Vote for Donald Trump? You’ve got to be kidding.
It is difficult to argue with that sentiment. Still, “You’ve got to be kidding” is not a political program suitable for a self-governing people.
What are we to do?
We might ask, What would William F. Buckley Jr. recommend? As it happens, Buckley addressed precisely this question.
In November, 1956, when the choice facing the voters was Eisenhower or Stevenson, Buckley wrote:
“The argument by relative merit is wonderfully persuasive. In some cases, it is, I think, conclusive. If one master will enslave me ninety days a year, a second only eighty-nine, if I may choose between them and must choose one, I shall unhesitatingly, all else being equal, elect to serve under the latter, and I should find no difficulty whatever defending my choice. My reasoning becomes inadequate, and perilously so, only when, in my zeal to stress the relative merit of the less exacting master, I find myself speaking approvingly, even enthusiastically about him. When that happens, there is danger to mind and morals.
“The danger to the Republican Party of today lies bare breasted in its universal emblem, I like Ike. It should read, I prefer Ike.”
Initially, the danger in supporting Mr. Trump was that the necessary attendant activities might slide over from opposition to Hillary Clinton — born to lie, born to cheat — into enthusiastic approval of her opponent. That is no longer likely. Now we need only compare what the candidates, as president, would be likely to do.
The program and goals of the Democratic Party are to enlarge the already extended interference by the state into the lives and freedom of the people, extracting, always, more of the fruits of their labor.
More specifically, a Clinton administration will render the federal judiciary fanatically liberal-progressive for decades to come. Hillary’s judges will reinterpret the First Amendment to ensure freedom from religion, to restrict free speech and democracy, and to restrict the right not to associate with people we don’t like (and don’t want our children showering with).
And they will reinterpret the Second Amendment to disarm the citizens. Only last Friday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect an individual’s right to own a gun to protect himself in his own home.
And recently Wiki-leaked documents reveal the Clinton crowd’s hostility to Catholicism and Western Civilization. John Halpin, a Clinton colleague at the Center for American Progress, sent a note to top Clinton campaign officials John Podesta and Jennifer Palmieri saying that many leading conservatives are Catholic and “must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations.” Mr. Podesta and Ms. Palmieri responded with similar comments. Makes groping comments seem like high school stuff.
The purpose (assuming it still has one) of the Republican Party, founded to promote freedom, is not just to resist the continued collectivizing efforts of the Democrats, but actually — yes, actually — to roll back the state, to extend freedom.
Conservatives should note that supporting Donald Trump is less apparently dangerous to the mission of the Republican Party, and therefore to the Republic, than was supporting Bob Dole, John McCain, or Mitt Romney, who were enthusiastically welcomed by the establishment Republicans, but none of whom would have made any serious attempt to roll back the intrusions of the progressive state, accepted by President Eisenhower but nurtured, effectively and disappointingly, by President Nixon, as well as by legions of progressive Republican office holders in the subsequent decades.
In 1972, many conservatives decided to withhold their support from the numbingly big-government, bureaucracy-building, wage-and-price-controlling President Nixon — until the Democrats nominated George McGovern, who, conservatives decided, was just too dangerous to let become president. A reasonable Republican today, even one horrified by Donald Trump’s comments, could come to the same conclusion about Hillary Clinton: born to lie, cheat, and steal — and born to collectivize, and therefore born to enslave.
Donald Trump is no conservative, but neither is he more dangerous to the mission of the Republican Party than legions of progressive Republicans have been. And supporting Mr. Trump will at least tend to help other Republican candidates get elected.
And nota bene: if Mr. Trump wins and turns out to be a serious danger to the Republic, the Republicans can call for his impeachment finally, a constitutional project a liberal could love — a project made all the easier by Mr. Trump’s selection of Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate.
Mega-crony capitalist/socialist Barack Obama and his would-be successor Hillary Clinton are the two people on the planet most destructive of traditional American values. Read Holman Jenkins in The Wall Street Journal for a quick review of how awful for America President Obama has been. And then remember this: Hillary will be worse.
I prefer Trump.
• Daniel Oliver, chairman of the board of the Education and Research Institute and senior director of the White House Writers Group, previously served as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Ronald Reagan.