So this election has boiled down to a choice between the male version of Hillary Clinton and the female version of Hillary Clinton. As a Conservative, I am now doing my part to try to convince as many people as possible to vote for neither of them.
It’s been somewhat heartening seeing how many of my Facebook friends have already said they won’t vote for Trump. But unfortunately, there have still been dozens of posts I’ve seen from people saying, “Whelp, now that it’s down to Trump verse Clinton, I gotta hold my nose and vote for Trump.”
Let me try to persuade you that this is the absolute worst decision you can make as a Conservative.
Right now, the Republican Party consists of a coalition between various factions. Without giving any percentages (because I don’t know them), the party has social conservatives, social moderates, and even a few social liberals. I used to think that conservatives were a large proportion, even the majority, of Republicans, but I no longer think that is the case. Instead, we currently are just a fairly large minority.
Now, Republicans do not have enough moderates to win on their own in a general election. They need to establish coalitions to get enough votes. The problem is, for decades now—at least since I’ve been conscious of politics, and probably well before that—Conservatives have voted for Republicans no matter what. Republicans know they have the Conservative vote locked up.
So think of this logically, from the point of view of someone like, say, Karl Rove where your only desire is for Republicans to win, not for any particular policy. If you know that Conservatives will vote with the moderates no matter what, because they cannot abide the Democrat winning, then will you spend resources or political capital on Conservative issues? No. What need do you have to do that? You’ve already got them voting for you. Instead, what will you do? You’ll give favors and spend resources and use your political capital to try to convince the liberals to join the moderates too. And that means that you move the party leftward to make it more palatable for the liberals. Conservatives won’t like it, but they will vote Republican anyway. You lose nothing by moving left, but you gain liberal votes.
So how does this cash out? It means that as long as the Republicans know they can take the Conservative vote for granted, they will continue to give us candidates like Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney…and yes, even Donald Trump (who is the embodiment of the establishment regardless of what anyone claims).
Conservatives, if you vote for Donald Trump in this election then the Republican Party knows it can run the most liberal candidates and you will vote for them anyway. You will never again see a Conservative candidate in the Republican Party. The party will continue its leftward race.
Conservatives need to realize there are two things that must remain true in order for them to get their agenda into the public sphere. If either of these goes, Conservatism no longer has a voice.
1) Republicans must need Conservatives to vote with them to win elections. So far, this is true. If Conservatives do not vote with the Republican moderates, there are not enough Republican liberals and Democrat poached voters to make up the difference. But more importantly:
2) Conservatives need to show they will not vote for Republicans if Republicans ignore the Conservative agenda. And at this point, Conservatives fail. Conservatives are needed, but Republicans do not need to cater to Conservatives because Conservatives are obedient even when they are being abused.
Here’s the bottom line. If you want Conservativism to remain viable, then this election is the time to not vote for either Hillary. If you vote for Trump, then the party moves further to the left and at some point the party will gain enough members from the liberal side to counter-balance any support they would have gotten from Conservatives, and at that moment even the number (1) point that I mentioned above no longer applies for Conservatives.
But don’t just take my word for it. Consider the words of Ace of Spades, a social moderate/liberal who has until now been supporting social conservativism because he believed it was necessary to win elections. He’s been one of my favorite political commentators, despite being an atheist. Well, here’s what he’s seen:
…I don't think I'm going to be adapting my views to the socially-conservative mainstream any longer, because I'm not sure these views are actually the Republican mainstream any longer. I knew social conservatism wasn't quite as believed as was claimed; I knew many politicians claimed to be pro-life who were in fact pro-choice, and I knew many of the Beltway class of advisers, think-tank workers, etc. were pro-choice, or more pro-choice than the GOP was as a formal matter. They were certainly more pro-gay (if not always actually pro-gay-marriage).And again:
But the fact that a clear social liberal, who practically no one believes is "pro-life" or even pro-gun, is the runaway favorite for the GOP nomination is a fact with major implications for the party going forward. If Trump's liberalism can be accepted, why can't the liberalism of Giuliani (or a Giuliani type to be named later) be accepted?
I had thought a whole bunch of things were non-negotiable demand points from an important part of the coalition.
Now it seems they either are plenty negotiable, or that part of the coalition isn't as important as I thought.
Pro-life Trump supporters are making several points in the comments. Let me respond to them, or my paraphrase of them.Social Conservatives need to be unreasonable, we need to be uncompromising, we need to be unbending. We need to be willing to let Republicans lose elections when they don’t do what we want them to do.
"There are more important things to worry about at the moment, like protecting the integrity of the nation," is the general claim.
Understood -- and I agree. Pro-lifers are being, they say, tactical here, and reasonable about what can and cannot be done.
Here's the problem with that: If you want to maximize your leverage in political negotiations, you really have to establish you're unreasonable on the issue, and will not compromise -- if your demands are not met, you'll walk.
So yes, it's great to see pro-lifers are willing to compromise on this. Sure, it demonstrates they are flexible, adaptable, and willing to make tactical compromises for the greater good.
But now we know that going forward -- and you don't just get to say "Our flexible position only applies in 2016, and only to Trump." No, it applies going forward, generally.
We now know that this is not the deal-breaker some of us thought it was. (All emphasis original.)
It is myopic to focus on Hillary Clinton and say, “We cannot let her win” when the alternative is to destroy any chance the Conservative movement has to pass any policy. A Hillary win won’t destroy Conservativism, but Conservatives voting en mass for Trump most assuredly will.