The dust has settled, all challengers have conceded, and Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee for the 2016 presidential election. The press has started turning its eye to the increasingly nasty contest between Hillary Clinton, the all-but-certain Democratic nominee, and Bernie Sanders, now reduced to the position of quixotic gadfly. The political blogosphere, on the other hand, remains deeply embroiled in a “gotta vote for Trump” vs “never voting for Trump” melee.

After observing more of these set-tos than I can count, and after participating in a few myself, I’ve detected an interesting disparity in behaviors between the two camps. A typical nevertrumper will declare intent to vote third party or not to vote at all and delineate reasons. A typical Trump supporter (including those who are of the “hold my nose and vote for him” variety) will declare intent to vote for Trump and delineate reasons, then demand that the nevertrumpers change their minds. The arguments, which range from “the system needs to be blown up and he’ll do it” to “he loves America and [insert reason why he’ll be a good president]” to “Hillary is evil and must be stopped,” don’t really matter any more. Increasingly, the tone and focus heard from the Trump supporters is angry, denigrating, insulting, occasionally vulgar, and sometimes puerile. Certainly, not every pro-Trump person engages in such behavior, and just as certainly, not every nevertrumper politely accepts the pro-Trump people’s right to self-determination, but the disparity in behaviors is too obvious to ignore.

I witnessed such an exchange today, wherein a poster started out by putting forth the notion that Trump was the candidate of the common people and that the nevertrumpers were detached Ivy League purists who snobbishly dismiss anyone who doesn’t keep a copy of Common Sense under his pillow (ok, the pillow part is an exaggeration). His argument pro-Trump was that the process was complete, that Trump was the last man standing among the GOP contenders, and that the only possible course of action was to vote for him. The rebutters, myself included, generally said “sorry, your arguments are not compelling, we’re not voting for him.” We were subjected to some more straw men and a couple ad homs, and the thread fizzled out with no one changing anyone else’s mind.

This tableau is a repeat of literally dozens I’ve witnessed over the past few weeks. The shame of it all is that it’s probably not necessary. Trump’s steadily climbing in the polls, Sanders is hurting Clinton more every day (and Clinton’s problems are metastasizing instead of fading away), the Democratic National Convention promises to be a messy one, and an increasing number of Bernie supporters are declaring that they won’t vote for Hillary and may very well vote for Trump. This runs counter to the conventional wisdom that Democrats are more disciplined in their party unity than Republicans, and speaks to Clinton’s overall weakness as a candidate. Combine this with the Democratic Party’s abandonment of white working class America (go see what they think of Obama and the Dems in coal country) in favor of an agenda that seems increasingly obsessed with castigating all those who don’t think properly, and it’s quite likely that Trump will be pulling many votes from outside the traditional GOP ranks. I’ve predicted that Trump will win, and I continue to believe so, even if the nevertrumpers don’t change their minds.

The aforementioned pro-Trump scold accused the nevertrumpers of pouting, painfully oblivious to the fact that he himself was the pouter, upset that others didn’t see everything his way. I asked him if he’d blame the nevertrumpers should Trump lose to Clinton in November, and he claimed he would not. However, others will. There will be a lot of finger pointing on November 9th and beyond, no matter who wins, and it will be merely an extension of a rather ugly election season. In this race-to-the-bottom election, certain to be chock-full of negative statements, comments and advertisements from both sides (and from third parties), no one should be surprised if the voters themselves get increasingly nasty with each other. Already, we’ve seen multiple instances of violence perpetrated by anti-Trump protestors at Trump rallies. The irony of this, given their accusations that Trump is inciting violence, is obviously lost on them. I expect the blogosphere’s haranguing of nevertrumpers to continue, no matter how often they explain their positions and decisions. Larry Correia, fantasy author and conservative blogger, came up with a solution he posted a single, all-encompassing piece rebutting the half-dozen or so arguments in favor of voting for Trump instead of retyping the same responses over and over again.

I suspect even that won’t stop the Trump bullies, unfortunately. Some of them feel Trump, having won the GOP process, is entitled to the votes of anyone who participated in that process. Some feel entitled to the votes of all conservatives. Some even feel entitled to the votes of all libertarians, believing that libertarians are simply conservatives who are a bit too detached from reality and a bit too enamored of onanistic Randian fantasies. And, some simply think that Clinton is the devil incarnate, who will destroy the Republic and therefore must be stopped at all costs.

Barring some sea-change in the political landscape, I plan to vote for whomever the Libertarian Party nominates, even though I find all three of the current options less than ideal. I’m not going to tell anyone else how to vote, however. I have and will continue to challenge and rebut the arguments pro-Trump and pro-Clinton (and pro-Sanders or pro-Biden should Hillary’s scandals finally drag her down). That’s what political discourse should be. I’ll be called high-minded and foolishly idealistic (again) as I do so. It doesn’t bother me – years of arguing libertarian politics has given me a pretty tough hide. Unfortunately, not everyone is as indifferent to slings and arrows, and many people will be hurt by those who demand they abandon their principles to support someone they find unacceptable.

Vote for whomever you wish to. Expound your reasons for doing so, if you wish. Rebut the reasons others give for not voting, or for voting for Clinton, or for voting third party. Just don’t demand that those others see things your way and berate them if they don’t capitulate. Doing so makes you no better than the social justice bullies that birthed the Trump phenomenon.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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