The Trump Era Ends, and One Man Is Mostly To Blame

Barring a miracle, Joe Biden (by which I mean Kamala Harris) will become President of the United States in January. Whichever one calls the shots for how long makes little difference; both are fundamentally indecent human beings, utterly unfit for the offices they are about to assume and wholly undeserving of the public’s respect or trust.

The scale of the fraud that’s being reported could absolutely have been enough to steal the election from Donald Trump, but the legal challenges his campaign is pursuing are most likely too little, too late. The time to most effectively fight for election integrity was long before the election — by investigating and prosecuting those responsible for past fraud, by putting federal observers with actual prosecutorial power at polling places and ballot counting centers in every questionable jurisdiction in the country, and by mounting serious challenges to crooked mail-in balloting rules before they had an opportunity to do their damage.

Alas, despite having the United States Department of Justice at his disposal for four years, our lazy, incompetent president didn’t do any of that. In fact, the only effort Trump made was a bust thanks in large part to (surprise!) bad personnel decisions.

So now his campaign’s attorneys are largely at the mercy of left-wing state officials and biased judges. Compound that with the Trump campaign letting the race get within stealing distance in the first place thanks to a string of stupid political decisions (not to mention COVID and all the other things shaping public opinion over the past four years), and nobody should really be surprised that it (probably) ended this way.

(Yes, litigation and recounts are pending, and I fully support Trump pursuing them, if for no other reason than to expose as much Democrat malfeasance as possible and to put a giant asterisk on Biden’s legitimacy. I just don’t want conservatives to set themselves up for even bigger disappointment when the miracle doesn’t happen.)

There’s definitely some poetic irony to all of this, but any temptation to say “good riddance” is more than negated by the tremendous suffering a Biden/Harris administration will inflict on the American people.

Of course, while Trump deserves the lion’s share of the blame for Biden’s victory, he’s not the only one. There’s the tens of millions of Americans who voted for Biden or neglected to vote against him, whether due to bad information, bad judgement, or bad motives. Jo Jorgensen got more votes from libertarian fools in key states than the margin between Biden and Trump. NeverTrump scumbags were a factor, as was the poisonous influence of Trump’s idiot son-in-law. There’s also one more often-overlooked problem: most of the biggest names in national conservative punditry — Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Mark Levin chief among them — constantly fed Trump positive reinforcement instead of using their tremendous influence to keep him on the right track or push him to improve.

Thankfully, Democrats have not enjoyed comparable success in state legislatures or the US House of Representatives, and, most importantly, it appears (pending one more fight in Georgia) Republicans will keep the Senate. That means, while Biden and Harris will do plenty of damage to the country, the most severe threats they posed will be blunted and Republicans will have a strong opportunity to take back Congress in two years and the White House in four.

Of course, whether Republicans seize that opportunity or botch it remains a very open question. The GOP is notoriously bad at learning from its mistakes, and already troubling signs are beginning to emerge.

The GOP/SwampCon establishment is no doubt salivating over the opportunity to “return to normal,” by which they mean grooming some inoffensive mediocrity like Marco Rubio or Ben Sasse to run. And on the flip side, rather than moving on to better alternatives like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, there’s already chatter in righty social media about re-running Trump in 2024 (or, even worse, one of his idiot kids).

No. Just stop. Trump cleared the low bar of “better than the Bushes” and the even lower bar of “better than the Democrats”; that’s not the same as rising to the level of “good.” It’s just not worth subjecting ourselves to the wasted opportunities and constant headaches all over again if we don’t have to…especially not after he failed to mop the floor with one of the worst candidates the Democrat Party has ever put forth.

For God’s sake, people, it’s four years away; at least wait and see who runs before deciding this cartoonishly defective man is really the best we can do.

So to summarize: Donald Trump bought America time, but did precious little with it to secure lasting reform, and as a result his presidency is ending in a way that should surprise nobody. America is down, but not over. Learn from the past four years. Prepare to fight just as hard, but more importantly, to fight smarter. There is a wealth of lessons to take away from this experience; if the Right fails to do so…well, let’s just say America’s last chances to get it right won’t last forever.

The Civic Negligence of Third-Party Voting

Note: the following article is partially adapted from a piece I wrote in 2016 about the last presidential election, and is meant as a companion to my case for reelecting Donald Trump; please read that as well for my complete argument on how to view the 2020 presidential election.

What’s a voter to do when both major-party candidates for president are unappealing? For a vocal minority, the answer is to either vote for a third-party candidate or write in a name. Such choices are usually accompanied by platitudes about “sending a message” or casting a vote that “reflects my values.”

In the vast, overwhelming majority of cases, the third-party candidate will not become president, and in the vast, overwhelming majority of cases, the third-party voter knows it. He generally justifies his conscious decision to cast a vote that will not affect the outcome1—to forego the opportunity to help bring about a more positive outcome or prevent a more negative one—as a symbolic gesture, or a personal statement.

I submit that, in the vast, overwhelming majority of cases, this is grievously irresponsible for one simple reason: your vote affects other people. The ballot box isn’t a personal survey; elections have direct short- and long-term consequences for the freedom, safety, health, and prosperity of more than 330 million Americans other than yourself.

How you vote isn’t about you, your reputation, or your self-image. It’s not about symbolism, messaging, how any of the candidates make you feel, or even what any of the candidates “deserve.” It’s about what happens to millions of your countrymen—whether their personal freedoms expand or contract. How many innocent children they have to let be legally killed before birth. How much money is taken out of their paychecks. Whether job opportunities are allowed to grow or are suppressed. What kind of schools they can send their children to. How safe their communities are. What the government does with their money. How many dangers of the world spill over into their country. And even whether they’ll retain any means of reversing their government’s direction in the following elections.

To whatever extent voters should weigh notions of a candidate’s “fitness,” character, style, or temperament, morally they must give greater weight to the real-world consequences that candidate would have for the well-being of the American people. Further, voters cannot weigh those consequences in a vacuum, but in comparison to the consequences of the alternative winning instead.

Simply put: every American has a clear, overriding moral obligation to choose the viable candidate whose election would spare his or her countrymen the greatest amount of net harm.

But what if both candidates would be equally harmful? First, that might be theoretically possible, but if a third-party/write-in voter genuinely believes it, then he would have to justify his decision by making a case to that effect, and leave the my-vote-is-all-about-me platitudes behind.2

Second, moving from theory to reality, it’s plainly false that both choices before us in this election—Donald Trump and Joe Biden—would be equally harmful. Readers can click here to read my full case for that contention; here I’ll simply note that there are vast, clear policy differences between a mismanaged center-right executive branch and a unified hard-left one…among them the fact that (for reasons explained in the piece linked above) a Biden victory carries the very real danger of the nation our children inherit being transformed into one of single-party rule, one in which our constitutional order has been gutted beyond repair.

It is not hyperbole to say that the modern Democrat Party is opposed to every major principle of the American Founding. A Democrat takeover of the executive branch poses a clear, potentially existential (in the sense of permanently losing the freedoms and safeguards that make America America) threat to the country. Voting for Jo Jorgensen (the kind of person who supports the legal power to have one’s child executed in the womb, by the way) won’t do a thing to prevent that, or to advance any of the non-evil causes she and her fans claim to value. Nor will writing in a name in protest. Only by voting for Trump—distasteful though he is—do we stand even a chance of preventing it. (For those understandably unenthused about the incumbent, think of a Trump vote as a vote to keep the seat reserved for four years so a constitutional saboteur can’t occupy it, buying us time to hopefully work on finding someone better for 2024.)3

Of course, many reject the premise that their vote holds that much influence. While technically true in the sense that national elections never literally come down to a single vote, it’s also painfully obtuse—votes add up, particularly in light of the Electoral College, under which a few thousand votes in a few states can make the difference for the whole country.

The only circumstance in which it would be at least defensible to vote for a third-party presidential candidate would be if a voter of one party lives in a state absolutely dominated by the other, like Republicans living in California. It’s safe to say Biden will take the Golden State no matter how they vote.

Even so, while at least such voters won’t harm the electoral outcome, there’s still another consideration to keep in mind. Trump beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 in electoral votes, but lost the popular vote (thanks mostly to, again, California), which gave the Left a useful propaganda point they’ve relentlessly deployed ever since. Even if you don’t care about how that affects Trump or the GOP politically, you should certainly care about how it’s used to undermine the Electoral College, one of the pillars of our system of government.4

Large swaths of our culture have been conditioned to internalize a conception of voting that, at its core, is narcissistic. But the truth is that voting is a service, and a hugely consequential one at that (which is why the Founders believed in placing conditions on who could exercise it). As such, those who chose to participate are assuming an awesome responsibility. Ultimately, the only truly moral way to exercise that responsibility is to vote as if your vote will be the one to tip the balance between the top two competitors, whoever they may be.


Footnotes:

1. The idea that a third-party vote doesn’t affect the outcome assumes that the voter doesn’t have a consistent pattern of voting for either party. But that isn’t the case if he is a longtime voter for one of the parties. If someone normally votes Republican but chooses to make an exception for Trump, it obviously helps Biden by reducing the number of votes the Republican nominee would have otherwise gotten (and vice versa).


2. I acknowledge that third-party and write-in votes may be more defensible at the state or local levels, where there may be lower stakes and greater variation among Republicans and Democrats. That said, such decisions should still be made on the basis of the relative outcomes, not on the use of the ballot box as a vehicle for self-expression.


3. None of this is to deny the many severe defects of Trump and the Republican Party. Whether the GOP is beyond reforming is a very open question, and the desire to burn it down so something better can take its place is entirely understandable. But reforming and replacing a major political party are difficult tasks, and there is no evidence that third-party presidential voting brings us any closer to accomplishing either of them. It’s worth noting that when the GOP replaced the Whig Party in the 1850s, it was channelling powerful preexisting discontent with its predecessor, not driving that discontent. As dysfunctional as the modern GOP currently is, one need only look at Trump’s approval rating within the GOP to see that today’s inter-party discontent is still nowhere near that level. (Also, the Libertarian Party is an impotent pack of amoral fools who don’t deserve to become one of the two major parties. But that’s another conversation.)

4. For voters who are also public figures, such as political activists or commentators, there’s one more reason you should vote for the better major-party candidate even if the opposite party dominates your state: setting a good example for members of your audience who live in states where their votes still can make a difference.

David French Lies Some More, Calls for a Democrat President

Of all the things I’ve ever gotten wrong, the most embarrassing is probably that, once upon a time, I called David French principled.

My first exposure to French was via the Evangelicals for Mitt website, where he (rightfully, at the time) made the case for nominating Mitt Romney in 2008 (shocking as it may seem to younger righties today, back then he really was the conservative alternative to pro-abortion Rudy Giuliani, nanny statist Mike Huckabee, and pro-himself John McCain).

From there, I found French’s background as a religious liberty attorney who volunteered to go to Iraq not only incredibly impressive, but incredibly humbling. As anti-Trumpism began morphing from a valid primary position into a general-election malady, French’s service to both his country and the movement kept me straining to give his intentions the benefit of the doubt for as long as I could.

But eventually, it became impossible not to notice that David wasn’t merely wrong, but dishonest.

It became impossible to ignore that he was willing to risk the lives and liberties of millions of Americans for no better reason than to register his contempt for a distasteful presidential candidate. Since 2016, there have been countless examples of French’s distortions (demonizing Christians while twisting their arguments, playing semantic games to trash honest conservatives, and pieces that so egregiously misstate facts and law they have to be extensively fact-checked by colleagues after publication), and his watered-down conservatism (suggesting we can’t do anything about libraries hosting drag queen events for kids, asserting hateful lunatics have a First Amendment right to teach students at taxpayer expense, citing fringe trolls as evidence conservatism as a whole and America itself are becoming more racist, and most recently accusing the Right of “caricaturing” environmentalism).

But while his latest piece for Time Magazine (where he apparently runs the stuff that’s too dishonest and too lefty even for post-Buckley National Review) may mark a new low, it also helpfully gathers many of his worst lies into one place, the ultimate proof that Pastor David French thinks the commandment against bearing false witness is either optional or doesn’t apply to him, and just how much of other people’s lives, liberties, and well-being he’s willing to sacrifice to be rid of Donald Trump. Continue reading