Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Vote for #Neither

Though the 2016 GOP presidential nomination has not yet been settled as of this date, it is looking more and more likely that Donald Trump will become the nominee. This prospect has demoralized many, compelling us to confront difficult decisions about what to do on Election Day.

As I witness the slow, gradual, resigned acceptance within the Republican Party of Donald Trump (and within the Democrat Party of criminal Hillary Clinton and socialist Bernie Sanders), by more and more people -- people who, during a more civilized moment just months ago, would never have tolerated the likes of such creatures -- I am reminded how a culture becomes corrupted, then lost.

The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan -- a thoughtful, pre-Clintonian Democrat and champion of Western civilization -- memorably described the process he called "defining deviancy down." It amounted to slowly lowering the bar of moral and intellectual standards, of social and cultural expectations, inch by inch. Pretty soon, what was unthinkable in January and intolerable in March becomes tolerated in June, then accepted in August -- and finally celebrated by November.

Why celebrated?

Because in order to accommodate and accept the once-intolerable, a person must surrender his standards, piecemeal . . . but then rationalize his self-corruption in his own mind. How better to rationalize the despicable -- and one's own acceptance of it -- than to turn it into virtue, and the despicable person into a non-conforming hero?

I want my friends, some of whom are Trump or Hillary supporters, to understand how seriously I take this corruption.

I am not a bandwagon-joiner. I am not one to stick ‪#‎NeverTrump‬ hashtags everywhere. But neither can I tolerate this crude, ignorant, unprincipled narcissist simply because the alternative would be to vote for a criminal like Clinton. Trump represents the culmination of a process of corruption within the Republican Party, just as Hillary Clinton represents the same within the Democrat Party. To my great sadness, they have come to symbolize and accurately reflect the character of an American people who have, for decades, been defining deviancy down in their own lives and institutions.

I realize that an election is merely a tactical decision, almost always between less-than-ideal options. Oftentimes it is a choice for the lesser harm. But -- and I'm being stone-cold serious -- in a choice between Trump and Clinton, I have no clue who would cause the greater long-term harm to America or to my own values and interests. An unprincipled populist demagogue, whose answer to all problems, foreign and domestic, is an international trade war -- or a pathological criminal with a progressive agenda? We're not talking about two characters who would continue the status quo of steady American decline. We're talking about two human wrecking balls. Each, in his or her own way, would accelerate American decline in a host of political, economic, and cultural ways.

The latter is what concerns me most, because it affects the character of America. As they say, "character is destiny." While these two bottom-feeders sadly reflect the country's slide into decadence, a national leader of character might decelerate that decline. Trump and Clinton would both hasten it.

It might be argued that Trump at least represents what Ayn Rand would have called "the American sense of life," which Hillary Clinton and the left despise and hate. But it would be more accurate to say that Trump has hijacked the American sense of life. He has hitched that pro-American spirit to an anti-American policy agenda, foreign and domestic. He does not stand for constitutionally limited government, free markets, private property, or individual rights. He is trying to wed "Americanism" to populist statism, and call it "conservatism."

That's bad enough on the level of political philosophy, and it would be disastrous on the policy level. But on the more-important level of personal character, Trump would bring into the Oval Office a gutter mentality and behavior, power-hungry narcissism, crude anti-intellectualism, and a mindless personality cult. Yes, America has elected and endured presidents who exhibited one or more of these various ugly traits; however, I cannot recall any single president who embodied them all.

For decades, every time the GOP put forth some lousy liberal loser, we individualists and constitutionalists were told to put aside our reservations and support him at the polls. It was just a short-term compromise, they told us, because we had to beat the Democrat du jour if we hoped for America to survive until the long term, when we might get better candidates. Well, Donald Trump is the long term that all those short-term, expedient compromises have brought us to. If he were to be elected, there would be no long-term future for principled individualists to hope for. 

On the other hand, a vote for Hillary Clinton would be a vote for a pathological liar and crook, for an explicit proponent of statism and unlimited government power. And it would be a moral ratification of her unspeakable betrayal of four brave dead American patriots in Benghazi. That is intolerable.

Because of these considerations (and barring last-minute, unexpected, radical changes of circumstances in an insane year filled with surprises), I've come reluctantly to a decision:

Should the electoral alternatives sink to a choice between Trump or Clinton, I shall vote for neither.

I care too much for America's founders, for those who fought and bled and died for this special nation, to dishonor their memory and legacy with such a vote.

If our nation truly has come to this, then I believe the November 2016 election will be remembered as America's Jonestown -- and I, for one, shall refuse to participate in moral self-poisoning and political mass suicide.