The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
Orin has already eloquently described the stakes facing our country on Tuesday, and if you haven't read his defense of his decision to vote for Clinton, I strongly recommend doing so. He puts the case about as well as it can be put:
Clinton understands and has internalized the norms of constitutional governance. Like most presidential candidates, she understands the different branches of government and the limits placed on each branch and why. She has experience in government, and her service won kudos from her political opponents for the seriousness and care in which she went about her roles as senator and secretary of state. I disagree with a lot of her policy views. I'm confident that she would want to do a lot of things as president that I think are wrong. But from the evidence I can see, she works within the American constitutional tradition.
By contrast, Donald Trump is far outside that tradition. He is thrilled by the kind of authoritarian government that the Colonists fought a revolution to end. His world is a world of conspiracy theories, not reason and evidence. It is a world of putting your opponent in a jail cell after the election, not peaceful transitions of power. It is a world of mob violence, not law. It is a world of crushing political dissent, not limited government. It is a world of vindictive revenge, not focus on the public interest.
In short, Trump is the anti-constitutionalist candidate.
Not too much I can add to that, other than to sincerely urge any readers who are considering casting their ballot for Trump in order to "send a message" to consider long and hard what they are doing. A Trump victory will send a message, for sure—a good shot upside the head of Republicans and Democrats alike, and the whole political establishment—and it may be one you think needs sending. Fine. But after the pleasure of having delivered the message wears off, we will all be saddled—indeed, the world will be saddled—for many years with a chief executive who is, by any and every criterion of judgment—personal integrity, temperament and understanding of the world—unfit to lead this country.
And not just someone who might be a really bad president—we've had plenty of those, and we have survived; but someone who is, as Orin says, a genuine threat to the constitutional foundations on which our country has been built. I know too many Venezuelans—who also thought "it can't happen here, not with our strong democratic institutions, our Supreme Court, our rule of law"—not to be genuinely terrified of that prospect.
And if your vote is based on a deep concern about the effects of a Clinton presidency on the composition of the Supreme Court and the other federal courts, I can only repeat what Alan Gura—a lawyer in Washington, D.C. with impeccable conservative credentials, having argued (and won) the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller Second Amendment case in the Supreme Court—said about that:
I have no illusions about what Hillary would do to the federal bench. Sad! But there is something deeply contradictory about the notion of electing a power-hungry strongman on the theory that he'll appoint judges that respect and enforce constitutional limits on government. Did Hugo Chavez appoint great judges? Did Putin, Mussolini, or Erdogan?
When the last two remaining giants of the Revolutionary generation, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, died on the same day, a day (July 4, 1826) which happened to be the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, many people took it as a sign the new republic was truly blessed, safe under the protection of the Almighty. I hope and pray they were right.
Like Orin, I doubt that the above will change many, or any, minds. But I offer this for my grandchildren, just so they'll know, when they grow up, that I did what I could.