really do. But aren’t conservatives supposed to be the ones who understand that freedom isn’t free? Aren’t we supposed to appreciate that sometimes you have to cooperate with people you don’t like in order to stop truly horrific things from happening? Did we really believe that we had been exempted from history — that we would never have to face the difficult choices that so many other generations of Americans have had to address?

During the American Revolution, the Patriots had a simple slogan: Join or Die. Not “Join, and We’ll All Be Happy.” Not “Join, and We’ll Build a Great Country.” Not “Join, and We’ll All Stick to Our Principles.” No: Join or Die. They knew working together would hurt. They knew the inevitable compromises would bother their conscience. They knew that they wouldn’t get the country they really wanted. But they also understood — much more than we do — that life is hard, and it’s often unfair.

In Federalist 51, James Madison wrote: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” But men are not angels. We are flawed, and taking politics seriously means agreeing to deals you don’t like.

To that end, those of us who will be voting for Trump are willing to work with all people of good faith to stop Hillary Clinton, and reclaim American sovereignty. If you don’t want to help us, we’ll understand. But we’ll never stop trying to help you.

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