It has become necessary to destroy the party in order to save it.
As regular readers know, I’ve voted Republican in every presidential race in which I’ve been eligible to cast a ballot, going back to 1984. I made it known very early in this cycle that, should Donald Trump become the party’s nominee, I would break from that tradition. At the same time, because of my longstanding antipathy towards the Clintons, I’ve viewed voting for Hillary Clinton so anathema that it could only be justified under the most exigent circumstances. After considerable reflection, I believe we are there.
My position these last several months has been that, while I marginally preferred a Clinton presidency to a Trump presidency, voting for her was tantamount to approval for a lifetime pushing the envelope of political corruption. Therefore, unless Virginia’s electoral votes were in serious doubt, I would either cast a protest vote for Gary Johnson or sit the election out. Those options no longer best signal my preferences.
While the race is shockingly tight given Trump’s unmitigated awfulness, Clinton remains the prohibitive favorite. Although she’s down to very narrow 1.8 point lead in the RealClearPolitics average (2.3 points in the four-way), that includes a few dubious polls that are skewed in his direction. More importantly, given how we actually elect presidents, they have her as a lock to win 216 electoral votes, compared to only 164 solidly in his column. That goes up to 264 to 173 when we throw in the “lean” states, most of which have very strong tendencies. Her paths to 270, in other words, are many and his all but impossible. Nate Silver’s 538 has her down to a 64.7 percent chance of winning to his 35.3. In Virginia, they have her at 80.8 percent.
The chances, then, that my vote will affect the outcome of the race are virtually non-existent.
Regardless, two developments have changed my mind.
First, Johnson has proven himself unfit for the presidency. I didn’t know much about him at the outset of the race but had the impression that he was a reasonably centrist, competent executive. He’d been a successful Republican governor of a moderately blue state, New Mexico. His selection of Bill Weld, another moderate Republican governor of another blue state, Massachusetts, was a strong signal of seriousness, as was standing up for the need to actually govern, to the boos of the Libertarian Party delegates.
Alas, he’s demonstrated time and again throughout the campaign that he’s not a serious candidate for the highest office in the land. While I can easily dismiss the “What’s Aleppo?” gaffe that has defined him—remote appearances can be disorienting, one doesn’t expect Mike Barnacle to ask about foreign policy, and referring to a specific city as the opening to a conversation about Syria’s civil war is rather odd—he has had numerous similar incidents. I don’t necessarily expect a state governor to come into the race fully conversant on national, much less international, policy. But he simply hasn’t bothered to study up on the multitude of policy issues that a president needs to have command of. His foreign policy vision is perhaps even more cartoonish that Trump’s (although it’s at least an ideologically consistent one). More importantly, he doesn’t even understand the broad outlines of fundamental issues like Social Security and health policy, talking about them with the level of insight one would expect of a sophomore at a late-night College Libertarians bong party.
Jill Stein combines many of the worst flaws of Trump and Johnson. She’s nuttier than a fruitcake and a complete policy ignoramus.
Evan McMullin is on the ballot in Virginia and seems like an intelligent man and decent enough sort. But he’s a 40-year-old low-level bureaucrat who first emerged on the national stage three months ago. There’s simply no reason to think he’s prepared for the job.
That leaves Clinton as not only the lesser of evils but my preferred candidate among the options available on my ballot. Do I feel good about voting for her? No. But there are no feel-good alternatives.
After skipping the conventions, I watched the debates hoping Clinton could persuade me that the things I distrust about her are somehow in the past and give me a reason to vote for her other than the fact that she’s not Trump. She did not. My instinct, until the last couple of days, had been simply to sit this one out.
What has become clear, however, is how badly the national political scene needs a reboot. And the only obvious path to do that is to not only keep Trump out of office but repudiate Trump’s brand of politics. So long as the national leadership of the Republican Party remains in fear of not only Trump but the people who put him in that position, there is no hope for a return to sane governance.
The #NeverTrump movement, while it may well be enough to keep Trump out of the White House, is nonetheless a fringe. It consists mainly of opinion writers, Republican politicians who have retired from politics, and the national security establishment. And the very existence of the movement will be seen as evidence that the reason Trump failed to get elected was the RINOs, not a political movement that’s out of step with modern America.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has demonstrated what passes for political courage these days in making clear that he disdains Trump and what he stands for. Yet, in order to do his job, he’s tried to hedge with a non-endorsement-endorsement. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, by contrast, has gone full-on Trump with pledges to make the already unconscionable refusal to vote for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee a permanent policy so long as Democrats control the presidency. Even John McCain, who’s generally speaking been a moderate on everything but foreign policy, was on board that bandwagon before jumping off. Meanwhile, Republican politicians across the land who had finally found the courage to denounce Trump after the release of that vile conversation with Billy Bush, have mostly walked back their denunciation. Hell, Ted Cruz—whose father Trump has accused, on multiple occasions, of being part of the assassination of John Kennedy!—has felt compelled to endorse him.
Even worse, the party is falling in line with Trump in repudiating the basic rules of the game. I’m not absolutely sure they will respect the outcome of the election. Even if they do, they’ve made it clear that they plan to investigate Clinton throughout her presidency. There’s even talk of impeaching her, despite it being impossible for her to have yet committed any crimes as president.
The party is without adult leadership at the moment, leaving the inmates running the asylum. If that’s to be reversed any time soon, the party must suffer an electoral defeat so decisive that there are no mixed messages.
Because of the vagaries of Virginia’s horrendous electoral system—in which state and local races take place in odd-numbered years—my ability to signal this cycle is limited. The only offices on my ballot are the presidency and the US House, District 8. First-term incumbent Don Beyer, a Democrat, is heavily favored to win the latter over two essentially unknown and unfunded candidates. I’ll vote for both Clinton and Beyer but they’ll both take my precinct handily.
I would urge other disaffected Republicans who can’t countenance Trump to vote their conscience but to also be strategic. If you live in a swing state, voting Clinton is necessary this cycle; we simply can’t risk a Trump presidency. In Red or Blue states, where the outcome is not in doubt, I can see the value in a vote for McMullin to signal that you’d prefer what until recently would have been a “mainstream” Republican; again, however, he’s not truly qualified for the job. Down ballot, at least in terms of U.S. House and Senate races, I would urge a vote against any but the staunchest and most consistent anti-Trump Republican. I haven’t paid sufficient attention to any of the state-level contests to have a strong opinion as to how you should vote there. Still, repudiation of Trump types even at that level is essential; they’re the breeding ground for tomorrow’s House and Senate candidates.
It may be too late to save the Republican Party, although systemic advantages make its survival in some form likely. It’s not even clear at this juncture what a reformed GOP should look like on the other side of this crisis. It’s possible that a John Kasich type emerges out of the ashes but it would require building a new coalition.
Regardless, we have to get off this treadmill of the criminalization and delegitimation of American politics. We can’t have four more years of Congressional Republicans thinking that, despite having lost the popular vote in all but one election since Bush the Elder’s 1988 landslide, they’re the voice of a Real America that they must save at all costs against illegitimate, un-American Democrats.
I came to a similar conclusion about the Republican party around the time of the Watergate hearings. The R’s had been ‘our’ party when I was growing up and it was difficult. Thanks for sharing your thought process and making your transition to political adulthood in public.
Welcome to Camp Clinton. Back in the 90s, both of us would have sworn we would never, ever wind up here, but times change and the unthinkable becomes the necessary.
I disagree with you.
I think that Her Majesty is simply a criminal. Her sins of omission/comission led directly to men dying under fire in Benghazi. As far as I’m concerned, she’s guilty until proven innocent by sworn testimony of everyone in the chain of command. Not that anything like the rule of law will ever pertain to Her, irrespective of Tuesday’s result.
But I’m also completely short of condemnation for anyone. Do what you gotta do.
An excellent post James.
It is a concern that Gary Johnson is competing with The Donald as the least competent politician to run for POTUS in living memory: the park bench interview, post Aleppo, was cringeworthy.
Am glad to see that you have finally decided to try and ensure that Orange is not the new Black.
The free world needs a competent politician in the White House. President Obama has been the only adult in the room for far too long and history will likely be very kind to him.
“Her majesty”? Very cute.
I think it’s very interesting that Republicans care more about the 4 Americans who died in Benghazi in 2011, they they do and did about the 240 Marines who died in the bombing of the barracks in Beirut, and who were in harms way during the Reagan Administration.
I figured you’d get here eventually, despite your strong distaste for Mrs. Clinton. You’re a patriot in the best sense of the word and I knew you couldn’t bear the risk of a Trump presidency.
Welcome to the side that wants to preserve American democracy.
How much lower could you go from Palin? But the GOP was, like, “Challenge accepted!”
Things must change. The US needs two political parties that are interested in governing. Thank you for your intellectual honesty, Dr. Joyner.
Something one has to understand about Trump’s ardent supporters is that they’re not Republicans/conservatives. They’re populist/nationalist/isolationists. They’re fully in favor of bigger government, increased social welfare programs, higher taxes–but as ONLY long as Trump is the person overseeing these things. Obamacare is very bad; Trumpcare will be very good (never mind that no one knows what the hell it is).
These are people who believe that all of our problems will be solved as soon as we begin admitting only northern European immigrants into this country and begin prohibiting entrance to it or expelling from it Muslims and Mexicans. If they could think of a way to repatriate African-Americans, they would. And they wouldn’t be distraught if the Jews left, either, since as any Trumpkin will tell you, the Jews are behind every bad thing that’s ever happened in this country.
It isn’t Make America Great Again. It’s Make America White and Christian Again.
@CSK: If Trump wins, the alt-right will have a major say in running this country. That’s not speculation or fear mongering,Steve Bannon is his campaign CEO, and runs Breitbart, which is basically the alt-right’s home website.
I think Clinton was shocked when her speech about the alt-right got no traction. Her mistake was to assume that we had a functioning media in this country that would bother to do some basic investigative journalism. One would think that the co-opting of one of our two major political parties by a white supremacist movement would be worthy of a front page story or two, but that’s just not the way the media functions anymore.
Just as it has always been with these people – regardless of whether you call them Dixiecrats, or Birchers, or Tea Partiers.
The names may have changed, but the song remains the same …
I’m glad to hear that you arrived at the conclusion that you did. I did get a little chuckle during the middle of your article though, not necessarily exclusively at your expense; I’ve also noticed my liberal friends who don’t really want to vote for Clinton do the same thing. Where you pretend that the policy positions and fitness for office of candidates who will never, under any plausible scenario, be President of the United States, are relevent criteria in the decision making process.
The fact is, by not choosing one of the two major party candidates a person is for all intents and purposes choosing not to participate in the Presidential portion of the election. Or worse (in the case of ridiculous Green Party voters who love to spread every wikileaks story that hits the website), actively working in the interest of the major party candidate who if elected, will almost certainly be most hostile to their own beliefs and values.
I am not a big one for institutional loyalty. I’m loyal to my wife, my kids, to some extent to my fans and publisher, and to the United States of America. And that’s it. So I won’t say that I feel your pain. (Also because you’d see it as a Clintonian dig, and it kind of would be.) But in the abstract I can understand the pull of loyalty. I understand that it exerts a greater pull on some people than it does me. Okay, almost all people.
Loyalty is different from core beliefs. My core beliefs are that h. sapiens was meant to be, and has a right to be, as free as we can manage while maintaining a civilization. I believe the only legitimate government is that which governs with the consent of its people, and which willingly takes up the burden of defending our unalienable rights, including the defense of minorities. I believe we have an obligation as humans to contribute to civilization, to deal fairly with our fellow man, to avoid hatred especially hatred or contempt based on race, religion, gender, etc…
I will support any party or candidate who I think will best reflect those values. Trump is unmistakably a threat to those values.
Is Hillary ‘meh?” Yeah, pretty much. Is she pathologically incapable of seeing herself through the eyes of those who are not enamored of her? Yes. Does she push the envelope of acceptable behavior from a government official? Yep. Am I thrilled that we’re going to have two Bushes and two Clintons? Nope. Is it terribly depressing that out of 300 million plus people, in the world’s sole superpower, these two are what we’ve come up with? Jesus fwcking wept.
But in the end we have a job to fill. The choice is between a woman who seems trapped in a weird symbiotic, BDSM relationship with her opposition, but who can be relied upon to show up for work; and literally the worst major party candidate in the history of the United States. Worse than Andrew Johnson. Worse than James Buchanan.
You made the rational, intelligent choice. Integrity isn’t completely dead. Let’s hope our democracy isn’t either.
@Smitty: Say what you will about Hillary Clinton, she is still a lot better than Trump. The man is a lying, thieving scum bag.
I think the press tended to dismiss the alt-right as a smallish fringe group of weirdos who hang out at certain websites. Big mistake, as it turns out.
One of the alt-right kingpins, who has his adopted as his screen name that of one of the Founding Fathers (I’ve forgotten which) regularly comments at various websites hospitable to his viewpoint that American citizenship should be limited to those who can prove pure Anglo-Saxon or Germanic descent. There might be 678 people in this country who can make this claim. Apparently being Caucasian, but cursed with some percentage of Irish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Polish, Belgian, Hungarian, Latvian, etc. ancestry puts you beyond the pale.
I voted today…and for the first time in many years I did not vote Republican. I only voted for one Republican and that was a friend of mine who was running for Trustee. A local office. I live in Indiana and so it does not matter, but Trump did not get my vote.
I’m going to let this slide, because it’s more important that you made the right decision.
@Dumb Brit: Trump is dumber than Johnson by a mile and he is the GOP nominee…amazing. At least Johnson is a decent human being.
It’s Trump’s utter loathsomeness that earns him the slobbering devotion of his drooling half-witted fan club
I am about in the same place. Some of what James is saying about Hillary seems to be simply delusional, but I am still glad he will be on the right side on Tuesday.
@CSK: The scary thing is they are not all half wits. Many of them are intelligent people who should know better.
It’s been feeling like you were pretty close to this. But you didn’t have to say so publicly. Kudos for having the integrity to come out with this post.
In my post on why I couldn’t vote for Trump, I noted that, in every way Clinton is bad, Trump is far worse. On civil liberties, on corruption, on dishonesty, he’s way way worse. And Trump has not shown any kind of mental stability. I can understand why people dislike Clinton. I can not understand how they overlook Trump’s failing.
Additionally, we are likely to end up with a GOP Congress. I trust them far more to keep a check on Clinton than I do on Trump.
Did anyone else hear the flap about the Jay Z performance at Clinton’s rally the other night ? The “f” word and the “n” word was heard very often. I wonder who made the choice to have him perform. This is a “performer” whose past includes dealing cocaine and stabbing a person. I don’t know if Hillary was aware of the obscene and racist lyrics that are in this man’s songs and his troubling background. Maybe she did not pay attention very well. Someone needs to apologize, and I am not blaming Hillary. Whoever made this choice of performers needs to be fired. Jay Z should issue a public apology and hang his head in shame. There are wholesome and clean performers that they could have chosen: Swift, Crow, Shelton, Toby Mac, Chris Tomlin, Pentatonix to name a few.
Dude who gives a shit.
@Terrye Cravens: Some of it is dismediation, in the neologism of this writer:
when truth falls apart
That statement is not true. It does, however, raise an interesting question. How does the Republican Party get better when 2/3 of their base believe the nonsense that’s fed to them by the Conservative Entertainment Complex?
Somehow I don’t think you’re the target audience.
Well, judging by this post and the comments here, we can see that if Hillary wins there will be no peace, no coming together at least on the Hillary supporter side. Trumps supporters must be destroyed….apparently. Even though that looks to be near 50% of the voters.
I can only imagine the vitriol when Trump wins. Should I say if? Nah, Trump certainly isn’t the conventional favorite to win, but then this election has not been conventional.
It appears to me that come next Wednesday, we’ll be on the road to a Constitutional crisis as the Clinton corruption is exposed or DemProg street violence and DC insider advocacy for electoral college manipulation if Trump prevails.
@Todd: My position on protest votes at the presidential level is that they make absolute sense in our system for those who live in strong Red/Blue states. Virginia was a Red state when I moved here but is now purple if not Blue. so, if HRC were up 10 points and Johnson was who I thought he was eight months ago, I think voting for him is a useful message.
@michael reynolds: Honestly, at this point my loyalty to the Republican Party is pretty low. Four years ago, I would have voted for Obama had the GOP chosen any of the non-Mormons in the primary. This year, I’d have cheerfully voted for Joe Biden over anyone but Jeb or Kasich, possibly Rubio. I’d have endorsed a John Kerry or Al Gore over Trump; possibly even Warren or Bernie. The obstacle was Clinton.
@Moosebreath: It’s hard to disentagle. I’ve viscerally disliked the Clintons going back a quarter century. Even then, Bill wasn’t *that* far off from me ideologically but I found him slimy in a way that I never did with Carter, Mondale, or Dukakis. She’s less loathesome than him in some ways but lacks his compensatory charm and empathy. So, she’s a really tough sell for me.
@JKB: I think there’s a real need to address the frustrations among the working class that both Trump and Sanders appealed to this cycle. They’re real and, in many ways, quite legitimate. Trump’s methodology and approach, however, has been beyond the pale.
@Tyrell: So you prefer the other candidate talking about grabbing women by the p***y?
If she were a man I’d say her name should be Dick.
@James Joyner: Oh, I have no problem with the concept of a protest vote. Just call it what it is though. You could write in Micky Mouse and it would have the exact same effect as voting for someone you absolutely agree with and admire, but has no chance of becoming President. In short, there’s no reason to try justify why you didn’t vote for the 3rd party choices. The rational decision that you reached is that since either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be the next President, and you clearly have a preference, it only makes sense to vote based on that preference.
This. In any criticism that we have of politicians we always have to consider what the alternative would be in the real world … as opposed to the world we wish or imagine existed.
Or, as Jim Wright calls it, “Pragmatism“.
@Terrye Cravens: Your comment is why I will join with Lovitar and others in contending that the people you describe are not delusional as you and I both wish they were, but actually prefer the positions of Trump, but don’t want to admit who and what they are. To paraphrase a relatively famous quote: I’m sure that not all Republicans are evil people, it’s just that whenever I see an evil person, that person also happens to be Republican.
I don’t hold much hope for the “establishment” “saving” the party. It is exactly what they want it do be; their problem is that now everybody knows it.
I’m sure this decision and this post were hard. I was where you are now a few years ago, but it isn’t like flipping a switch.
This country needs two well-functioning political parties, and I think it is past time for a reckoning on the Republican side. They need to get themselves sorted, and this is the only way.
Trump Rolls Out Anti-Semitic Closing Ad
Thanks, James. I know that wasn’t easy, but the sane portions of the country appreciate it.
Here’s hoping that somewhere down the road we can get back to arguing over what actual “conservative values” and “progressive values” are, and whether they are good for America. In the meantime, we need to save the country so there’s something left to argue over.
This is the same Donald Trump that called for Hillary Clinton’s Secret Service Detail to disarm.
The man is a bum.
Trump’s redeeming quality is that he is not Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is someone I consider corrupt, but more importantly she has the organization, and support of the majority of the career federal employees, to be an existential threat. Few Republicans in Congress, none of the Democrats, few in the media, and very few in the DOJ would resist her corruption or totalitarian tendencies.
Trump is boorish, but he is opposed by many Republicans in Congress, the Democrats, the media and most of the career federal employees. Any corrupt or totalitarian tendencies he might develop will be resisted by Republicans, Democrats, most of the media, federal employees, the courts and even the politically corrupt attorneys in the DOJ.
Do you really think Hillary or anyone in DC will seek to address the frustrations? And when they don’t, just wait until you see what follows Trump.
Oh please…you will be foaming at the mouth on Tuesday night when you find out that Hillary’s total amount of electoral votes passes 270…
Ahh, I can’t wait to see the look on her face on Tuesday night when she is interviewed after she realizes that her client has lost the race…
If you are that enamored with being led by someone who resembles Il Duce, there are plenty of other places around the world that you could go…
I had lived in Texas for all of my adult life while in the U.S. (lived overseas for a while), where for the most part, my vote meant little in the presidential elections. However, I moved to Tucson last year, and you can imagine my surprise and happiness at being able to vote in a place that some consider a swing state. Clinton got my vote as well as the doctor running against the nutty republican rep who claims to be “deployed” to D.C. to fight ISIS (Ugh).
Perhaps by the time I move back to Texas, it will be a swing state too. I can only hope.
That’s not quite a blanket repudiation of the Republican Party, but it’s so close as to be almost indistinguishable in practice.
I’m sorry it came to this — sorry for the people who have had to give up a bit of their identity to vote against what they have viewed as their party, and sorry for the country that doesn’t have two functional parties.
That attitude preceded Trump by about thirty years, but got worse with the Tea Party. Our system of government isn’t designed to have an opposition party, and it doesn’t function with an opposition party. For most of the last hundred and fifty years, we have had stability with two governing parties, happily working together where they agree and compromising in good faith where they don’t, at least enough to function.
Things like raising the debt limit were considered must-pass, and while often passed with a few jabs and taking a few ounces of flesh, they were never really negotiable. The party out of the White House got a few pet projects funded out of it. It was better that way.
Given how little the Republican Party of today resembles the party of Lincoln, or Nixon, or even Reagan, I think the label of RINO best applies to those who stick with it now. It’s not the Republican Party I grew up with, it’s not the Republican Party I voted for as a young man, it just has the same name.
I appreciate the detail in which you outlined your thought processes James. I’ve followed OTB for years (since looking for intelligent blogs that diasagreed with my Iraq war position) and appreciate the difficulty you’ve had in reaching this point. FWIW there was a time when I voted Republican and I still tell my kids that the US needs a strong Republican Party or a replacement, despite what they hear their mother and I saying about today’s GOP.
Just to give an idea of how the world has changed in my lifetime here is a quote from
Jacob Javits in a NY Times editorial he wrote talking about how his fractious Republican party needed to reach a consensus and the importance of the question as to, “whether the consensus aimed at will reflect a progressive, moderate or conservative outlook.” The idea that a republican could call themselves a moderate today and stil be elected is ridiculous. Progressive journies to ludicrous.
BTW, that Javits oped is the first published use of the phrase “Southern Strategy”. And I really believe it is that fifty year old strategy that planted the seeds for today’s GOP destruction.
You can go with that if you want to.
He has admitted to commiting sexual assault.
Boorish is picking your nose at a State Dinner.
Trump is a self confessed felon.
@dxq: Really insightful article. I’m not sure how we combat this.
You know, I considered spending a few minutes dissecting the logic breaks, the non sequiturs, the internal contradictions of your screed, but you know, everyone here with a functioning brain already sees it all, and you and the rest of the brown shirt wanna-bes ain’t ever, ever, ever going to get it.
You know, this was going to be the election when white men came rampaging out, asserting their macho bullshit, waving their gun dicks around, pretending they’re still saving us all from terrorists/aliens/black folks. And instead it’s just shown white men up as uniquely incapable.
And now idiots like you have dragged guys like me into your little cesspool, so I have to be identified with the stupidest fwcking demographic in the country. You’ve managed to make ‘white guy’ a bad thing. Congrats! Brilliant!
@Mister Bluster: too many people supporting Trump (outside the alt-right) say things like this: “Trump has said bad things, but Hillary has done bad things.” The media is in part to blame for this – they have focused relentlessly on Hillary’s misdeeds (even when they weren’t actually her misdeeds, e.g., Weiner’s computer – or things she was clear of). With Trump, they’ve focused on his outrageous statements, and ignored his behavior (or briefly reported it and then moved on).
One example: the NYT article about the breakup of Weiner’s marriage. It talked about how that would remind people of Clinton’s marital troubles (which weren’t her fault.) Then the author of the article had the audacity to contact Trump for a statement, and he supplied them with some kind of “this is one more reason why Hillary is terrible” quote. WTF? Meanwhile, the article mentioned nothing about Trump’s own troubled marital history, including his very public extramarital affairs. Such reporting allows the more naive Trump supporters to say, like someone on FB this morning, things like, “Trump may have been married 3 times, but he never cheated on anyone!”
Voting for Hillary because you think she won’t blow up the world may be foolish, but at least it is rational.
Voting for Hillary because you think her election will change anything about the political culture is stupid beyond all words.
And as far as who represents the American people, Bill Clinton never won a majority of the vote so the scorecard since 1988 is only 3-1 in favor of Democrats and one of those wins is essentially a tie. Meanwhile, Republicans have held the majority in the House for 22 straight years, including 8 straight years before they gerrymandered anything. They’ve also held a majority in the Senate for, I believe, at least 18 of the last 22 years. And I think they’ve held a majority of governorships and state legislatures for much if not most of those 22 years.
The truth is that if your concern is the overall political culture and the need to change it, vote Trump. He is NOT an ideological right winger. He is NOT a theological God botherer. He is NOT a neocon war monger who wants to revive the Cold War or meddle in the Middle East because that’s what a great power is just supposed to do. He is also NOT a cozy member in good standing of the global economic elite which has done *sarcasm on* such an amazing job running the planet *sarcasm off*. And a President Trump would probably do more to get the media and our political establishment to stop the “both sides do it” nonsense than anything else.
Of course, Trump will also probably be a horrible President who may bring many horrible things into being. However, you’ve got to be tripping balls to think electing Hillary will do any of the things
Mr. Joyner wants done. The GOP suffering the kind of decisive loss he mentions would require a polling failure far greater than necessary for a Trump win.
Trump is not the problem. He is the reaction to the problem CREATED BY PAUL RYAN AND PEOPLE LIKE HIM.
@An Interested Party:
I’m also looking forward to her post defeat interviews. But come on, she’s a pollster by trade, she has to have known when she took the job that it was a lost cause. But in order to make a few bucks (if she gets paid) and boost her career she’s been eager to go on TV and lie like a rug in support of a candidate she has to know is total spit weasel. Seems like a metaphor for the whole Republican Party.
@MBunge: Yeah, Trump’s not a God botherer or an ideological rightwinger, but how in the world do you conclude that he’s not a warmonger? True, he doesn’t care about nation building or spreading democracy or any of the reasons prior U.S. presidents have given for going to war. But he is the most bellicose and vengeful presidential candidate I’ve ever seen or heard. What will a man like that do with a nuclear arsenal at his fingertips?
And how do you somehow believe that a man who owns properties all over the globe, has goods for his business made in China, and is a multi-millionaire (if not the billionaire he claims to be) is not part of the global economic elite?
It makes one thing very clear. It’s not about the troops, it’s about doing damage to their political opponents by any means possible.
We have similar stories. I currently live in Sierra Vista, so same congressional district as you. But at some point, I too intend to head back to Texas where my family still lives. It will be nice if Texas is at least somewhat purple by then.
I wonder why you keep repeating this untrue bullshit…Democrats held the majority in the House from 2007-2010 and they held the majority in the Senate from 2007-2014…
There’s no need to slit our own throats simply to change the political culture…no thanks…
***Pragmatism Not Idealism***
We need people like you James, to make Republicans interested in government again, as opposed to simply ratf*cking the opposition and grifting the olds.
The most important thing we can do in this country is to stop pandering to the Trump coalition. Racism, authoritarianism, revanchism, religiosity, feudal corporatism, they all need to be purged from America, in whatever form they take.
Might this mean the end of the Republican Party? Probably not. But the racist foundations of the party need to be torn down first. And Republicans need to reverse their self-destructive delegitimization of American politics.
Refuse to pass a budget, Freedom Caucus. I dare you. And after the market crash and resulting worldwide depression, let’s see where the corporate money flows then.
Rehab is a good thing.
What does have this have to do with the election?
@Todd: There’s protest value in Mickey Mouse, although it’s mixed. At best, it’s “None of the above.” At worst, it’s “I don’t take my vote seriously.” In the Republican primaries, I voted for Kasich at a point where he had no real shot at the nomination. But he was far and away my preferred choice of the available options and voting for him was a small signal as to what kind of party we should be.
@An Interested Party:
You know what? Thanks for pointing that out. I have no idea what the hell I’ve been thinking.
In fairness, there are quite a few white women at his rallies too. And he’s hardly the first (or even most extreme) open racist to run for the Republicans – go through their other primaries and take a look at some of the nut bars who tossed their names into the foray before pulling them them out due to overwhelming lack of support. Why did Trump get the nomination when most of the others barely got more than a few percent before dropping out in the primaries?
The racism and sexism are there, but they’re always been there in primaries (and for that matter, Reagan, both Bush’s, McCain and Romney were all accused of them as well), and often in much more extreme form than Trump’s. What’s different about this election? And how do we avoid it happening again?
To be a warmonger you have to, you know, want to go to war with people. And as the only guy who stood on that debate stage in South Carolina and criticized both the Iraq War and George W. Bush, when literally everyone in politics thought it would destroy him, Trump can at least be credited with not believing any of the nonsense that created that mess…at least not any more.
As for nukes, has Trump shot anybody? Stabbed them? Set them on fire? Had his limo driver run them over or had thugs toss someone off the top of Trump Tower? No? Then why would you think he’s just going to lose it one day and order a nuclear strike for no good reason? The people saying he might are trying to manipulate others with fear because, while a President Trump could do many terrible things, it is not reasonable to suggest Trump would be more irresponsible than North Korea for pity’s sake.
And to keep anyone’s panties from getting into a bunch, it is entirely sensible to be concerned that Trump might stupidly promote nuclear proliferation around the world, given some of the things he’s said. That is not the same as invoking a childish boogieman that Trump is going to push the Red Button after someone sends him a nasty tweet.
And just being a rich businessman does not automatically make you a part of the Davos crowd.
At the end of the day, “the Republican Party” is just the people who are in it. Part of rebuilding has to be salvaging that which can be saved. Throwing out the moderates actually dilutes the message and complicates the task. Repudiate the Trump acolytes and those too weak to stand against him but don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.
I cannot fully express how tired I am of Benghazi claims. At worst one could criticize the way Benghazi was discussed in the immediate aftermath if one wants to nitpick about the role the infamous video played. And even if we go full Fox News on that one, it would not have prevented the deaths.
The notion that actions of the Secretary of State directly led to the events of that night have no basis in fact.
I think we can all agree that Stevens and his team should never have undertaken the trip. I will even allow that since Clinton was the big boss that any bad outcome is laid at her door to some degree. But the notion that Benghazi is some uniquely awful event, or that it is the first and only time that US diplomats have lost their lives in the line of duty is absurd (as is the notion that Clinton is personally responsible).
By the logic employed by the Benghazi nuts George W. Bush is directly and fully responsible for 9/11.
(Seriously–the main critique is really more about certain right-wing fixations with whether and when words are used. Did they say “terrorism” fast enough? Why won’t they call it “Islamic terrorism”? etc. It is fundamentally unserious).
This is true, of course. But isn’t the problem that the moderates have either largely already been thrown out (or have self-deported, so to speak?).
Worse: many in the party have gone along, even if reluctantly, because they ultimately value winning. And that behavior can further transform the party.
At this point I have sincere doubts that the party is going to, as an institution, learn anything.
This is fair. But if one if going to assess the situation, then sure, discount the notion that tweets will lead to nuclear war but also take very, very seriously a candidate who is seriously suggesting that nuclear proliferation ought to be encouraged. He is seriously touting a policy notion that could utterly change the structure of the international system. Throw in a lack of support for institutions like NATO and, really, to the basis of the current global order (i.e., the US’s leading role and bearing a lot of the costs) and you have a scenario that is both realistic and very dangerous.
Campaigns often turn on trying to get people to pay attention to things like the Twitter issue, but people who understand politics should look to the broader, perhaps more boring (on their face) issues. A President Trump could reorder and destabilize key elements of the Cold War and Post Cold War peace. This is, to use a phrase I do not think I have ever typed at OTB, some serious shit. It has to be taken seriously.
“It’s hard to disentagle. I’ve viscerally disliked the Clintons going back a quarter century. Even then, Bill wasn’t *that* far off from me ideologically but I found him slimy in a way that I never did with Carter, Mondale, or Dukakis. She’s less loathesome than him in some ways but lacks his compensatory charm and empathy. So, she’s a really tough sell for me. ”
You described Hillary in a way which I can understand a serious right-of-center political observer saying. I get your mental picture of Hillary is someone in the mainstream of American politics, if somewhat to the left of your preferences, more venal than the average politician though not as extreme in that regard as Bill [which I think is the effect of decades of Republican hyped pseudoscandals more than reality], and lacking in some of the skills typically associated with politicians.
I just have a hard time associating that viewpoint with lines like “I’ve viewed voting for Hillary Clinton so anathema that it could only be justified under the most exigent circumstances.”
I think systems already in place are essentially dealing with GOP racism. These are largely (though not exclusively) old, white and poorly-educated people. The country is increasingly non-white and better-educated. And old people have this tendency to die. So I think it’s just tick-tock till demographics sidelines these folks.
That said, what a colossal failure of basic civic education. Not having some college is one thing, but no kid who passed through middle school should have any difficulty understanding that Trump is a threat to every core American value.
I love Hillary, I’m spending the day canvassing for her, I’ve maxed out my contributions to her, and I absolutely think she’s been trashed and lied about to an extraordinary level.
Which leaves me with one question: If you are Hillary, and if you are smart, and if you’ve endured 30 years of relentless attacks, why in the holy fwck would you be playing fast-and-loose with the foundation’s overseas donors?
Let’s be honest. She has a blind spot the size of Jupiter. To this day she is so convinced of her own rightness that she fails to do the minimal ‘what will people think?’ reality check.
“The people saying he might are trying to manipulate others with fear because, while a President Trump could do many terrible things, it is not reasonable to suggest Trump would be more irresponsible than North Korea for pity’s sake.”
No, but look: NK has practice in its international brinksmanship. DT would be a total novice, and is patently unable to take advice in any setting larger than 1-on-1 (b/c then he’d be the dominated one instead of the dominator)–the chances of unintended escalation are astronomically too high.
Way down at the bottom of the comments…
I feel like Leslie Neilson in Airplane:
The shouting is done, the sides are set, the issues are there, but nothing will affect the outcome at this point. The plane has already landed.
James – Thanks for making your statement. Knew you would be there, as anyone that looks to see this country continue has no option but to vote for the moderately sane woman.
And… for those who still need help to convince that crazy cousin or uncle, here is a list of all of Mr. Trumps documented lies. (with quotes and dates).
Not that you will have any luck convincing them. I fully expect our local crazy cousins here at OTB to scream voter fraud and illegitimate government overthrow on Weds, and impeachment on Thursday.
It’s become the GOP Sweet Song of November.
@MBunge: “Bill Clinton never won a majority of the vote so the scorecard since 1988 is only 3-1 in favor of Democrats and one of those wins is essentially a tie. ”
Isn’t that sweet? When a Democrat is tacky enough to win a presidential election, it doesn’t actually count because there are secret electoral rules that determine who really won.
In other words, elections are only valid when Mbunge’s candidate wins.
@MBunge: ” while a President Trump could do many terrible things, it is not reasonable to suggest Trump would be more irresponsible than North Korea for pity’s sake.”
Hey, Mike has finally figured out his rationalization for a Trump vote: “He’s not as insane as Kim Jong Un, and that makes him qualified to be my president!!!”
@MBunge: We are talking about the candidate who said he’d blow Iranian boats out of the water–an actual act of war–because they flipped our sailors the bird. So, yeah, he’d probably be a lot more likely than Clinton to order some sort of military action in response to some insignificant affront.
There are also his pledges to bring back torture (waterboarding and “a whole lot worse”) and send drones to bomb the families of suspected terrorists (a direct violation of international law and moral norms).
Pretty much everything he says about the employment of the military indicates a total lack of understanding of even the most basic principles, and his gargantuan ego–“I know more about ISIS than the generals”–will keep him from even attempting to improve his knowledge.
And of course he’s in Russia’s back pocket, whether by design or simple coincidence is irrelevant. He’ll work to advance Russian interests even at America’s expense. His statements regarding NATO and his refusal to even acknowledge, at one point, Russian incursion into Ukraine are profoundly disturbing.
Then, what he said about nuclear proliferation, which was really quite insane and again indicated a total lack of understanding (not that he has any knowledge, either, given his ignorance of the most basic stuff like what “nuclear triad” means).
The “a guy who can’t handle a tweet shouldn’t have the nuclear codes” thing isn’t an assertion he’d launch missiles in response to a tweet, it’s a shorthand way of saying he’s too unstable and ignorant to be trusted with the responsibilities of Commander-in-Chief, where the President has the most latitude of all his duties.
What makes you think a Clinton victory will lead to a reboot? Obama’s victories in 2012 and 2008 didn’t.
@Stormy Dragon: I think the hope is a significant Clinton victory would repudiate Trump and Trumpism.
That’s my hope as well, although I am not optimistic. Trump has made me realize a lot of ugly thought and impulses I had thought were in decline were simply in hiding.
If there were still more Republicans like you, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Hillary Clinton would likely be working on her concession speech right now. As a left-leaning Independent, I’m kind of glad that didn’t happen, as I will almost certainly prefer many of Clinton’s policy positions, and especially her Supreme Court choice to those that would have come from someone like Kasich, Bush or Rubio. But as a patriotic American, I really do hope that the Republican party finds a way to get its act back together going forward. We will all be better off if we never have another election where someone so objectively unfit for office as Donald Trump has such a legitimate chance of becoming President.
… and in fairness, the Democratic party has their own issues to deal with. In a just world, they probably don’t deserve to be rewarded with the presidency after nominating such an obviously flawed candidate.
Before anybody attacks me for the last paragraph in my previous comment, I have essentially the same position as Michael. I am strongly supporting Hillary Clinton, and have been since about June, when it became obvious beyond a doubt that she would be the nominee. I think she will likely be very good at the actual job of being President. But I continue to believe that she has displayed periods of really bad political judgement. Sure, to some extent, Republicans and even the press have been “unfair” to Hillary Clinton. But at the same time, many of her worst political headaches during this campaign, are, at their roots, self-inflicted wounds.
James, I read this blog because I want to hear well-reasoned views, such as yours, and I’m truly sorry we don’t have a stellar Republican candidate this year.
I understand visceral reactions well, although mine have been a result of Republican’s attempts to undermine legitimately-elected Democratic presidents for decades. I left the Republican party due to Lee Atwater and his influence, which is still in play to this day.
I wish the current political landscape could be remedied with increased understanding of history, science, and civics, but within my own circle, I have well-educated friends and family who support Trump, so I don’t think that’s the key. What I do find as the common denominator is abject fear–fear of change, fear of others who are different, fear of violence, fear of being taken advantage of by those who would live off of the hard work of others. So if I were to conjecture the reason for the Republican party’s woes, it would be their reliance upon fear-mongering to build their base, rather than promoting a competition of ideas to improve the future of all Americans. For example, just think how different things might be if, instead of stonewalling health insurance reform, they had participated in–and improved–the Affordable Healthcare Act.
@Kari Q: I’ve never voted for a Clinton in any election (primary or general) – until now.
@MBunge: Shorter MBunge: Do something. Anything. Even if it’s wrong.
Dude, you’ve lived in Marin Co. for too long if you really believe this. In my little neck of the woods I see a lot of young people who still want to take ‘Murka back from the queers and sheetheads. And I live on the left coast just like you do.
I wish I agreed with you that mortality will take care of the racism problem, but up here, it’s alive and well among young and old alike.
Did I mention that the county I live in is as red now as it was blue when I first moved here in 1994?
@James Joyner: Yeah but the Overton window has shifted reality to the point that Kasich looks like a moderate. He’s really not. He signed a restrictive anti-abortion law. He told Ohio to get on the bus or they’d be under it, and was repudiated by an SB5 repeal. He sold Ohio’s public lands to energy lobbyists for fracking. There’s so much wrong with Kasich. The only things I can give him props for is learning to keep his mouth shut after SB5 was repudiated and sticking to his guns over not endorsing Trump.
I’ve thought about this, and I can’t say I agree.
At the end of the day, the Republican Party is whatever the elected officials with (R) next to their name do to America. It doesn’t matter what registered Republican voters think they believe, or are voting for — it’s about what actually happens when the (R)s win. How much respect do you have for someone who keeps voting for Socialist candidates because they believe in equality and social justice?
@DrDaveT: Good point. I’ve always been somewhat left-leaning but I didn’t always vote straight Democratic ticket. Now I do, because I just don’t trust Republicans anymore. No matter how reasonable an individual Republican’s positions might be, far too many of them give in the the mob when they legislate or act in order not to have to face the republican base’s wrath.
Regarding the Great Red Blind Spot, I think I would have one too if every person I met continually acted in bad faith towards me.
Honestly, the reason the Clintons act like a mafioso is because they’ve been burnt how many times now? They simply assume the world is against them at this point. It’s damaging, but in my mind, not damning.