On the Duty to Abstain From a “Lose/Lose” Election

To those who anguish over remaining true to their principles versus tacitly supporting a socialist demagogue, I suggest that the dichotomy is false.

I have not been faithful to this or any other political website or news source over the past six weeks.  A feeling has descended heavily upon me that further discussion is futile—that the time has come to inventory one’s resources and prepare a foxhole somewhere.  I’m grateful to the few dozen readers who consistently bothered to read my stuff on IC, however. At the same time, I’ve been riding out successive, relatively low—but choppy—waves of irritation at self-appointed keepers of the public moral conscience who lecture us on our obligation to support Donald Trump; and the irritation at the noisy cheap seats, at last, has fused with the gratitude to my thoughtful, generous audience.  To men and women of good will, I dedicate these few remarks that may ease, I hope, whatever guilt trip cynical propagandists are visiting upon them.

Many of my points have already been made, and well made, over the past month by editorialists like Mona Charon and Derek Hunter.  First is the moral obstacle to voting for an ostentatiously boastful adulterer (and I mean boastful about his adulteries) who has amassed wealth by greasing palms, catering to the public’s vices, and wielding eminent domain like a bludgeon—and who responds in indignant negatives if asked if he has ever sought God’s forgiveness for anything.  I don’t expect most people, or even many people (not any more), to understand why these issues of character are exclusionary to me.  In fact, I would expect that a lot of people would snigger at my repugnance if they were equipped to work through my long sentence two periods ago.  I don’t care.  It’s not their vote: it’s mine, and this is why I can’t give it.

A footnote on being a “snooty moralistic prig”: I wrote a long essay last week for another venue discussing the paradox of Christ’s following the “judge not lest ye be judged” passage in Luke immediately with the “ye shall know the tree by its fruit” passage.  Aren’t we supposed to abstain from judgment?  Yes… but we’re also supposed to call a weed a weed. We should hold our fire when we start imputing uncharitable motives to another and when we haven’t stared long at ourselves in the mirror.  But evicting old pensioners from their humble homes to make another fifty mil should hit any healthy person’s nose with the stench of rotten fruit.  There’s no complex dilemma here. I’ve never hounded poor people out of their legal domiciles, and you haven’t, either. We have to see what’s in front of us. Otherwise, our self-examination and “sensitivity” will end up giving a free pass to sack-and-burn Visigoths. There are judgments we reach on the basis of our own weak, self-serving reason… and then there are judgments already made for us by the moral intelligence with which all sane adults are endowed by their Creator.

Okay, so this is all old, old, old water that flowed out to the deep blue sea a long time ago, as far as the Republican nomination is concerned; seems like years now, in our crisis-a-minute news cycle.  “So what do you think about them shooting that gorilla?”  Too bad.  He would have made a good third-party candidate.

And besides, nobody really seems to begrudge us crabby Puritans our disgust in principle… but we’re going to end up delivering our children and grandchildren to the slaughterhouse of a communist “utopia”!  Isn’t it awfully arrogant of us to ruin those young lives just so that we can pose on the snowy peak of Mount Conscience for a quick snapshot?

The pragmatic, Machiavellian argument… and my rebuttal is also pragmatic.  Hillary is loathed, even among Democrats.  Her initiatives will be relatively easy to oppose (compared to Trump’s), even if her party wins one or both houses.  And four years will bring a new opportunity to depose her from the kingship, whereas Trump would likely lose in four years to… say, Elizabeth Warren.  Hillary’s health is also highly suspect: she may well step down from office before she can be impeached; or if she hangs around, it will be because she cuts any deal necessary to retain power (precisely in the fashion of Trump).  This is yet another palliating aspect to her: she is less ideologue than megalomaniac.  After four years, her “legacy” will not much resemble Obama’s steady program of systematic helter-skelter on the way to dismantling Western culture; rather, it will look like John Boehner’s record of veer-left-veer-right concessions that weaves like a drunkard on his way to the bar.

As for Supreme Court nominees (his celebrated list of whom Trump has already freely admitted was handed to him by right-wingers he needed to placate for the moment), my pragmatism grows long-term here.  Our judicial system is simply—and badly—broken.  Sticking a “good guy” on the court will only postpone the day of reckoning.  An overhaul of some sort needs to be done—and with no legal training whatever, I have no idea how to tinker under the hood.  (Perhaps require that rulings specify how laws must be reworded in Congress if they are to sustain the losing side’s argument—and then further require that the Court confirm any law that Congress chooses to rewrite as directed.). I can see Trump packing the Court with stooges who make Kagan and Sotomayor look like Solon and Lycurgus.  I can see the problem actually getting worse instead of better, inasmuch as Republicans will be stuck with having to defend selections that they and their Fürher appointed.  Better to load the highest bench will patently incompetent, rubber-stamping political hacks until Congress and the states rise up in rebellion.

Congress… there lies the hub of the issue.  If Congress refuses to fulfill its Constitutional duties, as it has done now for most of the twenty-first century, then the identity of the president really makes no difference at all.  I wish all the, “You’re just helping to elect Hillary!” line-straddlers would stop and listen to themselves.  They’ve already accepted the notion of a dictatorship: the only question now is whether we get a dictator who might not be that bad or one who will be really, really bad.  How about we elect no dictator at all?  How about I refuse to vote for president because I refuse to confer great importance upon the office?  How about, instead, I insist that Congress exercise the powers allotted to it by the Constitution—and that I patiently wait for the blades of government’s mighty fan to shoot so much fertilizing manure over our society that its citizens finally demand a return to legality?

That’s my ultimate argument: I refuse to vote for a dictator.  I don’t even care what names are on the ballot—I will not support a candidate for the office of dictator.

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