Erica Grieder: The Conservative Case for Hillary Clinton – Texas Monthly

…If Clinton becomes president, Republicans will be members of the opposition, meaning they can oppose her agenda openly and even, despite this Trump disaster, with occasional credibility. If Trump becomes president, they’ll be the loyal members of a party led by a dangerously impulsive president. They’ll be chronically torn over whether they should summon the temerity to express their discomfort with whatever Trump decides to do in response to something mean he saw someone say about him on the internet, or to accept the reality that he is their leader, and they are tools he feels free to use to serve his ego. I know which lifestyle I’d prefer.

So there you go, conservatives. Six reasons. And though I could go on, I suspect any of you who’ve read this far could use a break. But that does bring up one more reason conservatives should hope Clinton beats Trump: if she does, that’ll likely be the end of Trump’s career in politics. And so I’d have no more reason to write about him, or the many Republicans humiliating themselves on his behalf, ever again.

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Tim Kowal

I remain open to further arguments along these lines, but this one leaves me unmoved, except further disappointed and annoyed at the effort. “Psychologically stable” — unserious, ad hom. “Toddler-type state of mind” — same; and while I hope conservatives urge Trump to corral his language, his effective neutralizing of unfair and untruthful arguments is of incalculable value to our politics, the blueprints to the Death Star. Case in point: debate-ending, low-class-surrender name-calling like “bigot.” Every conservative who’s earned the name is already a bigot.

“Clinton is less risky” — no mention of SCOTUS except that Clinton “has at least heard of the Constitution” = unserious, ad hom, and that “Republicans should have thought about that before settling on Trump as the man to oppose her in November” = lie down and give up. How rousing.

“Clinton is more conservative on key issues” like “trade” — what about other issues, which Trump’s supporters find more urgent and important, like immigration? Again, unserious. The smart set’s stupidity on immigration trumps Trump’s stupidity on trade (& most everything else).

“Clinton is a Democrat” is the Hamilton Rule restated, which I find a potentially interesting line of argument, if only someone would follow the argument through: what does rebuilding look like once we’ve lost SCOTUS for a generation? Conservatives had the last eight years in the wilderness, and the support early on of the Tea Party successes, and their best idea was…a third Bush? The intellectuals don’t pay their promissory notes. They need to put up the security of a serious plan for a way forward.

While poorly argued, the arguments all contain valid points. But they are all secondary. The reasons for Trump’s support are the very ones ignored in pieces like this: status quo is not desirable (or, for that matter, conservative); GOP doesn’t deserve a presumption that it’ll make everything all right after a Hillary tenure — its recent track record instead earns it the burden of proving what fundamental changes will accomplish, and how it means to do so.


Noted & Quoted


To take power, May had to pretend that she, too, dreams these impossible dreams. And that led her to embrace a phony populism in which the narrow and ambiguous majority who voted for Brexit under false pretences are be reimagined as “the people.”

This is not conservatism—it is pure Rousseau. The popular will had been established on that sacred referendum day. And it must not be defied or questioned. Hence, Theresa May’s allies in The Daily Mail using the language of the French revolutionary terror, characterizing recalcitrant judges and parliamentarians as “enemies of the people” and “saboteurs.”

This is why May called an election. Her decision to do so—when she had a working majority in parliament—has been seen by some as pure vanity. But it was the inevitable result of the volkish rhetoric she had adopted. A working majority was not enough—the unified people must have a unified parliament and a single, uncontested leader: one people, one parliament, one Queen Theresa to stand on the cliffs of Dover and shake her spear of sovereignty at the damn continentals.

...Brexit is thus far from being a done deal: it can’t be done without a reliable partner for the EU to negotiate with. There isn’t one now and there may not be one for quite some time—at least until after another election, but quite probably not even then. The reliance on a spurious notion of the “popular will” has left Britain with no clear notion of who “the people” are and what they really want.

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The most extraordinary paragraph in this op-ed, however, is this one:

The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a “global community” but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage. We bring to this forum unmatched military, political, economic, cultural and moral strength. Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.

...First — and this is so obvious I can’t believe I have to type out these words — the United States can’t simultaneously proclaim “America first” and then claim any kind of moral strength. Saying loudly and repeatedly that American values are not going to be a cornerstone of American foreign policy strips you of any moral power whatsoever.

The second and bigger problem is that the “embrace” of a Hobbesian vision of the world by the most powerful country in the world pretty much guarantees Hobbesian reciprocity by everyone else. Most international relations scholars would agree that there are parts of the world that fit this brutal description. But even realists don’t think it’s a good thing. Cooperation between the United States and its key partners and allies is not based entirely on realpolitik principles. It has helped foster a zone of stability across Europe, North America and the Pacific Rim that has lasted quite some time. In many issue areas, such as trade or counterterrorism or climate change, countries gain far more from cooperation than competition.

Furthermore, such an embrace of the Hobbesian worldview is, in many ways, anti-American.

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The rise of the military, if coupled with the undermining of civilian aspects of national power, demonstrates a spiritual exhaustion and a descent into Caesarism. Named after Julius Caesar — who replaced the Roman Republic with a dictatorship — Caesarism is roughly characterized by a charismatic strongman, popular with the masses, whose rule culminates in an exaggerated role for the military. America is moving in this direction. It isn’t that some civilian agencies don’t deserve paring down or even elimination, nor is it that the military and other security forces don’t deserve a boost to their financial resources. Rather, it is in the very logic, ideology, and lack of proportionality of Trump’s budget that American decline, decadence, and Caesarism are so apparent.

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CK MacLeod
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CK MacLeod
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Wade McKenzie
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+ It's a common tactic in scholasticism (vide Edward Feser) to take a term of religio-philosophical significance (such as "creation" or "eternity") that has a commonly [. . .]
note on anti-Americanist conservatism in re Obama in Israel