August 9, 2016 § 5 Comments
The title of this essay means that when there are two choices, one or the other must be chosen. The average preschooler can deduce this kind of math. It is, however, too complicated for some of those who have realized Trump should not be President, but who have not figured out the consequence of their realization. I hope to convince them that their actual choices are limited and failure to understand this limitation may lead to a result inconsistent with their realization.
The Late Responders
As I read and watch the news about the political Hamlets who have finally realized the obvious fact: That Donald Trump is an amoral irresponsible narcissist, I am astonished and outraged about the next act in the drama of many of their lives. Like Hamlet, they express their “dark night of the soul” [to mix a couple of different referents] and conclude that they will not vote for Donald Trump but they also will not vote for Hillary Clinton.
Their epiphany tales are all similar. They noticed that Trump does not distinguish between reality and fairy tales. They express dismay at the prospect of his childish impetuosity and habit of enraged response to any criticism , ensconced in the Oval Office, the red telephone at hand. They have, at last, concluded that such a temperament is unsafe for one with the power and authority of a Commander in Chief of the worlds most powerful military force, a force that includes control of nuclear weapons.
Nevertheless, wearing serious faces, wrinkled brows and pursed lips, they declare that Hillary is “untrustworthy”; that her emails and her flailing around about them violate their high standards and moral purity.
These complaints, offered as an excuse for passively refusing to use a vote to prevent Donald Trump from becoming President of the United States, are either evidence of abysmal ignorance of the American political system or an astonishing degree of dispassionate indifference toward a disaster that could threaten the lives of millions and perhaps render much of this planet uninhabitable. Even the presumed instinct of self preservation does not seem sufficient to jar these people out of their effete fantasy land.
The Difference Between Moral Purity and Political Reality
These converts to UnTrumpism are, in many cases, in their 50’s and 60’s, having held responsible government positions.. Many of them confess to having voted for Republican candidates for President during their past lives, presumably for George W.Bush when he was re-elected after four years of decision-making that should have been enough to convince any serious observer that he was plainly unqualified to govern the United States or any other significant government entity. It is somewhat easier to understand the present ignorance of those who voted Republican in that election, but still their present awakening, after sleeping late, with an appropriate decision about Donald Trump is inconsistent with their failure to perceive its obvious cerebral consequence.
As incredible as it seems, there are some simple facts about American politics that have not been noticed by these UnTrumpers. The American political system is built around two political parties. Even before the creation of the GOP, presidential elections were contests between two competing variously named political organizations. Third-party insurgents, even when led by a candidate as famous and respected as Theodore Roosevelt, have not been successful in defeating candidates nominated by the two major political organizations. Teddy’s Progressive Party, nicknamed “Bull Moose” after he described himself as one after being wounded during a campaign appearance, merely allowed Woodrow Wilson to take advantage of the division between Taft and Roosevelt and become President.
This fact leads to a second fact. If one is convinced that Donald Trump would be a reckless and dangerous President, the only rational thing to do is vote for his opponent. Not voting or wasting a vote on a sure loser seeking attention through some form of political purity, is both dumb and indefensible. Dumb because, having acknowledged the dangers of a Trump presidency, failing to do everything necessary to prevent him from becoming President is like confronting an armed and dangerous intruder in your home with spitballs. Indefensible because failing to do the simple act of voting for Trump’s opponent amounts to sharing responsibility for a Trump presidency if he wins.
I agree completely with the premise of the arguments made by those who understand the danger of a Trump presidency. But that premise absolutely requires a vote for Hillary Clinton and committed efforts to persuade others to vote for her. It does not require and, in fact, has nothing to do with agreeing with her or approving of her. It has to do with defeating Trump.
Never in my lifetime have I voted for a presidential candidate with whose policies I agreed completely. If I ever find myself in agreement with mainstream politicians, I will go off somewhere and figure out how I have sold out. And I doubt that will become necessary. When this election is over, I will try to support the political revolution led by Bernie Sanders. Election campaigns are useful for recruiting and identifying people for the next political contest. Campaigns end. Organizing goes on forever.