Donald Trump is not fit to lead the free world. He is a narcissistic, thin-skinned bully, a serial liar, a man who shows not the slightest respect for the office to which he aspires.
This shouldn’t need saying, but it evidently does. For the past three weeks, in the media and online, conservative critics of Trump have been met by the response, “Oh, so you want Hillary, do you?”
Hang on. This isn’t about Mrs. Clinton’s shortcomings which, I agree, are also a disqualification. “Is Trump any worse than Hillary?” isn’t just setting the bar absurdly low; it’s also the wrong question. The right question is, “Is Donald Trump fit to be president?” And the answer must surely be, “No.”
We are talking here of someone who makes things up so breezily that he is barely aware of what he is doing; someone who randomly accused an opponent’s father of being involved with the assassination of President Kennedy; someone who seeks to have critical journalists removed from their posts; someone who tells his supporters to “beat the crap” out of hecklers.
Next to his moral unsuitability, the fact that he is bad news for conservatives seems almost trivial. It’s not his big-government protectionism that ought to bar him from high office. It’s not even the way in which he will undo decades of progress and taint the Republicans once again with xenophobia — this is a man who can’t even bring himself consistently to disown the Klan, for Heaven’s sake.
No, the real disqualification, from a conservative point of view, is Trump’s refusal to recognize that he is aspiring to an office bigger than he is.
I say only one thing with absolute certainty: Don’t vote for an unfit candidate simply because you dislike another unfit candidate. Doing so makes you complicit. It means endorsing one of two amoral, power-hungry people who would very probably ignore their oath of office.
As Vaclav Havel used to say in Czechoslovakia, living under a Communist regime doesn’t mean that you have to legitimize it. A citizen can still retain his or her integrity by refusing to vote for the approved list, refusing to display party posters, refusing to repeat official slogans. And integrity matters. Indeed, at present, it’s pretty much all that American conservatives have left. For the love of God, cousins, don’t throw it away.
Dan Hannan is a British Conservative MEP.
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