We are not ready to endorse a presidential candidate — the year is yet young! — but we have no regard for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, and expect to spend the better part of the next five months hammering on both of them. Since we vote in Texas, our influence on the Electoral College is non-existent, so we will in all likelihood take the opportunity to cop out and #FeelTheJohnson at the end of it all.
This will not be easy for us, because we cannot abide Hillary Clinton, of whom we expect to write much more in the coming months (we commend you to Christopher Hitchens’ 1999 classic “No One Left To Lie To” if you would prefer your indictment of the Clintons from the left). But voting for Donald Trump is more than we can bear, and not for all the usual sanctimonious virtue-signalling reasons. Trump is a bad guy, but Hillary is a bad gal, and weighing the moral deficiencies in their respective characters requires precision instruments not yet invented. For us it comes down to this: All evidence and our own instincts suggest that Trump is impulsive to an almost incalculable extent, and we cannot have an impulsive person at the top during a national security crisis. Or catalyzing one with a midnight tweet.
Hillary Clinton’s recent and otherwise silly speech on foreign policy actually framed the issue well:
Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different — they are dangerously incoherent. They’re not even really ideas — just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.
He is not just unprepared — he is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility.
This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes — because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.
We can agree with that notwithstanding our view that Hillary Clinton will probably extend the endless war of the Bush/Obama years, further weaken the geopolitical advantage of the United States, and remorselessly lie about anything that either does not go well or that does not perfectly reflect the transnational progressive party line. We do believe, however, that Clinton will be deliberative and calculating in a crisis, and is highly unlikely to bring us into armed conflict with a great power. We have no such confidence in Donald Trump, and since impulsiveness is a trait that we believe is disqualifying in a president of the United States, we cannot hope that Trump wins.
This is also true for the vast majority of Republican leaders who actually understand the demands of the presidency, or at least have an inkling. But they are in a difficult spot, because they are partisans in the literal meaning of the word. If they do not support the party’s nominee, however dangerous that nominee may be, their careers are over. And since politicians are not fit to do much else — well, other than lobbying other politicians on behalf of rent-seeking clients — most of the GOP brass are cracking under the pressure and issuing tepid endorsements of Trump. This article neatly captures the “hostage video” endorsements from the Republican elite and is worth reading in its entirety, but here are a few choice nuggets:
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry
July 22, 2015: “Let no one be mistaken – Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.”
May 5, 2016: “He’s not a perfect man, but what I do believe is that he loves this country and that he will surround himself with capable, experienced people and that he will listen to them.” …
Florida Senator Marco Rubio
March 4, 2016: “Donald Trump has been perhaps the most vulgar — no I don’t think perhaps — the most vulgar person to ever aspire to the presidency in terms of how he’s carried out his candidacy.”
May 10, 2016: “”I signed a pledge, put my name on it, and said I would support the Republican nominee and that’s what I intend to do.”
Paul Ryan’s precisely tuned announcement that he would “vote for” Trump was the most painful to watch. He might have preferred a long night in the prison showers.
This much is clear. We are watching the destruction of the Republican Party. Whether it survives in name remains to be seen — the legal entrenchment of the party duopoly will be very tough to dislodge — but a realignment is unfolding that will completely remake not only the GOP, but ineluctably also the Democrats. Because one cannot change the yin without also changing the yang.