I wrote and posted this piece, on why American Conservatives should vote for Hillary Clinton, in October 2016. It went down pretty well, but after Trump’s election I wondered if I might have been too strident and removed the article. I now regret this removal, so here is the (somewhat dated) piece. For better or worse I’ve left it unmodified.
The 2016 American Presidential election has the potential to be a truly revolutionary moment in human history. And by revolutionary I mean comparable to the likes of the fall of the Berlin Wall, or the Bolshevik seizure of power in 2017. One of the two primary candidates will likely turn American’s foreign, and to a lesser extent domestic, policy on its head. They threaten the basic institutions of American Government, and the norms of her political discourse. Democracy, the Constitution and the rule of law – none of these mean much, perhaps not anything, to this candidate. And the candidate in question is describing himself as a Conservative – and has been nominated by the Republican Party. American Conservatives need to see this and fight, both for their country and to save some portion of their political reputations.
Donald Trump is not a conservative. He’s a revolutionary. To be more specific he’s an authoritarian ultra-nationalist with an obsessional belief in his own right to power. This, in an American political context, makes him a revolutionary. Past American Presidents have accepted, or at least appeared to accept, liberal-democratic values. Admittedly the earlier Presidents didn’t accept them in their entirety, as they didn’t apply them to women or non-whites, but they did at least accept them for a section of the population. Trump gives the impression of actively detesting liberal-democratic values. The foreign leaders he admires are primarily authoritarian despots. He struggles to accept electoral defeat. When he lost the first Republican primary in Iowa to Ted Cruz he claimed he was only beaten due to electoral fraud. He’s now making the same claim, with growing assertiveness and a consistent lack of evidence, about the Presidential election itself. He’s open about the fact he wants to imprison Hillary Clinton, his chief political opponent, advocates torture, wants to ban followers of a whole religion from entering America and increase restrictions on the press. He does not believe in, or care about, the American constitution.
The one good thing that can be said about Trump is that, in a key respect, he’s honest. He doesn’t hide his authoritarian leanings. He doesn’t quite say it openly, but his actions make it clear he’s running to be America’s dictator, not her President. That’s not to say that Trump will become a dictator if he wins, the strengths of the checks and balances in the American system should be strong enough to contain him, but I’m pretty confident that he’d like to. In this context there’s only one candidate that American Conservatives can support, to protect the American system from Trump’s authoritarian-nationalist revolution (and as a conservative I use the term ‘revolution’ in a largely pejorative sense). That’s the Democrat Party’s nominee Hillary Clinton. Forget third party candidates. Either Trump or Hillary is going to be the next President, and Americans should vote accordingly.
Clinton’s not a conservative. Instead she is a liberal, in many respects quite a right-wing liberal, but a liberal nonetheless. But this doesn’t matter all that much. I’m a British conservative, but I’d rather vote for the fairly ludicrous socialist Bernie Sanders than Trump. Sanders, like Clinton, largely respects America’s political institutions and values. Trump does not. As a result Trump doesn’t pass what I regard as the first hurdle to be accepted as the conservative candidate. Trump is certainly more classily conservative in many of his policy positions than Clinton (though he’s an unusually hard candidate to pin down on policy). But this doesn’t matter all that much. As long as his commitment to Western political institutions are questionable, and by God they are, no conservative should be able to support him.
The Republican party has long been regarded, around the world, as a defender of democratic and constitutional principles. The party of Lincoln and Reagan. But with Trump as it’s nominee I can no longer describe it as such with a straight face. And that’s why, despite my right-wing leanings, I implore American conservatives to vote for Clinton. America is still the land of the free. However after November’s Presidential election, this may no longer be the case.
If you found this interesting you might like to follow me on Twitter: @JBickertonUK