I hadn’t planned to write again until we had some election results, but when I walked the dog this morning, I listened to the audio version of a long piece by a very conservative National Review writer named Dan McGlaughlin. In the piece, he agonized — for about 40 minutes — about whether he could bring himself to vote for Donald Trump, who (as he acknowledged) is morally unfit for the job by virtue of his lack of virtue, but who is on McGlaughlin’s side on most of the issues.
It was about the most honest job of honestly wrestling with this dilemma I could imagine.
If you are deeply opposed to abortion on moral grounds, for example (as McGlaughlin is), how could you not seek to reelect Trump who has, whether for sincere or merely political reasons, packed the Supreme court with anti-abortion justices? That’s just one powerful example, but there were many more. And, on policy, McLaughlin is deeply opposed to Biden’s position on many issues. He also finds plenty of other objections to Biden. Every time he finished one of his I-can’t-vote-for-Biden sections, I thought I knew where he had to come out in the end.
But whenever he turned his discussion back to Trump, he made such a powerful case for Trump’s moral unfitness that I didn’t see how he could possibly pull the lever for him either. Although I don’t share McGlaughlin’s position on any of the issues that made it impossible for him to vote for Biden, they were all (or mostly) issues on which reasonable people can disagree.
It was a beautiful day, and a long walk, and McGlaughlin did a great job of keeping me in suspense. I’ll give you a link below that will get you either the audio or the print version in case you want to read or hear him make his case.
But, in case most of you don’t go to such lengths to know all his back-and-forthing, I’ll tell you where he came out:
He can’t vote for Biden, based mostly on issue differences. He can’t vote for Trump, based mostly on character. He will cast a protest vote for someone else (I don’t believe he specified whom). I hope that more conservatives of good conscience will do the same today, and I would be very happy to coexist, across many, many areas of disagreement, in a country with more people like McGlaughlin.