Christians in the Age of Trump: A Contrasting View

Donald Trump rose to power amid controversy. Two and a half years into his administration, there is no sign that’s ever going to change. No doubt, he’ll continue to be a controversial figure long after his administration has moved into the history books.

I agree with much of what Greg Barkman had to say on the topic yesterday, particularly the negative assessments of President Trump’s character and behavior. I agree also that some of the President’s policies have been helpful to the nation and sensible in the eyes of conservatives. I concede, too, that in an election, deciding what candidate to support can be difficult—especially if we only consider those who have a chance of winning. If we accept that constriction, we’re stuck with what the parties decide to offer us.

Those are the primary points of agreement. Philosophically, I’m sure we agree on much as well. Most of the controversy among conservative Christians has to do with how to apply principles we share. Still, these principles are often not articulated in the more Trump-friendly perspectives I hear from fellow-Christians. I believe that if these truths are more front-of-mind, they’ll have more influence on how we evaluate presidents and make electoral choices.

1. Christian perspective is long and deep.

I’m using the word “Christian” in this post in a particular sense: not “the way Christians actually are,” but rather, “the way Christians ought to be,” that is, the way we are when we’re true to what Christianity is.

When I say the Christian perspective is long, I mean that Christian thought always puts now in the context of the whole story of humanity—which is God’s story. So our analysis of consequences should be quite different form the analysis that is normal in our culture. Rather than, “If we do X today, what will happen tomorrow?” Christians should think, “If we do X today, where does that fit into eternity?” From there, we work backward to the present: “What’s the consequence generations into the future? What’s the consequence in twenty years?” Admittedly, we often can’t answer those questions. But it gets easier when we get down to, “What impact does this have in a decade? Or in eight years?”

But I think we rarely start our analysis of consequences with the question of eternity. How will my choices in this moment matter when all this is over? (and they will matter—Matt. 12:36, 2 Cor. 5:10). When it comes to public policy and elected officials, we just about as rarely consider political outcomes a couple of election cycles down the road. This is a failure to look through the Christian lens.

The Christian perspective is long. It’s also deep. When we’re looking at things Christianly, we’re not only driven by our relationship to the God who sees the end from the beginning, but also to the God who sees and knows the real essences of things and is never fooled by mere appearances (Heb. 4:13, among many others).

The deep perspective takes some work. “Man looks on the outward appearance” (1 Sam 16:7), and by default, surface realities are what’s most real to us. But at the current political moment, we’re called to look past both the bashing of left-leaning punditry and the cheerleading of right-leaning (or right-off-the-edge!) punditry to sift out what’s really factual and wise. We’re called to tune out the noise and dazzle and hype, and read thoughtful, reflective considerations of the issues we face in our times.

2. Christian ethics looks beyond results.

Genuinely Christian ethics does include results when evaluating the rightness or wrongness of actions. “Love does no harm to a neighbor” (NIV, Rom. 13:10). “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble” (ESV, Rom. 14:21).

But outcomes are not the only consideration, or even the primary consideration. This is because everything a Christian does is personal. Worshipful service of our Creator is supposed to be an ever-present motivational layer in all we do (Rom. 12:2). The apostle Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 6:16 that Christian sexual ethics is not only driven by the goal of holiness but by the fact that Christ Himself is joined in some way to everything we do. Elsewhere Paul describes his own motivations in life as a drive to “please” a real person—Jesus Christ, whom we call Lord (2 Cor. 5:9).

Whatever else we might say about Christian ethics, we have to acknowledge that what ultimately determines right and wrong from our perspective is how Somebody feels about it. This shatters the popular utilitarian reasoning that whatever brings about the greatest good for the greatest number is the morally right thing to do.

Because Christian thought takes the long and deep view, we know that discerning what really brings about the greatest good for the greatest number in the long run is often impossible to know. Because we evaluate our choices through a personal grid—the good pleasure of our God—human good isn’t even mainly what interests us.

It’s possible to accept all that and still believe that a Christian should (a) vote only for a candidate that can win, and (b) vote for the least objectionable candidate that can win. But there’s a lot of thinking and evaluating that should happen before we even get to that point. In the long, deep, and Personal analysis, what really constitutes “winning”?

3. Christian values emphasize persuasion over coercion, understanding over compliance.

If we managed to put the ideal candidate in office—one who lacks all the character and conduct negatives of a man like Donald Trump—there’s still only so much he could get done, and only so much that would survive the next swing of the electoral pendulum. There’s only so much external constraints can accomplish.

Christian thought understands that faith in God-revealed truth is eternally transforming (Rom. 10:9-10, 17). There isn’t anything on earth more mighty than genuine Christian faith, because that faith is a heart-soul-mind surrender that permanently entwines us with the Creator God.

No law, or set of rules, or series of court decisions can do that.

And even on the time-bound plane of social concerns and public policy, only winning hearts and minds—genuinely persuading people of enduring truths—can produce changes that endure through election cycles.

A president who can get some policies enacted but who does it in a way—and from an ethos—that closes minds to important ideas and values may well do more harm than good. On the other hand, a president who is opposed to Christian views of society and justice (as those on the left are) but who provides a clear and sharp contrast with the ideas at the core of both conservatism and Christianity, may unwittingly persuade many to reject leftist beliefs.

To sum up, none of us really knows beforehand what the long and deep outcomes of a presidential election are going to be. We often don’t even know that years afterwards, with much confidence. What Christians should do then, in the electoral ethics department, is ask ourselves what pleases our God. And though that also doesn’t make the decision obvious, it does change the equation. We know that our Lord is at least as interested in how we get somewhere as He is in where we arrive.

“…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Eph 5:8).

9414 reads

There are 183 Comments

Jay's picture

However, it's interesting that everyone focuses on only Trump being respectful, but not requiring it from any of the 4 women he answered.  They have been about as bad as Trump, and worse in some ways.  Does that excuse Trump?  Not at all.  I wish he'd rise above it.  But to treat his bad behavior when addressing them as somehow much worse than theirs is completely idiotic, and demonstrates at least as much political bias as those who defend Trump's remarks.

The focus of this thread isn't the four Representatives.  It's Donald Trump.  That's why we're talking about this.

Furthermore, we have plenty of Scripture on how to treat our enemies.  Calling them names and treating them rudely isn't included in any of them.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Jay wrote:

Furthermore, we have plenty of Scripture on how to treat our enemies.  Calling them names and treating them rudely isn't included in any of them.

On this, we can agree.

Dave Barnhart

AndyE's picture

GregH wrote:
Nationalism is on the rise...

Greg, I have no idea what you mean by this and why you think it is bad.  I would have equated "nationalism" with patriotism and wanting our country to stay strong and secure.  But it doesn't sound like you are using it that way.

Darrell Post's picture

AndyE, I am not sure how GregH meant the usage of the term nationalism.

From what I have read from those on the left, democrats, socialists, etc., other countries of the world are allowed to secure their borders, decide which immigrants to allow in, maintain their historic cultural identities, and negotiate with other countries having their own best interests in mind; however, when it comes to the USA, the country is automatically at fault for having been successful, and therefore social justice demands the USA must open its borders, yielding any right to administrate who enters and stays, and must yield its cultural identity and give away most of its assets to other countries who are in greater need. And anyone who tries to stop that is labeled a 'nationalist' even though all other countries are free to operate that way. That's the general idea--I might have left out a few points, but I think that's how the term nationalist is often understood on the left in a derogatory way.

Again, I am NOT saying that is how GregH meant the use of the term.

 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

AndyE wrote:

Greg, I have no idea what you mean by this and why you think it is bad.  I would have equated "nationalism" with patriotism and wanting our country to stay strong and secure.  But it doesn't sound like you are using it that way.

The media doesn't use it the way it's been commonly understood for years either.  They take one component and make it the sum total.  Consider this definition from dictionary.com:

dictionary.com wrote:

nationalism: noun

1. spirit or aspirations common to the whole of a nation.

2. devotion and loyalty to one's own country; patriotism.

3. excessive patriotism; chauvinism.

4. the desire for national advancement or political independence.

5. the policy or doctrine of asserting the interests of one's own nation viewed as separate from the interests of other nations or the common interests of all nations.

6. an idiom or trait peculiar to a nation.

It's not until you get to the 3rd definition that you find something negative, and it's the only truly negative one out of the 6 (although I'm sure there are some who would also consider definition #5 to be a negative).  I would argue that 1,2,4,5, and 6 are all components of nationalism, and the way that most people understand it.  Somehow, though, the 3rd definition has become the only way that the media and those on the left view nationalism, making it wholly a negative.  Viewed in that light only (and given the media, that's all people will hear these days), it's understandable that many think of nationalism as a negative, rather than something good, right, and normal for the citizens of a democratic country.

Dave Barnhart

GregH's picture

AndyE wrote:

 

GregH wrote:
Nationalism is on the rise...

 

Greg, I have no idea what you mean by this and why you think it is bad.  I would have equated "nationalism" with patriotism and wanting our country to stay strong and secure.  But it doesn't sound like you are using it that way.

I could substitute "extreme nationalism" for nationalism I suppose. I am not referring to flying a US flag. I am referring to the kind of thinking perhaps mostly associated with German philosophy in the 19th century that led to genocide and other problems culminating with Hitler in the 20th century. One component of that is racial and/or cultural superiority. One thing that is very clear is that while I am not accusing Trump of being that way, he speaks to and is the hero of many of these kinds of nationalists (or whatever other term you want to label them with).

Here are some self-proclaimed "white nationalists" and note how they responded to Trump's tweets: https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/16/politics/white-supremacists-cheer-trump-racist-tweets-soh/index.html

 

GregH's picture

dcbii wrote:

 

GregH wrote:

 

Here are some self-proclaimed "white nationalists" and note how they responded to Trump's tweets: https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/16/politics/white-supremacists-cheer-trump-racist-tweets-soh/index.html

 

 

So the intended point here seems to be using the following logic:

  • A says X
  • B likes X
  • Therefore A is essentially B.

And people wonder why the media is mistrusted.

I feel no need to defend that article but I am not sure you read it critically.  I did not see the article say that Trump was a white supremacist or a white nationalist or for that matter a racist. It simply reported that some of those kinds of people liked his tweets. You may consider it biased that they reported this in the first place; indeed many Trump supporters hate for the media to say bad things about him. I think personally the connection to be newsworthy.

And by the way, me pointing out this article does not mean I equated Trump to these clowns either. In fact, I expressly stated the opposite.

 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

GregH wrote:

I feel no need to defend that article but I am not sure you read it critically.  I did not see the article say that Trump was a white supremacist or a white nationalist or for that matter a racist. It simply reported that some of those kinds of people liked his tweets. You may consider it biased that they reported this in the first place; indeed many Trump supporters hate for the media to say bad things about him. I think personally the connection to be newsworthy.

And by the way, me pointing out this article does not mean I equated Trump to these clowns either. In fact, I expressly stated the opposite.

Greg,

I'm sorry if I didn't make clear enough that I was decrying what the article was saying, not what you posted.  I did specifically state that people should distrust the media, and that was not referring to you.

I went back to see if I was reading too much into the article, and it still seems to me the authors are implying that Trump is as "racist" as the white supremacists.  This section:

CNN wrote:

Trump tweeted Tuesday he did not have "a Racist bone in my body."

His opponents have lined up to set the record straight including the targeted congresswomen, presidential candidates and a handful of members of the Republican Party.

sure seems to me that it's intended to show that Trump is indeed racist when his opponents "set the record straight."  Yes, the way it's written, it's possible for the authors to disclaim that they agree with the sentiment, but that's not how it naturally reads.  I still say the authors are playing fast and loose with their wording to get the reader to come to the conclusion that they've shown Trump is, in fact, racist.

Dave Barnhart

GregH's picture

dcbii wrote:

Greg,

I'm sorry if I didn't make clear enough that I was decrying what the article was saying, not what you posted.  I did specifically state that people should distrust the media, and that was not referring to you.

No worries. I appreciate the clarification.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Can't respond to everything but I'll touch on a few themes:

  • Trump's most recent tweets: they are more of the usual, and so not all that remarkable. They are just another example of the fact that President Trump's evaluation of what means should be used to achieve ends is basically, "Whatever means I feel like using and that I can probably get away with." To those who think the tweets can be separated from the man...

...For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. (Mt 12:34–35)

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. (Pr 15:2)

The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly. (Pr 15:14)

...and so many more.

  • Racism - this accusation is hardest to solidly prove and really kind of redundant in light of all the really obvious character problems. I don't personally put much energy into that question.
     
  • Why criticize Trump for lack of respect but not criticize the dems for it - Because we're supposed to expect "our guy" to be better than the opposition party. It makes no sense to say "I had to vote for him because the alternative was so much worse," then when he acts as bad as the other side turn around and say "Yeah, well what about the other side?!" It's meaningless at that point. Asking the question is admitting they're acting the same way.
     
  • Nationalism - there's been a lengthy debate on that over at National Review. All agree that there are healthy and unhealthy forms of the sorts of things people call nationalism. Where it's unhealthy in Trump's case is the lack of context: he doesn't have the awareness or appreciation for the role that virtue played in the society envisioned by the founding fathers. And so he cherry picks some virtues to shout about while demonstrating a general lack of virtue that makes the shouting' frightening to people who live in dread of fascism. I don't know how likely creeping fascism is in Trump's case, but I do think it's unwise to give him another four years to find out. There is certainly no evidence that anything internal would restrain him. Fortunately, our government is built on a separation of powers that would make it very difficult for him to really get there. He could do much damage to the office of President and confidence in the Constitution along the way, though!
     
  • Civil society is not the church - This is another of the many red herrings in this debate. Nobody thinks Presidents should have the qualifications of pastors or that the government should be run like the church. The country was built, however, on belief in virtue. Values like respect, honesty, fairness, dignity, reason, restraint/moderation, and so many more, are not uniquely church standards. They're the kinds of things humans everywhere want from the other humans they interact with. This is what I'm talking about when I say Trump is anti-conservative. Nobody who shows as little regard for basic virtues has even begun to understand what should be conserved in American government and policy.

I'll wrap up with a revisit to a biblical principle in the article: the Christian way of thinking about ethics is that how ends are accomplished is just as important as what ends are accomplished (it appears as early as Cain and Abel!).

I'd love to see more of the Trump supporters interact with that principle. When do ends justify means? How do we determine what means are justifiable at all, and if they are what is required to justify them? It's not enough to say "I had to vote this way to prevent a result." How does the result justify the means? (I started working on this the other day, and filled a page with notes pretty quickly... there are at least two phases: means analysis and ends analysis. Some means need no justification. Some require very little justification. Some quite a bit. Some cannot be justified at all. ... too large of a topic to take further just now, but is anyone else even thinking about it?)

Darrell Post's picture

I appreciate your comments Aaron, but when I read, "I don't know how likely creeping fascism is in Trump's case, but I do think it's unwise to give him another four years to find out..." 

I couldn't help but think how the media has been very careful to craft the narrative that Trump singularly and conservatism in general leads toward fascism when in fact it is the socialists on the other side of the aisle who would be more likely to bring out that end through their environmental extremism, social justice, limitations on free speech, etc. I mean just yesterday I read that Chuck Schumer, the Demoratic senator minority leader wants to push ahead for slavery reparations--but we should ignore that, and worry instead that Trump is going to go fascist?

You worry about that risk with Trump but would turn over power to the party who actual could go there?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Darrell Post wrote:

I appreciate your comments Aaron, but when I read, "I don't know how likely creeping fascism is in Trump's case, but I do think it's unwise to give him another four years to find out..." 

I couldn't help but think how the media has been very careful to craft the narrative that Trump singularly and conservatism in general leads toward fascism when in fact it is the socialists on the other side of the aisle who would be more likely to bring out that end through their environmental extremism, social justice, limitations on free speech, etc. I mean just yesterday I read that Chuck Schumer, the Demoratic senator minority leader wants to push ahead for slavery reparations--but we should ignore that, and worry instead that Trump is going to go fascist?

This is another false choice. It is possible to be concerned about creeping fascism from both the left and from Trump.

And I'll echo a bit of my last post: "our guy" is supposed to be better. He's not supposed to be even close to the same sort of expansion of government power favored by the left.

Darrell Post's picture

The problem is, one of the two will be in power, there is no third choice. In 2016 it was going to be Clinton or Trump. In 2020 it will be Trump or the winner of the democrat nomination (Socialist Bernie Sanders, Socialist Kamala Harris, or Socialist Elizabeth Warren). So one has to decide which of these options is less likely to lead to fascism, and to me it is abundantly clear that the greater risk is with the democratic/socialist party.

"He's not supposed to be even close to the same sort of expansion of government power favored by the left."

Actually, Trump has rolled back many of the Obama-era policies that had expanded government power. So on this one, you got your wish.

 

 

Larry's picture

Moderator

When do ends justify means? 

Are you confusing multiple ends? I think you are assuming that multiple ends are one end. What is the legitimate means of judicial appointments? Electing a president with the power to nominate and electing senators with the power to advise and consent. 

Electing a president to do that is not pragmatic. It is the ethical way of doing it.

Darrell Post's picture

"I'll wrap up with a revisit to a biblical principle in the article: the Christian way of thinking about ethics is that how ends are accomplished is just as important as what ends are accomplished"

We all agree Aaron that how ends are accomplished are important. But again, the how was not an option on the 2016 ballot. Both candidates were not fit for the office. So as long as that was the case, it seemed the prudent choice to get life-time appointed judges who were fit for their offices, and who would embody the ethics you long for in leaders. And thankfully, these judges will influence society long after Trump is gone. 

 

Mark_Smith's picture

You have listed the virtues you seek in a leader you can vote for several times. You have also pointed out several times that comparing "our side" with theirs isn't legitimate. OK. Whatever you say.

I am curious then. And this is not a gotcha question. Can you name the last president that you supported when you voted for them? I mean, who really fit this bill?

Then, please list a national political leader that you hope would run against Trump or in the Democrat primary that has these values. Or, as a third option, you can choose that your standards are not realistic for someone running for a secular political office in 2019 America.

mmartin's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

 

And I'll echo a bit of my last post: "our guy" is supposed to be better. 

Agreed!  Of course our guy is "supposed" to be better.

However, that was not the real choice we had in 2016 and we won't have again in 2020.  Both options were bad then and they will be again next year.

But with Trump, we conservatives at least have a chance of upholding conservative values.  With the other side the exact opposite is true.

Meanwhile we fuss over what negative impact Trump might have on our country as opposed to what the other side will do.  Either option is not at all ideal.

I'll be voting for Trump (as in against the Democratic candidate) for the reason I stated here.

That isn't pragmatism.  That isn't denial of his flaws.  That isn't voting FOR Trump.

That is simply choosing the lesser poison of the only two viable options (of candidates who have a chance of winning the election).

josh p's picture

It’s a head scratcher to me that voting for Trump is not actually a vote for him but rather a vote against the democrat while a vote for third party is a vote for the democrat or not a vote at all.

Mark: I am sure Aaron will answer on his own but the republicans would do a lot better with someone like Ben Sasse. I have concerns about him but at least he appears to have some principles.

Darrell Post's picture

"It’s a head scratcher to me that voting for Trump is not actually a vote for him but rather a vote against the democrat while a vote for third party is a vote for the democrat or not a vote at all."

Not a head scratcher at all. Either Trump or Clinton was going to be president in 2016. If you wanted any real say in the outcome you had to vote for one or the other. 

mmartin's picture

josh p wrote:

It’s a head scratcher to me that voting for Trump is not actually a vote for him but rather a vote against the democrat while a vote for third party is a vote for the democrat or not a vote at all.

I feel in 2016 this was definitely accurate, that a a vote for a third party was a vote for the Democrats.  By all reports leading up to the election Hillary was expected to defeat Trump, but only Trump had any chance to defeat Hillary.  So, in this case, yes, a vote for a third party was at least some vote "for" Hillary.  If you didn't want Hillary as president, then you had to cast your ballot for Trump.

I'd be willing to bet that most people voting "for" Trump were in reality voting against Hillary.  This was my case.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

mmartin wrote:

I'd be willing to bet that most people voting "for" Trump were in reality voting against Hillary.  This was my case.

Definitely true here as well.  I remember talking with some people after the election, but still in late November or early December, and they asked me if I was happy that Trump was elected.  I said that I honestly didn't know, and that I had no idea what kind of president he would be, but that I was really happy that Clinton wasn't elected.  With Clinton, I knew what I'd be getting, but with Trump, the jury was still out.

Dave Barnhart

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

We all agree Aaron that how ends are accomplished are important. But again, the how was not an option on the 2016 ballot. 

Actually it was. Every vote is a "how." A vote for a man of extremely poor character is a "how." This is the point I've been trying to make. The act of authorizing such a man to rule needs to be considered on its own, distinct form the alternative secondary consequences of not authorizing him.

The problem is, one of the two will be in power, there is no third choice. In 2016 it was going to be Clinton or Trump. In 2020 it will be Trump or the winner of the democrat nomination 

There are actually third and fourth and fifth options. The assumption in these arguments is that one must  back an electable candidate. Why? Third option: write in. Fourth option: vote for a third party candidate. Fifth option: don't vote.  (I don't necessarily recommend any of these in particular, but to point out that these options do exist.)

I am curious then. And this is not a gotcha question. Can you name the last president that you supported when you voted for them? I mean, who really fit this bill?

Then, please list a national political leader that you hope would run against Trump or in the Democrat primary that has these values. 

Absolutely any one of the other candidates for the GOP nomination in 2016 would have been "close enough." They were all flawed but fundamentally decent human beings, grown ups, and possessing at least some convictions beyond defeating the opposition.

Somebody mentioned Sasse. Sure. And so many others. The party literally chose the worst man available.

Darrell Post's picture

Aaron, not if you wanted a say in the outcome. Either Trump or Clinton was going to be my president and your president. "Extremely poor character" was going to be a given no matter who won.There was no escape from this reality once both these candidates won their party's nomination. So one had a choice of having a say in the outcome, or choosing to not have a say in the outcome, allowing others to choose which of these two options would be your president. You chose to have no say in the outcome as is your right. I chose to try to have a say in the outcome and get a shot at conservative life-time appointed judges. (I say try because in the end all 13 electoral votes from VA went to Clinton). I am glad we got those judges, although I wish it had been a person of better character who nominated them. But there was nothing I could do about it once the options were Trump or Clinton. We do not live in a world where everything is neat and clean, and often there are judgment calls that need to be made. I respect your right to vote how you choose. I am still glad we got the judges Trump nominated. And I don't view it at all as an ends-justify-the-means sort of thing because the means (the how) was going to be a President of low character--that was an inescapable reality. So in that this was a given, there was no value to throwing away a chance at the good judges. Like I said before, each of the two candidates offered a product. Of the two one promised conservative life-time appointed judges. The other option did not.

 

 

Darrell Post's picture

"Absolutely any one of the other candidates for the GOP nomination in 2016 would have been "close enough." They were all flawed but fundamentally decent human beings, grown ups, and possessing at least some convictions beyond defeating the opposition."

Aaron, I want to gently push back on this statement. I say gently, because I agree with the thrust of what you are saying, as I favored any of the other 16 options over Trump. You have decided the other 16 were close enough to meet the standards you are looking for. Bear in mind these other 16 were all politicians. Trump was not. Politicians are masters at managing their public image. At all costs they want to avoid that dreaded open-mic gaffe that could doom their candidacy and career. Virginia used to have a GOP senator who was once touted as possible POTUS timber, but one careless comment into an open mic and his career was finished. 

Where I am going with this, is these other 16 may all appear to you to be decent human beings, to be grown-ups with solid convictions, but that may not be the case with all of them. For instance, I learned enough about some of those 16 to draw the conclusion that under the surface they might not be that far behind Trump in terms of having the right temperament for the job. Some said this very thing at the time about Ted Cruz--and I was for Cruz at the end to find a way to stop Trump. 

But Trump was never a politician and has always worn his behavior on his sleeve. Oddly, during the campaign everyone kept expecting each and every Trump 'gaffe' to be the one that would doom him, but it never did. His most loyal followers saw it as transparency rather than the phoniness that often comes from the career politician. Even so, Trump could only manage around 30% of the vote in the first 30 or so states, and he was able to use the large and splintered GOP field of candidates to his advantage as they were all competing for the vote of those who wanted a career politician while Trump was running alone in the lane of voters who were fed up with politicians and wanted someone who was transparent (warts and all). 

So I still agree with you that of the 17 GOP options, Trump was the worst. But the gap between his behavior (which is public) and the behavior of many of the other 16, might not be as wide as we might think, given the others all behave like politicians--carefully managing and hiding the same behaviors Trump boldly does openly. 

I was originally for Scott Walker because he seemed to have the fight in him, but wasn't mean-spirited or anything like that. He seemed genuine to me. But he didn't even make it to the primaries. 

 

 

 

 

G. N. Barkman's picture

Aaron, I continue to be surprised at the level of subjectivism in your opposition to Trump.  What standards do you use to determine that the other GOP Primary candidates are acceptable to you, but Trump was not?  I don't question your right to make such decisions subjectively (or emotionally), but I am surprised that you don't realize what you are doing.  The difference between Trump and the others is purely a matter of degrees, and the criterion for determining the degrees is very opinionated.  In other words, Trump has clearly rubbed you the wrong way to the degree that you refuse to support him regardless of all other considerations.  Other candidates have managed to avoid irritating you to the necessary degree.  But where exactly is that magic line, and how do you decide when it has been crossed?  I understand that you are attempting to be principled in who gets your vote, rather than pragmatic, but "principled" and "pragmatic" turn out to be quite subjective, and simply a matter of degrees.

To me, it is much more objective to weigh the available alternatives and vote for the candidate who seems most likely to advance the agenda that most closely aligns with my own.  This also includes endeavoring to defeat the candidate who is most opposed to my own agenda.  Anything else is wasting a valuable vote.  I am committed to making my vote count as much as possible.

G. N. Barkman

Dave White's picture

There really should be an article ... "Christians in the age of Nero"

THAT would put this discussion into a better perspective.

Sometimes I think we (Christians) would be better if we were prohibited from voting!

We would pray more after this pattern:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 

1 Timothy 2:1-3

 

 

GregH's picture

Round and round we go.... Same arguments over and over and some just don't listen much less try to accept the reality that there are multiple legitimate ways of looking at this.

It will never be resolved but when will it stop? Hopefully 2020 but worse case 2024. Smile

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

On the argument that I'm subjective in my evaluation of candidates' character.

This is literally true, but not true in spirit. What I mean is that all judgments of the character of individuals are subjective, in that the person doing the evaluation has to rely on observations and make inferences about what sort of person behaves in that way. Looking at Stalin and declaring him to be an evil man is a "subjective" act, in that sense. On the other hand, it's not subjective in the sense that there are no facts from which to make the observations. So is it subjective in the sense of "just guessing"? Not remotely.

I kind of want to move on from the Trump topic, but it may be helpful to write a separate article on, say, the top ten facts upon which I judge his character. There is not really much room for guesswork! 

I want to point out, too, that Proverbs clearly identifies the qualities of a "fool" and encourages us to use those symptoms, if you will, to make diagnoses. The diagnosis is necessarily a bit subjective (in the sense of uncertain, and involving personal judgment) but the more facts there are, the more certain the diagnosis becomes.

On having a say in the outcome

The argument is that if you vote for someone who is not electable, you forfeit a say in the outcome of the election. A couple observations on that:

  • Even if true, is it obvious that it's right to "have a say" under all circumstances or wrong to not have a say? (Or even morally better to "have a say" than not to?)
  • It's not really true. If you reject both candidates as too problematic to authorize for leadership, you are having a say in the outcome.
  • Those votes still count. Though admittedly not for very much. When Ross Perot died, many articles noted the relatively high percentage of votes he was able to gain as a third party candidate and what those meant. ... as well as their impact.
  • Even if one votes for a write-in and that vote is the only one he gets, or it's discarded on the basis of electoral procedural rules, the act of voting for a decent man still happened. Nobody can make it unhappen. Even if it's never noticed by anyone but you and God, you "had a say" and you said it. And, come to think of it, you said it in front of the most important Audience of all, if you get my meaning.
  • I anticipate the objection that "but this has no impact." Maybe not. Impact isn't everything.
dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

GregH wrote:

It will never be resolved but when will it stop? Hopefully 2020 but worse case 2024. Smile

You do realize that in 2024 if the Lord tarries and SI is still here, that we will probably be arguing over whoever is in office then, right?  I remember all too well all the hand-wringing over whether any Christian could vote for Romney (a Mormon).  If he had gotten in, I suspect the arguments might not look exactly the same or be quite as vehement, but there would have been the charges of pragmatism, selling principle short, sacrificing the future for the immediate, etc.  I agree that Trump makes it a lot easier to make those cases, but it would have been done anyway, and will again in 2020, 2024, 2028...

Dave Barnhart

Pages

Help keep SI’s server humming. A few bucks makes a difference.