Joe Straus, the speaker of the Texas House, has “pulled a Paul Ryan,” and refused to say that he will support Donald Trump. Good for Straus. His motives may be a tad impure, but that impurity implies a respect for the voters of Texas that one rarely sees on the pages of coastal newspapers. His instincts are right: Thoughtful people ought not vote for Donald Trump for president of the United States.
If by now it isn’t obvious, your Editor is a national greatness libertarian, and has historically voted Republican far more often than not. Notwithstanding the “national greatness” and “historically voted” parts, we will not be voting for Donald Trump for president of the United States in this November’s general election. Painful as it would be to do, if you were to put a gun to the puppy’s head and insist that we vote for one of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, we would vomit up a vote for Hillary.
Recent readers, and those who do not know our secret identity, may not appreciate how difficult this would be for us. There is almost no reason to like Hillary Clinton. She is as authoritarian as Americans get, has a constant wish to involve the state in “improving” our fellow citizens, and will say or do anything to achieve her political objectives. In this regard, she is not very different from Donald Trump, who at least talks in authoritarian words and in the style of a “great” leader, has a constant wish to involve the state in “making America great again,” and will at least say anything to achieve his political objectives.
If the United States were the only country in the world and had no foreign policy, we would not be so firm in our conviction. Part of us wants to see what Trump will do to the established order, which is obviously FUBAR to some huge exponent. And then there is the entertainment in any demolition derby.
Sadly for Trump, the first and by far most important requirement of any president is apparent competence in national security matters. We say “apparent” because it is almost impossible to know in advance whether a candidate will in actual fact be competent. Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and George H.W. Bush might have been exceptions, but we had no way of knowing in advance whether (for example) JFK, LBJ, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Dubya, or Barack Obama would have Clue One. Some would say, in each case, that they did not. But in all those cases reasonable people could conclude that they would respond to a security crisis soberly, with deliberation, and due respect for the seriousness of the moment. That is, with apparent competence.
The same can be said of Hillary Clinton. While we can be certain that she will lie about what she did and conjure no end of tall tales to obfuscate her role in any crisis that goes pear-shaped (not sure why that metaphor occurred to us, but there you have it), there is no question that she will react to a crisis seriously and with deliberation.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, has given us no reason to believe that he would react soberly in a national security crisis. Indeed, his impulsiveness and capacity for chin-thrusting offense is so manifest that we worry he would actually catalyze a crisis that would not have occurred otherwise. Since he fails the basic requirement of a candidate for president, if forced to choose between Trump and Hillary we will have no choice but to go all in for the harridan.
All of this reminds us of a great passage from one of H.L. Mencken’s columns in the run-up to the sorry election of 1920, pertinent part below:
The precious boon of the suffrage, indeed.