Essays Over Voting

The question—“If your vote were decisive, what would you do?

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I mean to make a much more informal and homely point: it is wrong to think of a vote Leading Contender B. Although, as fellow conservatives, we think very alike on nearly everything in political life, the national disaster of the choice between Trump and Clinton has produced diametrically opposed conclusions.

One close friend says that the harm Hillary Clinton would do, building on Barack Obama’s eight years, would be so incalculably awful that the risk of an inept, foolish, and thuggish Donald Trump presidency is worth taking in order to prevent Clinton’s victory.

” It was an earnest question, and I gave an honest answer.

But then I felt obliged to object to the question, and I want to elaborate upon my objections here.

Even the current trend toward early voting by mail or “absentee” balloting does not alter the personal experience each of us has of not knowing the exact weight of our own ballot in the final outcome.

If it turned out, in a particular election, that the result hinged on a single vote, even then we could not say that our own single vote was truly determinative as the “tie-breaker,” for this would also be true of that turned on a choice between the victor and the runner-up.

We conservatives are not in an ordinary political situation.

In past elections, some of us might not have had our first or even our second choice among Republican candidates on the November ballot for president.

The voter who did not much like either Nixon or Humphrey as ideal could put their policies and probabilities in the balance and choose the lesser evil because in truth each man had much good that could be said of him.

Now, however, we really do have two to choose between—or to decline choosing.

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