24 Feb 2016

What Would Hamilton Do?

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Tom Nichols argues quite persuasively, and on the basis of good precedent, for the unthinkable in the event that the election comes down to Trump versus Hillary.

A few years ago, The Federalist’s publisher, Ben Domenech, suggested that conservatives consider dumping the “Buckley Rule,” the late William F. Buckley’s admonition always to choose the most conservative candidate who can win. As Ben pointed out, things have changed since Buckley first issued this advice, including that the elite determination of “who can win” is often flawed. The Buckley Rule, for example, might have led to supporting Charlie Crist—you may shudder at will—instead of Marco Rubio in the 2010 Florida Senate race.

In its place, Ben raised the possibility of a “Hamilton Rule,” named after Alexander Hamilton. Although both were Federalists, Hamilton despised John Adams and his coterie among his own party to the point where he was willing to lose the election of 1800. “If we must have an enemy at the head of government,” Hamilton said in exasperation, “let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible.”

In other words: Better to lose to a true enemy whose policies you can fight and repudiate, rather than to a false friend whose schemes will drag you down with him. This is a painful choice, but it also embraces realism while protecting the possibility of recovery in the future. The need to live to fight another day is why conservatives should adopt a Hamilton Rule if, God forbid, the choice comes down to Hillary and Trump.

My hands almost could not type those words, because I think Hillary Clinton is one of the worst human beings in American politics. She has few principles that I can discern, other than her firm conviction that she deserves the Oval Office for enabling and then defending her sexually neurotic husband. She lies as easily as the rest of us breathe. She has compromised national security through sheer laziness at best, and corrupt intent at worst. If elected, she will enrich Wall Street and raid the public coffers while preaching hateful doctrines of identity politics to distract America’s poor and working classes.

But Trump will be worse. Morally unmoored, emotionally unstable, a crony capitalist of the worst kind, Trump will be every bit as liberal as Hillary—perhaps more so, given his statements over the years. He is by reflex and instinct a New York Democrat whose formal party affiliation is negotiable, as is everything about him. He has little commitment to anything but himself and his “deals,” none of which will work in favor of conservatives or their priorities.

His judicial appointments will likely be liberal friends from New York. His Great Wall of Mexico will never be built, and employers will go right on hiring cheap labor and outsourcing jobs, just as Trump does with his made-in-Mexico suits. His China Smoot-Hawley Tariff will never be implemented. His administration, led by a vulgar, aging man-child who is firmly pro-abortion, who jokes about having sex with his daughter, and brags about his wealth, will hurt the poorest and most vulnerable among us—including the unborn.

Trump, of course, will dissemble and whine about all these eventual failures. His fans will excuse him, as they do now, but they have short attention spans and will vanish in later midterm elections and future presidential contests. His white nationalist supporters, clinging to him like lice in the fur of an angry chimp, will shake their fists along with him for a time, until they too eventually slink away. By 2020, his core constituency will be a tiny sliver of what’s left of the white working class, pathetically standing at the gates of empty factories they thought Trump would re-open.

More to the point, after four years of thrashing around in the Oval Office like the ignorant boor he is, voters will no longer be able distinguish between the words “Trump,” “Republican,” “conservative,” and “buffoon.” He will obliterate Republicans further down the ticket in 2016 and 2020, smear conservatism as nothing more than his own brand of narcissism, and destroy decades of hard work, including Ronald Reagan’s legacy.

Read the whole thing.

I must admit that he has a point.

The normal operations of American two-party politics fail to protect the country from crooks, scoundrels, liars, and complete shits. In 2004, the democrats nominated a traitor for the presidency. In 2008, they elected a totally-unqualified community organizer, i.e. a professional agitator. We have had worthless playboys (JFK), vulgarian shit-kicker crooks (LBJ), a lachrymose neurotic (Nixon), a wholly incompetent prig (Carter), and an amusing scoundrel (Clinton) as presidents in my lifetime. We have elected plenty of egotists, but we have never elected to the chief magistracy any spoiled and unhinged egomaniacs not reliably connected to reality. The system at least saw to that.

In the case of Donald Trump, we are dealing with a completely unprecedented phenomenon. Every past president, however unethical, deluded, or malevolent, could be relied upon to operate within certain broad bounds of conventionality. None of them, for instance, was ever going to cancel the next election and remain in office.

Hillary is a crook and a liar, to be sure, but Hillary in the final analysis is just a corrupt, left-wing democrat. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is something out of the nation’s Hollywood nightmares. Donald Trump is Willie Stark from “All the King’s Men” (1949). Donald Trump is “Lonesome” Rhodes from “A Face in the Crowd” (1957). Donald Trump is the barbarian outsider swept into power by popular emotion, operating completely outside conventional norms, mores, and expectations. Donald Trump talks happily of forcibly deporting 12 million people. No normal American politician would try to do something like that. Trump might. And there isn’t really any telling what else someone like Donald Trump might do.

6 Feedbacks on "What Would Hamilton Do?"


” voters will no longer be able distinguish between the words “Trump,” “Republican,” “conservative,” and “buffoon.” ”

The sooner this happens the sooner we can all get past the whole “Republican (Good!) v. Democrat (Bad!) rhetoric and acknowledge they are all politicians, true to themselves and their team, of which no common man is a member.

Then, maybe, the common man can acknowledge to himself that the politicians will do what the people let them do.


On what basis would you assume that Trump’s judicial appointments will be more left-wing than Hillary’s? I would assume the opposite — at least by some amount.


My sentiments entirely. We’ve already degraded the presidency under Obama where our allies and enemies consider us weak. Trump would make them worried. Any of these choices are one-termers due to skills, health issues or both.


There is a lot of useful information to be learned at Scott Adams’ blog about the Trump phenomenon. Go to http://blog.dilbert.com/post/139541975641/the-trump-master-persuader-index-and-reading-list and read some of the articles there. They also have some hints about how Trump could be beaten. It may be too late. Adams doesn’t fear a Trump presidency because he feels that Trump’s ego and self interest would only be served by a successful presidency. That seems risky to me.


I really think that the attraction of Trump is that he is a finger in the eye of the Republican Establishment. The Republican Establishment has failed to produce a viable, victorious candidate for several cycles. Their product sucks. No one wants a Dem but the crap that gets trotted out by the Republican Establishment is just awful. They should be scared, they brought this forth.

Steve Gregg

Trump is to politics as Jimmy Connors was to tennis. He is an American Mussolini.


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