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The choice

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Former Missouri Senator Jim Talent made a comprehensive five part closing argument for Donald Trump for president here.

Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale College — speaking for himself and not his community of teachers, students and staff at Hillsdale — made an argument about both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump which ought to be read or listened to in its entirety but which can be summarized fairly by stating that Trump must be the choice for those people concerned that the growth of government threatens every aspect of human liberty and especially the Framers’ design.

A few weeks ago I and many others asked Mr. Trump to withdraw from the race. He did not. That is too bad. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence would have won this race in a walk. So too would have former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sens. Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio, and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

Even long shot candidates like former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee could have won given the awful nature of Secretary Clinton’s candidacy and the certainty of years of investigations and scandals ahead.

Of the original 17, I think, only Dr. Ben Carson, former Govs. Jim Gilmore and George Pataki and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would have lost to Secretary Clinton. Dr. Carson because he is simply too sweet souled a man for the nightmare of running against Clinton Inc., and Gov. Christie because the trial of his appointees crescendoed to convictions this past week, which would surely have sunk him. Perhaps the very decent and honorable George Pataki might have become plausible, but too long a spell in the wilderness means a permanent political address there.

Mitt Romney would have won had he run, quite possibly with a Reagan-style landslide, so stark would the choice have been between him and Secretary Clinton and so prescient were his warnings about the world in 2012.

If my wayward absentee ballot arrives in time — my relocation to the Beltway has set it adrift somewhere — I will mark it for Donald Trump. I fear what four more years of Democratic judges will do to our courts and our Constitution. I actually fear that the religious liberties of millions will decrease — actually be restrained — by this bench which will soon be comprised of a vast majority of Obama and Clinton appointees if Secretary Clinton wins.

I fear the unchecked forward march of the culture that disposes of babies before they are born and old people before they are dead, and which will soon by its own logic move on to the inconveniently expensive and not apparently productive. My core principles oblige me to do whatever I can for as long as I can against this insidious culture of death and its treaty with the growing massed forces of the bureaucratic state, which simply grows and grows because it must to make good its promises to its pensioners.

Donald Trump is a terribly flawed candidate, second only in flaws to Secretary Clinton. I have worked for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, with Mitt Romney, and volunteered in the campaigns of Gerald Ford, Bob Dole, and both Bushes. I voted for all of those men except Nixon — I could not vote until 1976 — and I am proud of each of those votes. I will borrow from one of my guests this week: If my absentee arrives, it will be the first vote of which I am not proud, but neither is it a difficult choice.

I do not have much hope Trump will be a good president, but I am almost certain Clinton will be an awful one. Whichever one wins, I hope — indeed pray, often — that he or she will surprise me. We do not have much margin for error left. Really. Truly. It is a close run thing now whether the West can stay ahead of its rapidly strengthening mortal enemies and whether its insidious internal tendencies can be first curbed, then reversed. One example of the latter: How long can we allow so many schools to be warehouses of failure and dormitories of despair?

So if the authorities of California and I somehow combine to let me vote, I will do so for Mr. Trump (and against legalizing marijuana — an experiment the results of which are already much in evidence on Denver’s 16th Street Mall and about which there is no real debate on the merits.)

A closing word about Secretary Clinton: The scale of her wrongdoing with her illegal server is still only partially glimpsed and very little understood by the public, and apparently by her defenders on the left.

Many of her most vocal supporters seem genuinely not to understand what the big deal is, but they have never held a security clearance in their lives and perhaps don’t understand what the really bad folks do on this earth — as opposed to, say, Republicans who believe in charter schools.

The massive nature of the grifting that swirls around her husband’s foundation is likewise only barely yet revealed. Do not expect lawmakers and law enforcers to abandon the hunt for accountability if she wins. The best hope for that is a Trump victory, as he might be persuaded, as was President Ford with President Nixon, that the best interests of the country would be served by putting the Clintons and their train-length load of baggage well and truly behind us. I know he has said otherwise in the debates, but Mr. Trump has said nearly everything in the course of this campaign, though, and one can hope that his circle of appointees would include some level-headed advisers on this subject.

In the end you are voting not just for president but also for 3,000 appointees and 160 or so federal judges, including at least one and possibly three justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. Voting for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton — the real choice if you live outside of Utah and are honest about how our elections work — is the 2+2=4 approach to American politics. There is higher math for others, and they are honorable men and women — genuinely among the best I know — and they argue that Trump is too … well, you know what they argue.

But I see only two paths forward, and the path with Secretary Clinton in the White House is a much, much more dangerous one for genuine progress and human flourishing, which I understand to be the ongoing, incremental expansion of liberty and literacy around the world in a growing number of stable regimes.

The country has a couple for things going for it: Specifically, an enduring — at least for the time being — commitment to free speech and free exercise and the strongest, best equipped, most potent military in the world. Whatever happens Tuesday, we can talk, and pray, about it on Wednesday and do so certain for at least a time that our military strength will protect us in that process. That double national advantage — of freedom and strength — is best served by voting for Donald Trump, and for every single Republican down the ballot as a very necessary hedge against what a second President Clinton would mean for both.


This column was originally posted on


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