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

U.S.

How to Bend the News

This, from ABC, is a nice example of a news organization deliberately bending the truth in order to advance a narrative that it wishes were true but is not: Venerable gun manufacturer Colt says it will stop producing the AR-15, among other rifles, for the consumer market in the wake of many recent mass ... Read More
Education

George Packer Gets Mugged by Reality

Few journalists are as respected by, and respectable to, liberals as The Atlantic’s George Packer. The author of The Assassin's Gate (2005), The Unwinding (2013), and a recently published biography of Richard Holbrooke, Our Man, Packer has written for bastions of liberal thought from the New York Times Magazine ... Read More
U.S.

Trump’s Total Culture War

 Donald Trump is waging a nonstop, all-encompassing war against progressive culture, in magnitude analogous to what 19th-century Germans once called a Kulturkampf. As a result, not even former president George W. Bush has incurred the degree of hatred from the left that is now directed at Trump. For most of ... Read More
World

Iran’s Act of War

Last weekend’s drone raid on the Saudi oil fields, along with the Israeli elections, opens a new chapter in Middle Eastern relations. Whether the attack on Saudi oil production, which has temporarily stopped more than half of it, was launched by Iranian-sponsored Yemeni Houthis or by the Iranians themselves is ... Read More