You do have options

You do have options

This time out, I spend an entire episode on one (rather long) bit of listener feedback. Ruthie Rink wrote in to say how, as a conservative and a Mormon, she is working out how to vote in this election. I couldn’t cover everything she said, so her full text is below, after the podcast episode transcript.

While I won’t be doing what she’s doing, I can’t fault her on her decision-making. Perhaps you might want to consider this.

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Show transcript

Listener Ruthie Rink is a friend of mine, both on Facebook and as a fellow podcast host on the Golden Spiral Media network. We substitute-co-hosted a couple of episodes of the podcast “Central City Underground” for the TV show “The Flash”. She also was part of GSM’s podcast marathon for raising money for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, for which I am grateful.

She has been threatening, er, promising to write down her thoughts about this election, and she made good on it recently. I don’t have time to go into all of it in detail, but I do want to hit the main points, and make my own observations. I’ll be putting the full text of the message in the show notes, so definitely take a look there.

She begins with something a friend of hers wrote about options for conservatives voting this year. And while she doesn’t agree with all of them (and neither do I), the idea here is that there are other options to voting for Trump that can make a difference, or can get your voice heard. Her friend left the Republican party but still considers himself a conservative. He suggests that Trump has been hostile to any objective idea of liberty. I wouldn’t go that far, but there are positions he’s taken that are certainly not in the small-government style. So what to do in this situation, if you think a Trump presidency would be a disaster for conservatism?

#1, write in Evan McMullin. Evan who? Well, he’s on the ballot in a couple states, and could actually win the state of Utah. You may want to look into that, if your state allows write-ins. This sends the signal to the party of what kind of Republican you really want. Ruthie notes that in her home state of Oklahoma, this invalidates your ballot, so best not to try it there.

#2, vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson, if you prefer more conservatism in fiscal matters but not so much on social issues. This, I’m not in such agreement with. Conservatism is a good idea, because we can learn from tradition and history on all sorts of issues; fiscal and social. I don’t want to throw caution to the wind on gay marriage any more than I want to for ever-increasing government programs. If history is worth consulting for guidance, it shouldn’t be ignored for certain types of policies. Ruthie’s friend says “Gay marriage is the law of the land; stop fighting lost battles.” I’d reply that slavery was the law of the land, but Christians, including Abraham Lincoln, were instrumental in ending it. And the country was far more conservative then than it is now, so while history is a guide to conservatives, it is by no means a dictator. I’d suggest that asking people to “stop fighting lost battles” is a rather “unconservative” thing to say.

#3, don’t vote. I would add that not voting as a matter of principle is different than not voting because of apathy or because it’s drizzling outside. Though how does anyone just looking at the numbers tell the difference?

And as a last resort, #4, vote for Clinton. I agree that this would send the strongest message that Republicans should never offer up someone like Trump again. Ruthie’s friend puts it this way, “I don’t think Clinton would be a good president but if we’re going to have a stinker in the White House, let’s let it be a liberal.” I’m not sure I can bring myself to do that. As I’ve said, I think the issue of the Supreme Court is paramount this election, and the next President is going to have an effect that will last far, far longer than his or her term of office. Ruthie will have more to say about the high court later, so I’ll wait until then to say more.

Basically, Ruthie put it this way:

While I agree with most of what he said, I can’t advocate for all of his options; but what I really, really wanted to put out there from a well-reasoned and logical point of view, is that there are other options! Don’t listen to those who tell you that you are wasting your vote if you don’t vote for one or the other, because that is simply not true. The only way real change is made is if we stop letting the GOP shove an ever-left-migrating party line down our throats and take a stand for conservatism. And if everyone did this instead of being scared into voting for someone they really don’t like, perhaps we really could make a change to our political system. It might be a long shot, but it is still possible!

Ruthie goes on to deal with, as I said, the issue of Supreme Court appointments, specifically. She can’t believe there are those that would “blindly believe” everything Trump has said, even when “he has shown himself to be an untrustworthy person in his business dealings, and in his personal life, so why would he suddenly be worthy of trust if he became President?” She uses, as an example, a piece of history from her Mormon faith. In 1838, Governor Boggs of Missouri issued an order allowing Mormons to be shot on sight and kicking them out of the state. The thought is, what would you think of a Mormon who said, “Sure, Boggs is pretty bad on religious freedom, but I’m voting for him because he’ll appoint conservative judges.” Further, what makes me think that Trump would indeed nominate conservatives?

To be perfectly honest, I don’t. I believe he would have to in order to get his nominees past the (hopefully still) Republican Senate, but I agree, there is no guarantee of that. What guarantee I do have is that Hillary Clinton would nominate judges antagonistic towards religious freedom and towards the lives of the unborn. And Gary Johnson is pretty much as liberal as Clinton on social issues, so his election would be no better in this area. And while I understand the use of hyperbole to make a point (I do it myself), I don’t think a President Trump would be anything like a Governor Boggs. Again, I can’t say for sure about him, but I can say very confidently that Clinton would be significantly worse; a Boggs that is bad on religious freedom and conservative judges. I hate it that this is the choice we’re being given, but given that choice, I’m trying to slow the erosion in order to give people of faith and the unborn a fighting chance.

Finally, she concludes with the idea that, while she’s been calling herself a “conservative” rather than a “Republican” for long time now, this election has caused her to stop toeing the party line of a political party that has strayed so far away from the ideals it used to have. She believes that the Trump candidacy is destroying the GOP, and so she can’t support Trump. Ruthie, I feel your pain, and I can’t in good conscience say that you, or anyone else like you with those thoughts, are wrong. I respect your decision. I agree with your aims, but I would only say that my vote is not to save a party, but to save a society. If this society continues going down the path of the culture of death, and of disparaging some of our basic God-given and constitutional rights, then political parties won’t matter one little bit.

 


Full text of Ruthie’s feedback

One of my Facebook (and real life) friends made a few thoughtful posts on Facebook
that pretty much sum up how I am feeling about the upcoming election, and with his
permission, I will quote him now, with a little bit of editing for clarity and
conciseness. This first bit is a long awaited response to an earlier podcast that I
promised Doug I would send as soon as I have a free minute. Sneaking in at almost the
last minute, I respond mainly with my friend who said this:

I left the Republican party…so why should anyone listen to me regarding what’s best for
conservatism[?] The thing is, I still consider myself conservative. If the term means
anything[,] “conservative” means that government should be modest in its reach and its
powers. I’m not alone in this line of thought; Reagan said that the soul of conservatism
is libertarianism. A Republican friend of mine recently told me that I’d abandoned
conservatism. She had it all wrong. I haven’t become any less conservative; the
Republican Party has[emphasis added]. Neither am I a moderate; Goldwater had it
right when he said that “moderation in defense of liberty is no virtue.” If you’ve been
paying attention, you know that Trump has been nothing but hostile to any objective
idea of liberty. So how should conservatives address this at the ballot box this
November? A few suggestions:
1. Vote for McMullin. If he’s not on the ballot in your state (and he very well may not be)
write him in. [Do not do this in a state where it will invalidate your ballot, such as my
home state, Oklahoma.] It is very possible that he will not be on ballots in enough states
for even a mathematical possibility of carrying the Electoral College without write-ins. It
doesn’t matter. A vote for McMullin is not wasted. A vote for McMullin is [signaling]
that you want candidates like him in the future, [c]andidates who are of the more
conventional [Republicanism] of the 90s. He’s your GHW Bush or Bob Dole: a coalition
conservative, respectable, competent, congenial, solid, etc. This vote is saying, “Trump’s
unacceptable. I want someone who’s old fashioned but not George Wallace or Andrew
Jackson old fashioned.”
2. Vote for Gary Johnson. This is my pick (probably). [And mine as well.] Voting Gary
Johnson is sending the message that you want the Republican Party to maintain its
platform of low taxes and reduced spending while softening its position of social
issues. Gay marriage is the law of the land; stop fighting lost battles. Marijuana
prohibition is a fiscal sink and destroys the lives of so many who are consuming
something no more harmful than the already legal alcohol and tobacco. Trade and
immigration make America stronger and wealthier.
3. Don’t vote. Abstaining from voting altogether tells the world that you won’t lend your
voice in support of anyone. Not voting is refusing to sustain the bad options we have
been given this time round.
4. Vote for Clinton. I’m not saying that Clinton is conservative, though in a lot of ways
that matter she’s certainly more conservative than Trump. But if you want to send the
strongest message that the Republican Party must not nominate unconservative, Trump-like candidates in the future, the best way to do that is to make sure that he loses by a
large margin. And the most efficient way of doing that is by voting for his most
formidable (in the polls) opponent. I don’t think Clinton would be a good president but
if we’re going to have a stinker in the White House, let’s let it be a liberal. And I do think
she’d make a better president than Trump. As PJ O’Rourke put it, “she’s wrong on just
about everything, but she’s wrong within reasonable parameters.”
The one thing any conservative must not do is vote for Trump[emphasis
added]. Governor Rick Perry of Texas said that Trump is a cancer on
conservatism. Now, I guess he thinks that cancer is not so bad because he’s endorsed
Trump. He had it right the first time. A win or even a close loss by Trump replaces what
was left of the conservatism of the Republican party with the worst kind of personality-driven, authoritarianism, Putin-wannabe populism. If conservatives and Republicans
want to maintain a hold on principles of limited government and the ideal of virtue in
our public servants, then they should listen to George Will who said that it is our
responsibility to make sure that Trump loses as close to 50 states as possible.”

While I agree with most of what he said, I can’t advocate for all of his options; but what I
really, really wanted to put out there from a well-reasoned and logical point of view, is
that there are other options! Don’t listen to those who tell you that you are wasting
your vote if you don’t vote for one or the other, because that is simply not true. The only
way real change is made is if we stop letting the GOP shove an ever-left-migrating party
line down our throats and take a stand for conservatism. And if everyone did this
instead of being scared into voting for someone they really don’t like, perhaps we really
could make a change to our political system. It might be a long shot, but it is still
possible!

A few days later, he wrote this next bit. It might not mean as much to people who aren’t
Mormon, but there are still many valid points to be made here. In case there is a crosssection out there who are both listeners and members of my church, I thought I would
go ahead and include it, especially since my faith has become more well-known after
Mitt Romney ran for president. Also, I wanted to let people know that yes, we do think
for ourselves. He says:

Mormonism plays a much smaller role in this election than it did in 2012, but that role is
still interesting and significant today nonetheless. They’re the most reliably Republican
religious group since LBJ, yet Mormons make up many of the most prominent antiTrump and never-Trump conservatives: the previously obscure Evan McMullin, Brent
Scowcroft, Jeff Flake, Mike Lee, Mia Love, Dean Heller, the late Bob Bennett, Glenn Beck
and Mitt Romney. [I don’t know who all of those people are, either.] The most generous
polls for Trump in Utah have him with a plurality of the vote at 39%, about 30% below
the average Republican take in presidential elections since 1980. Before the Utah
primary, Trump tried to shore up Mormon support in a speech in Salt Lake City in which
he made his case by essentially saying, “I love Mormons. I know lots of Mormons. I
have one friend. He’s not a Mormon. But he loves Mormons.” It was, like most things
Trump says, odd. Of course, he went on to place 3rd in Utah’s primaries. Trump then
decided that he wasn’t especially fond of those belonging to a faith he had previously
described as “alien.” To a group of assembled evangelical leaders, Trump played up his
poor polling in Utah and the otherness of Mormons, exploiting historical theological
discomfort of some evangelicals with the Utah-based religion. His unambiguous
message was, “Mormons don’t like me, so you know you can trust me.” This last week,
Tom Tancredo, a member of Trump’s campaign (his official position is actually at
Breitbart, but the man who signs his checks is the chief executive of the Trump
campaign) wrote an opinion piece castigating the Church and Mormon leaders for their
statement that they released opposing Trump’s ban on Muslims entering the United
States. Read the Statement. See if there’s anything you can disagree with there. I
couldn’t. But it sure got Tancredo all out of sorts. According to him, Mormon leaders
are guilty of “moral incoherence” because they pointed out that discriminating against
people based on religion is a bad idea. Of course, the offense to Mormons that Trump
and his campaign offer is nothing compared to the vilification he’s heaped on other
undeserving groups. And it is for that reason that I say, 39% in Utah is too high. In the
past, Mormons have been excluded from immigration and other civil rights based on
their religion. I can understand the hesitancy of some to cast a vote for Clinton, but I
cannot understand how any Mormon would feel comfortable casting a vote for someone
who promises to mistreat others the same way our ancestors were mistreated.
I’m not going to tell you that your religion demands that you vote against Trump. People
on both sides of the political spectrum have been telling me who Jesus wants me to vote
for ever since I was eligible to cast a ballot. But I would like my friends who are Mormon
to try a thought experiment. Imagine our ancestors in Missouri (even if they aren’t your
ancestors by blood, they certainly are in spirit). Can you see any of them saying, “sure,
governor Boggs is pretty bad on freedom of religion, but I’m going to vote for him
because he’ll appoint conservative judges.”?

In short, Governor Boggs issued Missouri Executive Order 44, aka the Extermination
Order, in October of 1838, basically allowing a Mormon to be shot on sight in the state
of Missouri. They were forced to give up their land, and forced to leave Missouri by
spring, making for a very difficult winter. After settling in Illinois for a time, they were
eventually forced from there as well, although many left voluntarily after the
assassination of Joseph Smith. At this time, they decided to make the long, grueling
trek across the United States to settle in Utah, where church headquarters still are
today. Not a very nice piece of history for us.

To my friend’s statements about conservative judges, I would also like to add, if the
SCOTUS issue is the most important to you, what makes you think Trump would have
better Supreme Court Justice nominees? (I’m looking at you right now, Doug!) Sure, all
we ever have is a politician’s promise of what he or she will or won’t do, but I just cannot
understand why people blindly believe everything the Donald says. He has shown
himself to be an untrustworthy person in his business dealings, and in his personal life,
so why would he suddenly be worthy of trust if he became president?

Personally, I can’t stand either of these two clowns, which is why I refuse to vote for
either of them. After making my views known to those who asked, I have been ridiculed
for my decision not to vote for Trump (I am a registered Republican after all), and been
told it will be my fault if Clinton gets elected. This has been a troubling election for me;
I’ve never been at political odds from my family before. But I can no longer in good
conscience swallow the bitter pill of “the lesser of two evils” and “toe the party line” of a
party that has gone so far away from the party that I initially signed up with so as to be
unrecognizable. I have stopped calling myself a Republican and started saying “I’m
conservative” for a long time now, but this election cycle has gone too far for me. I must
now make a stand against what I believe is destroying the GOP and therefore, I cannot
support Trump. But, despite what you may think, that doesn’t mean I like or support
Clinton.

Filed under: ElectionsReligion