This is the first part of a five-part series I will do this week making the case for and against each of the major candidates, with a wrap-up on Friday. I did this in 2012 and I will observe the same ground rule I did then: making the case for a candidate means making the case for a candidate, not a case against the opponent. That’s the subject of later posts. So “he’s not Hillary” is not a reason I will list for voting for Trump and “she’s not Trump” is not a reason I will list for voting for Clinton. Each one of them will get their own special post all to themselves about they don’t deserve our votes.
I’ll swallow the bitterest pill first: making the case to vote for Donald Trump.
Making the case for Donald Trump is exceedingly difficult because it’s not really clear what Trump stands for. He was for a wall, but now it may be more a virtual wall. He was going to deport illegals, but now he’s not sure, but maybe he still will. He’s outlined policies on his website but most of them are GOP boilerplate and are often contradicted by things he says in speeches or debates. He says he wants a moratorium on new regulation, which sounds good. But I have no idea if he’ll actually do it.
So the absence of ironclad policy, we’re left with a few things:
Trump may, in the end, just be a rubber stamp for the GOP: There have been a lot rumblings that Trump is not terribly interested in governing. His son reportedly conveyed an offer to Kasich to let the latter become the most powerful Vice-President in American history. His positions and his list of Supreme Court nominees are mostly copied from the Republican mainstream. If that is so, then Trump’s talk about policy is kind of irrelevant. Trump would become mostly a figurehead with Congress having the real power which is a bit closer to what the founders intended. A vote for Trump would be a proxy for President Paul Ryan.
A Trump election might end parts of the Culture War: Trump has evinced little to no interest in the Culture War. He bungled the abortion question because he doesn’t care. He’s been fairly friendly to gays and his election would probably put the last nail in the coffin of the anti-gay conservative faction (a nail many Republicans would love to see driven). Trump is less moderate on issues of policing, immigration and race. But this would be progress. Of a sort.
The GOP may have earned a second chance to govern: I have been reluctant in the past to give the GOP full control of the government again. The last time, they blew spending out the window, wrecked the economy and bungled a war. As a general rule, I favor divided government and the divide I favor is the one where the GOP controls the purse strings.
But Ryan has laid out a conservative agenda and shown the ability to get it through Congress. It’s been ten years. Maybe they deserve another chance.
The Supreme Court: This, even to the biggest skeptics of Trump, is the main reason to support him. I do this every election, but here is the age of the Supreme Court justices:
Liberal: Ginsberg (83), Breyer (78), Sotomayor (62), Kagan (56)
Moderate: Kennedy (80)
Conservative: Thomas (68), Roberts (61), Alito (66)
With the passing of Scalia, the Court will shift Left if Clinton is elected. She could also replace Ginsberg, Breyer and Kennedy on the Court, cementing a liberal majority for the next twenty years. You can, if you want, find many gleeful articles on liberal websites about what they hope a liberal court could do — overturn Heller, stomp out Citizens United, dash what is left of federalism, produce an unfettered regulatory state.
Now this is a bit of wish-casting by the Left. The Court tends not to overturn precedent so lightly. But some of the most important SCOTUS decisions in recent years have been 5-4. If Clinton is elected, those decisions will not be resolved in our favor.
That’s pretty much it. There are a few other reasons people have touted but none of them cross me as likely or even desirable. For example, Trump isn’t going to “smash the establishment”; he is the establishment. Of the reasons given above, the one that really resonates is SCOTUS. Assuming that Trump goes with conservative justices, the fate of the Court hangs in the balance.
Is that reason enough to vote for him? Stay tuned.