We’re members of a minority: Jewish Blue-State professionals who plan to vote for Donald Trump. As Blue-Staters and as Jews, we have many friends and co-religionists who consider themselves progressives. As oft-disappointed conservatives and oft-chagrined members of the Republicans’ professional class, we have many friends and colleagues who consider themselves NeverTrumps. We get their angst, but we’re tired of the self-righteous insistence that support for Trump is “unprincipled.” They get the principle exactly backwards.
According to Rasmussen—whose polls tend to favor the GOP—Trump’s support among Republicans is only 69%. Our inclusion in that number flows from our principled opposition to the damage that progressivism has already inflicted on our great nation. Under Obama, the United States—founded as the embodiment of classic eighteenth century liberal ideals—has turned away from its Judeo-Christian and Western roots, expanded government intrusiveness and control, robbed individuals of their agency as autonomous decision-makers, ignored the rule of law, and imperiled the global spread of prosperity. Hillary Clinton seeks to finish the job.
If there are conservatives arguing that Clinton is either unserious or incapable of achieving her stated goal, those trumpeting – and trumping up – Trump’s shortcomings have drowned them out—helping Clinton in effect, if not in intent. The 11% of Republicans that Rasmussen shows supporting Gary Johnson stand between Clinton’s aggressively progressive America and a philosophically idiosyncratic Trump presidency. We prefer the latter—on principle—and implore all principled conservatives (explicitly including the NeverTrumps) to do the same. Trump was not the champion we sought, but he is the one we have. The only one.
The distinction may be clearest in the cultural and social realms. Trump seems content to let homosexual couples form families, religious bakers opt out of gay weddings, states decide the question of transgender bathroom use, and women choose abortions as long as they are not subsidized—even when his personal beliefs and choices may point in other directions. He seems singularly unlikely to crusade over such issues. This stance defines a libertarian middle ground likely to satisfy neither social conservatives nor social progressives. And while the two of us do not always agree on these issues, we are clear that a nonideological libertarian neutral is far superior to the crusading progressive that Clinton has promised to be. With Clinton in the White House, the assault on religious liberties would be catastrophic.
When it comes to race—historically, the most difficult issue in America—Trump can indeed seem tone-deaf. Nevertheless, his long history in the public eye suggests colorblindness rather than malice, and a healthy disdain for politically correct fascism. Trump has had close personal relationships—and antagonisms—with people of all races, ethnicities, and religions. His preference for “content of character” (as he defines it) over color of skin, coupled with his characteristic bluntness, is almost guaranteed to offend in our hypersensitive age. Still, the idea that we should reward racial hostility and reorient society to avoid unavoidable “microagressions” against the perpetually thin-skinned is a particularly progressive failing.
Conservatives ought to value respect and decorum, but in a clash between an insufficiently sensitive candidate and an overly sensitive victim class, a principled conservative can remain safely ambivalent.
And while America might do better with a conciliatory President, it will not find one in Clinton. The Democratic convention dedicated an evening to groups who champion identity politics, heighten racial sensitivities, exude virulent anti-Semitism, encourage street riots, and condone violent attacks against police. During the convention, a sitting Democratic Member of Congress publicly called Israeli Jews “termites” and a former Member tweeted blood-libel type conspiracy theories blaming Jews for Islamic terror in Europe. Meanwhile, attendees waved the flag of the terrorist PLO/Palestinian Authority (labeled last week as anti-Semitic by even the Arabist State Department) and burned American and Israeli flags. Is that a mandate “principled” conservatives are content to tolerate, let alone assist?
On economics, both campaigns disappoint. Growth is a prerequisite for almost all beneficial advancements, and free trade is critical to growth. Granted, democratic institutions that remain oblivious to distribution will eventually induce society’s many losers to vote against growth—as we are seeing today. From that perspective, Trump’s coupling of concerns about the distributional effects of trade and immigration with pro-growth regulatory and tax reform is less disturbing than Clinton’s all-encompassing anti-growth redistribution agenda.
On judicial nominations, Trump has provided ample reason for optimism among constitutional conservatives—and it is hard to see how he could be worse than Clinton’s relentless focus on the full progressive takeover of the federal judiciary. Rather than a protective backstop on key constitutional protections, the judiciary would become a launch pad for even more assaults on our religious observances and beliefs.
Finally, in the Middle East, Trump is far more inclined than Clinton to correctly see Israelis as good guys, radical Muslims as evil, and moderate Muslims as potential allies who need our help. Clinton may spout politically popular pro-Israel platitudes, but her track record of strong-arming Israel while embracing and mainstreaming Muslim terrorists speaks far louder than her words. She would continue the shocking Obama policies in which she was complicit – including the horrendous Iran Deal.
We appeal to conservatives still waving the NeverTrump banner to reconsider while time remains. Much is at stake. Principled progressives committed to completing America’s transformation can vote for Clinton. Principled conservatives must fight her.