The Conservative Case for Clinton

Artwork by Hannah Kahn

By Jimmy Quinn

I have almost as much disdain for the Trump alarmists who say the authoritarian blowhard is basically guaranteed to trounce Rubio as I do for the so-called Republicans who lack the ability to see beyond his right-wing facade. At this point it is fairly common knowledge that a vote for the spray-tanned zealot is a vote for socialized health care and barbarically ignorant isolationism, an endorsement of wacko conspiracy theories put forth by Michael Moore and friends.

He’s as conservative as Sanders. Trump voters pine for the type of gimmicky government gimmes that Uncle Bernie wants to dole out—just served with less civility and more xenophobia. His rise to the top is similarly driven by the lust for a class war, although he isn’t able to call it that.

But self-serving slimebag political hacks have, unfortunately, begun to nip at his coattails, taking a break from closing bridges and harassing people with brown skin to back the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee and, perhaps, the next president of the United States. His success should be a red flag, though not yet a sign of impending doom for the conservative movement.

Trump, obviously, was not supposed to get this far; the nomination process was supposed to produce a mainstream conservative without much controversy. A Rubio triumph over Trump is Plan B (which continues to run its course) and a brokered convention is (an unlikely) Plan C.

But let us, for a moment, entertain the nightmare of a Trump nomination: It’s July in Cleveland, and the con man gives a rambling acceptance speech promising to “Make America Great Again,” make us win again, build the wall, erase state lines, etc. He even adds a new plank to his platform—perhaps that he will issue an executive order confining Muslim-Americans to concentration camps or even pursue one of his world famous deals with Kim Jong Un. The mainstream media, the upper-middle class and the political elite stir with horror. The rest of the nation, beyond the bubble, nods in agreement. Hardcore Sanders supporters, disappointed with the Democratic Party’s dismissal of their messiah, flock to graze under Trump’s big tent.

Abetting the strongman’s crime against democracy in the general election would be unforgivable. Assuming that running a mainstream Republican as a third party candidate is out of the question, the only logical course of action would be for conservatives to unite around Hillary Clinton.

A prominent neoconservative recently took to the pages of the Washington Post to argue this point, asserting that the GOP’s outrage created a monster that’s about to devour its creator. His conclusion is correct, but his analysis is wrong.

The Republican Party is not solely responsible for the Pandora’s box that opened this cycle; President Obama’s unilateral leftist agenda deserves blame too. His failure to clamp down on geopolitical chaos has left America weaker and more vulnerable to those who seek to do it harm; exorbitant executive orders have stretched the limits of executive power, and the reckless abandonment of the vision he laid out in 2004, to move beyond just a “collection of red states and blue states,” has helped create deeper divisions within the American electorate as much as any Tea Party radical has.

In his Super Tuesday victory speech, Trump claimed to be a unifier capable of bridging these divides–for which he deserves style points.

But at the end of the day, the next president of the United States must have the right temperament to guide the nation through crisis after crisis. He or she needs to be able to take that 2 a.m. phone call and keep a cool head to engage with allies and adversaries. Hillary Clinton is a crisis leader, and as much as I find her political malleability despicable, I acknowledge that her pragmatism is an asset. Her colleagues say that she’s intelligent and agreeable despite her hard-edged public persona.

She’s also less of a liberal than is Trump. She opposes a single payer healthcare system (although she wants to preserve Obamacare) and hasn’t suggested that President Bush is responsible for 9/11. She has also laid out a clear and assertive approach to America’s foreign relations more consistent with the Republican establishment than with the Democratic base.However, this is not an endorsement of Hillary Clinton, her policy positions or her experience in government. She tactlessly flip-flopped on the Keystone Pipeline, abandoning objective scientific evidence that said it wouldn’t increase carbon emissions, to appease progressives. She came out against the Pacific trade pact to curry favor with the unions. She rails against the power of money in politics at her rallies, yet refuses to release the transcripts of her speeches to Goldman Sachs. But I wouldn’t worry too much, because she says that she has never lied.

Come November, though, she might well be the least worst candidate on the themes that have been most important to conservatives over the past seven decades: fiscal responsibility, military strength, and personal liberties.

I should be excited for my first election, but I can’t be excited for the ever more plausible choice between a fascist clown and a big government liberal one grand jury away from an indictment. I am, as are many others, shocked, dismayed and angered by the current state of our politics. But that’s no license to be stupid.


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