There was never any excuse for self-respecting American conservatives to support Donald Trump. But those who did so should seize what may be their last chance to rectify that mistake with honour and dignity
It is probably fair to say that US conservative media firebrand Glenn Beck has been on something of a journey since the days when entertained his paranoid Fox News audience with chalkboard conspiracies and tri-cornered hat-wearing Founding Father fetishisation.
And with his declaration that American conservatives should take the honourable course and refuse to support Donald Trump, thus allowing the election of Hillary Clinton, Beck should be commended for laying down invaluable covering fire for other conservatives looking for a way out of their ill-considered collaboration with Trumpism.
Beck recently wrote on Facebook:
Every person, each of us must decide what is a bridge too far.
[Senator] Mike Lee has obviously reached that point, where the moral compromise his party is asking him to make is simply beyond what is acceptable.
It is not acceptable to ask a moral, dignified man to cast his vote to help elect an immoral man who is absent decency or dignity.
If the consequence of standing against Trump and for principles is indeed the election of Hillary Clinton, so be it. At least it is a moral, ethical choice.
If she is elected, the world does not end…. Once elected, Hillary can be fought. Her tactics are blatant and juvenile, and battling her by means of political and procedural maneuvering or through the media , through public marches and online articles, all of that will be moral, worthy of [a] man of principal.
Her nominees can be blocked, her proposed laws voted down.
The alternative does not offer a moral person the same opportunity. If one helps to elect an immoral man to the highest office, then one is merely validating his immorality, lewdness, and depravity.
But it’s OK, at least it is not her! Right??
Lee’s call for Trump to step down and withdraw from the race is respectful to him and to the process.
Trump stepping down does not guarantee a Clinton win, but it does guarantee that the Republican party still stands for something, still allows its members to maintain thier [sic] own self respect and that it still has a future.
This blog concurs entirely with Beck’s sentiment – the only point of disagreement is that last weekend’s “Trump Tape” revelations should in any way be the deciding factor in whether or not conservatives of conscience should support the GOP nominee. They should not. The decision to disavow and abandon Trump should have been taken months ago, ideally when the birtherism-stoking, policy-phobic former Clinton donor threw his hat into the ring to be the Republican Party’s presidential candidate in the first place.
Are we really supposed to respect those Republican politicians who previously draped their arms around Donald Trump because they reluctantly withdrew their endorsements only when audio evidence of Trump’s character was leaked to the media, as though there were no prior warning signs as to his character? Are we to respect Reince Preibus’ party machine when it continues to nominally support a candidate who is constitutionally illiterate and profoundly un-conservative in every way? No, we are not. We shall not.
None of this is to say that many of the Trump supporters’ grievances are not valid – in many cases they are. But the leap between acknowledging Donald Trump’s criticism of the status quo and accepting his half-baked solutions while overlooking his glaring personality flaws is a leap too far.
Yes, a Hillary Clinton presidency would likely be a depressing continuation of that dismal status quo. But as PJ O’Rourke recently noted on the BBC:
“She’s wrong within the normal parameters of wrong. It’s the kind of wrong we’ve had before, it’s a wrong we can endure, and a wrong [from which] we can recover… With him, who knows?”
And from the principled opposition to a Hillary Clinton presidency that Glenn Beck proposes, a better Republican alternative may yet emerge – hopefully one which is rooted in small government conservatism rather than authoritarianism.
So Glenn Beck is correct in his statement. Country should come before party, as should the dignity of the office of the presidency. And while Hillary Clinton labours under numerous ethical concerns of her own, at least she has not been recorded making lewd and vulgar remarks which some are interpreting as an admission of prior sexual assaults. It’s sad that the bar of acceptability in this presidential election has been set so low, but there we go. As The Onion recently reminded us, these are the two major party presidential candidates that the American people chose.
Is it unfair that John F. Kennedy lived a sexually debauched lifestyle with no negative political ramifications while Donald Trump is publicly hauled over the coals for often lesser transgressions? Perhaps not – and one can partially understand Trump supporters smarting at the double standard of Kennedy and even Bill Clinton being broadly respected while their man is painted as being unprecedentedly hostile to women. But this is 2016, and we hold ourselves to a higher standard now – or at least we should.
Some clearly disagree, believing that a coarse and vulgar candidate who talks about grabbing women “by the pussy” still deserves qualified support from his party. That argument would be stronger if we were reasonably sure that we were dealing only with words and not actions, if the candidate demonstrated real remorse and if they were otherwise ideologically sound. But when that candidate holds views which are often antithetical to the Republican Party’s stated values and ambitions, the justification for continuing to defend Donald Trump starts to become very threadbare indeed.
No self-respecting conservative should have ever thrown their support behind Donald Trump in the first place. But for those who did, Glenn Beck’s statement provides an undeserved opportunity to retreat while maintaining their dignity.
They should seize it with both hands.
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