by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It’s a choice no conservative wants to make, but it’s the choice conservatives are likely to face in November: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president. Victor Davis Hanson examines that choice for National Review Online.
[T]he issue for conservatives in November is twofold: One, would a Trump presidency represent a new ethical and cultural low; that is, would he say and do things far beyond what we have come to contextualize and excuse from the Clintons or Barack Obama? In this regard, I grant that how one expresses one’s cruelty — coarsely or with double-entendres and snark — matters in our shallow and media-driven culture. Whether a plagiarist or fabulist ends up wrist-slapped like Fareed Zakaria, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Maureen Dowd or fades like Jason Blair and Stephen Glass, or whether a bad racist joke about CP (“colored people”) is repulsive or merely out there, depends entirely on your buzz and what you represent — and whether you are Hillary Clinton or not.
Two, would Trump’s convention-stamped agenda be more or less conservative than that of Hillary Clinton? Trump is certainly no conservative, and he has moved the Republican party leftward in some areas; Hillary’s latest progressive personification is beyond liberal, and has moved the Democratic party much further leftward in all areas. Or, to put it another way, whose most recent opportunistic incarnation now seems the more conservative on matters of illegal immigration, budgeting, defense, domestic spending, and foreign affairs? Not voting for Trump is not just like voting for Hillary Clinton in 2008 but rather like voting for a 12- or 16-year continuation of Obamism.
There is also a 30–70 chance that Trump might recalibrate his candidacy in the next six months. It may be easy to continue with the Never Trump movement as long as he daily spins his conspiracy theories and tall tales. But what happens to conservative resistance if by August he has reinvented himself into a more sober Trump and announced that if elected he’d like to appoint Ted Cruz to the Supreme Court, John Bolton as secretary of state, Larry Arnn as secretary of education, and General Jack Keane as secretary of defense? Will we say that it is just a ploy to get our votes, or confess that it is a shameless, naked ploy that is still preferable to the likely Clinton alternative?