Former Maryland governor Larry Hogan, who is considering a run for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, made news recently when he told top radio host abd political pundit Hugh Hewitt that he would grudgingly support Donald Trump if the former president wins the GOP nod.
Later, Hogan — who claimed in 2020 that he wrote in former president Ronald Reagan rather than vote for Trump — somewhat confusingly walked back his comments, saying he would “not commit” to supporting Trump but “would support the nominee, who he doesn’t think will be Trump.”
Clear as mud. But the exchange reflected a dilemma many Americans will wrestle with if Trump prevails in the Republican primaries.
Trump haters will ask, “What’s to wrestle with? How could anyone consider supporting someone who tried to subvert democracy?”
It’s only that cut-and-dried if Trump’s election demagoguery disturbs you more than the consequences of President Biden’s embrace of his party’s far-left shift.
Some urgent questions
I’m extremely disturbed by both of these things, but as a conservative, I don’t have to wait until 2024 to know that even if Biden doesn’t run, the Democratic nominee will be a political liberal sinking us further into a socialist-style abyss. I’ll almost surely vote for the GOP nominee. Does that hold true even if it’s Trump? Fair question.
Throughout his presidency, Trump often frustrated me with his pugilistic demeanour. None of it threatened my support, because I don’t look to politicians for their manners. I care about results.
I never was and never will be a member of the “Never Trump” brigade — a collection of entitled Republicans angry since 2016 that their party was wrested from them by a Trump-led grass-roots movement (which I cheered on). But Trump’s refusal to accept his 2020 election loss and the events of Jan. 6, 2021, led me to conclude that the GOP should break with him.
Imperfect political choices often conflict with high-minded ideals, however. When talking lately with other disenchanted former Trump supporters, the question arises, “What if he wins the nomination?” A deafening silence usually ensues. “The only patriotic thing to do,” many will insist, “would be to vote for Biden.” But it’s hardly so simple.
I stridently oppose the big-government vision Biden has somewhat surprisingly championed as president and reiterated in his State of the Union address.
I chafe at Biden’s war on affordable fossil fuel while the government props up “clean” alternatives with subsidies and tax incentives. I cannot vote for a candidate who wants to infringe further on the Second Amendment and thinks abortion rights should be codified.
While I support making legal immigration easier, I consider Biden’s lax approach a dangerous dereliction of his duty to secure US borders.
No protest vote
Therefore, I can’t join Republicans like Hogan who in 2020 wrote in a name or cast their ballot for a third-party candidate, which might have assuaged their conscience but in reality did little but help elect Biden and pave the way for a massive government expansion that historians have compared to both the New Deal and the Great Society.
If it comes down to Trump-Biden again, our duty as citizens is to make the hard, even uncomfortable, decision, not to waste our franchise on a “protest vote.”
A Trump-Biden rematch would leave me no practical choice but to decide between the man who rejected a legitimate election outcome, and could well do it again, but will pursue social, economic and border policies I strongly support while putting conservative judges on federal benches; or someone whose progressive policies and initiatives on issue after issue will, from my perspective, inflict lasting damage on the country.
Democrats, too, would be wise to find another candidate. As reported in a recent Post-ABC News poll, “Neither Biden nor Trump generates broad excitement within their own party.”
A hypothetical rematch
But in a hypothetical rematch, according to that same poll, 48 per cent support Trump and 45 per cent back Biden, within the margin of error — with independents favouring Trump by 50 per cent to 41 per cent.
Millions of Americans — far beyond Trump’s base — are unhappy enough with Biden that they’re willing to consider taking another chance on Trump, in spite of everything.
Is this really the vapid choice we’ll face? I hope not, and I remain optimistic that GOP primary voters will settle on someone other than Trump.
The candidate the GOP should nominate — someone who not only excites Republicans but also can inspire a broad cross-section of Americans.
Gary Abernathy is an editor, political columnist and writer based in Hillsboro, Ohio