The Corner

Politics & Policy

On Trump v. Clinton, Beware of False Comparisons

Over at RealClearPolitics SUNY professor James Campbell has penned a “plea to Never Trump conservatives to think twice.” He acknowledges — as every serious person must — many of Trump’s deficiencies but then makes the case that Hillary is much, much worse:

Really, the two candidates are equally awful? Mocking a disabled news reporter is equal to lying about the Benghazi terrorist attack to the public and the victims’ families? Being nasty to John McCain and a Muslim-American Gold Star father is equal to shaking down Wall Street with the cover of some canned speeches for over $20 million? Rebuking a jackass is worth turning the Supreme Court into a rubber-stamp for liberal activism for the next generation? You really want to help do that?

Seems convincing, right? Trump is wrong on style, but Clinton is wrong on substance. Of course mocking a reporter or making fun of a POW isn’t as bad as lying to the American people about a terrorist attack. If that was the analysis, I’d vote Trump — even if I thought he was a jerk — and do so with a clean conscience. But Campbell’s comparisons miss the mark. Trump is wrong on style and substance. He is just as awful as Hillary Clinton – in different ways on policy and many of the same ways on character. 

Applying the same methods Campbell does, I can easily draft comparisons where Trump looks less favorable than Clinton. Is lying about Benghazi equal to risking global peace by torching our NATO alliance? Is giving canned speeches to Wall Street fat cats worse than launching trade wars that ruin the economic prospects of millions of middle-class and working-class Americans? Is failing to give press conferences as bad as instituting national security policies that could literally fracture the civil-military relationship?

Neither major-party candidate is conservative, neither candidate has the character to be president, and both advance policies that I believe are deeply harmful to the country. Trump would be better on judges, the Second Amendment, and (maybe) immigration. Clinton would likely be better on national security, trade policy, and deficit spending. Clinton promises a continued unacceptable status quo (with perhaps some small foreign policy improvements). Trump carries with him the possibility of some better policies — but also the possibility of truly catastrophic failure. They both will bring a traveling road show of lies and scandal to the Oval Office.

Some Christians bizarrely ask me to choose the “lesser of two evils” as if the choice is obvious. It’s not. Not one person has made a convincing case that — on balance — Trump is better than Clinton or Clinton is better than Trump. The only convincing case is that they are both unfit for our nation’s highest office, and I won’t — and will never — vote for an unfit candidate.

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