In America’s two-party system, you only have two real choices in a presidential election.
I learned that the hard way: when I was 19 years old, deep into left-wing utopianism, I wrote in “Ralph Nader” on my first presidential ballot in 1996. I remember feeling that I wanted my vote to “mean” something; I didn’t want to be another cog in the party machine.
I had wised up by the 2000 election, but many other leftists had not, with the result being that George W. Bush snatched victory from Al Gore.
The NeverTrump faction continues to tell itself that not voting for Donald Trump does not mean voting for Hillary Clinton. This is largely a delusion, and a self-serving one.
It is a delusion because each non-Trump vote is one less vote Clinton must match. And it is self-serving because NeverTrump wants Trump to lose, big. (The primary motives of NeverTrump, especially among pundits, are no longer whatever principles were once at stake, but rather saving face, settling scores and avoiding blame.)
There are some limited geographic circumstances in which the NeverTrump argument might be true: namely, in the deepest red and deepest blue states, where the small number of NeverTrump votes is unlikely to make much of a difference.
If you prefer to view voting as I did when I was a confused teenager, and you live in California or Washington, D.C., feel free to “vote your conscience” or whatever you want to call it.
But you should not presume to broker a “surrender” on behalf of the rest of the party, and you should avoid broadcasting your virtue on social media, lest you confuse people in swing states whose votes actually count.
If your “principles” involve giving Hillary control of the Supreme Court, they are not principles, but excuses.
There are more productive ways to express your opposition to Trump. Attack specific policies and propose alternatives. Or support Paul Ryan, who will lead the opposition to Trump in Congress.
But don’t kid yourself: a vote for anyone else is a vote for Hillary.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.