Sunday, January 24, 2016

What if Trump is the nominee?

I'm beginning to read discussions about what to do if Trump is the nominee. One argument for Trump goes like this:

We know that Hillary will nominate the worst possible judges for the Supreme Court; we don't know that Trump will do that. And surely Trump can't do worse.  Given those alternatives, the unknown is better than the known.

I think that's reasonable. 

I've also read a counterargument. Hillary is better than Trump. If Trump is elected, the corrupt GOP "establishment" that backed Trump rather than Cruz or Rubio will cut deals with Trump. 

If, on the other hand, Hillary is elected, the Congressional Republicans will generally blockade all of her initiatives. 

And I think that's reasonable.

Speaking for myself, if Trump is the nominee, I won't vote for either one. 

There's a point beyond which I refuse to be manipulated by circumstances. If all the available options are too atrocious, I will boycott the game. 

It's like a prison guard who tells a POW, "Either shoot one of your comrades or else I will shoot both of them!"

If that's the choice, he will have to shoot them both, because that's a choice I refuse to make. I can only be pushed so far. I won't be bullied. 

You can't force me to choose by robbing me of all the marginally decent alternatives, then dare me to pick one of the remaining options. I can't control the situation, but I can control myself. 

Ultimately, it's God's world. The consequences are up to him.  


  1. When you say you won't vote for Trump, is this stance open to new evidence? Could you give a plausible (not wildly improbable) scenario under which you could see yourself voting for Trump?

    1. Depends on what kind of new evidence you have mind. You mean something like Trump pledging to nominate conservative judges? But his campaign promises lack credibility.

      If the Democrat party nominated André Carson or Keith Ellison (both Muslim Congressmen), if it was a choice between one of them and Trump, I'd vote for Trump.

  2. Wouldn't it be interesting if everyone who didn't vote for Trump because of distaste for either of the other candidates wrote in Cruz, and Cruz won with 34% of the vote: Cruz, 34%, Trump 33%, Clinton 33%?

    1. Clinton will easily get far more than 33%. She's already at forty-some percent of highly probable votes. She just needs a single-digit number of additional percentage points to have a majority of the vote.

      The best solution to all of these problems is to nominate Rubio.

  3. If Trump got the nomination, I could see a plausible third-party run for Rubio. I'm not sure the people who hate Trump enough not to vote for him would be enough of the same people who would prefer Cruz enough for a third-party run to be successful, but Rubio would probably have a chance of winning at a third-party run, because there's much less overlap.

  4. I'm not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but I've been practicing saying "Mrs. President" for awhile now.

    I think the only thing that keeps Hillary out of the White House is Hillary. Barring some sort of meteoric fall - sorry Fox News, but email servers ain't gonna do it - I don't see her *not* winning Florida, and the rest of the electoral map is set. It's just math.

    And if all the Clinton scandals to date haven't crushed her under their collective weight, it's really difficult to imagine a heretofore unknown mammoth-sized skeleton still lurking in her closet that would.

    I guess a quirky third party bid by a guy like Sanders or Bloomberg might split the lib vote enough to siphon off a GOP victory in a really tight race, a la what Nader did to Gore. But the Dems seem disciplined enough to avoid this type of development.

    This election cycle may add a whole new dimension to "The Devil Wears Prada".

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. We choose among bad options in so many contexts in life. Trump would likely be significantly less bad than Clinton and even good (not just less bad) in some contexts. Your analogy to choosing to shoot somebody becomes less forceful the less we think voting for Trump is parallel to making such a choice. How much of a parallel was there between voting for Romney and choosing to shoot somebody in a scenario like what you described? Romney wasn't as bad as Trump, but there are some significant similarities. I don't see much of a parallel with your shooting analogy (with Romney or Trump), so it doesn't have much force for me. Being asked to choose about shooting somebody in that type of situation involves such a senseless act with such unqualified evil intentions. Trump is bad in so many ways. He's not that bad.

    Furthermore, it's not just a matter of who you vote for. Conservatives still have an open door to influence a Trump administration if we were to have one. The administration can be influenced without voting for it. For example, something that Republican leaders (in and out of government) should do, and the planning for this ought to begin as soon as possible, is to put pressure on Trump to choose conservatives to advise him on key issues. At the top of my list would be to get Trump to promise that an individual akin to Robert Bork or a group of such people will provide him with the short list of judges he'll choose from when making appointments. After all, Trump has made much of how he'll supposedly choose great people to advise him and help him in other ways. Republican leaders should insist that he do that, and do it with a lot of specificity and commitment, on the issue of judges. They could try to get him to do it on other issues as well, but the issue of judges is at the top of my list. Romney took this sort of approach in 2012, and that made it easier for Republicans to accept the concept of a Romney administration. If you name somebody akin to Robert Bork as the person who will provide you with the judges to choose from, it's no longer a matter of merely trusting the judgment of the presidential candidate (Trump in this case). If the person who will be working with that presidential candidate (to choose judges or whatever) is trustworthy, then that's a way of bypassing the untrustworthiness of the presidential candidate. This is a significant way in which conservatives can make a Trump administration a lot better than it would be if Trump were left to his own judgment.

    And the best time for Republican leaders to insist on Trump's agreeing to this sort of approach is when he most wants their support. If Trump seems close to getting the nomination, but isn't quite there yet, he may be open to promising people what I've outlined here in an attempt to get the party to unite around him. And conservatives who are already supporting Trump (for their bad reasons) could even implement this approach now rather than waiting to do it. I suspect Trump will be willing to make many such commitments in order to prove his alleged conservatism and how he'll appoint the best people to work with him.

  7. With candidates like Clinton, Sanders, Rubio, and Cruz I'm inclined to believe that they believe at least much of what they say. So I can look at their stated positions and get a pretty accurate picture of how they would run the presidency. But I don't think I can trust that Trump believes anything he is saying. So I have no idea whether Trump would be a better candidate than Clinton.

  8. Every cycle RINOs preach to conservatives that they should vote "lesser of the two evils" i.e. vote for my RINO candidate. But when the tables are turned (as this election is), where are the RINOs supporting a candidate not of their own ilk?

    Steve, it seems you have shifted your position on this principle. Could you clarify your previous statement on this with your most current view:

    1. I guess I'm not feeling the force of the supposed argument here, Alan. In the post you linked steve was addressing the lesser of two evils argument, which doesn't seem to be what he's talking about in this piece.

      Also, in the linked post steve explicitly states:

      "This doesn’t mean we always have to choose the lesser of two evils. There are limits to compromise."

      That statement alone neuters any claim of shifting position. It's simply a matter of nuance.

    2. Alan,

      You don't explain how you think my position has shifted. I'm fairly pragmatic, but I do have limits. That's not inconsistent.

      The lesser evil principle presumes there's a clear cut choice between a bad candidate and a worse candidate. To take a comparison, I doubt Dole, for all his deficiencies, would have nominated a candidate as predictably liberal as Ginsburg. So Dole would still be better than Slick Willy.

      Likewise, for all their manifest deficiencies, McCain and Romney had some compensatory virtues while Trump has none; conversely, Trump has vices which they did not.

      Finally, McCain and Romney were still much better than the Democrat. I can't say Trump is better than Hillary; just atrocious in a different way.

  9. CR

    You selectively lifted his statement out of context not giving the reason for his statement which does not fit the current situation.

  10. Jason's previous criticism of Trump was that he was not "electable." Now that he has been proven wrong he has shifted to other reasons not to vote for him. Ironically, it is Rubio who is being shown not to be electible. The irony is amusing.

    1. Alan,

      There's a distinction between primaries and the general election. I believe Jason is questioning Trump's electability in reference to the general election, not primaries. Can he beat the Democrat nominee?

      Conversely, Rubio may well be more electable in the general election if he can get nominated in the first place.

    2. Steve

      I don't see evidence that Rubio would be more electable than Trump in the general election. The energy and demographics is on Trumps side. Rubio has neither.

    3. i) To begin with, I wasn't making an argument for the greater electability of Rubio, but discussing whether Jason's position is inconsistent. It's not inconsistent for Jason to think Trump has a better chance of getting nominated, but a worse chance of getting elected, while Rubio has a worse chance of getting nominated, but a better chance of getting elected–if he can get himself nominated.

      ii) Rubio has a far better chance to carry Florida than Trump. Likewise, Rubio will split the Latino vote (thereby taking votes away from the Democrat nominee) whereas Trump will repel Latino voters. In addition, I expect more conservatives would vote for Rubio than Trump. Furthermore, he has a more winsome personality than Trump (that's an understatement!). For those reasons alone, I think he has advantages Trump lacks.

    4. I'm simply providing an outsider-looking-in perspective on the two articles, as are you Alan.

      I can reverse your charge by likewise pointing out that you give no reason for your original drive-by comment, it's just an assertion in search of an argument. Why do you hold me to a higher standard than you hold yourself?

      Anyway, the primary author is here and can explain his own rationale.

    5. What do you mean you "don't see any evidence"? Rubio does the best of all candidates against Clinton:

    6. Alan Kurschner writes:

      "Jason's previous criticism of Trump was that he was not 'electable.' Now that he has been proven wrong he has shifted to other reasons not to vote for him. Ironically, it is Rubio who is being shown not to be electible."

      You keep misrepresenting what your opponents are arguing while claiming unsubstantiated victory for your own side. I haven't been arguing that Trump isn't electable (as if I've denied that it's even possible that he would get elected). Rather, I've argued that he has poor electability. I haven't changed my view. Steve provided you with recent polling data from Nate Silver that provides further documentation of Trump's electability problem. You've had no counterargument. Instead, you act as though Trump's high minority percentage in Republican primary polling, before the voting has even started, proves that he doesn't have the electability problem that's been documented. You're so irrational.

      As Steve and Maul P. point out below, we have a lot of evidence of Rubio's better electability, which you keep ignoring. The evidence Steve and Maul P. refer to has been widely and easily available for a long time, and I've repeatedly referred to it. Yet, here and elsewhere, you make no effort to interact with it. Is that irrationality on your part, some dishonesty, or both?

      Is it your position that everybody McCain and Romney beat in 2008 and 2012 would have done worse than McCain and Romney in the general election? After all, McCain and Romney did better than those rivals in the primaries, to the point of getting the nomination (something that can't be said of Trump). It makes no sense to assume that whoever gets a primary nomination must therefore have the best electability or even sufficient electability to win the general election. It's even more irrational to assume that having the highest minority percentage in primary polling, before the voting has even started, proves that a candidate's electability is sufficient, the best in the field, etc.

  11. Jason would have opposed Reagan:

    15 Things Trump and Reagan Have in Common

    1. "Trump espouses similar views as Reagan on illegal immigration."

      You consistently ignore documentation that Trump is a path-to-citizenship candidate.

      "Trump began as a Democrat before becoming a Republican."

      I believe Trump has changed his party affiliation five times.

      "Trump, like Reagan, is pro-life."

      That's demonstrably false.

    2. I don't get how "kick them all out then let millions of 'good ones' turn right around and come right back in through the big, beautiful door" is Reagan-esque?

    3. So, Alan gives us yet another drive-by post containing yet another link to a low-quality article from yet another dubious source, all the while continuing to ignore his opponents' counterarguments. We're supposed to keep responding to the latest link he gives us from such unreliable sources, yet he makes so little effort to interact with counterarguments he's been provided with for months.

      Has Alan read any of the responses to the Trump/Reagan comparison? He should read Leon Wolf's devastating takedown, for example. Here's an article about what Reagan's sons think of the Trump/Reagan comparison.

      The article Alan links depends on absurd assumptions, like Trump's having "passion" for what he believes in and his being a "straight-talker". That's the Trump who keeps changing his party affiliation under such suspicious circumstances and keeps contradicting himself on the issues. The Trump who takes a pledge not to run as a third-party candidate, then talks about how he might run as a third-party candidate anyway. The Trump who says that he won't bring a lawsuit against Cruz over his eligibility for the presidency, then talks about how he's considering filing such a lawsuit. The Trump whose religiosity is so fake that he doesn't think he needs much forgiveness (he initially said that he "doesn't think" he's ever asked God for forgiveness), thinks it's impressive to Evangelicals to cite his affiliation with Norman Vincent Peale, refers to the communion elements as "little wine" and "little cracker", refers to 2 Corinthians as "Two Corinthians" in an American context, etc.

      Instead of drawing vague parallels between Trump and Reagan, what about the major differences? What about Reagan's far higher level of consistency on party affiliation and the positions he took on issues? What about Reagan's experience in governing prior to seeking the presidency, as opposed to trying to walk into the Oval Office just after leaving the set of a reality TV show? What about Reagan's higher ethical standards? What about how he treated people far more respectfully than Trump does? What about Reagan's higher knowledge of the issues, as opposed to Trump's winging it, frequently contradicting himself, and assuring us that he'll surround himself with people who will help him get up to speed if we elect him?

      Besides, we have the benefit of hindsight with Reagan. We don't have that with Trump. If taking a risk worked out well in one context, that doesn't mean you're justified in taking a risk in every future context. When there are such superior alternatives to Trump available, especially Rubio, you don't roll the dice on somebody like Trump and try to justify it by drawing vague and dubious parallels to Reagan.

      Alan, your behavior is reprehensible. Other people on the Triablogue staff can make their own judgments, but I don't want your posts in my threads. If you post anything, it will be deleted. You're wasting everybody's time.

  12. This reminds me of the hand-wringing of the latest NR review. All the old arguments are kaput with the electorate after 4 years of betrayal. The popular right is looking left and wants a strong arm to destroy the multiculturalists. The popular left is looking right and wanting a Bernie solution to the backward hillbillies. The Jebilary middle cannot hold except for the fact that the Democrat machine will never allow Bernie to be nominated (much like the Republicrat machine fixed the convention against Paul).