Magazine | June 13, 2016, Issue

#MaybeNobody?

I haven’t settled on whom I’ll vote for in November, though I admit I’m leaning toward writing in the immortal world-destroying mutant Apocalypse from the latest X-Men movie (“In your heart, you know he’s right”). But I thought as a service to the readers I’d weigh the pros and cons of the more mainstream choices.

#MaybeTrump? I was unpleasantly unsurprised by how many people I respect seemed to have burned their #NeverTrump cards after Indiana, even as others burned their GOP voter registrations. There’s an element of party tribalism to the former cohort that I don’t get at all. Rote support for the GOP nominee, whoever it is, might make sense for elected officials and party apparatchiks, whose futures and fortunes are tied to the letter in parentheses after their names, but it makes little sense for ordinary voters. This race isn’t Coke vs. Pepsi or the Yanks vs. the Sox, and it simply isn’t good enough to say you’ll vote for the Republican because you’ve always voted for the Republican.

I do understand the proposition that Hillary is so bad that one must countenance a vote for Trump. The trouble is that I also understand the proposition that Trump is so bad that one must countenance a vote for Hillary.

But there is one condition under which I’d consider pulling the lever for Donny: If a youngish, compelling, committed conservative agrees to be his running mate. Why? Well, because under those circumstances there might be a good enough chance — between actuarial tables, select congressional committees, and a mob of disaffected alt-righters dressed in full Ren-Fair kit and wielding bastard swords — that the veep would get to serve. I’m kidding*, but the presence of a conservative superstar on the ticket would at least give me pause. The counterargument, of course, is that any credible conservative who agreed to share the ticket with Trump would thereby cease to be a credible conservative, in a Catch-22 fit for Yossarian and Doc Daneeka.

Verdict? Whatever you do, bring a barf bag.

#DreadyForHillary? The straightforward argument for voting Hillary, made under various glosses by a handful of right-of-center poobahs, is that at least she’ll suck in predictable ways. The trouble is that the Clintons are world-historic creeps, and voting for her would reward a Democratic party so sclerotic that it nominated a septuagenarian facing possible federal charges who is polling to a tie with Donald Trump.

I’ve seen the demographics for the NR-on-dead-tree subscriber base, so I know you know this already, but for the benefit of the Millennials who may read this online, here’s an example of the Clintons’ dirt-baggery that is newly relevant. Trump has, in recent days, indulged in old conspiracy theories about the untimely suicide of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster in the midst of the Whitewater scandal. But you know what isn’t a conspiracy theory? That the Clintons dispatched a future health and human services secretary to collect Foster’s garbage on the night he offed himself. That’s right, Sylvia Matthews Burwell, then a White House aide and now Czarina of Obamacare, made her bones digging through a dead man’s Rubbermaid.

So if you’re #WithHer, you’re with that.

Verdict? Pshaw!

#WaryOfGary. Over the last few months I’ve been tempted a number of times to embrace my inner Ronald Swanson / and cast my vote for Gary Johnson. The Libertarian-party front-runner was a squishy but competent enough GOP governor, as was his presumptive running mate Bill Weld. And the LP is a symbolically rich landing spot for disaffected Republicans, as the libertarian streak that animated the post-Bush GOP appears to have been thoroughly extinguished by the rise of Trump.

But Johnson is a lousy retail politician, and even if you’re casting a symbolic vote in favor of liberty, he’s kinda a crappy libertarian — he’s into mandatory gay cakes and outlawing head scarves, that sort of thing.

On a side note, I can’t believe how badly Rand Paul whiffed this cycle. I’ve been howling ever since he dropped out of the GOP primary race that he should stage a coup of the LP. I mean, one major party has the least popular nominee in the history of public-opinion research, and the other major party has the second-least-popular nominee in the history of public-opinion research. Some polls already have the LP at 10 percent in a three-way race. And imagine if the party had as its standard-bearer a talented politician with a national profile and a handful of meaty, bipartisan signature issues? When would there have ever been a better shot for Rand to accomplish the libertarian–Republican shotgun wedding that has been his animating project? Further proof that we live in the darkest time.

Verdict? Meh.

#RomneyZombieReagan16? It’s hard to score this option because no independent ticket has emerged (and most likely none will). There’d certainly be honor in casting a protest vote for an honorable man. The thing is that I am increasingly of the mind that Trump’s resentment-fueled cadre will skulk about a lot longer if the #NeverTrump rump gives them an excuse for losing in November. The race’s fundamentals suggest Hillary will win, but original sin and the pitiless logic of Murphy’s law suggests Trump will find some way to pull it out. Either way, we as a nation have bought the tickets to this horror show, so maybe we shouldn’t look away when things get gory.

Verdict? Choose the form of the Destructor. Choose and perish!

*I’m not kidding

Daniel Foster — Daniel Foster is a former news editor of National Review Online.

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