Saturday, September 17, 2016

101 Reasons NOT to Vote For Donald Trump

(and NOT for Hillary Clinton either) or, 101 Reasons Not to Opt for Scylla or Charybdis

Two hundred and twenty years ago today, George Washington finished his Farewell Address, in which he articulated both his hopes and dreams for our future and issued wisdom and warnings to us regarding our political and civic order.  You may consider the content of Washington's Farewell Address as your first reason for not voting for Donald Trump this November.

“One of the expedients of party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart-burnings, which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those, who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection ... The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty ... In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course, which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.”
- George Washington, "The Farewell Address," September 17, 1796

As a traditional conservative, I am not one who objects to the two-party system.  Our two-party system follows naturally from the intellectual history of our political philosophy, as exemplified by opposing schools of thought represented, on one side by Edmund Burke, John Adams, and the Federalists, and, on the other side, by Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and the anti-federalists.  To a far greater extent than most people today may realize, Modern Liberalism follows both naturally and logically from classical liberalism and social contract theory of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  Hillary Clinton advocates for a progressivism that can be reasonably derived from the thinking of Enlightenment liberalism.  This is a misguided school of thought that has caused a great deal of damage throughout world history, and traditional conservatives reject it at its very root assumptions.

While past Republican presidents and candidates have occasionally represented the Burkean conservatism that pervades our Constitutional civic order badly or incompetently, no Republican nominee has entirely rejected the underlying values of traditional conservatism as Donald Trump has.  Trump’s flippant vulgarity, arrogant demagoguery and pandering populism is not conservative.  His nomination may very well be the death of the Republican Party.  This is not entirely new.  The Federalist Party grew corrupt and, after the death of Alexander Hamilton, fell away from Burkean conservatism by 1815 into nonexistence.  Later, the Whig Party floundered in the turbulent and highly polarized times before the American Civil War, dissolving by 1856 for lack of any coherent or principled leadership.

I have always held, and still do hold, a natural disdain for wasting one’s vote upon unserious fringe third party candidates.  Those who insist on throwing away their votes based upon some sort of doctrinaire or ideological purity are not really interested in accomplishing anything real.  Refusing to compromise and refusing to vote for a candidate who does not agree with all of one’s views is unrealistic.  However, since the traditionalists failed to stop Trump from obtaining the Republican nomination, I have hoped and prayed for a serious third party candidate in 2016.  The sad truth is that there isn’t one.

Gary Johnson doesn’t have a chance any more than any Libertarian Party candidate has ever had a chance.  Libertarians have always leaned more favorably towards ideological purity than political realism, and their values are closer to the roots of liberalism than they would have you believe.  The Constitution Party makes the libertarians look like realists by comparison, and their willingness to entertain right-wing conspiracy theories sinks any remaining credibility they may have begun with.  Better for America’s Evan McMullin is quixotic, and I admire him for it.  He seems like a decent fellow.  In a better world, he would be a third choice up on the debate platform, offering calm reasoned restraint in the face of Trump’s insults and Clinton’s smugness.  But when your primary qualification for candidacy is that “no one else would do it,” you are not realistically starting up the next major party to replace the Republicans.  The American Solidarity Party's nominee is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and KIDabra International.  He currently entertains “at corporate events, banquets, holiday parties, [sic] fundraiser and children's birthday parties. He is currently writing, designing and building his first full-length stage illusion show, titled ‘The Dream.'”

This does not mean we ought not to vote.  At present, there is simply no real presidential candidate for whom I can justifying voting for.  Like many others, I will likely be tempted to write-in Senator Ben Sasse as I did during the California primary.  But this is all the more reason to still cast your votes for every other office, local and national.  If we are going to have a dishonest and power hungry president who does not believe in Constitutional law, then we need other good and true men and women serving in political offices across the land, in the Congress, in the governorships, in the state legislatures and assemblies, and in our city councils.

Ergo, in the spirit of traditionalist conservative sensibility, collected below are one hundred further reasons not to vote for Donald Trump, or, for that matter, not to vote for Hillary Clinton either.

(Note: I've used red text below to indicate Trump or Trump's supporters.)


“When the people meet, they are omnipotent, but they cannot be brought together unless they are attracted by a little honey; and the rich are made to supply the honey, of which the demagogues keep the greater part themselves, giving a taste only to the mob. Their victims attempt to resist; they are driven mad by the stings of the drones, and so become downright oligarchs in self-defence. Then follow informations and convictions for treason. The people have some protector whom they nurse into greatness, and from this root the tree of tyranny springs. The nature of the change is indicated in the old fable of the temple of Zeus Lycaeus, which tells how he who tastes human flesh mixed up with the flesh of other victims will turn into a wolf. Even so the protector, who tastes human blood, and slays some and exiles others with or without law, who hints at abolition of debts and division of lands, must either perish or become a wolf – that is, a tyrant.”
- Plato, The Republic, Book VIII

“Revolutions in democracies are generally caused by the intemperance of demagogues ... The truth of this remark is proved by a variety of examples. At Cos the democracy was overthrown because wicked demagogues arose, and the notables combined. At Rhodes the demagogues not only provided pay for the multitude, but prevented them from making good to the trierarchs the sums which had been expended by them; and they, in consequence of the suits which were brought against them, were compelled to combine and put down the democracy. The democracy at Heraclea was overthrown shortly after the foundation of the colony by the injustice of the demagogues ... For sometimes the demagogues, in order to curry favor with the people, wrong the notables and so force them to combine; either they make a division of their property, or diminish their incomes by the imposition of public services, and sometimes they bring accusations against the rich that they may have their wealth to confiscate ... History shows that almost all tyrants have been demagogues who gained the favor of the people by their accusation of the notables. At any rate this was the manner in which the tyrannies arose in the days when cities had increased in power ... Panaetius at Leontini, Cypselus at Corinth, Peisistratus at Athens, Dionysius at Syracuse, and several others who afterwards became tyrants, were at first demagogues.”
- Aristotle, Politics, Book Five, Part X

“These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”
- Proverbs 6:16-19, KJV

“For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.”
- Isaiah 9:16, KJV

“The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful. For the vile person will speak villainy, and his heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail. The instruments also of the churl are evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right.”
- Isaiah 32:5-7, KJV

Coleridge comments on the above passage as follows:

“Such are the political empirics, mischievous in proportion to their effrontery and ignorant in proportion to their presumption, the detection and exposure of whose true characters the inspired statesman and patriot represents as indispensable to the re-establishment of the general welfare, while [the prophet Isaiah’s] own portrait of these impostors whom in a former chapter (ix. 15) he calls, the tail of the nation, and in the following verse, demagogues that cause the people to err, afford to the intelligent believer of all ages and countries the means of detecting them, and of undeceiving all whose malignant passions have not rendered them blind and deaf and brutish.  For these noisy and calumnious zealots, whom (with an especial reference indeed to the factious leaders of the populace who under this name exercised a tumultuary despotism in Jerusalem, at once a sign and a cause of its approaching downfall) St. John beheld in the Apocalyptic vision as a compound of locust and scorpion, are not of one place or of one season.  They are the perennials of history: and though they may disappear for a time, they exist always in the egg and need only a distempered atmosphere and an accidental ferment to start up into life and activity.”
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lay Sermons, 1817

“On my authority, therefore, deride and despise all those who imagine that from the precepts of such as are now called rhetoricians they have gained all the powers of oratory, and have not yet been able to understand what character they hold, or what they profess; for indeed, by an orator everything that relates to human life, since that is the field on which his abilities are displayed, and is the subject for his eloquence, should be examined, heard, read, discussed, handled, and considered; since eloquence is one of the most eminent virtues; and though all the virtues are in their nature equal and alike, yet one species is more beautiful and noble than another; as is this power, which, comprehending a knowledge of things, expresses the thoughts and purposes of the mind in such a manner, that it can impel the audience whithersoever it inclines its force; and, the greater is its influence, the more necessary it is that it should be united with probity and eminent judgment; for if we bestow the faculty of eloquence upon persons destitute of these virtues, we shall not make them orators, but give arms to madmen.”
- Cicero, De Oratore, 3.54-55

“Nicias, in this affair, was not only unjust to himself, but to the state.  He suffered Cleon by this means to gain such an ascendancy, as led him to a degree of pride and effrontery that was insupportable.  Many evils were thus brought upon the commonwealth, of which Nicias himself had his full share.  We cannot but consider it as one great corruption, that Cleon now banished all decorum from the general assembly.  It was he who in his speeches first broke out into violent exclamations, threw back his robes, smote upon his thigh, and ran from one end of the rostrum to the other.  This soon introduced such a licentiousness and disregard to decency among those who directed the affairs of state, that it threw the whole government into confusion.”
- Plutarch, “Nicias,” Plutarch’s Lives

“Popular demagogues always call themselves the people, and when their own measures are censured, cry out, the people, the people are abused and insulted.”
- John Adams, “Addressed to the Inhabitants of the Province of Massachusetts Bay,” April 3, 1775

“History will teach us ... that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.”
- Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist, No. 1, October 27, 1787

“As the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought, in all governments, and actually will, in all free governments, ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers; so there are particular moments in public affairs when the people, stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn. In these critical moments, how salutary will be the interference of some temperate and respectable body of citizens, in order to check the misguided career, and to suspend the blow meditated by the people against themselves, until reason, justice, and truth can regain their authority over the public mind? What bitter anguish would not the people of Athens have often escaped if their government had contained so provident a safeguard against the tyranny of their own passions? Popular liberty might then have escaped the indelible reproach of decreeing to the same citizens the hemlock on one day and statues on the next.”
- James Madison, The Federalist, No. 63, March 1, 1788

“But such men entertain very crude notions, as well of the purposes for which government was instituted, as of the true means by which the public happiness may be promoted. The republican principle demands that the deliberate sense of the community should govern the conduct of those to whom they intrust the management of their affairs; but it does not require an unqualified complaisance to every sudden breeze of passion, or to every transient impulse which the people may receive from the arts of men, who flatter their prejudices to betray their interests. It is a just observation, that the people commonly intend the public good. This often applies to their very errors. But their good sense would despise the adulator who should pretend that they always reason right about the means of promoting it. They know from experience that they sometimes err; and the wonder is that they so seldom err as they do, beset, as they continually are, by the wiles of parasites and sycophants, by the snares of the ambitious, the avaricious, the desperate, by the artifices of men who possess their confidence more than they deserve it, and of those who seek to possess rather than to deserve it. When occasions present themselves, in which the interests of the people are at variance with their inclinations, it is the duty of the persons whom they have appointed to be the guardians of those interests, to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection.”
- Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist, No. 71, March 18, 1788

"I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man."
- George Washington, “Letter to Alexander Hamilton,” August 28, 1788

"The vanity, restlessness, petulance, and spirit of intrigue of several petty cabals, who attempt to hide their total want of consequence in bustle and noise, and puffing, and mutual quotation of each other, makes you imagine that our contemptuous neglect of their abilities is a mark of general acquiescence in their opinions.  No such thing, I assure you ... [P]ray do not imagine ... that, after all, they are other than the little shrivelled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome insects of the hour."
- Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790

“Their tongue betrays them.  Their language is in the patois of fraud; in the cant and gibberish of hypocrisy.”
- Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790

"I must confess I am touched with a sorrow, mixed with some indignation, at the conduct of a few men, once of great rank, and still of great character, who, deluded with specious names, have engaged in a business too deep for the line of their understanding to fathom; who have lent their fair reputation, and the authority of their high-sounding names, to the designs of men with whom they could not be acquainted; and have thereby made their very virtues operate to the ruin of their country."
- Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790

"Unluckily too, the credulity of dupes is as inexhaustible as the invention of knaves."
- Edmund Burke, A Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, 1791

"In matters so ridiculous, it is hard to be grave.  On a view of their consequences it is almost inhuman to treat them lightly."
- Edmund Burke, A Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, 1791

“The first pillar in the temples of Republicanism is correct and stable morality.  All Republics are predicated upon this principle; without it they cannot exist.  Without virtue and tolerance in rulers, and obedience and respect in people, Constitutions are waste paper and laws a mockery.  When ambition, wild and lawless seizes on the citizen entrusted with the government; when licentiousness diffuses itself through the community and corrupts the sources of power, that Republic is doomed to destruction.  Mounds of paper and parchment cannot arrest its progress; the voice of reason will be drowned and Liberty expire.  Over men void of principle laws have no force, when they can be transgressed with impunity.  If you can stay the current of the ocean by a bullrush, then may you impede the course of an aspiring, triumphing demagogue by throwing in his way the laws of his Country.”
- Daniel Webster, "4th of July Oration," July 4, 1802

“It would be childish, to think a demagogue will be a disinterested patriot.  It would be absurd, to expect that anybody, but a patriot of the loftiest elevation of soul, would prefer the public to himself, and would turn himself out of office by doing thankless and unpopular acts of duty.”
- Fisher Ames, “Lessons From History, No. I,” 1806

“Or we may find, perhaps, a professional man of showy accomplishments but of a vulgar taste, and shallow acquirements, who in part from vanity, and in part as means to introduction to practice, will seek notoriety by an eloquence well calculated to set the multitude agape, and exite gratis to over-acts of sedition or treason which he may afterwards be retained to defend ... In harmony with the general character of these false prophets are the particular qualities assigned to them.  First, a passion for vague and violent invective, an habitual and inveterate predilection for the language of hate, and rage and contumely, an ungoverned appetite for abuse and defamation.  The vile will talk villany.” (italics added)
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lay Sermons, 1817

“We have seen recently the breath of a demagogue blow these sparks into a temporary flame, which I sincerely hope is now extinguished in its own ashes.”
- Sir Walter Scott, Rob Roy, 1817

“The people of England are not so far divorced from their ancient valour, that after having withstood Napoleon and the whole world in arms, they are to sink before a horde of their manumitted serfs, and the nisi prius demagogue whom a foreign priesthood have hired to talk treason on their blasphemous behalf.  After having routed the lion, we will not be preyed upon by the wolf ... Let it not be said that we truckled to one, the unparalleled and unconstitutional scope of whose power is only equalled by the sordid meanness of his rapacious soul.  Let it not be said that the English constitution sank before a rebel without dignity and a demagogue without courage.  This grand pensionary of bigotry and sedition presumes to stir up the people of England against your high estate.  Will [we] quail to this brawling mercenary - this man who has even degraded crime ... whose philanthropy is hired by the job - audacious, yet a poltroon - agitating a people, yet picking their pockets; in mind a Catiline, in action a Clean?” (italics added)
- Benjamin Disraeli, “Letter To the House of Lords,” April 18, 1836

“While we are talking about the importance of education, the lawless spirit is passing over the land, and our children are growing up to be leaders of mobs, the mere tools of demagogues, or, what is worse, to be demagogues themselves.  It is time that something be done, and be done quickly, and be done effectually.”
- Orestes A. Brownson, “An Address on Popular Education Delivered in Winnisimmet Village,” July 23, 1837

“Large democracies ... are unable to scrutinize and understand character with the severity and intelligence that are of so much importance in all representative governments, and consequently the people are peculiarly exposed to become the dupes of demagogues and political schemers, most of the crimes of democracies arising from the faults and designs of men of this character ... A demagogue, in strict signification of the word, is ‘a leader of the rabble.’ ... The peculiar office of a demagogue is to advance his own interests, by affecting a deep devotion to the interests of the people.  Sometimes the object is to indulge malignancy, unprincipled and selfish men submitting but to two governing motives, that of doing good to themselves, and that of doing harm to others ... There is no safer rule in selecting a representative, than that already named; or that of choosing the man for public confidence, who may be relied on, in private.  Most of all is the timeserver and demagogue to be avoided, for such a man is certain to use power as an instrument of his private good.”
- James Fenimore Cooper, The American Democrat, 1838

“It is to deny, what the history of the world tells us is true, to suppose that men of ambition and talents will not continue to spring up amongst us.  And, when they do, they will as naturally seek the gratification of their ruling passion, as others have so done before them.  The question then, is can that gratification be found in supporting and maintaining an edifice that has been erected by others?  Most certainly it cannot.  Many great and good men sufficiently qualified for any task they should undertake, may ever be found, whose ambition would aspire to nothing beyond a seat in Congress, a gubernatorial or a presidential chair; but such belong not to the family of the lion, or the tribe of the eagle.  What! Think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon?  Never!  Towering genius disdains a beaten path.  It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.  It sees no distinction in adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others ... Is it unreasonable then to expect, that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time, spring up among us?  And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.”
- Abraham Lincoln, “The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions,” Springfield, Illinois, January 27, 1838

“There are who triumph in a losing cause,
Who can put on defeat, as ‘t were a wreath
Unwithering in the adverse popular breath,
Safe from the blasting demagogue’s applause;
‘Tis they who stand for Freedom and God’s laws.”
- James Russell Lowell, “To John G. Palfrey,” 1848

“He goes out into life, and the brilliancy of incipient success, and the hosannas with which the first dawn of genius is ever greeted, dazzle him more and mislead him farther.  Temptation comes, and against the vices that taint and cripple the man he is not provided, nor does he care to be.  His aspirations, lofty at first, learn to bend down and shape themselves to the low issues which the world presents.  And then, when the vulgar ambitions of the day, for place, popularity and preferment, get possession of him, then the door is wide open for all the rabble rout of earthy passions and petty aims.  He sinks into the sensualist, the schemer, or the demagogue.  He crawls and shuffles, or towers and blusters, till all his canting of truth and principle, of honor and patriotism, becomes a mockery, too shallow to pass.  And then, where is the man?  Where and what his intellect is, we know, but where is the man?  Just where intellect, trusting wholly in its own gifts and culture, will always put a man … Such men are to be found in all histories and all times; in our own history, and our own time.”
- George Putnum, The Boston Book: Being Specimens of Metropolitan Literature, 1850

“[I]t has become almost proverbial that the demagogue is made of the same stuff as the courtier.  His flattery and his willingness to surrender his own convictions to the wishes of his master, are the same; and although open rivalry of opposing parties in modern popular government gives an opportunity for criticism upon the management of affairs which does not exist under an absolute monarchy, it furnishes also a means of openly tempting the sovereign people to change its ministers by offers of fresh benefits to be derived from the spoliation of individuals.”
- Abbott Lawrence Lowell, “Democracy and the Constitution,” Essays on Government, 1889

“And by as much as mature and capable minds withdraw from political life, by so much are the well-intentioned masses more easily led astray by sharp and self-interested politicians and politics made to cater to mean instincts.  In short, the danger is not from any wild lawlessness, but from a crass philistinism.  The seditious demagogue who appeals to passion is less dangerous than the sly political wire-puller who exploits the indolence and indifference of the people; the evil intent is less to be feared than dilettanteism and the intellectual limitations of the general public.”
- Hugo Münsterberg, The Americans, 1904

“If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, 
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, 
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, 
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise ...
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch, 
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, 
    If all men count with you, but none too much; 
If you can fill the unforgiving minute 
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!"
- Rudyard Kipling, “If-,” Rewards and Fairies, 1910

“This is what President Lowell of Harvard College meant when he said that we ought to know who the demagogue is and how he accomplishes his purposes.  President Lowell, with all other borad-minded educators and statesmen, would say that the demagogue is, after all, but the symptom of a wide-spread disease in the body politic.  It is almost prosaic to say, in this connection, that the demagogue is called into being by the indifference and inaction of the otherwise intelligent and reliable citizens of the community.  While these individuals neglect their civil duties, the party spoilsman and his retinue toil onward into positions of trust and responsibility, and become so intrenched in power that they even wilfully disregard public sentiment and often defy the authority of the courts.”
- Frederic W. Smith, “Democracy Versus Socialism,” The Christian Register, October 13, 1910

“Every raw demagogue, every noisy agitator, incapable of connected thought and seeking his own advancement by the easy method of appealing to envy, malice, and all uncharitableness - those unlovely qualities in human nature which so readily seek for gratification under the mask of high sounding and noble attributes - all such people now lift their hands to tear down or remake the Constitution ... The Constitution is our fundamental law.  Upon its provisions rests the entire fabric of our institutions ... Such a work is not to be lightly cast down or set aside, or, which would be still worse, remade by crude thinkers and by men who live only to serve and flatter in their own interest the emotion of the moment.”
- Henry Cabot Lodge, “The Constitution and Its Makers: An Address Delivered Before The Literary and Historical Association of North Carolina,” November 28, 1911

“Surely, this is a lesson that democracies should learn, that knowledge, real knowledge, born of travail of thought and experience, differentiating as it does, the physician from the quack, the lawyer from the shyster, the statesman from the demagogue, is likewise the first indispensable element of educational sanity and progress.”
- William Seneca Sutton, Problems in Modern Education: Addresses and Essays, 1918

“By the past we are shaped; to the past we are bound by an irrefragable link; from the past we gain whatever knowledge and inspiration are ours.  He who would dispense with the past, would dispense with religion, morals, wisdom.  He would be an atheist and a monster.  What is the cunning of a modern demagogue if you match it against the accumulated wisdom of two thousand years?  Indeed, in these days, when we are given no principle to guide us, when we have no leaders who look beyond the day after to-morrow, the one thing to which we can hold tight with some sense of security is the past, and if that be dismissed as ‘irrelevant,’ then shall we be working in the dark without hope or belief, and end of us ... is not far off.”
- Charles Whibley, “Musings without Method,” Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 211, April 1922

“When there is great unrest, partly reasoning and partly utterly unreasoning and unreasonable, it becomes extremely difficult to beat a loudmouthed demagogue, especially if he is a demagogue of great wealth.”
- Teddy Roosevelt, "Letter to Henry Cabot Lodge"

“The men who do iniquity in the name of patriotism, of reform, of Americanism, are merely one small division of the class that has always existed and will always exist, - the class of hypocrites and demagogues, the class that is always prompt to steal the watchwords of righteousness and use them in the interests of evil-doing.”
- Teddy Roosevelt, “True Americanism,” The Forum Magazine, April 1894

“If we had a Socratic remnant one of its chief concerns would be to give a civilized content to the catch-words that finally govern the popular imagination.  The sophist and the demagogue flourish in an atmosphere of vague and inaccurate definition.  With the aid of the Socratic critic, on the other hand, Demos might have some change of distinguishing between its friends and flatterers - something that Demos has hitherto been singularly unable to do.  Let one consider those who have posed with some success as the people’s friends from Cleon of Athens to Marat; and from Marat to William Randolph Hearst.  It would sometimes seem, indeed, that the people might do very well were it not for its ‘friends.’”
- Irving Babbitt, Democracy and Leadership, 1924

“Their minds cannot grasp even the simplest of abstractions; all their thinking is done on the level of a few primitive appetites and emotions ... Thus ideas leave them unscathed; they are responsive only to emotions, and their emotions are all elemental - the emotions, indeed, of tabby-cats rather than of men ... Fear remains the chiefest of them.  The demagogues, i.e., the professors of mob psychology, who flourish in democratic states are well aware of this fact, and make it the cornerstone of their exact and puissant science.  Politics under democracy consists almost wholly of the discovery, chase and scotching of bugaboos.  The statesman becomes, in the last analysis, a mere witch-hunter, a glorified smeller and snooper, eternally chanting ‘Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum!’ ... The fact explains, in large measure, the tendency of democratic states to pass over statesmen of genuine imagination and sound ability in favour of colourless mediocrities.  The former are shining marks, and so it is easy for demagogues to bring them down; the latter are preferred because it is impossible to fear them.  The demagogue himself, when he grows ambitious and tries to posture as a statesman, usually comes ignominiously to grief.”
- H.L. Mencken, Notes on Democracy, 1926

“The demagogue is usually one of the rich (Cleisthenes, Gracchi, Empedocles, Roosevelt) who from sympathy with the poor goes over to their side.”
- Robert Frost, “Notebook 1930-1940,” The Notebooks of Robert Frost

“The secret of the demagogue is to appear as dumb as his audience so that these people can believe themselves as smart as he.”
- Karl Kraus

“I wish that the classical conception of wisdom might be restored, so that we might not be left wholly to the political scientist on the one hand, or the demagogue on the other.”
- T.S. Eliot, “Catholicism and International Order,” Essays Ancient and Modern, 1936

“Demagoguery enters at the moment when, for want of a common denominator, the principle of equality degenerates into the principle of identity.”
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Flight to Arras, 1942

“[A] gentleman whom we will call Cleon ... is a man who disseminates for money falsehoods calculated to produce envy, hatred, suspicion and confusion ... In a priggish or self-righteous society Cleon would occupy the same social status as a prostitute.  His social contacts would extend only to clients, fellow-professionals, moral welfare-workers and the police.  Indeed, in a society which was rational as well as priggish (if such a combination could occur) his status would be a good deal lower than hers.  The intellectual virginity which he has sold is a dearer treasure ... He gives his patrons a baser pleasure than she.  He infects them with more dangerous diseases ... And that one thing which he does and we do not do is poisoning the whole nation.  To prevent the poisoning is an urgent necessity.  It cannot be prevented by the law: partly because we do not wish the law to have too much power over freedom of speech, and partly, perhaps, for another reason.  The only safe way of silencing Cleon is by discrediting him.  What cannot be done - and indeed ought not to be done - by law, can be done by public opinion.”
- C.S. Lewis, “After Priggery - What?,” The Spectator, December 7, 1945

“Concentration on antisemitic propaganda had been a common device of demagogues ever since the end of the nineteenth century, and was widespread in the Germany and Austria of the twenties.”
- Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951

“Unlike human reason, human power is not only ‘timid and cautious when left alone,’ it is simply non-existent unless it can rely on others; the most powerful king and the least scrupulous of all tyrants are helpless if no one obeys them, that is, supports them through obedience; for, in politics, obedience and support are the same.”
- Hannah Arendt, On Revolution, 1963

“Senator [McCarthy] is a heavy-handed slugger who telegraphs his fouls in advance.  What is worse, he has to learn from consequences or counselors that he has fouled.  I know he thinks this is a superior technique that the rest of us are too far behind to appreciate.  But it is repetitious and unartful, and, with time, the repeated dull thud of the low blow may prove to be the real factor in his undoing.  Not necessarily because the blow is low, or because he lacks heart and purpose, but because he lacks variety, and, in the end, simply puts the audience to sleep.”
- Whittaker Chambers, Odyssey of a Friend: Whittaker Chambers’ Letters to William F. Buckley, Jr., 1968

“At the present time, we have a population that is literate, in the sense that everybody is able to read and write; but, owing to the emphasis placed on scientific and technical training at the expense of the humanities, very few of our people have been taught to understand and handle language as an instrument of power.  This means that, in this country alone, forty million innocents or thereabouts are wandering inquisitively about the laboratory, enthusiastically pulling handles and pushing buttons, thereby releasing uncontrollable currents and electric speech, with results that astonish themselves and the world.  Nothing is more intoxicating than a sense of power: the demagogue who can sway crowds, the journalist who can push up the sales of his paper to the two-million mark, the playwright who can plunge an audience into an orgy of facile emotion, the parliamentary candidate who is carried to the top of the poll on a flood of meaningless rhetoric, the ranting preacher, the advertising salesman of material or spiritual commodities, are all playing perilously and irresponsibly with the power of words, and are equally dangerous whether they are cynically unscrupulous or (as frequently happens) have fallen under the spell of their own eloquence and become the victims of their own propaganda.  For the great majority of those whom they are addressing have no skill in assessing the value of words and are as helpless under verbal attack as the citizens of Rotterdam against assault from the air.”
- Dorothy L. Sayers, “Creative Mind,” Christian Letters To A Post-Christian World, 1969

“For the discipline of education of the broad and humane sort that Jefferson had in mind, to produce a ‘natural aristocracy … for the instruction, the trusts, and governments of society,’ we have tended more and more to substitute the specialized training that will most readily secure the careerist in his career.  For the ownership of ‘a little portion of land’ we have, and we apparently wish, to substitute the barbarous abstraction of nationalism, which puts our minds within the control of whatever demagogue can soonest rouse us to self-righteousness.”
- Wendell Berry, “Discipline and Hope,” A Continuous Harmony, 1970

“Not the slightest hesitation in her voice, in her argument: ‘What makes a man a tyrant is that he flouts the law for his own purposes, not with the authority bestowed on him from above.  A tyrant feels no responsibility to heaven, and that is what distinguishes him from a monarch.’”
- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, November 1916: The Red Wheel, 1983

“You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
- Donald Trump, Esquire Magazine, 1991

“We believe that it is possible to avoid these dire consequences ... It is our hope that knowledge about the process of persuasion will allow all of us to detect and resist some of the more obvious forms of trickery and demagoguery.  Perhaps, more importantly, it should encourage us to be aware of the consequences of our selection of persuasion devices.  After all, an individual’s choice of persuasion tactics reveals much about his or her character and ability to think about the issues at hand.”
- Anthony R. Pratkanis & Elliot Aronson, Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion, 1992

“Many people are inflamed by the rampant demagoguery in the present scene ... What about the aspirant who has a private vision to offer to the public and has the means, personal or contrived, to finance a campaign? In some cases, the vision isn’t merely a program to be adopted. It is a program that includes the visionary’s serving as President. Look for the narcissist. The most obvious target in today’s lineup is, of course, Donald Trump. When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If Donald Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America.”
- William F. Buckley, Jr., Cigar Aficionado, March 2000

“All of the women on ‘The Apprentice’ flirted with me - consciously or unconsciously.  That’s to be expected.”
- Donald Trump, How to Get Rich, 2004

"It is, of course, much less difficult to arouse genuine anger, indignation, and outrage in people than it is to induce joy, satisfaction, fellow feeling, etc.  The latter are fragile and complex, and what excites them varies a great deal from person to person, whereas anger et al. are more primal, universal, and easy to stimulate (as implied by expressions like 'He really pushed my buttons')."
- David Foster Wallace, “Host,” Consider the Lobster And Other Essays, 2005

“I am well aware of the proposition that citizens ought to exercise their right to vote at every election. Even so, I did not vote in Kentucky's gubernatorial primary on May 27. I did not vote because there was nobody on the ballot whom I wished to help elect. I could not bring myself to submit again to the indignity of trying to pick the least undesirable candidate; nor did I want to contribute to the ‘mandate’ of a new governor, who would be carried into office by corporate contributions, and whose policies I would spend the next four years regretting or opposing ... But my concern has to do not so much with the candidates' ‘positions’ as with their willful refusal to raise and deal openly with substantive issues of conservation and stewardship, fiscal policy, and the economies of energy, land use and education. There is nothing merely personal about this. It is a fact that voters concerned about conservation and economic responsibility had no candidate in the recent primary. Such voters had a vote but not a choice, for no candidate of their choosing was on the ballot. If you have a vote but no choice, then not to vote is the only available choice ... The voters don't trust the government, and they don't feel represented by it. This is a crisis of our democratic system – to give the people a vote but not a choice is a procedure common to modern dictatorships – but it is a crisis that has been officially unnoticed for a long time ... That I did not vote does not mean that I no longer believe in voting. I take my citizenship in this state as seriously as I can. I want to vote, but I want to vote for a candidate who I am sure takes seriously the thoughts of mere citizens, and who will not listen only to the largest contributors. I think I have a ‘right to vote’ for a candidate who is at least trustworthy. Because I do want to be a citizen and a voter, I suppose it is likely that I will sooner or later return to the polls, grit my teeth, hold my nose, and give my vote to yet another candidate for fame and fortune who has done nothing to earn my respect. But such a vote is not a right. It is a humiliation and a disgrace. What then could be done to restore the confidence of our state's thousands of disaffected or disappointed voters? ... A possibility is that of printing an additional entry on the ballot to make it formally possible to vote for ‘None of the above.’ This would be cheaper and easier than passing a law to control contributions. It might also be more effective. I admit that, for all anybody can tell, only a few cranks would vote for ‘None of the above.’ But it might also happen, for all anybody can tell, that ‘None of the above’ would win the election. If a few of the more exalted state offices were to be occupied for a term or two by ‘None of the above,’ there would be less need to clean up Frankfort.”
- Wendell Berry, “Why I chose not to vote,” The Courier-Journal, July 2, 2007

“While most false dilemmas offer a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ alternative, the lesser of two evils technique is a specific type of false dilemma that offers two ‘bad’ alternatives.  This technique is often used when the propagandist is trying to convince people to adopt a perspective they will be hesitant to accept.  In order to make the choice more appealing, an even worse alternative is presented as being the only other option.  It is argued that an imperfect option is, at any rate, better than the horrendous alternative ... In nations such as the United States, which has a de facto two-party system, the lesser of two evils argument is often used as a selling point for politicians.  For example, a candidate who is unpopular within his or her party may suddenly appear more attractive when pitted against a member of the opposing party ... While there are many flaws in the lesser-of-two-evils approach, the main problem is that, like the false dilemma, it usually ignores many alternative possibilities ... When you’re faced with such a choice, consider each option on its own merits, and keep in mind that there are probably other, undisclosed alternatives.”
- Magedah E. Shabo, Techniques of Propaganda & Persuasion, 2008

“How obvious it seems to me now. Cold, grasping, bleak, graceless, and dull; unctuous, sleek, pitiless, and crass; a pallid vulgarian floating through life on clouds of acrid cologne and trailed by a vanguard of fawning divorce lawyers, the devil is probably eerily similar to Donald Trump — though perhaps just a little nicer.”
- David Bentley Hart, “A Person You Flee at Parties,” First Things, May 6, 2011

“Like demagoguery and regardless of its appeal to the ‘united body’ of the people, populism is a movement that relies upon the cunning usage of words and the media in order to make the many converge toward politics that are not necessarily in their interests.  Polarization is indeed for the sake of a new unification of the people, and is a strategy the few use to claim and acquire more power in order to achieve some results that an open, pluralist, and long deliberation would not allow.  Clearly, populist policies are not merely the product of procedural majority.  A more intense and large majority is needed and claimed.  The people’s collectivity as a homogenous whole, rather than an ex post result of counting of votes, seems to be, since Aristotle, one of the signs of a disfigured democracy, a democracy that is prone to host a demagogic leadership.”
- Nadia Urbinati, Democracy Disfigured: Opinion, Truth, and the People, 2014

“If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?”
- Donald Trump, Twitter, April 16, 2015

“Polarization also increases opportunities for demagoguery within American politics.  Ideological voters want to frame every issue as a matter of principle, scrutinize every candidate for deviation, tend to look for politicians who ‘tell it like it is,’ and are willing to attack ‘the establishment.’  Fiery language framed in sound bites, which convey coded messages that tap into voter discontent about serious and complicated issues, will find appeal among informed ideological voters, as well as among less well-informed voters who share anxieties and hostility to politics-as-usual.  A thin line separates campaign rhetoric from demagoguery.  Good campaign rhetoric shall appeal to the head and the heart; demagoguery appeals only to base passions.”
- Donald T. Critchlow, Future Right: Forging a New Republican Majority, 2016

“It is not within the presidency’s capabilities to turn back the rushing tide of support for socially liberal positions. Besides, that tide first began to crest some time ago in an America that looked very different but embraced underlying principles that made the current regime inevitable. So even if we grant the idea that one should simply support bad Republican candidates in presidential elections, that argument quickly falls apart under any level of serious scrutiny. That said, what is interesting about this conversation is less the naïveté of Trump supporters and more the underlying assumption that Christians have some sort of obligation to vote for someone in national elections and that the failure to do so is nihilistic or an abdication of our responsibility as citizens. More than anything else, this tells us a great deal about the malnourished imaginations of social conservatives in the United States. To elevate voting in presidential elections to the defining act of social responsibility — and to imply that we have an obligation to vote for Falstaffs in said elections — is to actually adopt the sort of centralizing, technocratic mentality that is in fact responsible for many of the problems we are currently facing ... This is not to say we must adopt some sort of Anabaptist quietism and largely withdraw from civil society. Rather, it is to say that we must define civic responsibility in terms that are recognizably Christian rather than Belburian. We must once again recognize that the beginning of a Christian citizen’s responsibility is not to participate in the increasingly farcical process of selecting the head of the executive branch of our national government but is rather the Christian home ... If we are to actually see meaningful reform in our nation it will not come through sending one of our own guys down to Mordor to change the wall decorations of Barad Dur, but rather through reenchanting our homes and making them places of laughter and joy where the love of God is made manifest and the life of faith is made more plausible. Beyond that, there are many other far more immediate arenas of responsibility for the Christian citizen — their local church congregation, neighborhood, schools, and city government all come to mind. If you want to make the case that voting is a Christian responsibility, there may be a persuasive one to be made, but if that is the case then that responsibility is far more apparent with local elections than it is for national ... America’s problem cannot be reduced down to who holds a single office. It is much broader and more pervasive than that. And far from resolving the problem, the evangelical willingness to elect men as power-hungry and shameless as Trump only highlights how pervasive the problem really is.”
- Jake Meador, “Is Not Voting in an Election Nihilistic?”, Mere Orthodoxy, January 14, 2016

“Trump’s candidacy, it has exposed not just that tragic ramifications of that betrayal of the transformation of our country, but too, he has exposed the complicity on both sides of the aisle that has enabled it, okay? Well, Trump, what he’s been able to do, which is really ticking people off, which I’m glad about, he’s going rogue left and right, man, that’s why he’s doing so well ... His candidacy, which is a movement, it’s a force, it’s a strategy. It proves, as long as the politicos, they get to keep their titles, and their perks, and their media ratings, they don’t really care who wins elections. Believe me on this ... And now, some of them even whispering, they’re ready to throw in for Hillary over Trump because they can’t afford to see the status quo go, otherwise, they won’t be able to be slurping off the gravy train that’s been feeding them all these years. They don’t want that to end. Well, and then, funny, ha ha, not funny, but now, what they’re doing is wailing, ‘well, Trump and his, uh, uh, uh, Trumpeters, they’re not conservative enough.’ Oh my goodness gracious. What the heck would the establishment know about conservatism?”
- Sarah Palin, Speech Endorsing Trump in Iowa, January 19, 2016

“He doesn’t know the Constitution, history, law, political philosophy, nuclear strategy, diplomacy, defense, economics beyond real estate, or even, despite his low-level-mafioso comportment, how ordinary people live.  But trumping all this is a greater flaw presented as his chief strength.  Governing a great nation in parlous times is far more than making ‘deals.’  Compared with the weight of the office he seeks, his deals are microscopic in scale, and as he faced far deeper complexities he would lead the country into continual Russian roulette.  If despite his poor judgment he could engage talented advisers, as they presented him with contending and fateful options the buck would stop with a man who simply grasps anything that floats by.  Following Obama’s, a Trump presidency would be yet more adventure tourism for a formerly serious republic.”
- Mark Helprin, “Conservatives Against Trump,” National Review, January 21, 2016

“Conservatives incline to take the weakness of our elite institutions as an argument for recovering constitutional principles — and so for limiting the power of those institutions, reversing their centralization of authority, and recovering a vision of American life in which the chief purpose of the federal government is protective and not managerial. Trump, on the contrary, offers himself as the alternative to our weak and foolish leaders, the guarantee of American superiority, and the cure for all that ails our society; and when pressed about how he will succeed in these ways, his answer pretty much amounts to: ‘great management.’ The appeal of Trump’s diagnoses should be instructive to conservatives. But the shallow narcissism of his prescriptions is a warning. American conservatism is an inherently skeptical political outlook. It assumes that no one can be fully trusted with public power and that self-government in a free society demands that we reject the siren song of politics-as-management. A shortage of such skepticism is how we ended up with the problems Trump so bluntly laments. Repeating that mistake is no way to solve these problems. To address them, we need to begin by rejecting what Trump stands for, as much as what he stands against.”
- Yuval Levin, “Conservatives Against Trump,” National Review, January 21, 2016

“Trump’s supposed pro-life conversion is rooted in Nietzschean, social-Darwinist terms. He knew a child who was to be aborted who grew up to be a “superstar.” Beyond that, Trump’s vitriolic — and often racist and sexist — language about immigrants, women, the disabled, and others ought to concern anyone who believes that all persons, not just the “winners” of the moment, are created in God’s image. One also cannot help but look at the personal life of the billionaire. It is not just that he has abandoned one wife after another for a younger woman, or that he has boasted about having sex with some of the “top women of the world.” It’s that he says, after all that, that he has no need to seek forgiveness. At the same time, Trump has made millions off a casino industry that, as social conservatives have rightly argued, not only exploits personal vice but destroys families ... One may say that Trump’s personal life and business dealings are irrelevant to his candidacy, but conservatives have argued for generations that virtue matters, in the citizenry and in the nation’s leaders. Can conservatives really believe that, if elected, Trump would care about protecting the family’s place in society when his own life is — unapologetically — what conservatives used to recognize as decadent? … Trump can win only in the sort of celebrity-focused mobocracy that Neil Postman warned us about years ago, in which sound moral judgments are displaced by a narcissistic pursuit of power combined with promises of ‘winning’ for the masses. Social and religious conservatives have always seen this tendency as decadent and deviant. For them to view it any other way now would be for them to lose their soul.”
- Russell Moore, “Conservatives Against Trump,” National Review, January 21, 2016

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay?  It’s, like, incredible.”
- Donald Trump, Iowa Campaign Rally, January 23, 2016

“There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience.  If you see somebody getting read to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you?  Seriously.  Okay?  Just knock the hell - I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”
- Donald Trump, Iowa Campaign Rally, February 1, 2016

“Obama was, in his way, the sunnier version of the ambitious demagogue whom the founders feared, and against whose election they — and Van Buren — sought to safeguard the country through complex screening and constraining mechanisms. As president, he has turned, in his frustration at the loss of his party’s control of Congress, to ambitious overreaching in his use of executive power. His argument is never that the Constitution authorizes his latest gambit (he leaves that unhappy task to his beleaguered lawyers in the courts), but that he has an electoral mandate to act that a recalcitrant Congress cannot be permitted to obstruct—sounding like a kind of Wilsonian presidential id. With Donald Trump, however, we encounter a much darker id, somehow both anarchic and dictatorial all at once. He has no eloquence, only outbursts; no ideology, only ambition; no plans and white papers, only wild improvisations. If he is nominated, he bids fair to destroy one of our country’s two major parties. If he is elected, he will probably only destroy himself, if we are lucky. Time to reread Plato and Aristotle on democracy. Time to reacquaint ourselves with the founders’ careful thinking on the constitutional constraint of ambition.”
- Matthew J. Franck, “Presidential Elections, Party Establishments, and Demagogues,” Public Discourse, February 22, 2016

“Politicians have, since ancient Greece, lied, pandered, and whored. They have taken bribes, connived, and perjured themselves. But in recent times—in the United States, at any rate—there has never been any politician quite as openly debased and debauched as Donald Trump. Truman and Nixon could be vulgar, but they kept the cuss words for private use. Presidents have chewed out journalists, but which of them would have suggested that an elegant and intelligent woman asking a reasonable question was dripping menstrual blood? LBJ, Kennedy, and Clinton could all treat women as commodities to be used for their pleasure, but none went on the radio with the likes of Howard Stern to discuss the women they had bedded and the finer points of their anatomies. All politicians like the sound of their own names, but can anyone doubt what Trump would have christened the Hoover Dam—or the Washington Monument? That otherwise sober people do not find Trump’s insults and insane demands outrageous (Mexico will have to pay for a wall! Japan will have to pay for protection!) says something about a larger moral and cultural collapse. His language is the language of the comments sections of once-great newspapers. Their editors know that the online versions of their publications attract the vicious, the bigoted, and the foulmouthed. But they keep those comments sections going in the hope of getting eyeballs on the page ... The rot is cultural. It is no coincidence that Trump was the star of a ‘reality’ show. He is the beneficiary of an amoral celebrity culture devoid of all content save an omnipresent lubriciousness. He is a kind of male Kim Kardashian, and about as politically serious. In the context of culture, if not (yet) politics, he is unremarkable; the daily entertainments of today are both tawdry and self-consciously, corrosively ironic. Ours is an age when young people have become used to getting news, of a sort, from Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, when an earlier generation watched Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley. It is the difference between giggling with young, sneering hipsters and listening to serious adults ... American culture is, in short, nastier, more nihilistic, and far less inhibited than ever before. It breeds alternating bouts of cynicism and hysteria, and now it has given us Trump. The Republican Party as we know it may die of Trump. If it does, it will have succumbed in part because many of its leaders chose not to fight for the Party of Lincoln, which is a set of ideas about how to govern a country, rather than an organization clawing for political and personal advantage. What is at stake, however, is something much more precious than even a great political party. To an extent unimaginable for a very long time, the moral keel of free government is showing cracks. It is not easy to discern how we shall mend them.”
- Eliot A. Cohen, “The Age of Trump: At Stake is Something Far More Precious Than the Future of the Republican Party,” The American Interest, February 26, 2016

“The reduction of politics to power and the assertion that argument is a cover for bigotry finds its completion in the devil-may-care spectacle that is the Trump campaign. He has persuaded even those who claim for themselves the name of the Gospel that nothing matters besides being told the warm and comforting truth that We Can Be Winners, that the truth is dispensable provided our needs are satisfactorily met. The irrelevancy of truth for the sake of power-relations in Trump’s campaign has transposed ‘political correctness’ into a new, contrarian key: Trump has not left it behind so much as co-opted it for his ends–at least until its purpose is served. And those who support Trump will be most likely to lose out if he eventually wins. So it has often been for those who have bought into his lies. From Trump’s casinos to Trump University, like the prosperity preachers he emulates Trump has preyed upon the very people he claims to love and support. And why would a President Trump be any different? We have been given no reason why the Newly Converted Conservative Trump will be any better for America than the liberal Hillary Clinton. And no reason can be given because none exists outside of Trump’s most solemn word, a word that his history suggests is as valuable as the degrees from his University. For those drawn to Trump’s policies, on what reasonable basis would you expect him to not sell you out? Because the fearsome power of the Republican Establishment will hold him to account? The same Republican establishment that is now bending to kiss the ring? ... There is no conservative argument for Trump. Conservatives once held that virtue and character are essential requirements for a just society, and that a stable marriage and family is among the best way to nurture those virtues. Those virtues, we contended, were essential for ensuring that the market not only operated efficiently, but stayed within its appropriate boundaries. The conservative movement once believed that religion was central to our social fabric, that not everyone had to be religious but that it needed to be afforded due respect and even reverence. Turning religion into a political prop would only cheapen it, and eventually corrode it. The political virtues that conservatives once cared about — temperance and restraint — are now treated (by ‘conservatives’) as the stuff of compromisers and weaklings: ‘Damn your concern for principles and prudence: We shall have our riots in the streets!’ ... It would be easy to look upon Trump and see him as an outlier in American life. But the Trumpian disregard for the truth and virtue is a cancer that has beset us all: Trump is a candidate for our time, a fitting judgment upon us who magnifies our sins and our vices. He may be a caricature; but he is a parody of us, a morality tale whose meaning we should heed. But there is a difference between acknowledging the degraded political character of our age and joining with the Visigoths while they tear down the Roman monuments.”
- Matthew Lee Anderson, “Against Donald Trump: Why Evangelicals Must Not Support Trump,” Mere Orthodoxy, February 29, 2016

“Donald Trump is manifestly unfit to be president of the United States. His campaign has already driven our politics down to new levels of vulgarity. His appeals to racial and ethnic fears and prejudice are offensive to any genuinely Catholic sensibility. He promised to order U.S. military personnel to torture terrorist suspects and to kill terrorists’ families — actions condemned by the Church and policies that would bring shame upon our country. And there is nothing in his campaign or his previous record that gives us grounds for confidence that he genuinely shares our commitments to the right to life, to religious freedom and the rights of conscience, to rebuilding the marriage culture, or to subsidiarity and the principle of limited constitutional government ... We understand that many good people, including Catholics, have been attracted to the Trump campaign because the candidate speaks to issues of legitimate and genuine concern: wage stagnation, grossly incompetent governance, profligate governmental spending, the breakdown of immigration law, inept foreign policy, stifling ‘political correctness’ — for starters. There are indeed many reasons to be concerned about the future of our country, and to be angry at political leaders and other elites. We urge our fellow Catholics and all our fellow citizens to consider, however, that there are candidates for the Republican nomination who are far more likely than Mr. Trump to address these concerns, and who do not exhibit his vulgarity, oafishness, shocking ignorance, and — we do not hesitate to use the word — demagoguery.   Mr. Trump’s record and his campaign show us no promise of greatness; they promise only the further degradation of our politics and our culture.”
- Robert P. George & George Weigel, “An Appeal to Our Fellow Catholics,” National Review, March 7, 2016

Interviewer: “There are dire foreign policy issues percolating around the world right now.  Who are you consulting with consistently so that you are ready on day one?
Donald Trump: “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things ... I know what I’m doing and I listen to a lot of people.  I talk to a lot of people and at the appropriate time I’ll tell you who the people are.  But my primary consultant is myself and I have a good instinct for this stuff.”
- MSNBC Interview, March 16, 2016

"Governing ourselves was never meant to be easy.  This has always been a tough business.  And when passions flair, ugliness is sometimes inevitable.  But we shouldn't accept ugliness as the norm.  We should demand better from ourselves and from one another ... With so much at stake, the American people deserve a clear picture of what we believe.  Personalities come and go, but principles endure.  Ideas endure ... That's the thing about politics.  We think of it in terms of this vote or that election.  But it can be so much more than that.  Politics can be a battle of ideas, not insults."
- Paul Ryan, "On the State of American Politics," March 23, 2016

"Politically, Trumpism’s antecedents may be found in the presidential campaigns of Ross Perot and Patrick Buchanan in the 1990s. Intellectually, Trumpism bears a striking resemblance to the anti-interventionist, anti-globalist, immigration-restrictionist, America First worldview propounded by various paleoconservatives during the 1990s and ever since. It is no accident that Buchanan, for example, is overjoyed by Donald Trump’s candidacy. Instead of venting anger exclusively at left-wing elites, as conservative populism in its Reaganite and tea-party variants has done, the Trumpist brand of populism is simultaneously assailing conservative elites, including the Buckley-Reagan conservative intellectual movement that I described earlier. In particular, Trumpism is deliberately breaking with the conservative internationalism of the Cold War era and with the pro-free-trade, supply-side-economics orthodoxy that has dominated Republican policymaking since 1980 … It is a remarkable development, one that has now led to what can only be described as a struggle for the mind and soul of American conservatism. In these stormy circumstances, it would be foolish to prophesy the outcome. Suffice it to say that in all my years as a historian of conservatism, I have never observed as much dissension on the Right as there is at present. Now, some may see in this cacophony a sign of vitality, and perhaps it will turn out to be so. But conservatives, more than ever, need minds as well as voices. In this season of discontent, it might be useful for conservatives to step back for a moment and ask a simple question: What do conservatives want? What should they want? Perhaps by getting back to basics, conservative intellectuals can restore some clarity and direction to the debate. What do today’s conservatives want? To put it in elementary terms, I would say that they want what nearly all conservatives since 1945 have wanted: They want to be free, they want to live virtuous and meaningful lives, and they want to be secure from threats both beyond and within our borders. They want to live in a society whose government respects and encourages these aspirations while otherwise leaving people alone. Freedom, virtue, and safety: goals reflected in the libertarian, traditionalist, and national-security dimensions of the conservative movement as it has developed over the past 70 years. In other words, there is at least a little fusionism in nearly all of us. It might be something to build on. For three generations now, conservatives have committed themselves to defending the intellectual and spiritual foundations of Western civilization: the resources needed for a free and humane existence. Conservatives know that we all start out in life as “rough beasts” who need to be educated for liberty if we are to secure its blessings. Elections come and go, but this larger work goes on. However events unfold politically in the coming turbulent months, let conservatives remember their heritage and rededicate themselves to their mission.”
- George H. Nash, “The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America: Then and Now,” National Review, April 26, 2016

“Even though Trump is not explicitly talking about European Americans, he’s implicitly talking about the importance of European Americans ... I think we have to make sure that Trump understands that we expect him to follow through on these things and we expect him to be, you know, our white knight, our advocate, our person ... The Trump candidacy has truly been a referendum on nationalism.  It has been a referendum on the controlled establishment, both the media and the political establishment in America.  So far Trump has whipped them.  He has had the enmity, the hatred, the attacks of the true enemies of not only the Republic, but the European American people ... I think that like so often happens, Jewish chutzpah knows no bounds.  These Jewish extremists have made a terribly crazy miscalculation because all they’re really going to be doing by doing the ‘never Trump’ movement is exposing their alien, anti-American majority position to all the Republicans.”
- David Duke, former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, May 3, 2016

“This really shouldn’t be that hard. The oath I took is to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. In brief, that means I’m for limited government. And there is no reason to believe that either of these two national frontrunners believe in limiting anything about DC’s power. I believe that most Americans can still be for limited government again -- if they were given a winsome candidate who wanted Washington to focus on a small number of really important, urgent things -- in a way that tried to bring people together instead of driving us apart. I think there is room – an appetite – for such a candidate. What am I missing?”
- Senator Ben Sasse, “An Open Letter to Majority America,” May 4, 2016

“Donald J. Trump and Patrick J. Buchanan have a few things in common: Both are foreign-policy isolationists.  Both oppose free-trade deals.  Both want to shut the southern border. Both have shown contempt for women.  Both advance a white nationalist view of their ideal America.  And each has wreaked havoc on the Republican Party ... Speaking on Morning Edition, Buchanan ... explained his endorsement of Trump, which he made despite Trump’s many right-wing apostasies.  It boiled down to this: The United States, in Buchanan’s view, is facing an existential threat from the non-white peoples of the world, whether through bad trade deals or the growing presence of non-European immigrants within our borders. ‘So, we’re, what, about 25 years away from the fact when Americans of European descent will be a minority in the United States ... Anybody that believes that a country can be maintained that has no ethnic core to it ... I believe he is naive in the extreme,’ Buchanan told NPR.”
- Adele M Stan, “White Supremacy and Trump’s Battle for the ‘Soul of America’: The Presumptive GOP Nominee Is Reviving Patrick Buchanan’s Legacy of Bigotry,” The American Prospect, May 6, 2016

“The things conservatives are telling themselves to justify supporting him —at least he might appoint good judges — miss this long-term point. The Reagan coalition might — might! — get an acceptable Supreme Court appointment out of the Trump presidency. But that could easily be the last thing it ever got … But there still remains the problem of Trump himself. Even if you find things to appreciate in Trumpism — as I have, and still do — the man who has raised those issues is still unfit for an office as awesomely powerful as the presidency of the United States. His unfitness starts with basic issues of temperament. It encompasses the race-baiting, the conspiracy theorizing, the flirtations with violence, and the pathological lying that have been his campaign-trail stock in trade. But above all it is Trump’s authoritarianism that makes him unfit for the presidency — his stated admiration for Putin and the Chinese Politburo, his promise to use the power of the presidency against private enterprises, the casual threats he and his surrogates toss off against party donors, military officers, the press, the speaker of the House, and more. All presidents are tempted by the powers of the office, and congressional abdication has only increased that temptation’s pull.  President Obama’s power grabs are part of a bipartisan pattern of Caesarism, one that will likely continue apace under Hillary Clinton. But far more than Obama or Hillary or George W. Bush, Trump is actively campaigning as a Caesarist, making his contempt for constitutional norms and political niceties a selling point. And given his mix of proud ignorance and immense self-regard, there is no reason to believe that any of this is just an act. Trump would not be an American Mussolini; even our sclerotic institutions would resist him more effectively than that. But he could test them as no modern president has tested them before — and with them: the health of our economy, the civil peace of our society and the stability of an increasingly perilous world. In sum: It would be possible to justify support for Trump if he merely promised a period of chaos for conservatism. But to support Trump for the presidency is to invite chaos upon the republic and the world. No policy goal, no court appointment, can justify such recklessness.”
- Ross Douthat, “The Conservative Case Against Trump,” The New York Times, May 7, 2016

“What ails us is a disordered view of what politics is about. We seem to have a bipartisan problem of looking for a savior in a president — it’s the stuff both of Barack Obama’s ‘We are the ones we have been waiting for’ campaign and of Republicans (and now even some Democrats) idolizing the memory of Ronald Reagan. So take a deep breath, everyone — whomever you do or don’t support this presidential-election season. The presidency is vitally important, of course. But not in the ways we’ve been tending to think. Donald Trump didn’t start the fire, and there was never going to be a perfect presidential candidate who could put it out. That’s our work — the work of good citizenship. So walk away from the TV, stop watching the coverage of every rally, and do something to renew and rebuild our civil society. Right in front of you is where great things can happen. But not if you sit around waiting for Washington to work miracles — which never was its job anyway.
- Kathryn Jean Lopez, “What’s a Conservative to Do?”, National Review, May 9, 2016

“As for Trump himself: if anything is more ludicrous than the Republican Party it’s the idea that Trump can be relied upon to nominate a solid conservative to the Supreme Court. He is more likely to nominate his daughter. Or Corey Lewandowski. Or Bill Clinton. Or Incitatus. There are no — zero — positions held by conservatives of any stripe, from the neo to the paleo to the social, that Trump could be counted on to implement or support. Nor do I even think that the leaders of the GOP believe he can be relied on. Each of them is merely feeding the crocodile in hopes that it will eat him last ... We all know what Trump is: so complete a narcissist that the concepts of truth and falsehood, right and wrong, are alien to him. He knows only the lust for power and the rage of being thwarted in his lust. In a sane society the highest position to which he could aspire is apprentice dogcatcher, and then only if no other candidates presented themselves ... If you put a gun to my head and told me that I had to vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, I would but whisper, ‘Goodbye cruel world.’ But if my family somehow managed to convince me to stick around, in preference to Trump I would vote for Hillary. Or John Kerry, or Nancy Pelosi. In preference to Trump I would vote for the reanimated corpse of Adlai Stevenson, or for that matter that of Julius Caesar, who perhaps has learned a thing or two in his two thousand years of afterlife. The only living person that I would readily choose Trump in preference to is Charles Manson.”
- Alan Jacobs, “My Carefully Considered Views on the Upcoming Presidential Election,” The American Conservative, June 2, 2016

“We see nurtured in [Trump’s] campaign an incipient proto-fascism anti-immigrant Know Nothing-ism, a disrespect for the judiciary. The prospect of women losing authority over their own bodies, African Americans asked to go to the back of the line, voter suppression gleefully promoted, jingoistic saber-rattling, a total lack of historical awareness, a political paranoia that, predictably, points fingers, always making the other wrong.”
- Ken Burns, "2016 Stanford Commencement Address," June 12, 2016

“Over the years, I’ve worked closely with many of the hundreds of faith leaders who trekked to Trump Tower on Tuesday to meet with presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump. I’ve opposed Trump, and wasn’t invited. But even if I had been, I wouldn’t have gone. I believe these pilgrims meant well, but I think their judgment about associating with Trump is troubling and unwise. In embracing this brazen man — whether tacitly or overtly — they appear to have forgotten the very premises on which the Moral Majority and the social conservative movement was founded. His candidacy is the antithesis of everything we set out to achieve ... Trump most clearly fails the traditional standard championed by the Christian right on the subject of personal character ... The leaders in attendance at Trump’s event know the Bible. It says we are to love God first and then our neighbor. (Matthew 22:37-39) Yet they seemingly ignore the childish ridicule that Trump heaps on many of our neighbors: the disabled, Hispanics and women just for starters. The Bible says a leader should not consider himself better than his brothers. But Trump’s arrogance — he said at one point that he’s ‘the most successful person ever to run for the presidency’ — is the stuff of legend, and not the hallmark of a godly individual. He’s not seen as a man of his word — hundreds of vendors report that his companies have stiffed them after services were rendered. He has dragged our political discourse into the gutter. Even an implicit  endorsement of Trump stains the character of the endorser more than it elevates Trump’s standing ... Now, we’re being asked to give up our character and just vote Republican. That may be the choice of many voters, but it’s not why evangelicals like me got involved in politics. I, for one, won’t do it. Neither candidate qualifies as the lesser of the two evils.”
- Michael Farris, “I helped start the Moral Majority.  Trump is the opposite of what we wanted,” The Washington Post, June 23, 2016

“Our public square is plagued by habitual, brazen lying. This isn’t entirely new — there have always been some politicians who lied — but I do not believe this country can long survive if the public concedes in advance that people in government do not need to be consistently aiming to tell the truth. In other words, it’s one thing to elect someone who ends up lying to us after the fact. (That’s terrible.) But it’s another thing entirely to conclude in advance that they are both liars, and simply shrug and elect them anyway. That does something to the national soul that tears at the fabric of who we are. By the way, this is a good time to say that if you really think one of the two presidential frontrunners is genuinely trustworthy, then fine, you should vote and sleep soundly. Sadly, I do not regard either of them as worthy of our trust. This matters a great deal, because before I can vote for someone, a minimum-bar prerequisite is that I must believe that, on January 20, 2017, he or she would be taking the oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution” and actually mean it. Today, I do not have this confidence about either of the current frontrunners. I think one of them does not even know what the Constitution is about, and the other doesn’t care.”
- Senator Ben Sasse, “Two Kinds of Voting, Two Kinds of Disruption, and Two Kinds of Unrighteousness,” July 11, 2016

“The nominee of the Republican Party sets unprecedented standards for incompetence, inexperience, self-absorption, and delusional levels of self-confidence that defy clinical descriptions of narcissism. No presidential nominee of a major party has ever failed to serve in any public office, elected or appointed, civilian or military. No nominee has devoted his entire public life so completely to self-aggrandizement and self-promotion without even an inkling of civic responsibility. No nominee … has displayed such nonchalant disdain for the complicated domestic and foreign policy problems facing the nation.”
- Joseph J. Ellis, "Historians on Trump," July 11, 2016

“So much that Donald Trump spouts is so vulgar and so far from the truth and mean-spirited. It is on that question of character especially that he does not measure up. He is unwise. He is plainly unprepared, unqualified and, it often seems, unhinged. How can we possibly put our future in the hands of such a man? ... Why would we ever choose to entrust our highest office, and our future, to someone so clearly unsuited for the job?”
- David McCullough, "Historians on Trump," July 12, 2016

“I’m disturbed by the words missing from the Trump campaign: Liberty, justice, freedom and tolerance. The only historical movement that Trump alludes to is a shameful one: America First.”
- Ron Chernow, "Historians on Trump," July 12, 2016

“But as far as his worldview, Trump’s worldview, you know, I was debating an evangelical professor on NPR and this professor said, ‘Pastor, don’t you want a candidate who embodies the teaching of Jesus and would govern this country according to the principles found in the Sermon on the Mount?’ I said, ‘Heck no.’  I would run from that candidate as far as possible, because the Sermon on the Mount was not given as a governing principle for this nation ... I don’t care about that candidate’s tone or vocabulary, I want the meanest, toughest, son of a you-know-what I can find, and I believe that’s Biblical.”
- Robert Jeffress, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, The Mike Gallagher Show, July 12, 2016

“God came to me in a dream last night and showed me the future.  He took me to heaven and I saw Donald Trump seated at the right hand of our Lord.”
- Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, July 13, 2016

“I feel no enthusiasm at the prospect of a Clinton presidency. She has already been pushed alarmingly far to the left of Barack Obama by Bernie Sanders’ challenge. Her reputation for honesty and judgment is in … well, whatever comes below tatters. Yet the alternative seems even worse. I do not share the view that a Trump presidency would be tyranny, undermining the Constitution and eroding the liberties it enshrines. The Constitution was carefully designed to cope with the tendency of democratic electorates to fall for demagogues. But what it cannot do is protect us from terrible policies. Drastic restrictions on immigration, protectionist tariffs, reckless taxing and borrowing — we have seen all these things before in American history, we have seen their unintended costs, and we could see them again if Trump is elected.”
- Niall Ferguson, “From Trollope to Trump,” The Boston Globe, July 18, 2016

“Ideas matter, and supporting Trump means advancing ideas I find not just wrong, but destructive. I’ve defended the unborn my entire career; he praises Planned Parenthood. I believe that marriage is a sacred covenant between husband and wife; he’s a serial adulterer. I believe America should lead the world in defense not just of its territorial integrity but also of civilization itself; he would retreat into glorified isolationism. I believe that free trade has made America more prosperous and enriched the lives of its citizens; he threatens to start ruinous economic conflicts. I believe that a core American value is that we can and must judge our citizens by the content of their character, not the color of their skin or their families’ roots; he attacks a federal judge because of his parents’ Mexican heritage. So Trump has profound differences not just with me but with Americans like me. And we’re not willing to lift a single finger — not even in the voting booth — to advance his ideas, even if his opponent’s ideas are also repugnant ... Character matters, too, and supporting Trump means elevating a man of low morals, which is the last thing our nation needs. I believe men should strive to be honest; Trump lies habitually. I believe men should treat women with respect; he mocks any woman who opposes him or challenges him. I believe in treating opponents fairly; he calls them names and spreads the most vile rumors about their families. I believe that public officials should be intellectually curious, striving to know more about the world; Trump is aggressively ignorant, paying far more attention to poll numbers and press clippings than to the issues he’d confront in the Oval Office … To the open-minded, how credible is a message of life, individual liberty, free markets, and limited government coming from erstwhile conservatives who tossed those values overboard for the sake of a single election? How credible is a message that a great nation needs good citizens, [friends, and neighbors, if] coming from the advocates of a known liar? How can anyone resist the continued decadence and degradation of the sexual revolution after casting his lot with a proud philanderer?”
- David French, “Never Trump, Now More Than Ever,” National Review, July 20, 2016

“[Vladimir Putin] is not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand.  He’s not gonna go into Ukraine, all right?  You can mark it down.  You can put it down.”
- Donald Trump, Interview with ABC, July 31, 2016

“Trump and Clinton supporters want to get as many people to vote for their nominees as possible, and it makes sense to them to pressure friends and audiences, especially if they have voted for their party’s nominee before. People who held their nose and voted for Mitt Romney (such as myself) are prime targets for GOP pressure. If I’ve voted for a lousy party nominee before, I’m likely to cave again, so the Trump-pushers will not relent. The same dynamic is in play on the Democrat side … Exemplifying the ignorance of dissenters’ motivations that prevails among loyalist pundits, a flurry of tweets came out several days ago pronouncing #NeverTrump dead. These opinionators, including Trump himself, haven’t been listening to the NeverTrump camp, but simply assuming that once a candidate has the nomination locked down, the dissenting factions would fall in line and the party will ‘unify’ behind its nominee. But NeverTrump didn’t mean “We’ll never let him become the nominee.” NeverTrump means we will never vote for him, not even in the general election. The neither vote is an important statement that apparently flies over the heads of these pundits: that neither candidate is fit to be president. This narrow, binary way people … view the election ignores the possibility, indeed the likelihood, that principled voters may think neither candidate has the competence and character necessary for the Oval Office, and as such neither deserves their votes ... My past votes for Republicans do not put me under some special obligation to vote for a candidate I see as unfit for office, or any candidate, for that matter. One could argue Trump isn’t even playing for our “team” (let’s call it Team Pseudo-Conservative). He’s playing for his own, or some new version of the team with a bench that’s becoming more and more hostile to folks like me. So why should I score for him? The GOP is not entitled to my vote. The Democrat Party is not entitled to the votes of all Democrats. My vote belongs to me alone, and candidates must earn it. If no candidate earns it (and that includes third-party candidates), I have not been deprived of my political influence. That’s an argument made both to the less politically involved to ‘rock the vote’ and a desperate plea to the Trump or Clinton-hesitant: YOU MUST CHOOSE, and if you do not choose one, then by default you choose the other. Indeed, to pressure into voting those who do not believe a nominee deserves their vote is to inhibit them from expressing their real positions toward the candidates and the democratic process. I, for one, choose to let my silence speak, even if few can hear it.”
- Georgi Boorman, "No Party Owns My Vote," The Federalist, August 1, 2016

“Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are disliked by more voters than any major-party nominees in at least three decades. Independents easily outnumber either Democrats or Republicans. And polls show voters overwhelmingly want another choice. There is no shortage of great leaders in the United States with integrity, strength and vision, but there is something standing in their way: A morass of state laws meant to keep particular Americans from threatening the two existing major parties. Fundamentally, these laws prevent rivals from emerging that might replace the existing non-responsive parties — the way the Republicans emerged to replace the Whigs over the issue of slavery. And like poll taxes and literacy tests, they unjustifiably block ballot access. Unlike Democrats or Republicans, independents and third parties have to fight their way onto the ballot in all 50 states. That takes money and boots on the ground. But even with both, an independent candidate will meet immediate trouble from state laws and capricious interpretations by local officials who are themselves typically stalwarts of the ruling duopoly. These officials will challenge the signatures on nomination petitions themselves and even the eligibility of those tasked with collecting them. Consider Ralph Nader’s 2004 presidential campaign. In Pennsylvania, a lawyer for the Democratic Party successfully invalidated the authenticity of over 30,000 of Nader’s signatures — often for ridiculous reasons like someone signing ‘Bill’ instead of ‘William.’ And early ballot deadlines prevent independent candidates from emerging after it becomes clear that the choices presented by the two major parties are opposed by so many.  In Texas, for example, this year’s third-party filing deadline fell before the Democratic and Republican primaries were complete. Although an independent candidate can try to work around the trouble spots in states with political opposition, such low-level workarounds have not been successful. The next step? Wage a concerted legal battle across the country, arguing that the current process is rigged to protect the two major parties from real competition.”
- Randy E. Barnett & Lawrence Lessig, “The Real Reason You Can’t Vote for an Independent Candidate,” Time Magazine, August 3, 2016

“Hillary wants to abolish – essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know.”
- Donald Trump, North Carolina Campaign Rally, August 9, 2016

“That’s why I’m just saying the church can’t sit this one out. We may not have a perfect candidate but he may be the one, like the Book of Daniel — the most high God may have lifted up Trump, because very possibly he’s the only one that could defeat Hillary Clinton this fall.”
- Michelle Bachmann, CBN Interview, August 30, 2016

“Most Republicans wish they had a different candidate (though those, like me, who will not vote for Trump and consider him simply unfit for the presidency are certainly a modest minority). And it’s already pretty hard to find people making affirmative arguments for him rather than merely explaining they’ll vote Trump because they think they have to vote for one of the two major-party candidates and Hillary is even worse ... Conversations with Trump voters about the prospect of a President Trump generally conclude in the hope that he might be surrounded by people who will restrain his instincts or direct his energies — which isn’t exactly a vote of confidence. It’s hard to ignore the hideous character failings at the core of the man, and for this purpose maybe especially his fundamental infidelity toward all who rely on his word, which makes it hard to take seriously any assurances. He has sometimes shown himself capable of sticking to script or obeying the teleprompter, and when he does that he raises the possibility that he may be containable. But when Trump is given a chance to reveal something of himself, he without fail reveals a terrifying emptiness. The idea that such a man would be improved by being handed immense power simply refuses to be believed. Even wishful thinking supercharged by a justified dread of what a Hillary Clinton administration could do to the American republic can only go so far — certainly far enough not to vote for her, but for this voter not nearly far enough to vote for him. Neither major-party option in this election is worthy of affirmation, and no amount of wishing it were otherwise is likely to change that. All we can do, it seems to me, is hope and work for a Congress able and inclined to counterbalance a dangerous executive.”
- Yuval Levin, “The Final Stretch,” National Review, September 7, 2016

“I think this will be the last election if I don’t win.  I think this will be the last election that the Republicans have a chance of winning because you’re going to have people flowing across the borders, you’re going to have illegal immigrants coming in and they’re going to be legalized and they’re going to be able to vote and once that happens you can forget it.  I guarantee you, you’re not going to have one Republican vote.”
- Donald Trump, "Interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network," September 9, 2016

“I wrote about [the ‘Flight 93 Election’ essay in the Claremont Review of Books] earlier in the week, but it says something about my own pessimism that I didn’t notice that it was all that radical. In fact, it sounds like an especially articulate version of what conservatives I know who dislike Trump tell themselves to justify their planned vote for him. I am not one of those people. I don’t at all agree with the writer’s claim that conservatives are obliged to vote for Trump to save the Republic. I’m not voting for Trump (or Clinton) because I see them both as evidence for and agents of our decay ... Vote Trump, or vote Clinton. It won’t make much difference to the kind of things people like me value. Both are deadly, though in somewhat different ways.”
- Rod Dreher, "Reactionaries In Our Time," The American Conservative, September 9, 2016

“[Sean] Hannity could prod the Republican candidate to change his approach, but has not done so, at least in public, where his words would carry weight precisely because he is Trump’s number-one fan on the airwaves. Hannity’s bitter attacks on conservatives who aren’t on board for Trump as damnable losers, on the other hand, seems unlikely to help Trump. If anything, it makes it look as though Trump’s biggest supporters are more interested in establishing who gets blamed for a defeat than they are confident in victory ... But who owns Hannity? Nobody forced conservatives around the country to listen to him. If other conservatives in the media, including those who oppose Trump, thought he was a hack who people should ignore, they – we – did not say so. Maybe we should have.”
- Ramesh Ponnuru, “Sean Hannity Will Own a Share of Any Trump Defeat,” Bloomberg View, September 9, 2016


Speaking of Hannity, let's establish this right now.  If you vote for Donald Trump, you are placing yourself in the company of Sean Hannity, and in the company of Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan, Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Rand Paul, Steve King, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Dinesh D’Souza, Herman Cain, Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage, David Duke, Rocky Suhayda, Thomas DiLorenzo, Bill O’Reilly, Kevin Sorbo, Hulk Hogan, Rex Ryan, Mike Tyson and Phil Robertson.  Enjoy yourself there.

If you vote for Donald Trump, you are also placing yourself in the dubious religious company of Kirk Cameron, Pat Robertson, Paula White, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Jr., Robert Jeffress, Ralph Reed, Richard Land, Wayne Grudem, Ed Young, Kenneth & Gloria Copeland, Mike Murdoch and Gary Bauer.  Again ... um, enjoy.  

If, on the other hand, you refuse to vote for Donald Trump, you are placing yourself in the stalwart company of Mark Helprin, Wendell Berry, Yuval Levin, Robert P. George, Patrick J. Deneen, George Weigel, Eliot A. Cohen, Robert Kagan, Ben Sasse, David French, David Bentley Hart, Tim Keller, Russell Moore, John Milbank, Thabiti Anyabwile, D.G. Hart, George Will, Kevin D. Williamson, Ross Douthat, Thomas Pfau, Alan Jacobs, Rod Dreher, Michael Farris, Ben Domenech, David Brooks, William Kristol, John Podhoretz, Marilynne Robinson, Ken Burns, David McCullough, Niall Ferguson, George H. Nash, Ron Chernow, David Levering Lewis, Joseph J. Ellis, Ryan T. Anderson, Francis J. Beckwith, Mary Eberstadt, Matthew J. Franck, C.C. Pecknold, Garrison Keillor, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and also, yes, the ghosts of William F. Buckley, Jr. and Russell Kirk.

In fact, we may as well conclude again with Buckley:

"In the final analysis, just as the king might look down with terminal disdain upon a courtier whose hypocrisy repelled him, so we have no substitute for relying on the voter to exercise a quiet veto when it becomes more necessary to discourage cynical demagogy, than to advance free health for the kids. That can come later, in another venue; the resistance to a corrupting demagogy should take first priority."
William F. Buckley, Jr., Cigar Aficionado, March 2000

In the final analysis, a plurality of voters may have already failed us.  But resisting the corrupting Trump/Clinton demagoguery is still a first priority for some of us.  We will not cast our votes for Trump or Clinton.  We will not support the most arrogant examples of dishonesty and corruption that have ever occupied places as the presidential nominees.  We will not expect the American executive branch to help us during the next four years.  We will expect the legislative and judicial branches to exercise some of those checks and balances during the next four years.

After this presidential contest, as Thomas Pfau describes it, between P.T. Barnum and Lady Macbeth, we will not expect national politics to improve, shape, or help our culture.  Instead, we will continue to work within our homes, our towns, our cities, and within our arts and culture.  We will, in the meantime, focus on living, on personally investing in and building the ties of our local communities - and on educating and encouraging our fellows towards communal enjoyment of life and defending against all enemies of the permanent things.

Hannibal ad portās!  Carthago delenda est.  Aut cum scuto aut in scuto.  Fac fortia et patere.  Virtus tentamine gaudet.  Viriliter agite estote fortes.