The Unbearable Shallowness of #NeverTrump Arguments, Part 1: Steve Deace

The intense disgust Donald Trump inspires in most conservatives is unquestionably valid, seeing that he’s a loathsome, unqualified buffoon who ruined the best chance we’ve had since 1984 to put a truly worthy movement conservative, Ted Cruz, in the White House. The emotional difficulty of looking past his offenses and weaknesses is understandable, and there are legitimate concerns about Trump’s fitness for office, chances against Hillary Clinton, and representation of the Republican Party.

However, it’s increasingly apparent that Trump Derangement Syndrome has so consumed most of the #NeverTrump movement that they’ve lost the ability to objectively evaluate both Trump’s weaknesses and the consequences of another Clinton presidency. Not only are opposing arguments ignored without serious consideration, many NeverTrumpers hurl indignation and condescension at any suggestion there are opposing arguments. Ugly though it sounds, it’s hard not to conclude that some have decided that the future of their country is less important than projecting their self-image as morally and ideologically purer than the rest of us.

It’s time to start calling out this arrogant negligence. The following is the first in a series of posts calling out the shoddy logic and irresponsible flippancy dominating #NeverTrump arguments. To be clear, not everyone we’ll discuss is guilty of all the sins described above, but all display a distinct lack of seriousness unworthy of the future generations who will suffer if they get their way and Hillary wins.

Today, we begin with a recent post by Steve Deace summarizing his reasons for sitting out this presidential election:

I don’t understand how the political party, which says its for protecting rights of conscience, isn’t protecting the conscience rights of its own delegates.

Sure, because canceling out the results of 36 states’ presidential primary elections wouldn’t be at least as big an infringement. Yes, I know the legal argument for a delegate revolt. I know America isn’t a pure, direct democracy. Heck, if you could convince me not only how it would result in Nominee Cruz rather than an establishment squish, but more importantly how it would avoid guaranteeing Hillary Clinton’s victory by provoking at least a third of Trump’s voters to stay home, I’d be game. But I wouldn’t pretend delegates’ “conscience rights” (which aren’t actually rights) didn’t come at the expense of voters who exercised theirs.

More importantly, don’t conflate those who deny delegates can revolt with those of us who say they shouldn’t (even Glenn Beck, despite being a NeverTrumper, understands it would backfire cataclysmically). Ultimately, it’s not “conscience” to do something that can only increase the likelihood that Hillary will have the opportunity to destroy the conservative movement’s relevance for a lifetime, through a Supreme Court that will disenfranchise us for decades and immigration policies that will make conservatives a permanent minority in national elections.

I don’t understand why we condemn Democrats for not holding their own party accountable to any moral standard beyond blind partisanship, and then condemn our own side as disloyal when it attempts to do exactly that to the Republicans.

Straw-man. Aside from the handful of apologists and sellouts that nobody outside the Trump Cult takes seriously anyway, virtually nobody on the Right is saying not to hold the GOP to moral standards, or that “blind partisanship” is the reason to vote for Trump. We’re saying that America may not survive another movement leftist presidency. If Congress was realistically likely to block Hillary’s agenda, or if Hillary’s actions were confined to her term and could all be reversed by her successor, things would be different. Unfortunately, neither is the case.

There is no reason to expect Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan’s GOP to go to war with Hillary any better than it did with Obama. It is inconceivable that the Senate would refuse to fill Supreme Court vacancies for the entirety of Hillary’s presidency. Republican control of Congress isn’t even a guarantee. And Hillary might not even need to pass an amnesty bill to doom the country—the more illegals are allowed to stay by simple inaction, the bigger Democrats’ eventual voter pool will be.

Y’know what I don’t understand, Steve? Why I never hear your crowd discuss any of these concerns, and how you guys can incessantly posture about your supposed moral superiority despite never seriously confronting the consequences of your actions. Instead of anything resembling substantive responses to any of this, 95% of the time we just get flippancy about being dupes, sellouts, or even bad Christians (from followers on your Facebook page, at least).

It’s a simple proposition: refusal to honestly and fully consider the consequences of one’s actions is fundamentally immoral, irresponsible, and un-conservative—and, coming from the same people who cast voting Trump in the general as all three, disgustingly hypocritical.

I don’t understand why people are so adamant you’re not a true patriot because you don’t want to vote for a Republican who will give you the same policies you claim to oppose when they’re from Democrats.

Because your premise is wildly false, Steve. Yes, most of Trump’s conservative proclamations are insincere. Yes, he’s at various points held liberal positions on almost everything. Yes, he current platform contains several flaws. Still, pretending there’s zero difference is either self-deluding or intentionally dishonest.

There’s a difference between a clearly-ideological Democrat nominee whose worldview and partisan interests are fully in sync with her party, and an ideologically-agnostic Republican with no philosophical devotion to liberalism, but very concrete selfish incentives to satisfy conservatives and Republicans if he wants to stay in power. Trump’s strongest incentive is to follow through (to at least some degree) on immigration. Beyond that, with a few exceptions he has no incentives not to simply check the boxes on right-of-center orthodoxy.

There’s a difference between a seasoned progressive who knows exactly what she wants, and a president whose ideological indifference has led him to outsource policy details to the Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society on judges, John Marshburn on abortion, Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller on immigration, Stephen Moore and Larry Kudlow on taxes, etc.

There’s a difference between even a 50% chance (it’s not that low) that Trump will do some good for the wrong reasons, and the 100% certainty that Clinton will do evil on nearly everything. Don’t voters, particularly conservative voters who know better, have a moral obligation to prevent as much suffering—as much evil—as possible?

I don’t understand why people would just go ahead and lose when they have an option not to.

Another false premise. Your “option not to” IS A FANTASY. The GOP electorate’s demand for a delegate revolt isn’t there. Even if it were, the consensus to swap in a Cruz rather than a dead-man-walking Romney or Ryan type isn’t. And again, you can’t in good conscience endlessly chant “make it stop, delegates” without confronting the overwhelming likelihood that “making it stop” would saddle whoever replaced Trump with a handicap of several million Republican voters.

I’m sorry, Steve. Clinging to comforting fantasies with no regard for their viability or outcome is just childish.

I don’t understand why smart people continue perpetuating the “vote Republican for good judges” canard that has been proven wrong so many times now.

Because it’s not a canard. Yes, Republicans inflicted on us plenty of bad judges, but to pretend that means there’s no difference is borderline dishonest. A Democrat president would never have given us Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, or Samuel Alito; would Steve say getting them on the Supreme Court didn’t matter? As inexcusable as John Roberts’ betrayals were, is it meaningless that Al Gore or John Kerry would have nominated justices who would have given us those same votes plus scores of additional assaults on the Constitution? Were Obama and John McCain really equally likely to nominate someone who, say, edit a leading medical organization’s proclamations about partial-birth abortion to make it more politically useful? (Oh, and for what it’s worth, a moderate establishment squish didn’t give us Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor—those mistakes were exceptions to the record of conservatism’s greatest modern leader.)

Frankly, with this last point, Deace has typed something every bit as dumb as 75% of what comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.

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