Politics & Policy

A Response to My Conservative #NeverTrump Friends

(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Nine reasons why beating Hillary Clinton trumps ideological purity.

When you differ from people you admire you have to question yourself. After all, what is the purpose of admiring people if they aren’t capable of influencing you?

So, I have had to challenge my belief — stated from the outset of the Republican presidential debates — that if Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, I will vote for him over Hillary Clinton or, for that matter, any Democrat.

I devoted many hours of radio and many columns to criticizing Donald Trump. His virtually assured nomination has therefore caused me grief as an American, a Republican, and a conservative. That his character defects, gaps in knowledge on some important issues, and having no set of identifiably conservative principles came to mean little to so many Republican voters has been quite troubling. (Though I might add that the fact that virtually all Democrats ignore the even worse character of Hillary Clinton and the idiotic ideas — and the rejection of everything that has made America unique — of Bernie Sanders is even more troubling.)

#NeverTrump conservatives such as (in alphabetical order) Jonah Goldberg, Bill Kristol, Ben Shapiro, Bret Stephens, and George Will, are not merely people I admire. They are friends and colleagues. Jonah Goldberg, Bret Stephens, and George Will have made multiple videos for Prager University — videos with many millions of views. Ben Shapiro and I have spent Shabbat together. I have had the privilege of writing for Bill Kristol’s The Weekly Standard and having him on my show many times. And I have enthusiastically promoted their books. These people are special to me not only as thinkers but personally.

But in the final analysis, I do not find their arguments compelling.

Take the argument from “conscience.”

I don’t find it compelling because it means that your conscience is clear if you made it possible for Hillary Clinton or any other Democrat to win.

In fact, the “conscience” argument is so weak that, to his credit, Jonah Goldberg, in a column published two days ago, titled, “Sorry, I Still Won’t Ever Vote for Trump,” wrote:

“If the election were a perfect tie, and the vote fell to me and me alone, I’d probably vote for none other than Donald Trump.”

Shouldn’t all Americans vote as if their vote were the deciding vote — even those whose votes “don’t count” because they live in states so left-wing that if Lenin headed the Democratic ticket, those states would still vote Democrat?

The choice this November is tragic. As happens often in life, this choice is between bad and worse, not bad and good.

The choice this November is tragic. As happens often in life, this choice is between bad and worse, not bad and good.

But America has made that choice before. Forced to choose between bad and worse, we supported Stalin against Hitler and supported right-wing authoritarians against Communist totalitarians.

It seems to me that the #NeverTrump conservatives want to remain morally pure. I understand that temptation. I have it, too. But if you wish to vanquish the bad, it is not possible — at least not on this side of the afterlife — to remain pure.

The most moving interview of my 33 years in radio was with Irene Opdyke, a religious Polish Catholic woman who became the mistress of a married Nazi officer in order to save the lives of twelve Jews she was hiding in the cellar of the Nazi’s house in Warsaw. There were some Christians who called my show to say that she was wrong to do what she did, that she had in fact sinned, since she knowingly committed a mortal sin. In their view, she compromised Catholic/Christian doctrine.

In my view — and I believe the view of most Catholics and other Christians — she brought glory to her God and her faith. Why? Because circumstances almost always determine what is moral — even for religious people such as myself who believe in moral absolutes. That’s why dropping atom bombs on Japan was moral. The circumstances — ending a war that would take millions of more lives — made moral what under other circumstances would be immoral.

In the 2016 presidential race I am not interested in moral purity. I am interested in defeating the Left and its party, the Democrats. The notion, expressed by virtually every #NeverTrump advocate, that we can live with another four years of a Democratic president, is, forgive me, mind-boggling. With at least one and probably more additional leftists on the Supreme Court, a Republican presidential victory in 2020, even if that would happen, would mean little. All the Left needs are courts, especially the Supreme Court. Left-wing judges use their position to pass so many left-wing laws that they render who controls Congress and even the White House almost irrelevant.

Here then are nine reasons — there are more — why a conservative should prefer a Trump presidency to that of a Democrat:

1. Prevent a left-wing Supreme Court.

2. Increase the defense budget.

3. Repeal, or at least modify, Dodd-Frank.

4. Prevent Washington, D.C., from becoming a state and giving the Democrats another two permanent senators.

5. Repeal Obamacare.

6. Curtail illegal immigration, a goal that has nothing necessarily to do with xenophobia or nativism (just see Western Europe).

7. Reduce job-killing regulations on large and small businesses.

8. Lower the corporate-income tax and bring back hundreds of billions of offshore dollars to the United States.

9. Continue fracking, which the Left, in its science-rejecting hysteria, opposes.

For these reasons, unlike my friends, I couldn’t live with my conscience if I voted in any way that helped the America-destroying Left win the presidency of our endangered country.

I just don’t understand how anyone who understands the threat the Left and the Democrats pose to America will refuse to vote for the only person who can stop them.

Dennis Prager — Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His second volume of Bible commentary, The Rational Bible — Genesis: God, Creation, Destruction, is published by Regnery.  He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.

Most Popular


In Defense of Coleman Hughes

Picture the scene: A young man walks into a congressional hearing to offer witness testimony. His grandfather was barbarically brutalized by people who are now long dead. The nation in which he resides built its wealth of his grandfather’s brutalization. The question: Should his fellow citizens pay the young ... Read More
Film & TV

Toy Story 4: A National Anthem

The Toy Story franchise is the closest thing we have to an undisputed national anthem, a popular belief that celebrates what we think we all stand for — cooperation, ingenuity, and simple values, such as perpetual hope. This fact of our infantile, desensitized culture became apparent back in 2010 when I took a ... Read More
Film & TV

Fosse/Verdon and the Dismal #MeToo Obsession

In the final episode of Fosse/Verdon, one of the two titular characters, Bob Fosse, is shooting one of the greatest films of all time. The other, Gwen Verdon, is having a quarrel with her unspeakably dull boyfriend about whether he approves of her performing in a road-show production of a Broadway musical. These ... Read More

Joe and the Segs

Joe Biden has stepped in it, good and deep. Biden, if he has any hope of ever being elected president, will be dependent on residual goodwill among African Americans from his time as Barack Obama’s loyal and deferential vice president — so deferential, in fact, that he stood aside for Herself in 2016 even ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Madcap Caution of Donald Trump

The worry last week was that the Trump administration was ginning up fake intelligence about Iran blowing up oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz to justify a war against Iran. Then, this week, President Donald Trump said the Iranian attacks weren’t a big deal. The episode is another indication of the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren’s Terrible Plans

Elizabeth Warren is being lauded as the serious candidate in the race. Her motto, “I have a plan for that,” is accepted as proof that she is thoughtful and conscientious. That’s too generous. One should expect a grown-up to evaluate costs and benefits, to understand tradeoffs, and to pay for what they ... Read More

College Leaders Should Learn from Oberlin

Thanks to their social-justice warrior mindset, the leaders of Oberlin College have caused an Ohio jury to hit it with $44 million in compensatory and punitive damages in a case where the school couldn't resist the urge to side with its “woke” students against a local business. College leaders should learn ... Read More