After my post of yesterday stating that if Ted Cruz were not on the ballot this November, and David French was, I could vote for the latter, friends have pointed out to me that French supported Mitt Romney in 2012. Of course, it is not because of this but in spite of it that I could support French if he were the best choice on the ballot in November.

This brings up the issue of what degree of imperfection we ought to accept in a candidate. Obviously I disagreed with Mr. French’s choice to support Romney in 2012, but I have a number of Christian friends, in whom I still have great confidence, who supported Romney that year, especially after he won the nomination. The same goes for McCain in 2008. If a current candidate has supported McCain or Romney in those elections, that would count as a fault in my eyes but not a fatal flaw. It really is true that we’re never going to find a perfect candidate.

However, not all imperfect candidates are equal. There are good candidates, such as French, who are marred by one or another instance of folly. We’ve all made errors of judgment in our lives. I don’t think the error of supporting Romney, among the choices available in 2012, makes French a bad candidate now.

Then there are the bad candidates, such as Mitt Romney. I say “bad candidate” and not necessarily “bad human being.” I actually find him rather likable, at least in his public persona (don’t laugh!), but I think he was a bad candidate because he had previously governed as a left-of-center, pro-abortion governor, and his alleged conversion to conservatism and the defense of life dated from about the beginning of the run-up to his first presidential campaign. He had never demonstrated his conservative principles at any lower level of responsibility, and I don’t believe we ought to elect a president so we can find out what’s in him. Christians’ repeated acceptance of candidates like Romney (McCain would be another example) has led the Republican Party as a whole to assume that it need not nominate candidates who share our principles or concerns. The result of that has been a progression of steadily worse and worse candidates from 1988 to the present.

That brings us to Donald Trump. Trump is in an entirely different class. Dole, McCain, Romney, and the Bushes might have been uninspiring and to some degree objectionable as candidates, but Trump makes them look like paragons of conservative principle. Trump is not just a bad candidate but an evil one. Supporting Donald Trump is something that should brand a person for life. Trump supporters can and should repent, and we should welcome them back into the conservative movement, but never again to any position of leadership or influence. They have demonstrated too great a lack of discernment for that. Never again should conservatives buy the books of Ann Coulter or listen to the radio bloviations of Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity. Politicians who have jumped on the Trump train should never again receive the support of conservative voters. Supporting Trump is not just a matter of taking the best available candidate. It’s choosing evil. 

So not all imperfections are they same. We may differ about some past choices of candidates, as I differ with David French about Romney, but in the present distress, that won’t deter me from supporting French. Whatever shortcomings Romney may have had, he was no Donald Trump.

Of course, none of this changes my oft-stated desire to see the success of my first choice, Ted Cruz. Cruz was not only the best candidate in this year’s race. He was the best we’ve had in our lifetimes. Though it’s a long shot at this point, I still cling to the hope that the delegates to the Republican convention will do the right thing, respect the will of the majority of Republican voters–who voted against Trump–and nominate Cruz. If the delegates will do that, it will save me the trouble of casting about for some honorable man to receive my vote for president, and it will save Mr. French to the trouble of upsetting his normal routine of life for something as onerous as a presidential campaign. It could also save the United States a great deal of sorrow.