Just What Does My Conscience Say About Trump?

Ted Cruz's manful speech puts us in the difficult question of having to ask whether, in good conscience, one could vote for Donald Trump for President. I am convinced he is personally unfit for the office, and that he would make terrible decisions if elected, and that he is without the moral character that ought ideally to accompany one into such an awesome -- or perhaps awful, in its Biblical sense -- set of responsibilities.

Thus, I cannot in good conscience vote for him.

However, if his opponent should win, I am quite sure that things will be even worse. She will be able to effectively repeal any part of the Constitution she dislikes by replacing the late Justice Scalia with a fifth progressive vote. The "living Constitution" means no real Constitution at all: it just means whatever the left would like it to mean, even if it plainly says otherwise. One faces not merely political defeat of our understanding of the right view for a time, but a permanent end to the Constitution as a written document establishing hard limits on the government.

Likewise, she herself is corrupt and a corrupting influence. She is also completely without decent character, and not the least bit shy about lying through her smile to the American people whenever it is even slightly convenient. The FBI and the Justice Department have recently proven both her corruption and her deception, as much as they were trying to avoid prosecuting her.

So, if she is elected I can reasonably expect the American project as I understand it to die. There will still be a "Constitution," but it will not serve to restrain the powerful: it will serve only to produce occasional apologies from the Supreme Court for the government's continual expansion of power. The government will also become intensely corrupt at the same time that it is becoming completely unrestrained.

Thus, I cannot in good conscience vote for her.

Of the remaining candidates, I think the Libertarians are simply wrong on the merits on a number of foreign policy issues, as well as immigration. Immigration is right now one of the most important of issues to get right, and they don't. The Green Party's candidate is a well-meaning woman of intelligence and forceful argument. I like her, and I respect her as a moral agent, but I disagree with her about nearly everything.

On the other hand, neither of them is going to win, so I could in good conscience vote for either. My disagreements with them won't matter if they are never elected, and they are probably both decent people. I would have exercised my very limited power as a voter responsibly by endorsing only someone with the right moral character for the office, and I will have caused no harm in any case.

This all comes back to a philosophical argument we've had here from time to time. In the infamous "trolley problem," one envisions a trolley speeding down a track toward five people. They will be killed if you do nothing. However, you are standing next to a switch that can route the trolley onto another track. Only one person is on that track. Is it morally better to do nothing, or to pull the switch?

Some of you have argued that it is better to let the five die, because you are not responsible for that. That's an accident. If you pull the lever to save them, you will be responsible for intentionally killing the one innocent life. Intentional killing of the innocent is murder, and murder is always wrong. Thus, you cannot pull the lever even to save five lives.

Others say that not pulling the lever is also a chosen action, and by allowing the five to die rather than pull the lever you are taking their deaths on your conscience. Thus, you cannot refuse to pull the lever under the circumstances.

At the moment, with the polls tight, this looks like a difficult decision that might come down to a difference of philosophical intuitions like these. It may be that, closer to election day, the race will have diverged so much one way or the other that it will be easier to vote in good conscience. But for now, one must think of whether or not to pull the lever.


MikeD said...

I choose to pull on the break, even knowing that it will fail to stop the trolley. I live in South Carolina, so ultimately, it matters exactly not at all who I vote for, because this state will go to Trump regardless of everything else. So I will be voting for Johnson. Yes, I understand his platforms failings in immigration and foreign policy, but I do not require perfection out of a candidate, only that they are the most suitable of the choices given. So yes, I realize that pulling on the breaks won't stop the trolley. But I'd rather try than to simply throw up my hands and decide who best to murder by my actions or inactions.

Grim said...

Georgia is in a similar position, although there are some polls that suggest it could go Clinton this year. (It did in 1992.)

Ymar Sakar said...

HRC is not much different from the rest of the Demoncrats and Leftists in this USA. Humans can only learn to hate by personalizing, such as hating Hussein or Bush II or HRC. It's a human weakness that is pathetic as it is funny.

E Hines said...

It may be that, closer to election day, the race will have diverged so much one way or the other that it will be easier to vote in good conscience.

How is this voting in conscience rather than in the convenience of the choice not mattering?

Eric Hines

Ymar Sakar said...

This election is more about accountability, on top of a conscience (or lack of one for Leftist zombies).

Who will be held to account if HRC or Trump turns out to be as advertised or expected? Holding tyrants to account is nigh impossible, consider Hussein O, North Korea, Cuba, or Erd.

Holding their supporters to account, personally, is a lot more feasible. And in a war, that begins to carry other connotations as well. If Trump or HRC kills Americans for personal fun and benefit, holding them to account is sort of like magic. But holding the bureaucrats at the bottom and the loyalists at the bottom to Account, is feasible.

Grim said...

I mean that, if it is clear that the vote won't count, it is easy to assign it in good conscience. The temptation to violate one's conscience is only strong if there's some sense that it might be important to do so.

raven said...

Trolley? San Francisco? tough choice. Let's see, do we run to the store to buy beer, or go get the camera....

Joel Leggett said...

I live in Virginia. The election will be very close here. Furthermore, I despise Hillary Clinton with every fiber of my being. What she has done to corrupt government institutions and to further (not just the perception but the reality) the understanding that some are more equal before the law than others is unforgivable. That said, I cannot support Trump after what I saw last night.

I'll confess that I was so shocked by Director Comey's pathetic excuse not to recommend prosecution for acts that were clearly criminal as he outlined them that I considered casting a vote for Trump simply to halt Hillary's corruption and lawlessness. However, after watching the pathetic political theater last night orchestrated simply to destroy an opponent there is no way I could cast a vote in support of such a shameless, would-be strongman.

The Cruz campaign provided the Trump campaign an advance copy of the speech hours before Ted Cruz gave it. The Trump campaign signed off on it and then used their supporters to whip up anger against Ted Cruz as he gave the speech. Trump and his supporters then acted as if they were surprised that Cruz didn't provide a by-name endorsement of Trump. Such people are capable of anything. Nothing is below them.

I will not assist in delivering the Republic into the hands of one such as Trump. NEVER!

Grim said...

The one thing I can be absolutely sure of, Joel, is the steadiness of your conscience. I never doubted you from the first time you told me you would forever be opposed to Trump.

As for me, I know that whoever is elected, I will still be in the opposition for the next administration. There are no good options, and have not been for some time.

Joel Leggett said...

Very true my friend. I weep for my country.

Eric Blair said...

Ace thinks you're wrong: http://ace.mu.nu/archives/364874.php

Grim said...

True Romance is an underrated movie.

However, Ace is wrong -- just in asserting that there's a clear answer to the question. The real force of the trolley problem isn't that there's a right answer to be had. It's learning that human beings really differ on this fundamental intuition about moral responsibility. For some people, as long as they don't personally act in the trolley case, they just can't see themselves as morally responsible for the five dead. For others (including Ace, apparently), it's obvious that their choice not to get involved is a choice and an action for which they are responsible.

You can make arguments either way, but in my experience there's no convincing anyone that their intuition about this is wrong. You can't be reasoned out of what you were never reasoned into, they say.

Ymar Sakar said...

Ace is human. Like all the rest. Trump and Hussein Messiah included.

Hillary RodDamn Clinton is merely a taste of the Left's true power. They got more, don't worry. Plenty more where that came from.

douglas said...

So what if I decide to choose to pull the lever so that whoever would be at fault for the mechanical failure and it's subsequent results would only be accountable for one death rather than five? It may not be a 'right' decision, but at least you're acting in a motivation to help others in lieu of making the 'right' choice for myself.

Grim said...

That's yet another intuition. Some people think the most important thing is not to have blood on their hands. Others think that the blood on their hands is unavoidable once they're put in the situation, and they have to choose either way. You're adding the intuition that it's important to help others rather than to be focused on your own guilt or innocence.

Ethicists like to talk about this as breaking down into the difference between utilitarians and deontologists, but it doesn't really. There are a lot of other things that come into play.

Here's another one: if one should violate one's conscience, perhaps by pulling the lever to save four lives (but in effect murdering one innocent), what about Confession or other divine mechanisms of forgiveness? Isn't it the case that these sacraments exist just because sometimes we are in a fallen world, and sometimes we have to wash clean for having done wrong things? Many people find that to be a persuasive answer -- very many.

Eric Blair said...

Seems that whole point of Christianity is that it is a fallen world. Not to sound all gnostic and stuff, but really, think about it, where are you spending eternity? Here or someplace else?

If the theology has any truth to it, it ain't here. As the saying goes, "Keep your eyes on the prize".

Grim said...

Wise advice.

donumvitae said...

The strongest argument I can devise to vote for Trump instead of Clinton is that government checks and balances are likely to limit Trump. You can be very sure the government establishment will work very hard to constrain Trump. They will have no such 'integrity' concerning Clinton.

Who knows, you may actually see the House and Senate decide they care about separation of powers...

I think he would be a poor president. I think Hillary would be a truly horrific president. I would argue it comes down to the lesser of two evils.

Tom said...

I simply think that if you can figure out which vote will have a better result, you should vote that way. All of the choices may be horrifying, but if one actually seems better than the other, you have to choose it.

However, if you cannot see any difference, if both options are equally wretched, I don't see a point in voting. Voting for someone who has no chance to win seems meaningless to me. It's like, in the trolley problem, decisively shining your shoes.

That's what my conscience says, anyway.

Right now, my choice is Trump. That is not because he is a good candidate, but rather that I firmly believe he will be better for the republic than Hilary. In terms of corruption, in all of its many meanings, I am convinced that he is an amateur compared to Hilary. At this point in time, it would be immoral, in my own conscience, for me to not vote for him.

That may change as events unfold, of course, but that's where I am today.

Tom said...

Since I've heard it here and elsewhere on many occasions that we have a duty to vote no matter what, I'd like to expand on what I said above.

Imagine a trolley problem where, if you don't pull the lever, 5 people will die, but if you do pull the lever, a different 5 people will die. Assume there are no other meaningful differences between the two groups.

If the choices are 5 or 4, I would pull the lever. But at 5 or 5, what's the difference? Insisting we vote no matter what is like insisting you make a decision in a 5 or 5 situation.