The Corner

Politics & Policy

Dylan, Never Trump, and Mike Maturen

Bob Dylan really deserves the Nobel Prize for Literature. You can find anything you want in his lyrics, and he’s right, time and again, to have cautioned us not to make more of his tunes than is really there. Here’s what’s there: all kinds of seeking, searching, and experimenting And very little politics or fashionable causes. There’s no one else remotely like him, and everyone at most every level of our culture samples him. A great victory for American music and artistic integrity.

So much for good news.

I’ve gotten an invitation to sign, along with other conservative and libertarian scholars, a “Never Trump” manifesto, based on the proposition that he’s easily the most dangerous of the candidates to our Constitution and our beliefs.

It would obviously be a good idea to sign, insofar as I would be publicly aligned with the decent conservatives. And I really admire and respect the scholarly integrity of everyone on the distinguished list.

I have no plans whatsoever to vote for Trump. I will almost surely vote, in case you’re wondering, for Mike Maturen, the candidate of the American Solidarity Party. I will explain why soon.

Still, I can’t bring myself to sign. My reasons are doubtless vain and perverse. And they amount to this: Trump doesn’t need my help to lose.

Trump would be dangerous if he had any chance of being president. He doesn’t. He never did. But now he’s collapsing. His campaign has been reduced to vengeance and resentment, a disgusting display of a hugely disordered soul. Even making America great again is no longer on the agenda, because even Trump’s supporters no longer believe that their man will be a winner.

I think most Republicans haven’t quite faced up to what’s happening. Lots of Trump voters think themselves betrayed by the elite of the Republican party and won’t vote Republican down ballot. Trump never cared about and now is positively hostile to other Republicans’ winning. Lots of other moderately Republican Americans — including women and the college-educated in general — are so repulsed by the party elite that humored Trump for so long that they’re pulling the plug on all their party’s candidates. How bad can it get? My only answer is, Really bad.

So “Never Trump” isn’t going to be very effective at this point in saving the rest of the ticket. The reason that Paul Ryan wasn’t “Never Trump” was that he could see that the Republicans at all levels couldn’t win without the support of Trump and his supporters. So he gambled that Trump could hold it together enough to lose respectably in November. Well, it turns out he couldn’t, and Ryan compromised his soul and his brand as a result. (Let’s admit that Ryan is a man of fine character and typically bad public judgment, and now even his character is being questioned.)

As it turned out, the Democrats, in the context of the American “cognitive elite” that they represent (see Clinton’s secret teaching in her speeches to said elite and in her e-mails), were stunningly astute in exploiting Trump’s huge weaknesses a little bit at a time. I don’t regret that their hardball couldn’t be played by the whiny loser Trump.

Still, that’s the elite of course that has contempt for the whiny losers who voted for Bernie and for the deplorable losers who support Trump, for the backward Catholics who still have beliefs on the wrong side of history, for the rednecks with whom Bill Clinton grew up and whom he outgrew, for those who don’t believe that the point of America is to outgrow our borders in the direction of the unmediated cosmpolitanism of the free market — for those, in general, who are uncomprehendingly envious of the complicated lives of the Clintons and the folks at Goldman Sachs.

It’s easy to regret, in the wake of the huge impact of the populist insurgencies of Sanders and Trump, that the establishment candidate of our allegedly coldly uncaring elite will win easily and in some ways undeservedly. I can say that without saying one bleepin’ good thing about the character or competence of the contemptibly pathetic man Trump.

If you’re gong to vote for candidate who might win, you’re going to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Otherwise, even if you vote for Trump, your choice is going to be some kind of protest against the inevitable.

So, as it turns out, Trump really is a uniquely terrible president candidate. It also turns out that his main damage to our democracy and our Constitution is to have deprived decent Americans of real discussion of alternative approaches to issues and principles during this campaign cycle.

When it comes to my vote: Never Trump. But let be more positive: Now I get to vote for solidarity and subsidiarity and indulge my nostalgia for the northern Democratic party dominated by the unions of the 1950s. That is very selective nostalgia, of course. And it is, in many respects, self-indulgently reactionary. Still, a little more solidarity and subsidiarity could really help us now.

Finally, don’t forget that Maturen is a semi-professional magician. Maybe he can make ISIS and the national debt disappear.

Peter Augustine LawlerPeter Augustine Lawler is Dana Professor of Government at Berry College. He is executive editor of the acclaimed scholarly quarterly Perspectives on Political Science and served on President George ...

Most Popular

Elections

Vote Your Conscience

At the 2016 Republican convention, Senator Ted Cruz spoke a controversial phrase: “vote your conscience.” I think about this phrase, this idea, fairly often. I’m not one to give advice on voting (or much else). But when asked for advice, I usually say, “Vote your conscience.” Sweet conscience! One of ... Read More
Elections

Vote Your Conscience

At the 2016 Republican convention, Senator Ted Cruz spoke a controversial phrase: “vote your conscience.” I think about this phrase, this idea, fairly often. I’m not one to give advice on voting (or much else). But when asked for advice, I usually say, “Vote your conscience.” Sweet conscience! One of ... Read More
Music

Stevie Nicks, Like Springsteen, Preaches and Preens

In the 1970s, Stevie Nicks and Bruce Springsteen made impressions on pop-music culture with romantic rock landmarks, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album and Springsteen’s Born to Run. But their new 2020 releases, Nicks’s single “Show Them the Way” and Springsteen’s Letter to You film and album, make the ... Read More
Music

Stevie Nicks, Like Springsteen, Preaches and Preens

In the 1970s, Stevie Nicks and Bruce Springsteen made impressions on pop-music culture with romantic rock landmarks, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album and Springsteen’s Born to Run. But their new 2020 releases, Nicks’s single “Show Them the Way” and Springsteen’s Letter to You film and album, make the ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The Kavanaugh Court

If Justice Barrett votes as her mentor Justice Scalia did, she will be part of an ascendant conservative majority on the Supreme Court. What kinds of decisions can we expect from this majority? Short answer: Ask Brett Kavanaugh. Contrary to how journalists frame each seat change on the Court, comparing the new ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The Kavanaugh Court

If Justice Barrett votes as her mentor Justice Scalia did, she will be part of an ascendant conservative majority on the Supreme Court. What kinds of decisions can we expect from this majority? Short answer: Ask Brett Kavanaugh. Contrary to how journalists frame each seat change on the Court, comparing the new ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Avoiding Judicial Armageddon

This month marks the 58th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the geopolitical showdown between the United States and the Soviet Union that brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation. We are here today only because cooler heads prevailed in that conflict, leading to the Kennedy-Khrushchev Pact ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Avoiding Judicial Armageddon

This month marks the 58th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the geopolitical showdown between the United States and the Soviet Union that brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation. We are here today only because cooler heads prevailed in that conflict, leading to the Kennedy-Khrushchev Pact ... Read More