I don’t normally get this despondent about a presidential election until it is over – but when Cruz dropped out an effectively ended any real opposition to Trump, I succumbed to my usual post-election melancholia. Once again, I am faced with a GOP nominee I can only support as a matter of party loyalty, a strong opposition to the Democrat candidate and a hope that the GOP candidate can be a bridge to a more classical liberal future (the same as I did with Dole, Dub, McCain and Romney).
The truth is I can vote for Trump – not because I support him but because after the power of the Executive has been expanded to monarchial dimensions, to allow the Democrats to hold that power unabated for 12 or 16 years straight is simply unacceptable to me – and is dangerous to the survival of this country. Some have argued that Congress would find it easier to stop Hillary than Trump but given their performance during the Obama years, I have no reason to expect that she and the Democrats would not, as John Adams wrote, “…break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.”
During the two G.W. Bush administrations, the left constantly feared the increased in power of the Executive – the creation of a “unitary executive” with powers far beyond the control of Congress or the Constitution. After winning the Presidency, that fear morphed into support for the very thing they claimed to fear. They have quarried hundreds of thousands of granite blocks to add to the walls of the high castle the president now occupies. If we are truly lovers of liberty, is liberty best served by adding more blocks to that castle or storming the walls and laying siege to a future Orange King’s citadel?
I have no reason to expect a Trump presidency will be much different in the use of executive fiat than what we have just experienced. It will necessarily have to start in that manner to reverse the damages that Obama has wrought…and I get that but the question is this – after those are reversed, will it stop there? Somehow I don’t think it will – for there are too many on the right who will ask, “what good is all this power if we don’t use it?” Lord Acton’s quote seems appropriate: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority.”
Which brings me to the angst I suffer in attempting to resolve my current conundrum.
Does it matter how we win? Is the victory tarnished with illegitimacy if it is achieved in a manner by which we have opposed for others to use? Do the ends really justify the means?
Where I struggle is that I believe the answers to those questions are 1) yes, 2) yes and 3) no.
One cannot fight intellectual dishonesty by applying a salve consisting of simply more intellectual dishonesty. That is a progressive trait – to try to “cure” a particular defect in society by vesting the same defect on a disfavored group. They “cure” discrimination by discriminating, “cure” inequality by treating others in unequal manners and they cure inconsistencies in outcomes by being arbitrary and capricious in the enforcement of laws. F.A. Hayek noted this in 1944 when he wrote: “Even the striving for equality by means of a directed economy can result only in an officially enforced inequality – an authoritarian determination of the status of each individual in the new hierarchical order.”
I believe how we win does matter. I can’t support a right wing autocrat any more than I can a left wing one because to do so is to abdicate the power to make my own choices – once a citizen abdicates the power to make choices for himself in order that some arbitrary authority may make those decisions, there is no limit to what decisions that authority will justify to make for them – there are no limits and anything can be justified – just think about the coercion rampant in Obamacare or the federal protection of “gender fluidity” for a couple of examples. Once a state controls behavior by deciding who can do what things, the aspect of who promulgates and enforces those rules becomes even more germane.
If we don’t care how we win, we risk eventually becoming that which we oppose. Therein lies the pain of my conundrum – how do choose between death (Hillary) and dishonor (Trump).