About a year ago, Mona Charen said something like, “If we end up with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as our nominees for president, we will have proved that we are not a serious country and probably unfit for self-government.” This was back before anyone had cast a vote, when conservative commentators were still under the illusion that Trump’s campaign would eventually fizzle out (because…come on), allowing for an actual statesperson to win the GOP nomination. Unfortunately, we all know how that turned out. But I think Mona Charen had it right.
A few weeks before the Republicans officially nominated Trump at their convention, but after it was clear that there was no political will to block his nomination, I took the relatively meaningless action to change my party registration to “none.” I’m not a Democrat, and if Republicans care more about not pissing off some white supremacists than they do about limited government, personal liberty, and (at the risk of sounding corny) character, then I’m definitely not one of those either. (I mean, obviously the Republicans were always less committed to limited government and personal liberty than they claimed to be, but when you’re not even willing to pay lip service to those things anymore, I guess that’s where we part ways.) So I’ve become one of those insufferable people who can’t bring themselves to vote for the lesser of two evils. Believe me, I’m not proud of it. But it’s who I am.
So I’ve been watching the Republican implosion with some detachment. I am not emotionally invested in the GOP’s survival. As far as I’m concerned, they can all go to hell.*
*Except for Senators Ben Sasse (NE), Jeff Flake (AZ), Mike Lee (UT), Mark Kirk (IL), Susan Collins (ME), Lindsey Graham (SC), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Representatives Mike Coffman (CO), Barbara Comstock (VA), Charlie Dent (PA), Frank Upton (MI), Carlos Curbelo (FL), Bob Dold (IL), Mia Love (UT), and Governor Brian Sandoval (NV), who have never endorsed Trump. (I am only counting elected officials here. Republicans not currently holding elective office who opposed Trump before it was cool can also stay out of hell, FWIW. But the rest of them–dead to me. IN HELL.)
To me it has never been much of a silver lining to know that one day Trump supporters were going to rue the day they endorsed him. I don’t believe Trump true-believers will ever rue anything; they’ll just blame his downfall on the unfaithful “cucks” (of which, I guess, I am one). As I’ve said before–maybe elsewhere, but maybe also in this space, before I became so disgusted with life that I couldn’t bring myself to write about it), this election has accomplished the thing I thought was impossible: I have become more cynical about my fellow human beings. It’s hard enough to accept that a significant fraction of the people in this country a) are straight up racist and/or b) just want to watch the world burn. It’s much harder to watch previously-decent-seeming people, including friends and relatives, argue that the only thing standing between us and total annihilation is a corrupt, race-baiting dirtbag, because at least he’s not Hillary Clinton.
I know it drives Democrats crazy when people say Trump and Clinton are equally poor choices. Frankly, I’m loath to say that myself. I tend to agree with P.J. O’Rourke, who said that they’re both unacceptable, but Clinton is unacceptable within normal parameters. I tend to agree with that, and yet I still can’t bring myself to vote for her. If I lived in a swing state, I might be tempted, but since I do not, and since Hillary Clinton is destined to take Oregon in any case, I feel free to choose an even lesser evil than she.
It must be very frustrating for Democrats to have a candidate who is so poorly situated to attack Donald Trump on so many fronts. Hillary has this going for her: she’s probably not a racist, and she’s probably not mentally ill. That’s not nothing, of course–in any other election year, it would be, but not this one. Her temperament is fine (that’s a winning slogan), and she’s not a racist, but by every other measure, she and Trump are a bit pot and kettle. The main difference is that she’s used her career in public service to enrich herself, increase her own personal power, and bully others, whereas Trump has done all those things without being elected (or his spouse being elected) first. (And if you think he’s going to stop once he’s elected, you’re an idiot.)
This latest news about Trump being caught on tape boasting about sexually assaulting women is gross, of course. Hillary would never do that. Bill would probably never do that–boast about it, I mean. He’s certainly sexually assaulted women. Hillary stood by him, for reasons none of us can know and, in my opinion, aren’t our business. But as a Facebook friend of a Facebook friend put it, whatever peace she made with his infidelities, she only made peace with Bill; she made sure the women paid. No one forced her to participate in personal attacks against his accusers. She says now that “women should be believed,” but the unspoken asterisk is “unless you’re saying my husband is the one who groped you, in which case you’re a lying whore colluding with our political enemies.”*
*To be sure, Bill Clinton had political enemies dead set on ruining him. I would never dispute that. But if you don’t want to get impeached, maybe try not breaking the law, see how that goes.
So I think Hillary would be better off not bringing this issue up. I mean, it’s not like she needs to. She’s already not-racist and not-crazy, and that seems to be enough this year.
Unlike a lot of conservatives, I have never disliked Hillary on a personal level. I don’t find her “shrill” or “annoying.” No, she doesn’t have her husband’s charisma. Few people do. Actually, I find her relative awkwardness somewhat charming. (Speaking as the awkward spouse of a charismatic person, I guess I relate to her.) I remember during the impeachment crisis, Larry Elder said, “I think Hillary has the heart of a lion.” Yes, she does. Unfortunately, that in itself does not make her a good role model in general.
I think that at least some of the animosity toward Hillary can be fairly attributed to old-fashioned sexism or misogyny. It isn’t that there aren’t things about Hillary to dislike, but the intensity of the dislike that has always been there, even before we had such detailed evidence of her personal flaws, has never seemed reasonable to me. It’s unfortunate that she’s the first female presidential candidate (and will probably be the first female president) because so many people will be out to get her not only because they hate her politics but because they hate her. Her supporters will inevitably characterize opposition to her in terms of sexism and misogyny, which will not be untrue, but it will hardly be the whole truth. (It would have been much better if the first woman president had been a conservative, because then we’d know that people were only opposing her because she was a heartless bitch, and not because she had the wrong set of chromosomes.)
A fair number of Republicans are calling for Trump to drop out of the race, which would be hilarious if it weren’t so infuriating. As though Trump has just now crossed the un-crossable line. Give me a break. You knew he was a dirtbag when you decided to support him. You gambled on more disgusting evidence not coming forward, which was stupid. I hope you feel very stupid. I hope you feel like punching yourself in the face, and I hope you actually do it because it would save me the trouble. There’s no replacing Trump at this point, and even if there were, there are so few Republicans who haven’t tainted themselves by their association with him. You’ve demonstrated that you value your personal power more than any conservative principles you may claim. You don’t deserve to lead this country because you’re not leaders. You’re cowards. Cynical cowards, which is the worst kind.
But I truly don’t understand Democrats calling for Trump to drop out. They should just accept the gift Republicans have given them this year (and will probably keep giving, for years to come). Maybe they think it’s just too easy. They like having to work a little on their negative campaigning. I don’t know. What I do know is that if it had been any other Republican running against Hillary, they would still be claiming that she was far preferable to that horrible person who wants to take away Grandma’s Social Security and make birth control illegal, so I wish they’d spare me their indignation.