Last night when I heard that Ted Cruz had suspended his presidential bid, I thought my heart would stop. I stood at the kitchen sink, motions suspended, heart feeling like it would slow to nothing.
I had not expected him to drop out. I didn’t even like Cruz, but I counted on him to be there until the end. I clung to the hope that he and Kasich could drive us to a contested convention, where surely the majority of Republicans who dislike Trump would finally triumph.
I thought somehow we would be saved. (INDIANA, YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO SAVE US!)
I’m numb as I consider the future of this race, and indeed this country. I’m disturbed to think of the millions who voted for Trump. I’m generally pretty respectful of those with whom I disagree, but this time I can’t muster it. I cannot respect those who would vote for a bullying, lying, irrational, ill-tempered, inconsistent, incoherent, outrageous showman. Or (for those who think Trump isn’t really as bad as he makes himself out to be) for one who plays that act in order to get votes. Donald Trump has pandered to our basest instincts, to our worst fears, to the darkest, most selfish parts of ourselves – and it has worked. For shame.
So no, I most definitely will not be voting for Trump in November.
“But, but… Hillary!” you might cry. “You don’t want Hillary to win, do you?”
No, of course I don’t. I do not like Hillary Clinton. I think she lacks integrity and I think she thinks that she can play by a different set of rules from the rest of us. I disagree with many of her policy positions (most especially when it comes to abortion) and I think she views people who are ideologically different from her – people like me – with disdain.
But I base my support (or opposition, as the case is here) of candidates on a number of measures, and not being Hillary Clinton is not one of them.
I want to agree with my candidate on the issues.
This is probably the most obvious thing to consider when choosing a candidate, but it can also be the hardest to achieve. Have I ever encountered a politician with whom I agree on everything? Doubtful. I subscribe to what you might call the Catholic platform: I’m staunchly pro-life, by which I mean I’m against abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty. But (and I really shouldn’t feel like I have to say “but” here) I’m also for programs and policies that help struggling people get ahead in life. Housing, health care, workforce issues – you name it – I think government has a role (a role, not the only role) to play in improving people’s lives. I also believe in recognizing the dignity and potential of all people via fair asylum and immigration policies (i.e. NOT A WALL) and just religious freedom protections.
I doubt that Donald Trump and I agree on any of those issues. (Though honestly it can be a little hard to tell, what with how scattered and nonsensical he is when describing where he stands.) When it comes to Hillary Clinton, ironically, I may actually agree with her on a few issues. Imagine that.
I want my candidate to have integrity.
If there’s one glaring thing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have in common, it’s probably their spectacular lack of integrity. Clinton’s got Benghazi and the phone hacking scandal (and years of more) under her belt; Trump’s got so much I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t trust either of them to act honorably in office. So unfortunately, the integrity measure is pretty much moot in this match-up.
I want my candidate to be capable.
Here’s somewhere I see a difference between the two candidates. Like her or loathe her, I think Clinton would be capable at governing. I realize that to some of her foes, Clinton’s potential for governing capably is just another reason to fear her, but I guess I think a functioning presidency would be better for the country than a sloppy, reckless, fumbling one. Sue me.
I want my candidate to be able to work with people with whom they disagree.
I know that in this election cycle, lots and lots of people want candidates who promise to go into office ready to “blow up Washington.” Well, count me boring or deluded or out-of-touch or something, but I expect elected officials to actually be able to work with other people to get things accomplished. We got into this mess by demonizing those with whom we disagree. Doing more of the same won’t get us out of it.
This is another measure on which both candidates are spectacularly bad. Trump belittles those who oppose him, he calls people names, he makes people who disagree with him out to be idiots, he even incites violence against them. And Clinton, well, her talk of wanting to be a president for all Americans is pretty much laughable. Hillary Clinton is one of the most divisive figures in modern political history. She’s not going to stop being divisive because she’s got Trump for an opponent. I’m sure she’ll be the same sort of “inclusive” president as Obama – she’ll be happy to work with you as long as you think she’s right.
In sum, I cannot think of one compelling reason to vote for Donald Trump in November. I don’t agree with him and I have no confidence that the Republican label will magically make him fall in line. (He has campaigned exactly as he pleases, he’ll govern exactly as he pleases. I think pro-lifers, in particular, are deluding themselves to think he’ll be better than Clinton.) He lacks integrity. He is in all likelihood incapable of or unwilling to govern responsibly. He seems constitutionally unable to work with those with whom he disagrees. There’s nothing left. He ticks none of my boxes.
Moreover, Donald Trump is absurdly, outrageously awful. He makes a mockery of our electoral system and the values for which our country stands – the values for which I stand.
It’s not enough to not be Hillary.
So what am I going to do? Who will I vote for? I’ll either choose a third-party candidate or I’ll write one in. I happen to live in a state that will go for Hillary regardless, so I know that my vote against Trump but not for Hillary won’t somehow help him. But if I did live in a state where the competition was very tight, if I did think that choosing a third-party candidate would be helpful to Trump… I would vote for Clinton. I hate to say that. But I would do it. Our country is too important to dump into the lap of Trump.