American politics has always been nasty. It's a full frontal contact sport and that's fine by me. In the 2016 election I am faced with the prospect of a Republican nominee that is not conservative, has no discernible core principles, and has a character that makes Bill Clinton seem like Mother Theresa.
The prospects of a Hillary Clinton or a Donald Trump presidency should make us focus like a laser beam on the down-ballot. Those are the congressional races in the House and the Senate that conservatives, libertarians and members of the "freedom caucus" must win in order to ensure a proper check on an executive branch likely to be headed by someone who will inexorably grow the government and it's intrusiveness into our lives.
That is why my focus, at this stage of the election cycle, is to focus on how I can help ensure the election of small government, principled, conservatives and libertarians to the House and Senate. The Presidential election will be what it will be, and I can't see in my crystal ball any way that either of those candidates will represent my conservative principles.
Which leads me to offer something for you to consider if you find yourself in the predicament I think many conservatives find themselves in this election cycle - with a nominee that is (a) likely to lose, (b) likely to drag down the down-ballot and lose the House and Senate; and, (c) is abhorrent to everything we have fought for in the conservative movement.
That is the Hamilton Rule.
Although both Alexander Hamilton and John Adams were Federalists, the former despised the latter. It was vicious. In Washington & Hamilton: The Alliance That Forged America, author Stephen Knott wrote:
Hamilton despised John Adams and his coterie among his own party to the point where he was willing to lose the election of 1800.
If we must have an enemy at the head of government,” Hamilton said in exasperation, “let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible.
That rule may be very applicable to this election cycle. I'm not saying that I will vote for Hillary Clinton. I just cannot see myself putting a check mark next to her electors on my ballot. But it does mean that I will do everything I can to see that we have a legislative branch that can oppose the damage that will be inflicted on this nation by either Clinton or Trump.
I reserve the (irrational?) hope that Trump will evolve into a conservative nominee who convinces me that he and his appointees will work hard to reduce the size of government, decrease regulation, lower taxes, reform entitlements, strengthen our national defense, and grow the economy.
But then I also keep wishing I would lose 10 more pounds.
Maybe the Hamilton Rule is something to at least consider this election cycle. I'll be thinking about it.