With Donald Trump as the Republican Party’s likely presidential nominee, many who, like me, considered themselves traditionally and morally conservative are beginning to feel displaced. We are now prompted to consider who is the lesser of two evils, Hillary Clinton or Trump, and to vote accordingly — and there is plenty of pressure to hold our nose and vote against our convictions. This is not something I am willing to do, and it represents a key misconception about the nature of a vote.
A vote in a democratic republic is not a bet hedged upon a likely winner. A vote in a republic is an endorsement of a representative who encapsulates the better part of one’s ideals. So, here’s where the false dichotomy breaks down.
Those who view their vote for Trump as a necessary vote against Clinton are more responsible for Trump’s failures than are his sincere supporters. They may honestly claim that he did not live up to their expectations or that they were misled by his charisma. However, those of us who know better but vote for him anyway have no recourse. Even if he is a lesser evil (and there is no guarantee he would be), to vote for him knowing that is to claim ownership and shared identity with him.
Zachary D. Lewis