I’ve talked about it a lot on Twitter, but I haven’t written here yet about why I’ll never vote for Donald Trump for President.
The first thing to turn me off about Trump is that, with the exception of his nativism, all of his policy positions until very recently have been those of a liberal crony capitalist Democrat. He has been anti-gun, pro-abortion, and favored higher taxes, higher spending, and a government-run healthcare system. Basically, Hillary Clinton, but less friendly to Mexicans. Since becoming a Republican, he claims to have seen the light on many of these ideas, but not all of them. And the conversion is too convenient to be believed.
That alone put him a the bottom of my list of preferred Republican candidates, even when there were still seventeen of them. But policy alone would not have caused me to vote against him in the general election if he would gain the GOP nomination. Whatever his true feelings, Trump at least pretends to be conservative, and might even follow through. It’s half a loaf, but better than none at all.
What changed my mind, though, is the sort of supporter Trump attracts, the way he encourages them, and the disgrace he would make of the Republican Party. Not every Trump supporter is a racist, anti-Semite, or nativist. But all of the racists, anti-Semites, and nativists active in politics seem to gravitate to Trump’s camp. And Trump never discourages that sort of support; at times, he seems to revel in it. It is unsettling, and not what Republicanism should stand for.
Last month, Megan McArdle of Bloomberg News asked long-time Republicans for their stories of why they’ll never vote Trump. My tale didn’t make the cut, but here, in part, is what I wrote to her:
Every time some lefty called me a racist, a fascist, or a hater of the poor, I’ve shrugged it off, because I know it’s not true of me, and I believe it’s not true of the candidates I supported. I believe that a small government devoted to color-blind, free-market principles is the best way to help people rise, and so I could honestly tell people that the GOP offered the best path for economic prosperity and racial harmony.If we nominate Donald Trump, we become everything they said we were. And so, if he is nominated, for the first time, I will vote for a third party candidate for president. It’s not in my nature to boycott the polls altogether, but neither will I close my eyes and pull the GOP lever. The party has meant a lot to me, but it is a means, not an end. If fulfilling conservative principles means destroying the party that once stood for them, so be it. It is better than the alternative of accepting Trump, and seeing the party poisoned to death from within.