With the presumptive presidential nominees of the two major political parties virtually determined at this point, Christians (and conservatives more broadly) are now faced with a dilemma: both candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, have serious moral shortcomings, not only in their own lives but also in their political philosophies, that appear to render them both unfit for office. What are our options as voters in this situation? Basically, there are four:
1. Vote for Donald Trump as the lesser of two evils. The argument here is that, while we know what we would get with a Hillary Clinton presidency, especially with regard to Supreme Court nominees, we don’t really know how a President Trump might govern or what kind of Supreme Court nominations he might make. That leaves open the door that Trump could possibly be a better President than Hillary Clinton. Even if he is not perfect, he is the best choice we have in this situation.
The rebuttal to this argument is that the only way we can judge what kind of President Trump would be is to consider all the things he has said and done in his past and during this campaign. Based on that criterion (which we use to evaluate any candidate for any office), we must conclude that Trump has no sound political philosophy and a deeply immoral personal character. That leads me to the conclusion that he would make a wretched President. Is it possible that he could shock us all and govern in a wise, principled, conservative manner? Sure, that is possible, but we have no reason to expect it based on what Trump has said and done to this point. Furthermore, we must consider the fact that a President Trump would be the presumptive nominee of his party in 2020 as he sought reelection, rendering it unlikely that we would have the opportunity to vote for a true conservative again before 2024 at the earliest.
2. Vote for Hillary Clinton as the lesser of two evils. Perhaps Trump’s vulgarity and utter lack of political experience could persuade some that Hillary Clinton is actually a better option for the highest office in our land, leading even Republicans to vote for her. At least with this option, we would have some measure of predictability in our President.
However, we cannot forget several things here: (1) Hillary Clinton is completely and publicly aligned with the pro-choice movement, and that will not change; (2) she is demonstrably a big-government liberal; (3) she is a scandal-plagued, dishonest, power-hungry politician who has demonstrated virtually nothing in terms of meaningful accomplishments in her long career. It is hard for me to fathom a more unqualified presidential candidate (though Donald Trump may at least be equal here).
3. Stay home and don’t vote. When both options are bad, why be forced to choose? On the other hand, there will be many offices in addition to President on the ballot this November, and if conservatives stay home, we will see a major conservative defeat in the Senate, in the House of Representatives, and in numerous state races. If you are a conservative who is considering this option, I hope you will reconsider and at least go vote for all of the down ballot races.
4. Vote for a third party candidate or a write-in. Although this option may seem like “throwing away” your vote and enabling the opposing party, it may be the best option on the table at this point for conservatives. Although it is virtually impossible for a third-party candidate or a write-in to win, a sizable number of votes for such a candidate would signal the beginning of a protest movement that could rebuild conservatism over the next four years in preparation for 2020. As of today, this is my preferred option.
The question that remains is this: who is that third party candidate or write-in candidate? I considered Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico and presumptive nominee of the Libertarian party. However, he articulates a pro-choice position on his website, and he appears weak on religious liberty, making him a bad choice to become the conservative standard bearer. I am open to other suggestions regarding the nominees of other parties.
As for a potential write-in, if our movement unifies in that direction, I propose Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, who has clearly articulated a conservative vision of government in the very short time he has been in the Senate. Obviously, he is not running for President, but perhaps a large number of votes for him would play a role in propelling him to the national stage in 2020.