The Democrats are trying to make it socially unacceptable to vote to reelect Trump. It seems to be working so far, at least up to a point.
The Republican governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, says he wrote in Ronald Reagan. The Republican governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, says he “cannot support Donald Trump for president.” The Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, currently an American senator from Utah, says he voted in the 2020 presidential election, and not for Mr. Trump. A Republican who was governor of Michigan from 2011 to 2018, Rick Snyder, is publicly backing Vice President Biden.
It may yet backfire, though. Worthy of particular attention are those who are resisting the pressure to conform and who are instead emerging publicly in the pro-Trump camp.
The president of the Middle East Forum, Daniel Pipes, who served in five presidential administrations, voted in 2016 for Libertarian Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico. This time around, Pipes is with Trump: “He has governed as a resolute conservative. His policies in the areas of education, taxes, deregulation, and the environment have been bolder than Ronald Reagan’s.
“His judicial appointments are the best of the past century (thank you, Leonard Leo). His unprecedented assault on the administrative state proceeds apace, ignoring predictable howls from the Washington establishment. Even his foreign policy has been conservative: demanding that allies contribute their fair share, confronting China and Iran, and singularly supporting Israel.”
The author and historian Fred Siegel, who didn’t vote in 2016, tellsthe Wall Street Journal’s Tunku Varadarajan that he will vote for Mr. Trump this time. Mr. Siegel cites Mr. Trump’s foreign policy: “Crushing ISIS, pulling us out of the Iran nuclear deal, moving our embassy to Jerusalem, and making fools of those people who insist that the Palestinian issue is at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” And he also explains it as a way of defending middle class values against elite “woke-ism.”
It’s the “woke-ism” that makes the decision to come out publicly for Mr. Trump risky. Mr. Trump talked about this in his speech accepting the Republican nomination: “The goal of cancel culture is to make Americans live in fear of being fired, expelled, shamed, humiliated, and driven from society as we know it. The far-left wants to coerce you into saying what you know to be false and scare you out of saying what you know to be true. Very sad. But on November 3, you can send them a very thundering message they will never forget.”
For Trump supporters in cities like New York and states like Maryland and Massachusetts, the potential price of expressing even mild public approval of the president’s policies goes beyond ostracism. John Kass, writing in the Chicago Tribune, reports that Bill Clinton’s labor secretary, Robert Reich, has called for a post-Trump “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to “name every official, politician, executive, and media mogul whose greed and cowardice enabled this catastrophe.”
Vice President Biden has been denouncing Park Avenue, perhaps because at least one Trump donor happens to live there amid many more Biden donors. Having one’s home address disclosed and derided, though, is just the start.
Federal prosecutors have brought criminal charges against Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn; his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; his campaign adviser, Roger Stone; his former White House aide, Stephen Bannon; and even a Trump nominee to the board of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ken Kurson.
The extraordinary powers politicians have assumed in the pandemic make it possible to ruin someone even without criminal charges. Federal, state, or local officials can arbitrarily close businesses, schools, or places of worship for “public health” reasons, without compensation to owners. Trump supporters who escape criminal charges or Reich-style lustration risk being deemed “non-essential” by a Biden-era coronavirus response team.
Already the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is laying plans to put “people from racial and ethnic minority groups” and “people attending colleges/universities” at the front of the line for vaccine distribution. Wait for the inevitable suggestion that Trump voters get a vaccine last, as punishment for Mr. Trump’s supposed mismanagement of the pandemic.
Some Trump critics are suggesting that the secret ballot be suspended, “at least temporarily.” They say it is to force Trump voters “to own up to their choice in public.” It would also, conveniently, make post-election retribution easier. The Black Lives Matter protesters would be looking for new targets after the Biden-Harris administration achieves instant racial comity and perfection in policing.
Lincoln’s second inaugural promised “With malice toward none; with charity for all.” Would Biden include such language in a victory speech, if it comes to that?
In the meantime, Trump voters less brave than Fred Siegel or Daniel Pipes can know this: for now, we do have a secret ballot in this country. The polling place may be the one corner left in America where people can express their genuine views without fear of being canceled. No wonder the lines to vote are so long.