Flaws and all, this is a very easy choice.
In the early going, I wanted Scott Walker. I was loved the full package of a governor successfully implementing conservative policies in a blue state, and having shown the toughness it takes to stand firm when public employee unions practically try to tear the state down in protest. You want a conservative who’s shown he’ll fight and win? You should want Scott Walker.
But you didn’t.
Then I wanted Ted Cruz. Not only is he unafraid to demand action and accountability from the leaders of both parties, but his command of policy matters and his commitment to the Constitution and limited government are without question. The fact that he’s so disliked by the political class is a virtue, not a liability, because their dislike of him stems from the discomfort he makes them feel when he refuses to let them get away with enjoying the trappings of power while refusing to solve the nation’s problems. You want a conservative who’s committed to principle and not just looking to make friends and be popular? You should want Ted Cruz.
But you didn’t.
You wanted Donald Trump because, I guess, you thought he was the better fighter. When you said you were going to oppose the dreaded establishment, you weren’t kidding. You decided to reject all established politicians, even the ones who have done the right things often at a high cost to themselves. You really didn’t care about the sometimes boorish behavior and the, shall we say, sketchy commitment to conservative ideas.
You. Wanted. Trump.
OK, you got him. And while he wasn’t my preference, it would be infantile and couunterproductive to go into a snit now about what happened during the nominating race. There is only one question that matters, and here it is: Would you rather have Trump as president or Hillary? And for the four reasons I’m about to present to you, the answer is very clearly and obviously Trump.
First, let’s dispense with a couple of things: As much as you may want to say none of the above so you can be “true to your principles” or whatever, none of the above is not going to be the 45th president and you know it. Neither is Gary Johnson or whoever else the libertarians will cultishly evangelize for this year. And you know that too. Either Trump or Hillary is. The only serious choice you can make is one of these two. It might not be the choice that makes you feel good, but it’s the choice we have.
Second, I’ll deal with Hillary’s dishonesty, corruption and generally horrendous personal character elsewhere. For those who want to say Trump would be a beyond-the-pale embarrassment and disaster as president, I reply that Hillary would be far more so. But this column is strictly about policy. Whatever you may believe Trump’s conservative apostasies to be, and however much you may be convinced his moral character leaves him unsuited for the presidency, there are four crucial areas of policy in which there is little doubt he would do what’s best for the nation and Hillary would not.
1. ObamaCare. I know some of you don’t believe it because Trump has talked in the past about believing in single-payer health care, and you’re convinced he meant it then and doesn’t mean anything he says now. What I think is that Trump has never been ideologically committed to any particular belief on this, but he knows how to recognize when something is not working, and ObamaCare is clearly not working. Assuming we can hang onto Republican control of Congress – which is no easy proposition, but if Trump wins it might be possible – there is no doubt in my mind Trump would sign a Republican-sponsored bill that repeals ObamaCare and replaces it with something better for doctors and patients. And there is no doubt in my mind that Hillary would veto it.
2. The Supreme Court. Whether Merrick Garland is confirmed or not, someone is eventually going to replace Antonin Scalia. If Hillary makes the choice, it is guaranteed to be another left-wing Justice who views the Constitution as a mere inconvenience, as do Justices Sotomayer, Kagan, Breyer and Ginsburg. But it gets worse. Much worse. Breyer and Ginsburg are near or past 80 years old, as is Justice Anthony Kennedy, the so-called swing vote. Any or all could very well retire during the next presidential term, and Hillary would replace them all with much younger liberals who will guarantee a liberal majority for at least a generation. And if any of the court’s three actual conservatives were to die or have to retire for some reason, God help us. Trump may not be a committed ideological conservative, but he’s not a committed liberal either. There is at least a chance he will make good appointments to the Supreme Court. There is no chance Hillary will.
3. Domestic Energy. Hillary has already told us she wants to put coal miners out of business. She would certainly not give the Keystone XL pipeline another chance. And there’s no reason to think she wouldn’t continue Obama’s policy of stopping oil exploration on federal lands. Trump would do the opposite on all three.
4. Foreign policy. I don’t like everything about Trump’s foreign policy instincts, particularly his wrong-headed take on the Iraq War. But Trump would treat our allies like friends and our enemies like people who need to fear us, not push us around. Trump would surely not make terrible deals like the Iran nuclear deal or the giveaway of diplomatic relations with Cuba for absolutely nothing in return. I have concerns about Trump on trade policy, but they are no different than what I think Hillary would do. On balance, Trump would be much better on foreign policy – and he would surely be more supportive of our military forces than a woman who clearly holds them in contempt.
I think there are other areas where Trump would be better, but I am confident about these four, and these four alone would represent huge conservative victories in the policy arena.
Even if there is no other difference between the two, and even if you want to argue Trump’s character is as bad as Hillary’s (I don’t agree, but that’s beside the point), these four items alone make it unconscionable for any conservative to stand by and let Hillary become president on the grounds that Trump would be no better.
That is simply not true.