After #NeverTrump

Readers know that I voted for neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton for president.

It does appear that everyone who did vote for Trump had their reasons to vote for him (even the sole reason that Trump is not Hillary) justified by the nationwide post-election hissy fit thrown by Hillary’s supporters. (Because nothing convinces like riots.) It also appears that being a Trump backer or non-backer didn’t negatively affect that Republican’s chance of winning Nov. 8, given how well the GOP did nationwide.

But what is a right-thinking #NeverTrump to do now that Trump will be president in two months? First, there’s Jennifer Rubin:

Let’s address a few issues, keeping in mind that people in different capacities — journalist, lawmaker, activist, candidate — have different obligations.

First, tell the truth. Bret Stephens, a #NeverTrump journalist, explains:

What a columnist owes his readers isn’t a bid for their constant agreement. It’s independent judgment. Opinion journalism is still journalism, not agitprop. The elision of that distinction and the rise of malevolent propaganda outfits such as Breitbart News is one of the most baleful trends of modern life. Serious columnists must resist it. …

Many things explain Mr. Trump’s unexpected victory, but not the least of them was the ability of his core supporters to shut out the inconvenient Trump facts: the precarious foundations of his wealth, the plasticity of his convictions, the astonishing frequency of his lying. Mr. Trump attracted millions of voters thirsty to believe. That thirst may hold its own truth, but it doesn’t lessen a columnist’s responsibility to note that it won’t be slaked by another hollow slogan of redemption.

This is the distinction between cheerleaders (e.g., Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity) and actual journalists. The former’s loyalty is to a person, the latter’s to intellectual integrity and accuracy. It will be more important than ever, as Stephens says, for the latter to remain stalwart, calling it as they see it. The instinct to “give him a chance” and “pick your fights” may apply to activists, lawmakers and interest groups as part of strategic calculations; there is no similar obligation for journalists to suspend judgment or be lenient on liars.

Second, hundreds if not thousands of Republicans and center-right independents will have to wrestle with the dilemma of joining an administration that espouses — at least now — dangerous ideas and exhibits abhorrent views.

David Luban argues:

There is a difference between bad compromises and rotten compromises. Bad compromises: yes, if they are the only way to do good or mitigate harm. Rotten compromises — never.

And what is a rotten compromise? It is a compromise where you participate in assaults on fundamental human dignity. That’s a vague and porous standard, but if you are a lawyer with a conscience you know it when you see it — provided you don’t loophole-lawyer your own conscience. Mass dragnets and deportations, torture and degrading treatment, targeting policies that accept excessive civilian casualties or ignore war crimes, deliberate failure to repress anti-Muslim hate crimes: all of these are assaults on human dignity, and compromising your principles on them is a rotten compromise. When it comes to rotten compromises of your principles, exit takes precedence over voice and loyalty. Exit doesn’t necessarily mean resigning, although it may. It certainly means refusing to participate.

We suggest this formulation: If you choose to serve, know the lines you will not cross and be prepared to leave if continued service demands you cross them. Write that letter of resignation now, put one copy in your desk and give one to the person (a spouse, a child, a colleague) you could not look in the eye and justify staying under such circumstances. We all need moral watchdogs to compel us to live up to our standards.

Third, ditch partisanship and become ruthlessly pragmatic. If a Republican senator needs to collaborate with a Democrat to stop an absurd policy initiative or truly dangerous nomination, he or she should do it. The former can oppose the latter the very next day on taxes or spending or something else. Avoid the urge to game it out. (Maybe the Democrats will look more reasonable. Maybe my supporters will turn on me if things work out better than I thought.) Some strange bedfellows — the ACLU and the Federalist Society, Democratic governors and Republican congressmen, ex-presidents and Cabinet officials of both parties — will be needed to prevent the worst from happening. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” should be written on the backs of #NeverTrumpers’ hands.

Finally, while some are dismissive of the role institutions can play in combating autocratic tendencies, that is precisely where resistance to destructive tendencies must be waged. An independent judiciary, a free press, a system of federalism and other attributes of our democratic society need all the help they can get. For too long, the question on issues such as judicial restraint and federalism (not to mention the filibuster) has amounted to “Whose ox is being gored?” Now, both sides need to defend every institution that erects barriers to abuse of power.

Consider what would happen if the administration refused to allow certain mainstream media outlets into the press pool. We should expect that: (1) Conservative outlets would protest, to the point of refusing to operate without the banned entities’ participation; (2) Conservative and liberal legal groups would explore First Amendment challenges; (3) Republican and Democratic lawmakers would hold hearings and denounce the move; and (3) former White House officials of both parties would loudly condemn the move. Devotion to democratic institutions must be cultivated and sustained.

These are strange times, and men and women of good conscience will need to be resourceful. The consequences of moral and intellectual sloth will be serious.

Journalists have the obligation to report the news without fear or favor. Journalists and columnists have the obligation to not be in the tank for a party or candidate. A lot of each group failed miserably this year and for that matter the past eight years. Of course, given journalists’ usual left-leaning, they will dump on Trump for sometimes valid reasons but sometimes for invalid reasons. (As has been written elsewhere, dissent is now patriotic again.) Journalists who utterly failed to see Trump’s appeal among voters need to get out of their social circles and, for instance, go to church.

Ross Brown added last week:

My online news feeds are fulled to their brims today with opinions ranging from “Hallelujah! America is saved!” to “This is the end of American civilization!” Your experience has probably been the same.

It all got me thinking about why we’re so wrapped up in the results of this election. Why are some people jumping for joy? Why are other bawling their eyes out? Why are some overcome with gratitude while others are overcome with terror? What is the root cause of people’s elation or sorrow today?

People’s dramatic emotional reactions to this election are caused by exactly one thing: big federal government.

As government expands in size and scope, elections matter more to us as individuals – because we (rightfully) perceive that the outcome of any given election will directly impact our individual lives to greater degrees.

Conversely, elections matter less when government is small because their ripple effects in our personal lives is likewise small.

Elections should matter less than they do today. Elections will matter less when We the People exercise political liberty to limit the size and scope of the one-size-fits-all Federal Government.

Republicans claim to be the party of small government. They will have the opportunity – and the political power – to put their legislation where their mouths are in 2017 and beyond. Will they do so with President Donald Trump leading the charge? I’m not sure. I’m not impressed with Republicans’ federal track records on this subject in the modern era, and Donald Trump doesn’t exactly seem to be the kind of guy who likes relinquishing power. Ultimately, only time will tell.

But here’s what I do know: if you’re terrified about Donald Trump being President, you should support the idea of small government so that you can limit President Trump’s impact on your individual life, and limit his impact on the lives of others you care about.

I also know that if you voted for Donald Trump yesterday, you presumably already support the idea of small government. I implore you to follow through with your support of that concept. Don’t get lazy just because there’s an “R” sitting in the White House. Republican big government is no better than Democrat big government.

Election season is over. Now is the time to unite as Americans. I suggest that no matter where you stand politically, you can support the idea of limiting the size and scope of the Federal Government. It’s the only way to simultaneously minimize AND maximize the potential impact of President Donald Trump.

It’d be a YUGE step in the right direction as we work to make America great again.

My concern is that Republicans have given up on smaller government and are perfectly fine with Govzilla as long as they hold the reins. (That certainly seems to be the case in Wisconsin, where state and local government remains far, far too large.) That is putting politics before philosophy, and is by the way wrong.

As with all politicians, I will support Trump to the extent that he does what I want him to do. (Whether he does that depends on his position on a specific issue, which as you know tends to change.) Since I do not worship politicians (and am disgusted with those weak people who do), I am not going to refer to Trump as “my president,” because no one in elective office is the boss of me.

 

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