So. Trump was having affairs with porn stars just after his son Baron was born, and his wife was recovering from pregnancy. I smiled as I thought this might make the “moralists” or religious right who continue to support him squirm a little bit.
Then Holly shared that she’d asked herself if she could support Trump, despite his disgusting character, if he advocated for other policies she believed in. Her conclusion was that she did not think she would. For her, the bad was disqualifying, or at least outweighed the good (Holly, I hope I’ve got that right). My response was less succinct. I said I would probably vote for a third option, regardless of chance for success.
But that’s chickenshit in a way, pretending to take a stand. So I have to refine the question: What if Trump had miraculously become a supporter of everything I want from government, and he opposed everything I opposed. His opponent was on the opposite side of everything I thought crucial. Everyone had cast their vote except me, and my vote will determine who would be the next president.
The answer surprised me, as much because it so quickly devolved into the world of unknowable outcomes as because it wasn’t as obvious as I thought.
Deciding between the lesser of two evils is different than choosing between good and evil, obviously, or the greater of two goods. A different context wraps around the decision. When it becomes a battle of absolutes, there’s a lot of collateral damage to those “standing on principle.” Abortion vs. a woman’s right to choose; Interpretation of the Second Amendment (and the first, in this climate); who gets taxed how much and how are those dollars distributed? Healthcare for those too poor to afford it vs kicking freeloaders off the dole.
How much am I willing to lose by not accepting someone of horrible character as president? Many of the trade-offs are difficult to compare one-to-one.
So then came the unknowables to fill the void: Support him now because progress will mean a better future (Sure about that? The next prez, or Congress elected because of that bad character, won’t unwind the progress?). Don’t support him now so that we’ll have a better choice next time (probably, but we may lose this opportunity for change with a different congress); etc.
So maybe I would support him, but at least I would shout about his awfulness!
Or maybe not, if I was Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell and I had their scruples — stop laughing — or priorities, or represented the Mormon church or evangelicals. Whether those priorities be true conservatism or lining the pockets of wealthy Republicans, perhaps I would keep my mouth shut so my priorities don’t get bombed by a capricious and none-too-bright man who commands a following I need.
Ultimately, perhaps it doesn’t come down to character. Like so much else, it comes down to … politics. Perhaps if Satan himself were to occupy the oval office, it would be okay as long as we get what we want out of the deal.