Politically interested Catholics have been tearing one another apart over the question: would you vote for Donald Trump to stop Hillary Clinton from becoming president?
I worry about many things nowadays, but not very much about that. I’m not voting for Trump. He is an awful human being and an awful candidate, and he would make a truly terrible president. However, I doubt there will be much reason even to consider voting for him. I still hope the country will come to its senses and decline to nominate him, but if they don’t, it will become clear long before November that he has no chance of winning.
By the end of summer, no one will be worrying anymore about urging the Senate to stand strong against an Obama nominee to the Supreme Court. With Trump topping the Republican ticket, the Democrats will be unstoppable. Six Purgatorial months of vomit-inducing scandals will culminate in long and merry progressive grave-dance, as Republicans lose the House and Senate, and watch the beloved Antonin Scalia get replaced by a hard left justice in the mold of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Then the Clinton Administration will get back to the business of undermining our religious liberties, and rolling back any protections we have created on behalf of the unborn.
I realize that Trump supporters are rubbing their hands and crowing about “famous last words.” It’s true that Trump has endured far longer than almost anyone predicted. We need to realize, though, that this is only partly a tribute to Trump’s skills as an entertainer. It’s also a testament to our media, which has many motivations for guiding this unbelievably awful candidate to the Republican nomination. He keeps their ratings up, and most are happy to root for the horse that has the smallest chance of beating Clinton. The moment his nomination is secure, however, they’ll be poised to turn on him. Plan to keep your kids away from any public place with a television, if Trump becomes the nominee. It’s going to be a long and Purgatorial lead-up to the 2016 election.
It’s already clear that Trump is the most vulgar, crude, and brazenly immoral presidential candidate in American history. So it’s not surprising to find the public dislikes him; he is more hated by far than any other presidential candidate, including Clinton, and a full 54 percent of likely voters say they absolutely won’t consider voting for him. Many noteworthy Republicans (even including elected officials) have already declared in no uncertain terms that they will never pull a lever for Trump. Meanwhile, his boasts about “crossover appeal” are almost entirely empty. Independents and Democrats absolutely loathe him. If a Trump vs. Clinton election were held today, Trump would be crushed.
As grim as that may sound, this is likely the high-water mark for his public image. Things could get much worse, and will if he is nominated.
Titillated by the possibility of seeing conservatism gutted by its own populists, the mainstream media has given Trump oceans of free publicity, and presented him as a lovable rogue with a juggernaut campaign. Republicans, to their shame, have done little to stop the tide. Of the $215 million spent so far on this election (by Super PACs and other independent groups), only 4 percent has gone towards attacking Trump. Whether through cowardice, bad strategizing or general disbelief (“can voters really nominate this lunatic?”), high-level Republicans have mostly pulled their punches. What that means is that we’ve barely scratched the surface of Trump’s seedy past. We can count on the Democrats to turn that stone for us.
Practically the moment Trump clinches the nomination, they will begin familiarizing us with his army of skeletons. Prepare for months on end of appalling sex scandals, and enough lewd remarks to fill ten seasons of South Park. Trump, thrice-married, has appeared on the cover of Playboy and boasted of numerous affairs with “seemingly very happily married and important women.” Won’t it be fun to learn who they all are? Perhaps we can relive the pleasures of the Monica Lewinsky days, only before the election, and focused on the Republican nominee.
Then there will be the fraudulent business dealings. What we already know should be easily enough to sink Trump’s campaign, but again, we should anticipate that what we know is only a fraction of what we’ll learn once the Democrats unleash their attacks. Incredibly, we’re not even certain he’s really a billionaire, though there’s strong reason to think he has exaggerated his wealth, probably by a considerable margin. If we aren’t even sure how much money he has, how much else will come to light once the Clinton Foundation starts pulling all its strings?
Here’s what we do already know. Trump is embroiled in a lawsuit relating to the wildly fraudulent “Trump University” (the proceedings for which will probably take place this summer, just in time for a media feeding frenzy). Trump has claimed to take a strong stance on immigration and the importance of getting Americans back to work, but this is deeply hypocritical given that the legendary Trump Towers got its start on the backs of two hundred or so undocumented immigrants. He’s also shown a strong preference for foreign workers over Americans in his own business ventures, rejecting American applicants and applying for foreign visas instead.
Trump has presented himself as a fighter who stands up for “the little guy.” Does that seem like a reasonable description of a person who dragged an elderly widow through legal torment, attempting to abuse eminent domain laws to steal her house? (He hoped to use the space to park limousines.) As will become abundantly clear in the near future, Trump has a long and proud history of steamrolling the little guy when it serves his personal ends. He’s also a compulsive liar. Politifact rated a whopping 93 percent of his fact-checked statements “false” or “mostly false.”
Even if it were possible for Trump to win the White House, this is not a development in which faithful Catholics should delight. Trump is a very fitting emissary for the Culture of Death, having thrown his personal fortune into the pockets of abortion-supporters for years. He claims to have recently converted to the pro-life position, but even today enthuses about the “wonderful things” Planned Parenthood supposedly does for women. He gets visibly excited when discussing plans to torture the families of terrorists; waterboarding, he declares, is far too mild. He celebrates alleged war crimes. His claim that his supporters would not mind if he “walked onto Fifth Avenue and shot someone” was admittedly a hypothetical, but isn’t it disturbing how often his mind seems to flit to blood, torture and killing? Is this someone we want as Commander in Chief of the world’s strongest military?
Trump’s unsavory connections may include the mafia, and certainly include white supremacists, from whom he has been conspicuously reluctant to distance himself. Even if not a racist himself, Trump clearly knows that racist and nativist cultural currents are critical to his momentum. Is it possible to win the White House with the white supremacist vote? Do we wish it were?
It’s agonizing to be in such a position with Supreme Court justices on the line, and a Republican-controlled Congress that could, with a cooperative executive, accomplish important goals like defunding Planned Parenthood. This could have been a glorious moment for pro-lifers, but there is no reasonable hope of realizing these goals under Trump’s leadership. Trump’s nomination will be a dramatic setback for the pro-life movement, for religious liberty, and for all well-meaning people who hope to retain a modicum of decency in the public square.
There is a silver lining however. We don’t have to do this. Catastrophe can still be averted.
As of yet, Trump is nowhere close to winning the number of delegates he needs to clinch the nomination. Even if he were to win every single Super Tuesday state, he would still be several weeks away from a truly decisive victory. Anger at spineless Republican elites is entirely understandable, but now is not the moment to start slashing off our noses out of spite. We need to organize ourselves, and stop Trump.
On the table right now are two solidly pro-life, pro-family, Christian candidates who support religious liberty and a strictly constructionist judiciary. Their personal lives don’t appear to be a disaster. Either one would stand a real chance of winning the general election.
For Super Tuesday voters, some have suggested that the most reasonable course is to vote for the non-Trump candidate (either Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz) most likely to win the state. That would leave Minnesotans and Floridians voting for Rubio, and Texans for Cruz. Some states are more difficult to judge. The most important thing, however, is to vote in our primary elections, and to support a viable non-Trump candidate.
Much ink has been spilled of late diagnosing the anger and frustration of the present moment. In light of progressivism’s relentless attacks on our culture, our faith and our traditions, we can all sympathize with the Trumpian declaration that “We’re not gonna take it anymore!” We want leaders with more conviction and more vision. We want our wealthiest and most influential citizens to realize that they aren’t entitled to dictate how the rest of us should live.
Time and again, Trump supporters have tried to help us all “get it,” by explaining the basis of Trump’s appeal. Truthfully, it isn’t very hard to get. With his façade of strength and his talent for infuriating the “right people,” it’s easy to see why some see him as a kind of salvation. But his supporters need to understand that they, like the hapless students of “Trump University” are being scammed. Con men are very good at exploiting fevered emotions, delivering the emotional release that their marks desperately want, inevitably to their own personal gain. Trump’s profile as reprobate, lecher and fraud is amply established. It’s embarrassing that even Christians have fallen for his treachery, but for the sake of our faith, families, and nation, let’s end the madness now. Go out and vote. Not for Trump.
(Photo credit: Richard Drew / AP)