Tag Archives: Charles Murray

Within Normal Parameters

Attention, Hillary haters…

I disagree with much, if not most, of Charles Murray’s scholarship, but he–and the (very) conservative publication National Review– have done something I’ve been struggling with: in a pointed essay debunking attempts to equate the Presidential candidates, they have provided language that explains the reality of November’s ballot choices.

In his response to those who assert that “Hillary is no better” or “Hillary would be even worse” Murray begins by acknowledging what most political observers know, that we have rarely if ever elected people who don’t have serious flaws. After listing several examples, he says

Candidates who lie? This is a little more complicated. Yes, many candidates for president have lied. Hillary Clinton has — with stupefying ineptitude — told and continues to tell whoppers. But Trump takes first prize for sheer bulk, averaging one factual untruth every five minutes, according to a systematic fact-check of over four and a half hours of stump speeches and press conferences….

It’s one thing when a candidate knowingly deceives the public on a few specific topics. Hillary Clinton has knowingly tried to deceive the public about her flip-flop on gay marriage and her misuse of her e-mail server. That’s bad. It should be condemned. This aspect of her character should affect one’s deliberations about whether to vote for her. It’s another thing entirely when a candidate blithely rejects Pat Moynihan’s (attributed) dictum, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts.”

Trump’s indifference to facts is an example of why he is unfit for the presidency — not dispositive in itself, but part of a pattern. That pattern is why “Hillary is even worse” misses the point. P. J. O’Rourke recently announced that he is voting for Clinton. “She’s wrong about absolutely everything,” O’Rourke said. “But she’s wrong within normal parameters!” Similarly, I am saying that Clinton may be unfit to be president, but she’s unfit within normal parameters. Donald Trump is unfit outside normal parameters.

I encourage you to click through and read the entire essay–especially if you are a political conservative who is trying to convince yourself that Donald Trump is an acceptable recipient of your vote (or a “purist” whose vote for a third party candidate is effectively a vote for Trump.)

Unfortunately, it is an increasingly rare occurrence when informed voters go to the polls enthusiastic about voting for someone. But the fact that there may be reasons to be unenthusiastic about our choices is not the same thing as saying that there isn’t a lesser of two evils.

In this case, for rational Americans, no matter what one’s opinion about Hillary Clinton, a vote for Donald Trump– the far, far greater of these “two evils”– is simply unthinkable. It is not just a vote for a dangerously ignorant narcissist, it is a vote for abandonment of the American ethos.

Thanks to Charles Murray and P.J. O’Rourke, I now have language to express my conviction  that we must recognize and act upon differing degrees of risk, and vote for the candidate whose flaws fall within normal parameters.