Opinion

Better A Democrat Than A Dictator – Vote For Hillary

Republicans have many good reasons to reject Donald Trump – his policy inexperience, execrable morals, and lack of ideological conservatism.

But it’s not like Hillary Clinton has admirable personal qualities, a compelling life story, landmark achievements, or reasonably moderate stands.

So to prompt conservatives to cross over, the closing argument must be airtight. And it is crystal: Trump is dictator material, and the only way to safeguard the country is to vote Democrat, just this once.

That’s not overheated November rhetoric. Trump’s consistent on-the-record disdain for freedom betrays a scary comfort with autocracy. And we’re not protected by “checks and balances,” which are too feeble to stop a would-be despot. America’s political center of gravity has already shifted away from Congress. Many – probably most – foreign and domestic matters are now decided without Congressional involvement.

Alarmingly, Trump has portrayed voting as an annoyance he’d gladly abolish. Speaking to supporters recently, he mused “to myself right now, we should just cancel the election and just give it to Trump, right? What are we even having it for? What are we having it for?”

A “joke” you say? Strange joke. Where’s the levity? What would be funny about canceling the election? And why would a leader with an authoritarian style stoke those particular fires – the line was met with cheers, not laughter – at race’s end?

Also, Trump is unconcerned with constitutional constraints on presidential power. Last December, he told a police group he would issue, early in his presidency, an executive order mandating the death penalty for killing a police officer. But American presidents don’t set punishments. State legislators, not federal officials, designate sentences for cop-killers – with help from judges and juries.

But Trump, with no GPS but his ego, wants untrammeled power to rule by fiat. Executive orders, already mangled by President Obama, will become Trump’s cherished firebombs. He’ll issue them liberally and dare his opponents to knock them down.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Trump’s presidential ambitions include winning the license to settle personal scores, to literally “make a federal case out of them.” Way beyond his ominous promise (“Lock her up”) to jail his vanquished opponent, Trump has identified manifold presidential tools to ensure the umpteen “losers” he loathes continue to lose. For example, he has vowed to “open up our libel laws” to financially penalize publications that write “purposely negative and horrible and false articles” about him.

Even without censorship, Trump knows a president can repress the media in other ways. Jeff Bezos (owner of his bête noire, The Washington Post) is “getting away with murder, tax-wise” in the “monopoly” he founded, Amazon.com. He claims Bezos fears an antitrust case in a Trump Administration, so he uses the Post “as a tool for political power, against me and against other people. And I’ll tell you what, we can’t let him get away with it.”

Presidents, of course, have broad anti-trust powers through the Federal Trade Commission.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Trump has little regard for the First Amendment. He openly denied credentials to media outlets whose coverage displeased him, even ejecting Washington Post and Politico reporters attending Trump-Pence rallies as American citizens.

Trump displayed his penchant for stretching state powers in his expansive approach to the government’s narrow right to restrict “fighting words” that incite immediate violence. In July he promised his attorney general would investigate Black Lives Matter members for chanting (they didn’t) “Dead Cops Now.” And two months ago after bombs detonated in New York and New Jersey, he said when journalists “tell you how to make the same bombs” and business owners “allow such magazines to be sold,” those people are “inciting violence” and “should be arrested immediately.”

Thankfully, nothing in current First Amendment jurisprudence supports arresting protesters for what they chant, reporters for what they write, or newsstand owners for what they sell.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Should Trump win, the executive branch’s vast administrative apparatus will empower him to swamp his foes even if stymied by the courts. Trump practically salivated after National Review editor Rich Lowry critiqued his debate performance on Fox News: “He should not be allowed on TV and the FCC should fine him!

Even the energy and expense of lawsuits won’t stop the chilling effect of a president who considers the government his ultimate, well, trump card in getting even. Would you like to be Rosie O’Donnell if he wins?

The specter of a President Trump unconstitutionally seeking vengeance with his newfound powers should not surprise us. It’s the basis of his life philosophy as articulated in a 2011 speech: “Get even with people. If they screw you, screw them back 10 times as hard.”

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Nothing but lawsuits (how many?) can restrain an aggressive, reckless chief executive, but more and more of the judges deciding the cases will be Trump appointees. (Expect Democrats who howled about Republican “obstructionism” in replacing Judge Scalia to throw themselves on the tracks to avert a looming Trump Supreme Court.)

And in a crisis (real or imagined) President Trump can boldly violate constitutional norms by invoking precedent: the “emergency powers” which licensed Presidents Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Truman to suppress American rights.

What’s the term for legislative and judicial branches operating normally but tax officials, diplomats, FBI agents, immigration officers, and United States Marines willingly implementing unconstitutional orders restricting freedom?

A dictatorship.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I never expected to flip fervid Trump supporters, whose sole response is always harsh attacks on Hillary. That won’t cut it here. Anyone who accepts the accuracy of these quotes can justify voting for Trump in one of only two ways:

1) Argue that a president with such attitudes doesn’t threaten our democracy; OR

2) Acknowledge that Trump threatens our democracy but demonstrate that Hillary would be worse.

Unless you’re comfortable with tyranny, rejecting Trump halfway by sitting out the election is no longer okay. True, both candidates are noxious, but proffering their equivalence is facile – and dangerous. There is only one practical option for conservatives who want America to stay America. We must vote for Hillary.

Otherwise someday we may have to tell our grandchildren that we watched through the window as America empowered the man who tore up the world’s oldest Constitution.

Don’t say I didn’t… well, you know.

David Benkof is Senior Political Analyst for the Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter (@DavidBenkof) or E-mail him at [email protected].