If Joe Biden is the answer, what was the question?
As a lifelong conservative I have to really ask myself, if Joe Biden is the answer, what was the question? The question, of course is, does Donald J. Trump deserve four more years in office. My conclusion to this central query is no, he does not nor do the American people and here’s why.
Having worked on Ted Cruz’s 2016 campaign for president, I was well-aware who the real Donald Trump was – a philanderer, a cheat, and a con. As a candidate, he had no guiding principles or governing philosophy. His pronounced policy ideas, if you can call them that, on trade, NATO, our recent wars, immigration and the economy had echoes of populism, but they were neither coherent, workable, nor consistent with conservatism or even Republicanism:
The wall Mexico didn’t pay for and Trump didn’t build beyond five miles of new barrier came to symbolize the loss of cultural identity, the loss of jobs and unfair trade practices. Every fear and economic insecurity were neatly wrapped up in one triumphant sounding slogan delivered with all the cunning of a snake-oil salesman. Of course, no wave of immigration has ever been able to overwhelm our culture or hurt our economy. Quite the opposite. We didn’t become Catholic with the Irish and Italian waves, weren’t required to speak German after their migration in the 1880’s, or worship at the temple after the arrival of the Jews. I’m not worried that we will suddenly be compelled to pray toward Mecca - in Spanish - any time soon.
NATO was and still is the greatest deal America ever made by engaging our allies to protect our own national security. Its success and importance can’t be overstated, yet Trump has many Americans believing it was designed purely in an effort to rip off America.
The TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, would have been the single greatest counter to China’s regional hegemony while dramatically expanding markets for American companies yet Trump let the TPP go forward without the United States which led to America’s largest farm welfare program dwarfing President Obama’s GM bailout and Trump imposed a consumer tax to boot.
Whether you agree or disagree with the so-called Iran Deal, the damage to our international credibility caused by pulling out of the deal was far greater than the consequences of the flawed agreement. The same could be said about the abandoned climate agreement.
Like many Americans, I believe life is sacred in the womb. But that is just the first place life is sacred, and even if one accepts that Trump’s conversion to the pro-life cause is based on sincere belief rather than political expediency, they have to wonder what his other actions tell us about his commitment to life. For life is also sacred on the border, in the nursing homes and on the streets of all cities, rich or poor, black or white. If life is paramount than so then is maintaining life. Claiming to be pro-life while seeking to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions is phony. Likewise, glibly stating that the Coronavirus is only killing the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions is sickening. So too is denying an asylum-seeker their right to life as is enforcing a policy that separates a mother from her child. But while Trump claims to be the most pro-life president ever, Planned Parenthood receives a record amount of Federal funding through Medicaid.
A pro-life president wouldn’t exploit for political purposes the unjustified killing of Blacks by police or have a wealthy white couple who recklessly pointed deadly weapons at Black protestors appear at its party convention to warn Americans that Blacks are coming to destroy your neighborhoods.
Moreover, it is inconsistent to being pro-life believing that 185,000 dead Americans is an acceptable number. Which brings us to the colossal mismanagement of the Coronavirus. Set aside the misinformation, the rejection of advice by public health experts, it’s in the numbers. Some perspective, the US has the world's tenth highest infection rate and is four times higher than Europe, and thirteen times higher than Asia. Our death rate, the world’s ninth highest is twice that of Europe and nearly twenty times higher than Asia. By any measure, Trump has failed to manage a national public health crisis causing the economy to contract, millions to lose their jobs, and trillions to be spent propping up the markets.
Finally, Trump could never claim to have done anything for our men and women in uniform that could remotely compare to what they have done for us. It is simply intolerable that he would desecrate the dead who made the ultimate sacrifice and to denigrate the living who proudly serve our nation in the military.
I didn’t vote for Donald Trump in 2016 because I knew he was not nearly as successful or smart as he made himself out to be. I knew he was a terrible manager and I knew he had no leadership skills. But I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton either. Hearing the same criticism from both sides that voting third-party meant a vote for the candidate they didn’t want and knowing both sides can’t be right, I felt comfortable casting a vote for a third-party. I’m not taking that chance in 2020. I am voting for Joe Biden.
Joe Biden may not be the answer to my conservative idealism, but for now, he is willing to help me kill the alligator closest to my utopian boat.
Rick Tyler is the author of Still Right: An Immigrant-Loving, Hybrid-Driving, Composting American Makes the Case for Conservatism.