Every election cycle, we are told that “this” might be the most important ballot we ever cast. What if this time it turns out to be true?
Maybe this election isn’t like the Super Bowl or the World Series, where fans of the defeated team can console themselves with “Wait ‘til next year!” What if there is no “next year”?
As what’s left of the American nation contemplates whether to send a known criminal and her rapist husband back to the White House, some are already contemplating how to contain the damage. As one faux-conservative commentator put it, even if Hillary Clinton wins she’ll be “boxed in by a Republican Congress for the first two years; much more probably so in 2019 and 2020. By then, it’ll be time to try again, this time with a Republican nominee not suffering from a major personality disorder.”
Apart from the snide reference to Donald Trump’s personality (the notion that a “sane Donald Trump” would win in a romp has been soundly debunked), the mirage of a “do-over” after what former assistant FBI director James Kallstrom has called the Clinton “crime family” is re-ensconced at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is, depending on the intention of anyone so claiming, a mirage or a fraud. As I have noted before, this one is for all the marbles, in all likelihood permanently.
If Hillary manages to claw out a win (perhaps with the help of enough dead and non-citizen voters and ballot-flipping machines), we can count on a Republican-controlled Congress to be, at best, even more pathetically ineffective at “boxing” her in than they were against Barack Obama. More likely, we can expect active complicity on critical issues. There won’t be much to “try again” in 2020 under three all-too-foreseeable scenarios:
A. BEST CASE scenario: Trump/Buchananite populism is purged from the GOP, the old, Bushist regime is restored (amnesty, “free” trade, endless “wars of choice”), and by some fluke an off-the-shelf conventional Republican stiff manages to win in 2020. In other words, the bipartisan Oligarchy (to which Trump is the only alternative in sight) plays the red card one more time before turning back to blue for good in 2024. Nothing of substance changes, at least not for the better. PROBABILITY: less than 5%.
B. MUCH MORE LIKELY scenario: Trump/Buchananite populism is purged from the GOP, the old, Bushist regime is restored (amnesty, “free” trade, endless “wars of choice”), and an off-the-shelf conventional Republican stiff gets shellacked by the permanent Democratic majority Hillary has enhanced pursuant to her little-noted pledge not to enforce the immigration laws. (Which constitutes breaking her oath of office in advance, but no one seems to care,) A collaborationist GOP settles in for permanent minority status: cushy for the apparatchiki, disaster for a dwindling number of dispirited conservative voters. PROBABILITY: much more than 5% but how much depends on Scenario C.
C. ALL TOO POSSIBLE scenario: The most pathological warmonger in American history gets into the White House, bringing in her entire merry band of neoconservatives and liberal interventionists regardless of party affiliation. She starts a splendid little war someplace—Syria, Iran, South China Sea, it doesn’t much matter where. Bushist Republicans and a bellicose media transmission belt cheer her on. To “unite a divided country” in wartime she quashes domestic opposition with punitive measures that make Abe Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson look like Ron Paul, effectively ruling by Executive decree. (A few terrorist attacks by jihadists she lets in to the U.S. will nicely justify anti-gun measures while being sure no one “blames Islam.”) In due course, World War III ensues. Scenarios A and B are overtaken by events. Forever. PROBABILITY: It would be nice not to find out.
In the wake of FBI Director James Comey’s reopening Hillary’s Emailgate investigation, there’s been loose talk about what happens if Hillary is indicted while President-elector about impeaching her after she takes office—“Hello President Tim Kaine!” Nonsense. If Barack Obama and Loretta Lynch wouldn’t allow Hillary and her henchpersons to be indicted in July, they sure won’t after she is invested with the power to dispense a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card for any possible inconveniences after they leave office. As for impeachment, keep in mind that Richard Nixon was forced from office only when it became clear enough Senate Republicans would vote to remove him. To take Trump’s hypothetical, Hillary could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and a solid phalanx of Democratic Senators would deny the necessary two-thirds majority to convict her, as they did for her husband. Knowing that to be the case, House Republicans would not even bother to vote articles against her.
Let’s be honest. If Hillary wins, we’re stuck with her for the duration, or until her concealed health problems catch up with her.
Or until Scenario C kicks in.
Which brings us again to the deplorable (not in the good sense) stance of diehard #NeverTrumpers. In the law, there’s a concept called the “but for” test. It’s the venerable, commonsense, balance-of-probabilities notion that you can be liable for damages if someone suffers a harm that would not have occurred “but for” your action. If Hillary becomes President and foreseeable, irreparable harm accrues to America and the world, particular blame and opprobrium should fall upon the brow of Christian commentators who, not content with personally declining to support the only declared pro-life candidate among the top four contenders, have used their soapboxes to discourage others from voting for Trump—whose victory is the only proximate chance to avert Scenarios A, B, or C above.
Indeed, notables in this category state in so many words that Hillary’s election would be preferable to Trump’s, which if not exactly constituting an endorsement is awfully close to it. This includes one writer (already roundly rebuked by Chronicles’ Tom Piatak) who morally condemns Christians who stand with Trump as “indelibly stained” and posits that for “religious and social conservatives, a Clinton presidency would be terrible [but] it would not the worst thing imaginable”—that Trump would be worse because he’s a “dirtbag.” Another such writer compares Trump to the degenerate emperor Elagabalus (though Hillary is a far better match) and opines that it is “a hard thing to accept that some elections should be lost, especially in a country as divided over basic moral premises as our own, [but]. . . . today’s conservatism has far more to gain from the defeat of Donald Trump, and the chance to oppose Clintonian progressivism unencumbered” by Trump’s alleged personal flaws. (Make no mistake. Although these barbs are directed in name against Trump, the real target is the mass of spiritually benighted Americans like me who are depraved enough to support him. At root, it’s just another elitist version of Hillary’s irredeemables and deplorables cross-dressing as piety.)
If Donald Trump loses, it may be for lack of conservative and Christian voters these worthies have actively dissuaded. Empirically, it would be hard to prove that “but for” their active discouragement of votes for Trump, he might have won, and that the agony our country would then face might not have occurred. But that is certainly the intent of their repeated jeremiads against the Republican nominee. If, God forbid, Hillary Clinton wins, and we wake up on November 9 lamenting the country we have lost, probably forever—and even facing a qualitatively heightened peril of nuclear holocaust—every decent American should remember those indelibly stained personages who knowingly sought that outcome out of what they touted as their righteous concern for Christian and conservative principles. I hope then they would at least have the decency to shut up and spare us their moralizing and complaints under the regime they preferred and energetically sought to install. It would in part be their regime. They must own up to it.
But thankfully that horrifying prospect is not yet upon us. There’s only one way to keep it from becoming a reality, and it’s in our hands, at least for those of us who live in “swing states.” For what it’s worth, I’ve already voted.
Jim Jatras is a former U.S. diplomat and foreign policy adviser to the Senate GOP leadership. He recently published a major study, “How American Media Serves as a Transmission Belt for Wars of Choice.”
[Image credit: Image by VectorOpenStock.com [CC BY 3.0]]
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