Clinton does not challenge freedom of the press or threaten her political opponents with jail time. She is not a sociopath. She does not call for banning members of an entire religion from entering the country, or killing the families of terrorists, or any number of other blatantly unconstitutional measures. Sen.
Many conservative writers and intellectuals recognize this, which is why so many of them, along with former Republican administration officials, have endorsed Clinton, however grudgingly. Nonetheless, a significant number of conservatives and
As much as some of its denizens might wish to deny it, the conceit behind #NeverTrump (and the independent conservative campaign of Evan McMullin that arose from it) is effectively pro-Clinton, diverting elsewhere votes that would normally go to the GOP nominee. But at the end of the day, a posture of #NeverTrump that does not acknowledge the preferability of Clinton is a cop out, particularly for people who work in and write about politics. Come Nov. 8, either Clinton or Trump is going to be elected president, and it's the job of people who opine about politics to inform voters which of the two options is better.
That some cannot testifies to just how poisonous is the partisanship in our country, to the point where even those conservatives who acknowledge Trump's unfitness cannot bring themselves to admit that Clinton represents an even marginal improvement.
American conservatives still wavering about supporting Clinton can look to an unlikely historical parallel for moral guidance: the French Socialists in 2002. That year, Jean-Marie Le Pen, then-leader of the far right National Front, won a surprise second place in the
Just as French citizens from many different political tendencies backed Chirac as the democratic alternative to neo-fascism in 2002, so today must those Americans who support liberal democracy – conservatives included – hope for a Clinton victory. Granted, the analogy isn't perfect. In France, Socialist voters were forced to choose between a center-right candidate and an extreme right one, whereas here conservatives are being asked to vote for a mainstream Democrat over a nominal Republican. On the other hand, Trump has a far greater chance of winning the presidency than Le Pen ever did, making the role of right-of-center voters even more consequential to his defeat. Ultimately, the basic principle in both elections is the same: small "r" republicans must support the democratic option over an explicitly authoritarian one.
Some #NeverTrump Republicans, in an attempt to nourish their belief that the Republican and Democratic nominees are ethically equivalent, cite President Obama’s executive overreach as cause to believe that Clinton would be just as destructive to the rule of law as Trump. They’re right to be concerned about these tendencies, but would executive orders on immigration and overzealous implementation of Dodd-Frank financial regulations really compare to a politicized IRS that rivals that of the Nixon administration, or a
Considering what the world would look like with a President Trump, complaining about Clinton's faults (and they are many) is a bit like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Any conservative alert enough to have joined #NeverTrump must wake up and realize that it's his or her civic duty to protect the country from the ravages of a megalomaniac by voting for Hillary Clinton.
James Kirchick is a fellow with the Foreign Policy Initiative. His book "The End of Europe" is forthcoming from Yale University Press.