As Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican primaries, we are starting to see a pattern among his establishment critics. Many oppose, and even outright condemn, the brash, pessimistic and frequently bigoted rhetoric of his campaign, but ultimate cede that, yes, were he to be the nominee, they would still support him in a general election. Apparently having a president who is racist, sexist, Islamophobic, dishonest and only willing to give vague policy proposals is still better than having a Democrat. It seems, on paper, terribly hypocritical and disingenuous on the part of Republicans who at this point oppose him. But at the same time, does voting for a bigot automatically make you one? Is there ever a point where it’s simply a matter of forced self-preservation, a utilitarian sacrifice for one’s perception of the greater good?
I was discussing this situation with my brother recently as we attended a Hillary rally in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, and the question that followed was, naturally, would we be willing to make a similar sacrifice were there a Democratic Donald Trump-esque figure running against an establishment GOP candidate? What if the shoe were on the other foot? What if, instead of a Donald Trump/Hillary Clinton matchup it were…Kanye West vs. Marco Rubio?
Kanye West may not have much in common with Trump, but were he to run for president, I imagine his campaign would function quite similarly to the billionaire’s bombastic, style over substance approach. And I’m not the first one to make this comparison. West himself has even suggested wanting to run in 2020. While there isn’t evidence this would actually happen, it does open the door for us to at least consider what he could be like as a candidate.
So if there were an ultimate West vs. Rubio decision, which way would I go? As much as I assume Kanye would espouse more of my liberal ideals, I think the decision is unique in that it ultimately transcends policy. It’s a vote for who is actually capable of being president, an attribute we’ve taken so for granted in previous elections that we’ve forgotten it’s even a criterion in the first place. I would vote for Rubio, because Kanye is simply too unpredictable, sexist and inexperienced to be trusted to represent the United States on the international stage (although he is of course not a racist or bigot the way Trump is). We may be able to surround him with advisors, but we would still be the laughingstock of the world to send a President West to international meetings or tense diplomatic negotiations. He may be enjoyable as an entertainer, but if the man can’t behave like a responsible adult at the VMA’s, could we really trust him in the Situation Room or at the G8 Summit?
So, as we look ahead to a possible Trump nomination, I refuse to believe that voting for someone whose values you abhor is okay just because you don’t want to support the opposing party. I refuse to believe that voting for a racist or sexist bigot is not in some way an act of bigotry, when an alternative presents itself. [pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]A vote for a bigot is a vote for bigotry.[/pullquote] I may not agree with Rubio on most of his positions, but compared to Kanye he is a mature adult who understands the job. It’s easy to get caught up in the sport of politics and want one’s team to be the victor. But we have to have the courage, and humility, to break from the safety of our ideological camps when they go too far in violating our deepest principles. And if racism, sexism and bigotry isn’t going too far, what ever will be?