Better late than never, I suppose.
Though I have been relentlessly anti-Donald Trump for months now — constantly referring to him as a big-government faux-conservative fraudster — I nonetheless publicly wrote only eleven days ago that I would vote for Trump in a general election. My reasoning was fairly straightforward: the untimely death of legendary Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made the future of the Court a particularly salient political issue, given the surprisingly strong commitments thus far from Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley to hold the line on Obama SCOTUS nominees, and the fact that Trump himself had name-dropped two excellent possible replacements in U.S. Court of Appeals Judges Diane Sykes and William Pryor.
No more. This man is such a unique menace to our system of governance, to our rule of law, to our national ethos, and to our culture that I simply cannot see myself ever voting for him. I have determined that even if (a big “if”) Trump were to actually eschew his penchant for “flexibility” and indeed nominate committed constitutionalists to the Court, that it simply would not be worth the massive downsides.
So I’m officially now joining Erick and other contributors here on team #NeverTrump.
Sure, I was deeply, deeply disturbed by his Michael Moore-style clownish 9/11 Trutherism at the South Carolina debate, as well as his knowing pandering to unrepentant white supremacist groups. But last night was really the final straw, for me. And no, I’m not talking about Trump literally defending his manhood size on national television, because, after all:
Right. But Trump went far beyond the confines of deeply immature, schoolyard-style bullying rhetoric — though there was, indeed, plenty of that. He repeatedly doubled down on his unspeakably immoral claim that he would commit himself to actively forcing serving military members to commit war crimes. Yes, that’s right: Donald Trump, big tough guy, is now firmly committed to leveraging his solemn Article II Commander-in-Chief prerogative to force the military to murder innocent women and children in some horrifyingly Twilight Zone-style alternative universe form of “deterrence.”
There are a few points to make on this.
Let us first stipulate that Bill Blankschaen is absolutely right that such a willful disregard for respecting the consciences of nobler people than himself belies Trump’s entire premise that he would nominate constitutionally sound, pro-conscience protection jurists to the federal Judiciary. It is crass moral repugnance of the highest order.
Let us next stipulate how wildly, unspeakably irresponsible a thing this is to say for a would-be Commander-In-Chief. The entire military edifice is predicated on hierarchy, and this hierarchy utterly collapses when you put uniformed men and women in a position where they will be forced to try to block a Commander-in-Chief’s attempt to jam an illegal war crime order down their throats. Here is Iraq War veteran David French, over at National Review:
…words cannot express the contempt I felt for Trump’s insistence that the military would follow his unlawful orders to murder women and children. There are men who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice rather than kill the innocent, yet he pretends our warriors would simply salute and follow orders when told to kill women and children for the sole purpose of punishing terrorists. Trump is sadly mistaken. If he won the White House and tried to implement his ‘policy,’ the military would refuse to comply — because it has honor, because it respects the law, and because it knows the lessons of history. No order can justify an atrocity.
The very core of the President’s contemplated Article II constitutional role is to serve as Commander-in-Chief. This cannot be emphasized enough. There is nothing more important that a U.S. President does. Donald Trump is openly bragging about how he would force his military men and women underlings to violate their consciences and violate international law by committing clear-cut, undisputed war crimes under the Geneva Conventions.
To drill home the point further, here is fellow Iraq veteran “Hooah_Mac” over at RedState:
This is even further trashing of the honor and dignity of the members of the world’s best military. No Soldier I trained would ever obey that order. Even worse is to contemplate the soul-destroying reality for any that did obey it. Killing a combatant in defense of yourself and your battle buddies is right and just, but it never leaves you. In the back of your mind is always the realization that you took a human life, no matter how justified. How could anyone contemplate putting Soldiers in the position to live the rest of their lives seeing the faces of dead innocent children in their dreams every night?
Donald Trump cannot be the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Military. If nothing else convinces you to be #NeverTrump, think of the men and women who offer their lives in defense of your freedom. Think of what Trump as President means to them in light of what he said at the debate.
If you respect individual conscience, if you eschew cold-blooded murdering of innocent women and children, if you respect the rule of law, if you respect the solemnity of the Commander-in-Chief role, if you respect our military — I fail to see how this is not a hard line. I am now openly on team #NeverTrump. I will not degrade my own integrity to vote for this man in the dystopian world where he hijacks the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.
Trump has previously disdained our constitutional structure and made despotic overtones. But last night was the first time he actually summoned the ghosts of the fascists of the past in such a transparent, unapologetic way:
I’m totally done with him. No more. #NeverTrump.