Suit up and show up

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What’s a conservative to do in November’s election? The presidential election is nothing short of a 5-alarm dumpster fire. Trump’s celebration of ignorance, added to his unworthy character and impulsive, volatile personality, disqualify him for many conservatives on numerous grounds. Hillary Clinton is, well, Hillary. Leftist policy positions aside, every week brings a reminder of what it would be like to bring the Clinton entourage back to DC. The pneumonia incident is a microcosm of Clinton world — deny and vilify (“she’s not sick, you’re sexist for asking”), concede only what there is known evidence of (“oh, there is a video of her collapsing, she was dehydrated”) and then roll out a carefully scripted modification later, declare the matter done and vilify some more (“sure she had pneumonia diagnosed a few days ago, but it’s not contagious pneumonia, and pneumonia would be viewed as an asset in man, you sexist”).

My #NeverTrump position is clear, but I understand what motivates those who reluctantly support him – the liberal media pearl-clutching provides a certain kind of enjoyment for conservatives, and Hillary is just painful to watch as a candidate: a condescending, doctrinaire liberal with the personality of a (dishonest) tree stump. Should she win, by February I might be sticking knitting needles in my eyes watching Special Report on DVR every night. I won’t be voting for either Trump or Clinton (I’m leaning toward Evan McMullin, an option in Virginia, if I don’t write in my female greyhound Nellie so I can say I voted for a female candidate), but I suspect those engaged enough to be reading this column have made their peace with the pu-pu platter of unappetizing choices in the presidential race, one way or another.

There is a temptation to disengage entirely from politics this fall, or not vote at all, to avoid the stench at the top of the ticket, but it is time for conservatives to put on their gas masks and soldier on. No matter who wins the presidency, the Senate is up for grabs, and maybe even the House if Trump is wiped out. Governors races, as well as state and local offices, hang in the balance. And in many of those races, there are candidates that deserve conservative support.

In New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte is fighting to hold her Senate seat. Conservatives of all stripes should support her. Are you the type that laments the fact that the “non-insane” wing of the GOP got run over in the primaries? Senator Ayotte’s your candidate – even of temperament, fluent in policy, a foreign policy mover and shaker.  Are you a frothing right winger that is still bitter Alan Keyes lost to W in the 2000 primary? She still deserves your support to avoid the Senate swinging to the Democrats. There is not a position you care about more likely to be advanced by electing Maggie Hassan (not to mention that Ayotte herself holds conservative positions on most important issues).  Unlike the top of the ticket there is not an existential question about her qualification, temperament, or mental status, so now is the time for all conservatives to back her candidacy.

Even the Massachusetts congressional races, which are not viewed as competitive for Republicans, are worthwhile opportunities to cast a vote. Lightning may strike, but even low-percentage of turnout win for incumbent Democrats sends a message that the times are changing. If you are fed-up with Washington, Trump supporter or not, sending a message to the calcified Massachusetts Democratic party is always a good idea. And for #NeverTrumpers, you too can send a message, but without worrying about ushering in a Latin American-style megalomaniac and without letting Hillary claim any sort of mandate should she win.

The bottom line is that elections are like days at work – some days aren’t going to be great no matter what you do, and you know that going in. But successful people still work hard on those days either to pick up some small victories along the way or to minimize the damage they know is coming. Although conservatives may know now that there will not be jubilation on election night regardless of what happens at the top of the ticket, there is still work to be done down-ballot. As is heard in other contexts, sometimes you just have to “suit up and show up.” November 8 is one of those days for conservatives, regardless of what you do at the top of the ticket.

Robert N. Driscoll

Robert N. Driscoll

Robert N. Driscoll is a native of the Boston area who currently practices law in Washington, D.C. The views expressed in this column are his own and not those of his firm. Nor are they the views of his wife, daughters, or greyhounds. Read his past columns here.