Lydia McGrew is one of the most sophisticated NeverTrumpers, so I'm going to examine some of her arguments. The point of this assessment is not about the 2016 election. Trump's campaign is probably doomed. However, the 2015 election illustrates issues and arguments that will be revisited. Therefore, it's important to sort and sift the good arguments from the bad arguments. Most of her comments are culled from this post:
Although one comment is culled from this post:
BTW, it's striking that a number of prominent conservatives are breaking late for Trump, at a time when his campaign seems to be a lost cause. The timing is a bit odd. Boarding a burning ship while the rats abandon the burning ship. But perhaps, to change metaphors, this is a Hail Mary Pass.
One basic oversight in Lydia's analysis is her myopic fixation on Trump. But a one-sided focus on Trump's many manifest disqualifications will fail to dissuade conservatives who consider voting for him inasmuch as their assessment involves a comparative analysis between two candidates.
It tries to set women and men against each other, as if it's just or chiefly women who are disgusted. "If decent people are so outraged" wouldn't have started off nearly as well, would it? This furthers the idea that women just "don't understand" that "men are like this" (so it's really no big deal) and hence that women, but not men, are disgusted.
Depends on the speaker is. But conservative pundits bring up 50 Shades of Grey, not to set women against men or promote the notion that women just don't understand men. Just the opposite: that the country is full of trashy women as well as trashy men.
And that, in turn, documents the duplicity of the outraged directed at Trump. Now, Trumpkins use that to excuse Trump.
However, it's legitimate to point out that critics on the Left are blind hypocrites.
It also makes the point that this is a problem for both sexes. This is one of the things that secular progressivism leads to. Slutty women as well as man-sluts or man-whores.
It makes sweeping, negative, implicit generalizations about women. This, again, is standard manospheric practice. Women in general are sluts. Women in general are bad.
That's true of Alt-Right Trumpkins. However, you can't be a social commentator unless you generalize about groups of people. Social criticism isn't about isolated individuals, but patterns of social behavior. So her objection is self-defeating. Lydia is, herself, a social commentator.
One thing Lydia conveniently fails to mention is that some of Trump's staunchest cheerleaders are…women! Ann Coulter, Monica Crowley, Laura Ingraham, Peggy Noonan, and Sarah Palin. Even Phyllis Schlafly came under his spell. You can't pin it all on the male chauvinist pigs in the manosphere. You have morally blind women as well as morally blind men.
I think conservatives by nature have up until now really wanted a president with good character.
Well, all things being equal, it's preferable to have a president with good character as well as good policies.
That's one reason why some of them can't handle the cognitive dissonance and either a) downplay Trump's bad character to justify supporting him or even b) go so far as to say that he has good character in order to justify supporting him.
True, I think part of the reason is that some voters feel the candidate they support is a reflection on them (which can be the case). That makes them defensive.
A Facebook friend of a Facebook friend recently told me that she knows a lot of Christians who literally insist that Trump is "a godly man." The mind boggles, but what I think it shows is that the cynical idea of the "narrow technician President" still doesn't sit well with Americans, especially American conservatives. In their hearts they know that we are supposed to be able to respect the President…
…and that he is, de facto, a role model.
Just as star athletes are de facto role models. But that should be challenged, not accommodated.
They know that his name will be in the history books. They know that if he's a slimeball and an embarrassment, this is a real matter of national shame.
Depends on the available choices.
They also know that as President he will have tremendous power which of course you wouldn't trust to a moral cretin.
What if both viable candidates are moral cretins?
So they lie to themselves about his character.
Some Trump supporters are undoubtedly guilty of that.
However, there's also a lot schizophrenia. In Trump's case, his bad character is so egregiously obvious that a lot more people, including conservatives, can't really deny it.
But because conservatives are flogged by our two-party system and by the literally religious sense of duty that we have (bizarrely) told people that they have to vote in the Presidential election for one of the two major-party candidates, they feel they must harden their hearts, stifle all of their knowledge that character counts, and justify voting for the Republican candidate. It's an absolutely blatant partisanship: God will be angry at you and you will be responsible for all the evil that the Democrat does if you don't vote for the Republican.
I have a more charitable interpretation. As Alexander Pruss points out:
There is, nonetheless, still a serious problem for the common method of cases as used in analytic moral philosophy. Even when a reliable process is properly functioning, its reliability and proper function only yield the expectation of correct results in normal cases. A process can be reliable and properly functioning and still quite unreliable in edge cases…This wouldn't matter much if ethical inquiry restricted itself to considering normal cases. But often ethical inquiry proceeds by thinking through hypothetical cases. These cases are carefully crafted to separate one relevant feature from others, and this crafting makes the cases abnormal. For instance, when arguing against utilitarianism, one considers such cases as that of the transplant doctor who is able to murder a patient and use her organs to save three others, and we carefully craft the case to rule out the normal utilitarian arguments against this action: nobody can find out about the murder, the doctor's moral sensibilities are not damaged by this, etc.
The choice between Trump, Hillary, or a third-party candidate presents conservatives with conflicting intuitions, because it's an edge case.
It is in that context that they turn to the myth of the narrow technician President and to the further myth that a man like Trump can be in any degree trusted to do something effective even about the one or two policy things they are most concerned about.
That's not the right way to frame the issue. The issue, rather, is a choice between a candidate (Trump) who can't be trusted to do the right thing over against a candidate (Hillary) who can be trusted to do the wrong thing.
I saw someone yesterday refer to Trump's "promises" on a laundry list of things some of which he hasn't even _bothered_ to make promises about. (Religious liberty, for example.) So people are literally hallucinating promises from Trump so as to fix in their minds this false picture of his being bound to some kind of contract with them as "his base" to do what they want on certain crucial issues if elected even though he's a bad man.
It's all an illusion.
No, it's not "all" an illusion.
Now, given that that is what is meant, the intended sharp distinction between his "private life" and what he will "do" from his "public office" if elected really breaks down…It will bring justified embarrassment and reproach to the country. And it will make him vulnerable in various ways related even to matters such as national security. A man who cannot control his passions is hardly to be trusted with the nuclear football and with high security clearance!
i) If Lydia is alluding to Trump, I agree. However, the reason Trump is dangerous is not due to his roving eye, but because he's so rash, petty, and proudly uninformed.
ii) When she says it will bring embarrassment and reproach to the country, I don't know her frame of reference. Europe and Great Britain have had philandering heads-of-state for centuries. And the same could be said for many other countries.
iii) I thought she may be loathe to admit it, successful men can be promiscuous. Promiscuous men can lead very disciplined lives, in which they compartmentalize their sex life. They are able to be promiscuous and still be highly proficient at their job.
iv) Life would be simpler if Lydia's correlation held true. But by the same token, life would be unlivable if her correlation held true. Although moral consistency is better than moral inconsistency, moral inconsistency is better than immoral consistency. In his common grace, God often causes unbelievers to be morally inconsistent rather than immorally consist for the survival of the elect. In a fallen world, you can't expect widespread moral consistency.
I don't say that as a recommendation. And Trump is just a showman. But Lydia is overplaying her hand.
For reasons I've given, I remain a NeverTrumper. I agree with Lydia's ultimate position, but not the reasons by which she arrives at her position.