How I’ll Vote


I hope no one cares enough about how I vote to be influenced by it, but I want to explain why after a lifetime of voting for Republicans for President, I have abandoned the party of Lincoln, Coolidge, and Reagan, at least in terms of my vote for President.

I’ve given my thoughts on Trump before, about how he’s a caricature of conservatism, not the genuine article, and how he appeals to the baser parts of people’s nature. Back in March, before he was the nominee, I said:

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.

That’s still true. Mrs. Clinton is also unacceptable, though in a more conventionally awful way. I reviewed the campaign book that she and Tim Kaine “wrote,” if you need a longer version of my thought on their plan for a more progressive America. It’s all bad, both the means and the end, and that doesn’t even get into her corruption, let alone her abortion advocacy, which is a dealbreaker for me. As much as I admire her pro-war foreign policy, I can’t vote for Clinton in good conscience.

Of the minor-party candidates, the Green and Constitution Parties are both too extreme on their respective corners of the political spectrum. My only real choices are Gary Johnson, who is on the ballot in Pennsylvania, and Evan McMullin, who is not. Based on experience, Johnson is the easy winner, even over Clinton, with his two terms as governor of New Mexico. His running mate, Bill Weld, is if anything more qualified. In a normal year, I’d never give McMullin a second look on this basis. On policy positions, though, McMullin is more of a small-government conservative than Johnson, who at times seems caught up in the intra-party Republican fights of the ’90s than the policy disputes of today. I’m confident Johnson is up to the job, even if I have policy disagreements with his brand of libertarianism. McMullin might be more capable than the average guy who’s never held office or high military rank, but he’s still a novice, even if his ideas sound good in my ear.

Long story short: it comes down to mundane practicalities. I know my vote is a protest vote, but I want it to be for someone I could be happy with as President, even though that will never happen. Moreover, I want it to be counted along with other like-minded votes in a tally that says to the Republican Party, “these could’ve been your voters if you had nominated anyone within hailing distance of normalcy.” If McMullin were on Pennsylvania’s ballot, he would have my vote. Since he isn’t, and since I want my vote to be counted as more than one of the generic “others/write-in” at the bottom of the page, I will cast my ballot for Gary Johnson and William Weld.

I’ll vote Republican for the other offices and if Trump loses, I’ll remain with the party and help rebuild from this disaster. If he wins, well, that’s a blog post for another day.

Unite or Perish


Anti-Trump Republicans’ efforts to halt the party’s slide into Trumpism failed today in Cleveland as the Republican National Convention nominated Donald J. Trump for President. The defeat, the latest of many for the NeverTrump coalition, will not change the disposition of many in that group–never means never–but it does call into question what the next steps should be. NeverTrumpers must examine the situation and their own consciences and decide the course from here. Do they search among third parties and write-in candidates for the perfect person on whom to waste their protest vote, or will they unite and create a chance–even a small one–of winning enough electoral votes to throw the election into the House of Representatives. In short: do they want to make a point, or do they want to have a chance at actually winning?

There have been efforts, mostly futile, to get a conservative independent on the ballot, but in several states the deadlines for getting on the ballot have already passed. And the options are few. Mitt Romney is out. Tom Coburn is out. Even David French is out. There are rumors of a secret candidate, but as time passes they become harder to credit. If we want to have the chance of winning even one state’s electoral votes, disenfranchised conservatives must unite our efforts on some candidate who is actually on ballots nationwide.

I would say the choices are unappealing, but they’re actually better than what the major parties are putting up this year. So let’s look at the three “major” minor parties. The Libertarians are the biggest of them, and this year have nominated two credible ex-Republican former governors in Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. You may know some Libertarians who talk about privatizing roads and what not, but these guys ain’t them: they’re serious politicians with solid principles and a history of actually getting things done in state government. That’s more than can be said of Trump or Clinton.

The Green Party hasn’t nominated anyone yet, but look like to put up Jill Stein, who ran last time around. The idea of conservatives finding a home in the Green Party, a collection of people too socialistic to be Democrats, is unlikely. Nothing Stein has said convinces me otherwise.

The wild card here is the Constitution Party. Everything I knew about them can be summed up in this line from the party’s Wikipedia entry: “The party believes that the United States is a Christian state founded on the basis of the Bible…” Yeah, that’s a strange quirk in a party named after the Constitution. That said, their current nominee, Darrell Castle, doesn’t sound half-bad. In this interview, Castle says he’s more libertarian than the Libertarian nominees, calling, for example, for an end to the drug war. He’s also solidly pro-life, the only such candidate in the race (although, as I noted here, Johnson’s legal position on abortion is effectively more pro-life than Clinton’s or Trump’s.) Then again, he also wants to “[w]ithdraw from the United Nations, NATO, TPP, Nafta, Cafta, Gatt, WTO, etc.,” making him more isolationist than the Libertarians, too.

For now, I think that the Libertarians offer the best home for conservatives. But, having become unmoored from one party already this year, I’m not ready to shack up with another just yet.