Could I Vote For a Republican?

Let me dispense with the suspence right away. No, I will not vote for a Republican for president in the general election in 2024.

But what about the Wisconsin primary next April? I’ll have nothing to vote for in the Democratic column, so I’ll feel like a free agent. And what if, by the time they get to Wisconsin, it’s down to Donald Trump and anybody else? That’s entirely possible. In 2016 Wisconsin was the last state Trump lost and he lost it to Ted Cruz, who was the last man standing.

If it came down to another choice like that — Trump versus Ron DeSantis, for example — I’d still sit it out. I can’t stand either of them. But if it’s Trump and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott? Scott launched his long-shot bid this week and he said stuff I’d like to hear from more candidates. He was positive. He talked about what is good about America. There was more than a little Obama ’08 about him. And he has a reputation for being a decent guy, liked by all of his colleagues. In fact, in a column this morning Jonah Goldberg wrote that he was too good for a Republican base that actually likes Trump for all the things about him that people like Goldberg and I hate.

Sen. Tim Scott

I still wouldn’t vote for Scott in the general because his policy views are just more conservative than mine. But I wouldn’t worry that he was a quasi-fascist bent on destroying American democracy. I wouldn’t worry about that from any of the other Republicans in the field right now either, though I wonder about DeSantis.

On the other hand, if a candidate like Scott got as far as Wisconsin, he’d be a more formidable potential Republican nominee than Trump. A lot of Democratic strategists, and Biden himself, want Trump to be the guy they take on because they think he can’t win.

Two things about that: one, don’t be so sure and two, I don’t want to take that risk. Biden’s approval numbers are stubbornly dismal, a lot of voters (including me) are worried about his age and he’s tied or losing to Trump in early head-to-head polling. It’s unfortunate in my view that Democratic strategists have been successful in messing around in Republican primaries to get the least electable candidate nominated. They did that here in Wisconsin, buying ads to attack Supreme Court candidate Jennifer Dorow, who they thought would be a tougher opponent in the general election. They got what they wanted in Dan Kelly and Kelly got creamed by liberal Janet Protasiewicz. And the same strategy worked in some congressional races in 2022.

But this is Donald Trump. A guy who got 75 million votes last time out and lost in the Electoral College by about 44,000 votes spread out over three states. And I may have been inaccurate above when I called him a quasi-fascist. Maybe there’s nothing quasi about him.

So, if I were to a vote for a candidate like Tim Scott my Democratic friends might berate me for helping the Republicans nominate a more viable opponent to Joe Biden. But I’m more American citizen than partisan Democrat. I’m pretty sure I’d vote for Scott in April. I’d take the greater risk of electing a Republican in exchange for eliminating any risk of re-electing Trump.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

4 thoughts on “Could I Vote For a Republican?

  1. Hi Dave.  Under the definition of fascist, most of the Democratic leadership would fall under that definition. I am not a Trump fans and will not vote for him in the primary.enjoy your column. Ron Steinhofer.  

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone


  2. A question for you Dave: how do you define fascist? Asking because you frequently use the term to describe Trump.


    1. Blood and soil nationalism mixed with a heavy dose of centralized government power. Hallmarks included xenophobia, the maintenance of established societal hierarchy ( hence the appeal to conservative types), and othering of other elements in society deemed as enemies of the state interest as represented by the ruling party.


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