Part 1- Rejecting both the “binary choice” argument, and it’s evil twin, the “strategic voting” argument
For a long time now, I’ve been told by Trump supporters that not voting for president is the same thing as voting for Hillary. Well, now that we have an independent candidate running in Evan McMullin, they can no longer say that. Instead, they now say a vote for Evan is a vote for Hillary, which is the same old binary choice argument they’ve used to justify voting for Trump from the start. That argument can be turned on its head, because one can also say a vote for Trump is a vote for Hillary since it’s taking votes away from the one candidate in the race who’s actually conservative, Evan McMullin, and at this point, him winning the election is just about as likely as Trump winning, which is close to nonexistent.
Even if the race was closer, that’s beside the point. I invite you to imagine with me a scenario where every conservative in the country votes for Evan, either by write-in or by a regular vote in the states where he ends up on the ballot. Now, Trumpsters will say that’s unrealistic because many people don’t even know who he is at this point. But tell me, how realistic is it to ask conservatives who voted for someone other than Trump in the primaries to vote for a GOP nominee who represents everything they’ve been fighting against for decades, and who is so incompetent that every time Hillary or fate has handed him a layup, he takes the ball, throws it into the audience, and takes out a gun and shoots himself in the foot?
We’ve long been past the point where anyone can credibly describe realistic scenarios in this election. That ended the second the GOP nominated a know-nothing reality tv show host with no qualifications whatsoever to be president. So when Trumpsters try to tell us #NeverTrump conservatives that we’re living in some “fantasy” world by voting for Evan, I say I agree, but it’s not just us. We’re all living in an alternate reality, only it’s not a fantasy, it’s a nightmare, and we’re just doing what we can to survive it.
Before we imagine the above scenario of conservatives voting for Evan, we should answer the following question: What’s the main reason conservatives who aren’t hardcore Trumpsters will give for not voting for Evan? It’s that he has no chance of winning, and thus a vote for him would be a wasted vote, right?
But what if we changed that mindset and began assuming he does have a chance to win? Let’s go back to that original scenario. If every Republican who isn’t planning on voting for Trump starts working to help Evan win, it could give him a chance to win. If these Republicans joined his campaign and worked to convince moderate and conservative independents, particularly in swing states, that Evan represents their values and beliefs much more than Trump and Hillary do, theoretically , if the race is close enough, it could steal enough votes from Hillary to toss the election to the House, and they would then have the opportunity to elect Evan as President.
Is this far-fetched? Of course. Will it happen? The chances are remote that it will. But the idea of Trump being the GOP nominee was also extremely far-fetched back in the summer of 2015 when he decided to run. Yet here we are. An idea remains unbelievable only until a critical mass of people start believing it. Then it becomes believable to the masses. That’s what happened with Trump’s rise in the primaries, and it can happen with Evan McMullin’s candidacy too.
First, there are important reasons to vote for an independent conservative candidate in general:
1)It would send a message to both parties that we want a conservative as president and that Trump doesn’t represent us.
2)It would be a repudiation of Trump and the white nationalism/big gov’t populism he stands for.
3)It would tell the rest of the country that we don’t think Hillary is fit to serve either, and that she doesn’t have a mandate to extend Obama’s failed liberal policies.
4)It would show the rest of the country that there are still people of faith and principle left, and that we value our beliefs and principles more than we do political power.
Why conservatives should vote for a candidate who best represents their values and principles rather than strategically
Evan isn’t a spoiler. Rather, Trump is a spoiler for the conservative movement. Given that reality, it leads us to the most important question conservatives face in this election: How should we vote?
I disagree with the people on our side who say we need Hillary to win in a landslide. I believe the ideal election result would be the sweet spot between her just barely eking out a win, and her destroying Trump big league. Why? Let’s look at both scenarios.
If she just barely wins, Trump and his supporters can and will incessantly bring up their conspiracy theory about the election being rigged, and it’d be harder to refute them if she only wins by a small margin in the electoral college and popular vote. Also, it would send a signal to the nation and the world that Trumpism, or some version of nationalist populism, is still popular in America and is a belief that many Americans share.
However, if she beats Trump in a landslide, that will be seen by many not just as a repudiation of Trump and what he represents, but as a mandate to continue the big gov’t progressive policies that Obama has been pushing for eight years. Notice I didn’t say it will be a mandate, I said it will be seen as one. The media and Democrats will work together to push the narrative that voters didn’t just vote against Trump, they voted for Hillary and the progressive policies and values she represents. But they can only get away with that successfully if she beats Trump by large margins in both the popular vote and in the Electoral College.
The media and many Americans will be disappointed in Hillary if she fails after believing she had such a mandate given to her by them, but they’ll also be looking for someone or something else to blame as an excuse to save face for their naive belief in Hillary and the ability of the federal gov’t in general. That’s why they’ll blame Republicans in Congress, who will likely block many of her attempts to build on Obama’s failed progressive policies, especially if they retain both the House and the Senate. Of course Republicans will get blamed no matter what, but the larger Hillary’s victory over Trump is, the more of a contrast it will provide the media when they try to explain how Hillary’s only failing because of Republican obstructionism. This will hurt their chances at winning in 2020. That’s why I believe it would be best if Hillary only wins by a more moderate margin like the ones Obama had against McCain and Romney (compared to a Mondale-style landslide).
Conservatives shouldn’t vote strategically, but on principle, because if we merely vote strategically we get caught up in playing the political game. Isn’t this the same logic Trumpsters use when they try to scare us into voting for Trump? They say we have to vote for him to stop Hillary, and he’s the only one who can do it. Now, some conservatives are saying the same thing about Hillary, with the only difference being their goal is to stop Trump. They say nobody else can do it, or that we need him to lose big to send a message that his brand of nationalism, misogyny, and racism doesn’t represent America. I get it, and I understand the anger and frustration Trump has caused my fellow conservatives to have. But that’s an argument based largely on fear, just like Trumpsters’ arguments are. If Trump doesn’t lose big, the thinking goes, he’ll try to delegitimize the results of the election and whip up his supporters into a frenzy, and widespread chaos and violence will ensue.
But we know Trump will try to do that whether he loses by one point or by ten points. Either way he’ll claim it was rigged, and his supporters will be angry no matter what, and will be looking for an outlet for their frustrations. I don’t believe there will be widespread violence because most Trumpsters are all bark and no bite. Most of them are middle-aged or older, and because of that fact I’ve said all along I think after the election, they will go back to watching Hannity and shaking their fists angrily at the tv. There probably will be isolated incidents of violence, but again, I believe this will happen regardless of how badly he loses. We can’t give in to fear or base our votes entirely on what the results of the election may or may not be.
If all of us #NeverTrump conservatives vote for Evan instead of Hillary, Trump will end up at the same low percentage in the popular vote. People will know that those votes aren’t going to Trump, they’re going to Evan McMullin. The message will be sent, especially if he wins Utah- “He’s not one of us, and doesn’t represent our values and principles”.
Instead of giving into fear, we should simply vote our conscience and leave the rest up to God. That’s what faith is all about, having confidence that God will make the best of a bad situation even when all hope appears to be lost and we can’t imagine any good coming out of a situation. As Christians, this applies to our personal lives as well as political elections. We often make the mistake of trying to control the outcomes of situations we’re scared about. But we forget that most things in life are out of our control, which is a good thing, because that means God is in control, and He knows far better than us what is best for our lives and ultimately our salvation.
If we have this kind of eternal perspective, we’ll quickly realize that it’s silly to think we can control the outcome of this election. There just aren’t enough of us #NeverTrump conservatives in the country to do that. We’re a minority group within a minority movement within a minority party, at least when it comes to presidential elections. But we can be at peace with the realization that if we vote the way our conscience tells us to, after we’ve developed and informed that conscience, we’ve done our part. The rest is in God’s hands.
Why we’re more likely to see a conservative win in 2020 with Hillary as president than with Trump
I believe Hillary won’t be the progressive hero many in her base think, or at least hope she’ll be. She’s already unlikable, and if she disappoints them even more than Obama, it will have a big depressive effect on Democrat turnout in 2020. The only reason Obama’s approval rating is still so high is because many Americans find him personally likable and relatable. Polls show they don’t like his policies nearly as much as they like him. With Hillary that advantage is taken away. This would create a environment ripe for a Republican win in 2020 if GOP voters come to their senses and nominate a candidate who is both likable and competent.
Hillary has never been an ideologue, despite what talk radio has brainwashed many on the right into believing. Sure, she’s not a centrist, but she doesn’t care about progressive policies and ideals as much as Obama does. For proof, just look at this video that was exposed by Wikileaks, where she talks about how supporters of Bernie Sanders are unrealistic idealists, and that they shouldn’t expect everything on their progressive agenda to get done with her in office.
Hillary and Bill are like two peas in a pod. They don’t have any principles, they’re just culturally liberal because they grew up in the age of the sexual revolution and weren’t given a foundation of faith and morals by their parents. That’s one reason they’ve been able to make their marriage work all these years, despite Bill’s horrible treatment of women and his lack of faithfulness to Hillary. They value power, influence, and wealth above all else. If they have to compromise and pass some bills that will anger the far-left, as Bill Clinton did often enough, that’s fine with them. If you don’t believe that Hillary isn’t an ideologue, just read about her flip-flops on trade, immigration, and the Iraq War for starters.
To those supporters of Trump who say electing Hillary will mean the end of our Republic as we know it, I say there’s research suggesting this fear is unfounded, especially if Republicans retain the House and Senate. Historically, total spending by the federal gov’t is lower on average when we have a Democrat president and a congress controlled by Republicans than when we’ve had a Republican president with a congress controlled by either Republicans or Democrats. My libertarian friend and former presidential candidate Austin Petersen points that out in this video, and the statistics backing up this claim can be found in this article.
In other words, even if Trump was elected, there’s no guarantee he’d spend less than Hillary, and in fact we already know he wants to spend more than her on infrastructure, and won’t reform entitlements. So conservatives can actually make a solid case that having Hillary as president instead of Trump would be better for the economy in the long term, or at least they’d be equally bad, as long as Republicans keep at least the House, and hopefully the Senate as well. Plus, a Trump presidency would be worse the conservative movement long-term, as I explained above, and thus ultimately worse for the country.
Yet Trump and his supporters spend more time attacking Republicans who aren’t nice to him than they do Hillary, and are even talking about not voting for down-ballot Republicans. They’ve exposed themselves as phonies who don’t believe their own words, or are so incompetent they don’t understand the consequences of what they’re doing. If Hillary would destroy this country, then the only thing that could possibly stand in her way is a Congress controlled by Republicans. If you only vote for Trump and don’t vote for Republican members of Congress, then according to your own words and logic, you’re ensuring the destruction of America. But it’s no surprise that Trumpsters are making arguments based on anger and emotion rather than logic at this point.
If Republicans hold both houses of Congress, which is still very possible, there will be great gridlock and stalemate for the next four years with Hillary as president, just as there was with Obama. This, when added with her lack of personal charm and charisma, will drop her approval rating even lower. The elation of beating Trump will give way to cynicism among the electorate created by Hillary’s broken promises and high expectations not being met. Furthermore, as this article points out, a majority of Americans are still against intrusive, big gov’t policies in general, and after twelve long years of such failed policies, they’ll be eager for a change in 2020.
But as we know, presidential elections are mostly popularity contests at this point. So Americans will only vote for change if it’s presented to them by a candidate they like, can relate to, and trust. This was the case in 1992 with Bill Clinton, and in 2008 and 2012 with Obama. If Republicans nominate a competent, charismatic, and articulate conservative in 2020 who can efficiently and clearly explain why conservative policies have done and will do more to help poor people especially, but people of all incomes, religions, races, and walks of life, then I believe we’ll have a conservative president in 2020. That battle starts now, and we can do our part as soldiers of the conservative movement by opposing Trump and Hillary and voting for a candidate we can believe in, like Evan McMullin.