Writing in RealClearPolitics, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson makes a lazy and superficial case for voting for anyone but Hillary Clinton. He argues:
In addition to bitter complaint, voters have several options. They can write in a name (let’s hear it for Paul Ryan or Condi Rice). They can support the well-intentioned but not particularly qualified Evan McMullin. Americans can justifiably refuse to vote in the presidential election. There is no democratic principle that forces someone to pull the lever for a politician who morally offends them.
Or they can reluctantly and strategically vote for Clinton, who lacks essential elements of integrity but not the qualifications for high office.
Only one option is precluded — to vote for Trump. And here are the postcard reasons: Trump is a man of dangerously erratic temperament who should not be allowed to control American foreign and military policy. Trump lacks a commitment to democratic ideals and institutions, demonstrated by his attempt to discredit any electoral outcome unfavorable to him. Trump operates by a materialistic, Nietzschean ethic — an ethic of dominance and revenge in which power and success are worshiped and the weak are treated with contempt and cruelty. And Trump is deeply and defiantly ignorant, with no basis or background to make informed choices on complex issues.
America has two bad choices, but not equally bad.
A couple of days ago this essay appeared on a Catholic website and struck a chord with me: Trump: On Counting the Cost.
I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton. I reject her whole approach to the unborn, to marriage, to sexuality. I am shocked at the recent Wikileaks revelations about her plans to infiltrate the Catholic Church. I can gladly acknowledge that in some respects she occupies the moral high ground against Trump, as in refusing to torture terrorist suspects and to kill their families, but I think that, all things considered, she would do great damage to our country.
My friends think that if I reject Hillary, then surely I will vote for Trump, who has after all given some half-hearted indications of making good judicial appointments. But I won’t vote for him either. I refuse to jump out of the frying pan into the fire. So I owe my friends an accounting.
If Trump really does make some good judicial appointments, it will be by political necessity and not by conviction. His long pro-abortion record (up to at least 2012) corresponds much better to who he is. This is because his libertine way of life needs to be backed up by legal abortion. Sexual license and respect for the unborn do not go together.
We would be glad, of course, to have pro-life justices, even if they are appointed for the wrong reasons. But no one should be surprised if he treats his pro-life promises like he treats his marital promises.
I say to the Catholic supporters of Trump: you are paying a huge price for the benefits you are bargaining for. Have you taken the measure of the manifold malignancy that Trump would bring into our public life? Have you considered how Trump will disgrace the office, destabilize the world with erratic and reckless behavior, and undercut the pro-life cause with his Nietzschean scorn for the vulnerable? Count the cost! At the very least respect your fellow Catholics who cannot support Trump.
This is where I stand. As Jonah Goldberg said:
I agree with David French (and, it seems the Wall Street Journal some days) that both candidates are unfit for the presidency. But they are not unfit in the same ways. A saw is a poor tool for hammering a nail and so is a cantaloupe, but the explanations for their unfitness require very different arguments.
While on the one hand I agree with Gerson’s critique of Trump, it is obvious that Gerson has been in a coma for the past 20 years or suffered some kind of cerebral trauma that has resulted in him blocking out Hillary Clinton’s record. Hillary Clinton is a cruel and vindictive person. She has never hesitated to use the power of Bill Clinton’s bed or her official position to seek to punish people who cross her. She might not be mercurial but all a uniformly bad temperament gets you is predictable badness. Hillary Clinton has contempt for the political traditions on the nation and for its laws as exhibited by her flouting regulations designed to protect classified information and to provide transparency. It was hilarious to read Gerson making an issue of Trump refusing to release his income tax returns while basically ignoring Hillary Clinton deliberately hiding her public decisions from legally required transparency.
You can’t look at the way Clinton has used her influence as a means of self-enrichment and reasonably criticize Trump as being materialistic. Clinton, too, is a pig ignorant person with zero ability to deal with complex issues. If you doubt me, look at Libya, Egypt, and Syria and explain how we got there other than from a cloistered, ethnocentric worldview that doesn’t exist outside Upper East Side salons. Look at her decision to use a private email server that was vulnerable to penetration for foreign intelligence services. Her “background” consists of having shared the bed of a fellow grifter and forfeiting her self respect in return for his reflected glory and assistance.
I will not cooperate with what I believe to be evil. I cast my early vote Saturday because I am an election judge in a different precinct than my own and I left the top line of the ballot blank.
There is no moral, legal, or ethical difference between Clinton and Trump. Vote for either or neither and the result, barring some miracle that changes the very nature of the winning candidate, is going to be the same: unmitigated tragedy for the nation and the world. The question for you is can you look yourself in the mirror and truly claim you made the best choice as you understood those choices to be. I know I can.