The public appears to believe that the case against Donald Trump is a matter of temperament and judgment, and that the case against Hillary Clinton is a matter of character (that she is corrupt and a liar). The media are willing to consider policy differences, but it is hard to find a commentator willing to make the obvious point that Trump has assembled a hodgepodge collection of both conservative and liberal policies, while Clinton is a consistent, extreme leftist. For a Republican journalist or commentator, the choice between the candidates should be obvious.
So, why do the Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, National Review, prominent talk-radio hosts, and other keepers of the William F. Buckley/Milton Friedman flame insist that they will not support or vote for Trump, even if the cost of that decision is a Clinton victory? Specifically, why do conservative elites choose to ignore the fact that the Trump platform, for all its hodgepodgeness, is way more conservative than Clinton’s? (Not that that is such big deal. Who isn’t more conservative than Clinton?) Bear in mind, we are not talking about Clinton vs. Romney, we are talking about Clinton vs. a Republican candidate who can check more conservative boxes on his scorecard than Bush the Elder, Bush the Younger, McCain, or Romney. Doubt that? Consider RomneyCare, consider “W” on deficit spending or “compassionate conservatism,” consider McCain on just about anything.
Hard to escape the conclusion that the elites of the GOP are offended by Trump because they dislike his style, that they consider him vulgar, temperamental, loud, and altogether someone they would not want to admit to their club. This is not nineteenth century bigotry, this is contemporary bigotry.
Why else would any a Republican ignore the fact that a 50/50 Republican is better than a 0/100 Republican, and that personality flaws are less damaging than policy flaws or character flaws? If Trump has character issues, how could they possibly rival Clinton’s? Trump may be wrong (or at least under-informed) about international trade, and his platform for immigration reform may be considered extreme (though it is now scarcely distinguishable from that of Marco Rubio). But all in all, Trump, as a neophyte conservative, appears to be a quick study. Consider his eventual endorsement of an ObamaCare replacement model that resembles Paul Ryan’s excellent plan, his policy-advances on trade and immigration, his list of acceptable Supreme Court nominees, etc. Trump is still no Milton Friedman or Ronald Reagan, but really, are you aware of Clinton’s policy preferences, of her vow to continue the Obama transformation? Do you understand her views on fiscal and monetary policy?
Are you prepared for the consequences of your snobbery, of your having turned up your sensitive noses at the crudeness and vulgarity of Trump?