A Philosopher's Blog

Should Establishment Republicans Vote for Hillary?

Posted in Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on May 11, 2016

At the start of May, Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee—all the other Republicans have suspended their campaigns. There is still talk of a contested convention; but that seems to be just talk. Barring some very unusual event, it appears that Trump will be the Republican candidate.

For the Democrats, Bernie Sanders has said he is in it to the end. But, most of the folks in the media have taken the stance that it is over—Hillary will be the nominee. While Sanders has not been mathematically eliminated, the smart and big money is on Hillary.

While many Republicans have lined up behind Trump already, there is still a significant number of establishment Republicans who have embraced the “never Trump” view. These folks seem to have a few options. One is to simply not vote for president. While this is not a vote for Hillary, it does help her in that the vote could have been one for Trump. Those taking this option can claim that it is the morally better choice: while this does help Hillary win, it relieves the voter of the moral responsibility that would go along with voting for Trump or Hillary. This can be seen as analogous to the moral distinction between killing and letting die: while the difference might be seen as fine, it is nonetheless a difference.

The second option is to vote for someone other than Hillary or Trump. This could be a write in (vote for me) or perhaps even a third party candidate. As with not voting for either Trump or Hillary, this avoids the moral responsibility of providing a positive contribution to a win. It could also have the virtue of making a moral or political statement.

The third option, which might seem to be political blasphemy, is to vote for Hillary. While the Republicans seem to have cultivated a demonic hate for the devilish Hillary, she is actually far closer to a Republican establishment candidate than Trump. While Hillary does profess liberal social values, these are now mainstream and middle of the road. That is, her professed social values seem to match those of the majority of Americans. More importantly, she ticks many of the boxes of the establishment Republicans: she is pro-trade, pro-Wall Street, well connected to major corporations, a hawk on defense, someone who favors a foreign policy that advances America’s economic interests, and she has a tough-on-crime stance (or perhaps did). She is also an establishment politician, just like them. She knows how the game is played and plays the same way they want it played.

While Trump does not actually have any developed policy, he has expressed his dislike of free trade, has expressed hostility towards Wall Street, has used isolationist language, and has expressed views that seem rather pro-worker: making corporations bring jobs back to the United States and similar things that almost make him sound like a union boss of old. Trump seems to be playing his own game, much to the dismay of the establishment.

Because of these facts, Hillary seems to be a viable choice for the Republican establishment: she is the closest thing to a traditional establishment Republican and will ensure that it will be business as usual if she is elected.

Interestingly, while there is a never Trump movement for Republicans, there is also a Bernie or Bust movement among Democrats and independents.  As with the Republican establishment voters, they seem to have three options: do not vote, vote for a third party, or vote for Trump. While it might seem impossible for Bernie supporters to go Trump, Trump is the other populist candidate and the one who has said he will do the most for working Americans. While I think this is a political sham, it does have its appeal. And, who knows, Trump might actually intend to make good on his vague assertions. So, this election might see some strange voting: Republicans voting for Hillary and former Sander supporters backing Trump.

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3 Responses

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  1. nailheadtom said, on May 11, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    The whole process is a fraud. Mrs. Bill Clinton wants to be president. There are probably a few other deranged personalities that would enjoy the position as well, especially when it’s the road to even more fantastic riches than she already enjoys, despite having nothing of value to sell. Sanders evidently knows little about actual socialism and the millions that it’s sent to an early grave. Trump is auditioning for the biggest reality show of all. The entire country should be embarrassed that these three psychotics are the choices for titular head of the most powerful country in the world. Then again, the US is a country supposedly governed by institutions rather than individuals. Maybe it doesn’t make any difference who gets to be boss.

  2. ajmacdonaldjr said, on May 12, 2016 at 11:34 am

    “At least once in a politician’s career they are forced to make a decision that will follow them for the rest of their lives, like the vote to confirm Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court a quarter century ago or the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. For today’s Republican leaders and elected officials that moment has arrived. They have to decide whether they support Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States…” Continue reading: The Question Every Republican has to Answer: Did They Support Trump in 2016? (.pdf) – http://www.politico.com/f/?id=00000154-a280-d7ba-afd5-abbe72480000

  3. WTP said, on May 12, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    Should left wing college professors of philosophy be telling establishment republicans what they should or should not do? I mean, you’re only interested in their own good, correct? If they were “smart” they’d follow your advice. Now define “smart”. Or is this a case of “Never go in with a Sicilian when death is on the line”?

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