I’m undecided about whether to vote for Donald Trump. Two recent columns, both anti-Trump, have helped me think about my decision. Readers who, like me, are struggling to decide may find one or both of them helpful.
The first is by Michael Gerson, one of Trump’s most persistent Republican critics. Gerson’s piece helped me frame the issue, but didn’t didn’t move my needle.
Gerson grudgingly (almost sarcastically) sets out a conservative case for Trump. It boils down to the likelihood that Trump will make better Supreme Court nominations than Hillary Clinton; the likelihood that he is better than Clinton on some issues; and the view that he may well be less dishonest than the Democrat.
Gerson dismisses this argument by contending that Trump is unfit to be president:
It is not enough for GOP partisans to assert Trump’s superiority to Clinton on this issue or that. They must justify that Trump has the experience, knowledge, temperament, judgment and character to be president of the United States.
Gerson argues that Trump fails this test because of his positions on illegal immigration and Muslim entry into the U.S., and because a New York Times piece showed Trump to be a “cave-man” when it comes to women.
But are these concerns sufficient to hand the Supreme Court to the left? Not in my view.
Surely, Gerson understands that the Court is one vote away from being able to issue radically transformative leftist decisions on a host of key issues. Surely, he understands that if Clinton wins and appoints several Justices, then at some point in the next 20 to 25 years the left will likely control Congress, the executive branch, and the Court. At that point, it will be able to transform America beyond recognition.
Nor is it only Supreme Court selections that matter. With even four more years of Democratic rule, we can expect the lower courts routinely to rubber stamp the left’s aggressive agenda at the expense of liberty and the Constitution.
If the choice is between two unfit candidates one of whom will nominate significantly better judges than the other and, unlike the other, is not committed to a uniformly leftist agenda, why shouldn’t we vote for that candidate?
A second article, this one by Robert Kagan, supplies an answer. He argues that Trump will bring fascism to America.
If true, this is sufficient reason not just to decline to support Trump, but to consider voting for Clinton. In fact, Kagan has announced that he supports Hillary (some attribute this decision to an affinity with the Democrat on foreign policy issues).
It’s one thing to be unfit for the presidency. (John Charles Fremont, the first Republican presidential nominee, was unfit to be president, but represented a better choice than James Buchanan, our worst president). It’s another thing to be a fascist.
Readers can judge the strength of Kagan’s case that Trump is a fascist. It’s obvious to me that Trumpism contains an authoritarian streak. To equate it with fascism, or even with the authoritarianism implicit in the left-liberal agenda, is a different matter.
In any event, Decision 2016 has been framed for me. Trump would be significantly better than Clinton on the crucial matter of the courts, and on some other matters as well. But are his authoritarian tendencies (as opposed to his general lack of fitness) substantial enough to disqualify him?