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Explaining My 2016 Vote

Last week, TAC published short pieces from many of our regular contributors in which they explained [1] their voting intentions for president tomorrow. I briefly said [2] why I was writing in the American Solidarity Party’s candidates, Michael Maturen and Juan Munoz. In short, they endorse a consistent pro-life ethic and reject wars that fail the test of just war principles, and that makes them the party that best represents my views. However, there wasn’t enough room to give a full explanation of why I wasn’t voting for some other ticket. I want to be as forthcoming on this as I can be, so I think a follow-up post is in order.

The reasons why I can’t vote for Clinton should be obvious: I’m pro-life and antiwar, and she has consistently been the opposite for her entire public career. I could never talk myself into supporting Obama even when I was confident the Republican alternative was worse, so there was never any chance that I would find a way to justify a vote for Clinton, and I wasn’t going to try to find one. I have written many times on why her foreign policy will be more aggressive than Obama’s, and it seems all but guaranteed that it will be, and that by itself is reason enough not to support her. The fact that many of the worst hard-liners in the GOP are flocking to her because of her foreign policy is an another reason. McMullin represents the last gasp of Bush-era Republicanism that I despise, so that was never an option. Voting for Johnson seemed like a tempting protest vote until he showed himself to be hopelessly unprepared on foreign policy issues, and I have no interest in supporting a candidate who tries to make a virtue out of ignorance.

So why not Trump? Well, where to start? Trump is unfit for any position of authority because of his many failings of temperament, preparation, and judgment. Even if I could somehow overlook all of that, he isn’t going to deliver the foreign policy or any of the other policies that many of his supporters hope for. He can’t be trusted and changes his positions to whatever suits him at the time, but his stated foreign policy views are mostly awful or incoherent anyway. Trump takes a number of positions that make him just as unacceptable as any previous Republican nominee from this century. He isn’t really antiwar, and he’s definitely not antiwar when it matters (i.e., before the war starts). He routinely denounces the results of diplomatic engagement, wants to bring back torture, rejects the nuclear deal, takes a shamelessly pro-settler view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and seeks to have an even more bloated military budget than we already do.

On top of that, his running mate is a dyed-in-the-wool hawk who backed every failed Bush policy, he surrounds himself with hard-liners and authoritarians of the worst kind (e.g., Bolton, Flynn, Giuliani, Gingrich, etc.), and he reportedly plans [3] to appoint some of them to major Cabinet posts if elected. If anyone thinks that Trump won’t pursue regime change abroad, consider that at least three of his prominent supporters and possible appointees (Gingrich, Giuliani, Bolton) are public MEK boosters. That is the alternative that is being offered, and there is no way that I would vote for such a ticket.

It is usually not very hard to find reasons not to vote for the major party candidates, but the 2016 election has made it much easier than normal.

23 Comments (Open | Close)

23 Comments To "Explaining My 2016 Vote"

#1 Comment By On The Merits On November 7, 2016 @ 1:24 pm

Good reasons all. But given that both candidates are unacceptable presidents, the next best thing is to give the Establishment and elites a hard kick in the teeth, hope Trump wins, and then start to work right away on limiting the damage Trump might do and replace him in 2020. That’s what my vote for Trump will be – and that’s all it will be. Backfooting the elites and starting to dismantle the Establishment is job one.

#2 Comment By Fran Macadam On November 7, 2016 @ 1:31 pm

Bolton… yeah.

#3 Comment By Captain P On November 7, 2016 @ 2:44 pm

Yeah, but if you’re going to make a protest vote on the basis of pro-life views and non-interventionism, why not vote for the Constitution Party’s candidates? It’s the fifth-largest party in America, while the American Solidarity Party doesn’t even have a fully functional website, last I checked. Voting for the Constitution Party might let your voice actually get heard.

#4 Comment By rayray On November 7, 2016 @ 3:12 pm

@On the Merits
Odd reasoning given that Trump has 100% surrounded himself with the very worst of said elites. So your protest votes is a protest against…what exactly?

#5 Comment By Paul On November 7, 2016 @ 3:14 pm

Daniel, could you offer advice on how to vote to someone who has decided to exercise the right to vote by choosing the least bad alternative between Trump and Clinton? Or could you say whether you think a Trump administration will be worse than a Clinton administration with regard to pro-life issues and foreign wars?

#6 Comment By Orthodox Christian On November 7, 2016 @ 4:06 pm

In my opinion, Trump at least offers a chance and a hope of a more restrained foreign policy and of a conservative Supreme Court. Moreover, to the extent Trump does engage in foreign policy interventionism, I think it will be more friendly to Orthodox Christianity and Christianity in general, so another reason to go with him. Finally, he will be a clear warning to elites that anti-White rhetoric has gone too far and needs to stop soon lest they get characters much nastier than him in political mainstream.

For these and few other reasons, I will vote for Trump.

#7 Comment By AJ On November 7, 2016 @ 4:11 pm

Thank you Daniel Larison, you convinced me; you ended my equivocating over Trump and I wrote in Maturen and Munoz. Unfortunately they were not on the ballot in my deep blue state.

#8 Comment By SF Bay On November 7, 2016 @ 4:46 pm

Interesting choice. I think Hillary will be thanking all of the conservatives who vote third party.

I do question your pro-life litmus test. By that do you mean you personally (if it were possible) would never have an abortion, or that you feel it’s OK to pass laws that limit medical decisions for half the population in the country?

I think we both agree that this country has strict separation of church and state laws. How than can a religious belief of one religion be codified as law when such a law infringes on the right of others to practice their religion?

#9 Comment By PA Greeting On November 7, 2016 @ 4:52 pm

“Odd reasoning given that Trump has 100% surrounded himself with the very worst of said elites. So your protest votes is a protest against…what exactly?”

It’s not like there’s any real question about this. The NY Times, Wall Street, the WaPo, Silicon Valley, La Raza, 90+ percent of the global media, the UN Secretary General, global corporations, any number of “foreign leaders” and globocrats, all in the bag for Hillary Clinton, there’s no doubt whatsoever who the globalist elites and the Establishment want. They want Hillary Clinton. It’s not even close. I’ve never seen such unanimity among them.

They want the corruption, cronyism, rigged economy, profiteering, and wars to go on forever. They want us to sit down and shut up while they bury their faces in the trough.

For real Americans, voting for Trump is a matter of basic survival.

#10 Comment By rayray On November 7, 2016 @ 5:45 pm

@PA Greeting
I hear ya. Or it could also be that Trump is just a historically terrible candidate for the job of President.

#11 Comment By William Dalton On November 7, 2016 @ 8:29 pm

Here is Gary Johnson’s foreign policy statement, direct from his campaign website:

“Looking back over the past couple of decades, it is difficult to see how the wars we have waged, the interventions we have conducted, the lives sacrificed, and the trillions of tax dollars we have spent on the other side of the globe have made us safer. If anything, our meddling in the affairs of other nations has made us less safe.

“Many senior military and foreign policy analysts have concluded that the rise of ISIS can actually be traced back to instability created by our meddling in the affairs of others. This is because the last several administrations, both Republican and Democrat, have used our military resources to pursue undemocratic regime changes, embark on impossible nation-building exercises, and to establish the United States as the policeman of the world.

“This imperialistic foreign policy makes it easier for ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other violent extremists to recruit new members. We need to build a strong military. But we should not use our military strength to try to solve the world’s problems. Doing so creates new enemies and perpetual war.

“Besides, we have enough problems to solve right here at home.

“As President, Gary Johnson will move quickly and decisively to cut off the funding on which violent extremist armies depend. He will repair relationships with our allies. And he will only send our brave soldiers to war when clearly authorized by Congress after meaningful, transparent deliberation and debate.

“The idea that we can defeat terrorism by simply putting more boots on the ground or dropping more bombs ignores the reality that this expensive tactic simply hasn’t worked. In fact, it’s made the situation worse.”

If Daniel Larison didn’t write this declaration of intent, I don’t see why he wouldn’t be able to put his name to it. Whatever Gary Johnson may lack in knowledge of places like “Aleppo”, it is more than made for by his forthright stand on what is right and what is wrong for the U.S. to do abroad. He can always be informed of details he doesn’t know. And he will be. How a President assesses what he learns can only depend upon what he knows and believes in advance.

As to “pro life” issues, while the Libertarian ticket is avowedly “pro choice”, Johnson has declared he will appoint justices to the Supreme Court in the mold of Clarence Thomas, and William Weld, just tonight, spoke forthrightly about the need to respect and enforce the Tenth Amendment. If that doesn’t mean overturning Roe v. Wade, I don’t know what would.

#12 Comment By a spencer On November 7, 2016 @ 9:24 pm

Rand Paul looks really good right now. Amy Klobuchar would clobber either of the major party options.

Be sure to check your state’s write-in requirements. Where I live, the candidate needs to have made some sort of formal request. You need to write in for both President and Vice President AND an electoral college delegate. For instance, say you want to vote for a Patrice Lumumba/Madame Sul-Te-Wan ticket. You need to include, say, Princess Diana, as the delegate. Of course, it helps if your write-ins are alive.

And remember, “Lizard People” has been used. Be creative.

#13 Comment By a spencer On November 7, 2016 @ 9:29 pm

sorry, clarification: You still have the option of your own write-in. If you don’t write-in one of the official requests, don’t forget to include a delegate with your Lumumba/Sul-Te-Wan ticket.

#14 Comment By Ben On November 7, 2016 @ 10:16 pm

@PA Greeting – “For real Americans, voting for Trump is a matter of basic survival.”

I had to wait several minutes before replying. I’ve gotten used to Republican politicians invoking the concept of “real America” (oddly, I can’t recall instances of Democrats using similar language—even HRC’s “basket of deplorables” didn’t go so far as to question whether those people were legitimate Americans). I’m pretty inured to this line of attack, particularly because I (like many liberals) don’t see “American” as being as central to my identity as many Republicans.

But however complex my feelings toward America (and please, think carefully about throwing stones, when you support a candidate who describes an America fallen far lower than any blasphemy I could conjure), I am a “real American”, and I view voting *against* Trump as a matter of basic survival. What I won’t do is presume that I speak for anyone else, nor question the patriotism of anyone who disagrees with me.

#15 Comment By DMZ New Mexico On November 7, 2016 @ 11:28 pm

“even HRC’s “basket of deplorables” didn’t go so far as to question whether those people were legitimate Americans”

Of course she didn’t say they weren’t legitimate Americans. She’d look ridiculous.

Instead she went even further. She threatened them. We lock up Klansmen. We lock up neo-Nazis. We sicc the FBI on them. She grouped Trump supporters with the Klan and neo-Nazis in that nasty little “basket of deplorables.” The sort of people you put on a watch list, or a list of terror groups. And that threat must be seen as being made on behalf of of the invaders and uninvited guests that she encouraged to come here, who she has refused to deport, to whose number she intends to add, and whose support she is relying on for victory tomorrow.

So don’t bother getting all preachy about Republicans talking about “real Americans”. Worry instead about the corrupt and paranoid incompetent who regards “real Americans” as The Enemy.

#16 Comment By Paul On November 8, 2016 @ 1:47 am

Daniel, I’m going to press my question again. It’s relatively easy and costless to identify disaqualifying flaws in the two major party candidates, and then announce support for a “pure” third party. But there’s a good argument that you have a responsibility to use your vote to achieve the outcome you think will be least diastrous, and to think of your vote not as in any way an approval of the candidate or all of his or her policies. Many or most of your readers think this, rightly or wrongly. I understand and accept all your objections to Trump; at the same I time think that Hilary’s corruption (see Wikileaks et al) makes her even worse at the level of character and more unfit to hold office, and I think she is significantly more likely to start foreign wars. It seems almost certain her policies will lead to more abortion and further entrenchment of the constitutional right to abortion, as well as spreading the abortion ideology abroad. This is the dilemma millions of conservatives face today (including myself), and you are staying above the fray. You are not telling us which alternative you think worse, and you are not giving a theory of voting that justifies voting for a “pure” third party rather than doing what you can to stave off disaster (eg further destabilisation in Syria, leading to increase in refugee flows) and possibly nuclear war (which is a real risk with either candidate but possibly greater with one or the other).

#17 Comment By Mac61 On November 8, 2016 @ 9:16 am

I long for the day when I wake up and don’t have to hear about anything Trump said or did.

#18 Comment By Don’t Forget To Shower After Voting On November 8, 2016 @ 9:17 am

“Hilary’s corruption (see Wikileaks et al) makes her even worse “

It’s the combination of corruption and proven incompetence that tips the scale for me. Libya, Syria, Yemen. It means that even when she’s not acting for corrupt reasons, she’ll screw things up.

But you’re right to stress the corruption. The fact that she would be starting out her term under a legal and investigative cloud means that the temptation to subvert, corrupt, or blackmail the institutions investigating her would be almost overwhelming, as it overwhelmed Nixon, threatening the foundations of government.

#19 Comment By sherparick On November 8, 2016 @ 9:51 am

@DMZ Really, we lock up Klansmen? Then how is David Duke running for the Senate in Louisiana and who are all these white men with guns outside my polling station? Actually, until one of these neo-Confederates or Alt-right types break the law and actually shoot or punch someone the 1s Amendment protect their deplorable views. However, it Trump is elected, I wonder how long before the 1st Amendment and most of the Constitution are “dead letters.” He has already stated that he will lock-up his opponent and James Comey as soon as he is President.

Also, I respect Mr. Larison for voting for who is given his anti-abortion views. But some have used the term “corrupt” for Secretary Clinton. But the assertion of that word by her enemies does not make it so. The definition of corrupt is: “having or showing a willingness to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain.” Now who does that definition fit, since there is no evidence that Secretary Clinton has ever done a dishonest act in her life (or else she surely would have been convicted by now after 24 years of investigations) or Mr. Trump, the operator of repeated scams and frauds, protected by his relationships with Giulani and Kallstrom in others in the New York FBI.

#20 Comment By Paul On November 8, 2016 @ 10:32 am

@ Don’t Forget To Shower After Voting

Good points about the temptation to subvert institutions. Relatedly, the utter recklessness and contempt for the law demonstrated by Hillary in handling of classified information as Secretary of State is a reason (a) for considering her to be a greater security risk than Trump and (b) to worry that she might have already allowed access to material that could be used to blackmail her.

#21 Comment By de profundis On November 8, 2016 @ 1:24 pm

“there is no evidence that Secretary Clinton has ever done a dishonest act in her life”

If everyone who believed that voted for Clinton, Trump would win in a landslide.

#22 Comment By Dan Phillips On November 8, 2016 @ 2:35 pm

Daniel, you’re missing the big picture. Trump has made this election a referendum on globalism vs. nationalism precisely because he has advanced our issues of immigration restriction, rejection of free trade ideology, and to some extent a more restrained America first foreign policy. He’s flawed both personally and on the issues, but this election is now bigger than Trump. A Trump victory would represent a repudiation of the Establishment of both parties, the donor class, the MSM and all the other forces that are arrayed to maintain the current reigning post-national, neoliberal world order. I’m really baffled how people who have spent their lives on the outside toiling for our trio of issues, can’t see that Trump is advancing those issues in a way no one else has, including Pat Buchanan, however flawed the vehicle or imprecise the message.

Also, if you just can’t vote for Trump, why not Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party? Castle and his party are restrictionist on immigration, opposed to globalist trade deals and non-interventionist on foreign policy.


#23 Comment By anonymousdr On November 8, 2016 @ 5:36 pm

@Dan Phillips

I’m also surprised to see that Castle and the Constitution Party have gotten so little traction on TAC.