The Corner

Politics & Policy

Against the ‘There’s a Chance’ Argument for Donald Trump

In response to Re: General Merrill McPeak

I take a backseat to no one in my admiration for Dennis Prager, and indeed his column today – urging conservatives to vote for Trump – reminds me why this election is so painful. Allies are at odds, with neither side really possessing much stomach for The Donald.

The best, most thoughtful case for voting Trump – the case Dennis makes — is that there is a chance that he’ll do the right thing. We’re certain, by contrast, that Hillary is wrong, and some chance at good policy is better than none at all. At the risk of injecting inappropriate levity into these dark times, I remember seeing this kind of optimism is a movie once:

Often when I see that argument, it’s presented in contexts where there’s absolutely no basis to believe Trump will be any better than Hillary. Dennis, however, smartly confines his defense to those few categories – judges, fracking, corporate taxes, among others – where “there’s a chance” is most viable. And I agree with him. On the issues he identifies, there is indeed a chance that Trump will be better than Hillary.

Unfortunately, however, “there’s a chance” runs both ways. Just as there is some chance that Trump will get a few answers right, there is also a chance that he will get other answers catastrophically wrong. In other words, there’s a chance that he actually meant what he said when he:

1. Threatened to default on federal debt;

2. Threatened trade wars that could plunge the economy into recession;

3. Threatened to order the military to commit war crimes;

4. Threatened to undermine the First Amendment;

5. Threatened to implement government health care;

6. Threatened to blow up NATO; and

7. Threatened to use Exxon to defeat ISIS.

And, sadly, that’s just a partial list of actual policy suggestions from the presumptive GOP nominee. Others include advocacy for touchback amnesty, pledges to bar even Muslim allies from American shores (we’ll block even the Kurds?), and newfound support for tax increases. All of them are dreadful, some of them treasonously so.

Balanced also against these negative chances are a number of terrible certainties. It is certain that he is dishonest, ignorant of foreign and domestic affairs (and often even of basic civics), and deals in the most vicious personal attacks. Add these things together, and he’s not just a ticking time bomb — he’s a walking impeachment risk.

Some people say that Never Trumpers are riding their moral high horse, self-righteously setting themselves up as the arbiters of principle. I don’t think so. We have our principles, yes, but we’re also pragmatists, and when I look at Trump, I see a catastrophe in the making. And for that reason – among many others — I cannot in good conscience vote for the instrument of national crisis. I remain Never Trump.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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