Trump Derangement Syndrome, Desperation Thinking, and Facing the Questions

Mostly, the sound and fury over Christianity Today’s editorial advocating President Trump’s removal from office seems to be following the now-familiar pattern: reaction aplenty, reflection—not so much.

It seems that “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” cuts both ways. The left wing version (LW) can’t seem to see the difference between Trump and Hitler. The right wing version (RW) seems to have trouble seeing the difference between Trump and the Messiah. These TDS sufferers perceive everyone around them in these extremes as well, so regardless of what’s actually being said, what they hear is binary. Either you’re echoing our (extreme) view and are one of “Us” or you’re one of “Them,” expressing the extreme opposite.

Trump himself suffers from the right wing version of Trump Derangement Syndrome, as his reaction to Mark Galli’s editorial demonstrated. Galli’s analysis offered both positive and negative observations about President Trump, but both Trump and his hordes of fellow TDS-RW sufferers immediately boiled it down to “Doesn’t sound like Us. Must be Them”—or pretended to. I don’t honestly know which is worse.

Those unafflicted by TDS of either the LW or RW variety can see some valid points in Galli’s arguments, as well as some weaker ones. They can distinguish one claim from another and weigh the supporting facts and reasoning for each, and possibly come to a better understanding of some of the thinking on these matters—even if it’s better understanding of what they disagree with, and why.

Which brings me to the purpose of this little entry into the fray. If you see the perspective voiced by Mark Galli (and others) as reasonable, even if you disagree, congratulations on being TDS-free! Hang in there. You’re not alone, and you really haven’t lost your mind. Everyone else has.

If you’re still a Trump-defender but haven’t slipped into full-blown TDS, I want to make you more uncomfortable, because I think it might help. (The TDS cases are beyond my skills.)

I know there are some pretty conflicted Trump supporters out there! One sure sign is how oversensitive some of them are. Criticize Trump just a little, and you get a noticeably disproportionate response. This is symptomatic of TDS-RW also, but the milder forms tell me I’m dealing with a person who is probably pretty insecure about the position they’ve carved out. They don’t want to criticize Trump at all, but they’re conflicted. Part of them keeps insisting something’s wrong. It makes them grumpy.

For TDS-free evangelical Trump-defenders, then, three questions:

1. Can it ever be wrong to take an action even when all the alternatives will have worse outcomes?

The answer is yes. I don’t know why this idea is controversial for Christians, but I’ve gone multiple rounds in forum discussions and some definitely find it hard to accept or hard to understand. Stated positively, the principle is this: Sometimes it’s wrong to do A even though all the other options seem guaranteed to result in disaster. I’ll get to how this relates to supporting President Trump below, but first, a biblical example—King Saul.

When the men of Israel saw that they were in trouble (for the people were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns, and some Hebrews crossed the fords of the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. Samuel said, “What have you done?” (1 Samuel 13:6–11)

Some time later Saul followed the same pattern by keeping some of the spoils from the defeat of Agag (1 Sam. 15:20-21).

On both of these occasions Saul was afraid and desperate. He saw a situation where severe, lasting defeat would certainly occur if he chose to take the moral high ground and follow the instructions he had been given.

Desperation breeds an unhealthy focus on “But what will happen if I don’t?” It can lead us to re-characterize a choice between right and wrong as a choice between “the lesser of two evils.” In the sense of “two options with negative outcomes” the latter does happen. But a Christian is never so desperate that he has to do wrong in order to avoid disaster. In that case, he doesn’t get to avoid disaster.

Frequently, what I hear from Trump supporters is desperation reasoning: He’s got problems, but if we don’t help him win, what will happen?! Abortion! Loss of religious liberty! Economic decline! So even though he’s clearly a foolish, proud, and dishonorable man, let’s put him in charge, because he’ll do some things we’re desperate to see done!

My advice: calm down, figure out what’s right and do that. Stop being desperate. Saul’s desperate moves did work pretty well. But they brought disaster of a completely different kind for Saul and his family.

Returning to the question, I phrased it deliberately. If it can ever be wrong to do A when all the other options seem certain to have worse outcomes, that puts a sober responsibility on each of us. We have a duty to look at our choices and ask the question: Is Option A wrong even though it has the best likely outcomes? Why or why not? I don’t see many in the Trump-support camp answering these questions.

2. Does how we think matter?

On the topic of “how to think about Trump” (which is different from what to think about Trump), I’ve encountered an unusually high degree of impatience—a dogged determination to avoid looking away from outcomes to consider the process of ethical evaluation itself.

I keep going back to it for two reasons:

  1. God cares how we think, not just what we believe, what we do, and what results we achieve.
  2. If we use the right thought process, we’re more likely to correctly identify the right thing to do.

Reason 2 should be self-evident. Reason 1 is clear in passages such as these:

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. (1 Cor. 14:20)

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. (1 Cor. 3:18)

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Tim. 1:7)

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, (1 Pet. 3:15)

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (2 Cor. 10:5)

In the case of support for, or criticism of, President Trump, we really shouldn’t think we’ve fulfilled our calling as Christians if rejecting “what They say” and echoing “what Our people say” is as far as we’ve gotten. That isn’t even a start at loving God with our minds (Matt. 22: 37).

3. Is it possible to achieve short term success in ways that produce long term failure?

Shortsightedness continues to dominate Trump-defense rhetoric. It’s almost as if Trump defenders believe:

  • Future leaders can’t undo the accomplishments of whoever is in charge today.
  • Policy victories have more enduring power than changing the values and principles of a culture.
  • There is no need to win over anyone who doesn’t already agree with Trump’s policies.
  • There will never be a need for any future leaders in conservatism after the current generation.

Well, the fourth bullet is possible (Parousia). But how could anyone believe the first three?

Here’s the connection: If future leaders can undo what Trump accomplishes, and if changing values and principles is more enduring, and if there’s a need to persuade larger numbers of voters of conservative ideas, what sort of strategy does that demand?

It calls for leadership that is, for starters, not completely alienating toward everyone in the political center and center left (we know the far left is unpersuadable). Maybe it calls for leadership that at least tries to make reasoned arguments for policy positions. Maybe it calls for leadership that thoughtfully addresses the idealism and questions of young potential leaders.

Maybe it calls for a leader who’s personal character and beliefs sort of align at least a little with the spirit and principles of conservatism, rather than one who passionately fights for the letter while actively denying the spirit.

President Trump has done some good things. Can they compensate for the long term damage of his egoism, lack of restraint, and moral tone-deafness? I honestly don’t know. I have serious doubts. But too many evangelical Trump supporters aren’t even considering the question.

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RajeshG's picture

Dan Miller wrote:

So.. comparisons of Trump to David or Cyrus or whoever are not all that meaningful to me. I saw a Christian Post editorial comparing Trump to Samson. A better comparison, but doesn't have the application the writer hoped, I don't think.

You shrug off comparisons with David without really interacting with the comparisons. The deeds of David's life are clearly morally worse.

Really? Although the biblical record faults David directly concerning the matter with Uriah and Bathsheba, there are numerous statements where David is declared to be an upright person who was an exemplary believer.

For example, 1 Kings 15:5 Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.
 
With inspired statements such as 1 Kings 15:5 that profoundly extol the godliness of David's life, how do you arrive at the notion, "The deeds of David's life are clearly morally worse"?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Dan Miller wrote:

So.. comparisons of Trump to David or Cyrus or whoever are not all that meaningful to me. I saw a Christian Post editorial comparing Trump to Samson. A better comparison, but doesn't have the application the writer hoped, I don't think.

You shrug off comparisons with David without really interacting with the comparisons. The deeds of David's life are clearly morally worse.

I don't see why it's relevant. Is the argument that any national leader "not as bad as David" is worthy of our backing? Why would that be the case? But the comparison is ridiculous anyway: David was "a man after [God's] own heart" who committed some serious sins along the road of an otherwise faithful life. He was not the "fool" of Proverbs.

The comparison to Cyrus is less than ridiculous but what does it prove? Nobody is disputing that God uses all kinds. That doesn't make them good men worthy of our backing as citizens who, in our system, are part of the government and owning some of those responsibilities.

Dan Miller wrote:

But probably the bigger thing you need to address:

1. Can it ever be wrong to take an action...

Desperation breeds an unhealthy focus on “But what will happen if I don’t?” It can lead us to re-characterize a choice between right and wrong as a choice between “the lesser of two evils.” In the sense of “two options with negative outcomes” the latter does happen. But a Christian is never so desperate that he has to do wrong in order to

Right...wrong... over and over. In an earlier thread, you stated that you were not thinking in terms of moral evil. Yet you insist on using these terms without explaining what you mean by them. 
And in that last paragraph I quoted, your contention is that right/wrong overrides a real pragmatic benefit. What sort of right/wrong can do that except moral good/evil?

I've already explained this. I am indeed talking about the right and wrong of our actions regarding whom we back and whom we claim as our own. I am not characterizing Trump as an evil man. My claim is that he is not qualified for office on the grounds of lack of maturity, lack of wisdom and sound judgment, lack of self restraint, lack of respect, lack of trustworthiness, lack of principles in general, etc., etc.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Mark_Smith's picture

I have tried to ask you this before but you never answered it. Are there previous presidents in your lifetime whom you thought did not have "lack of maturity, lack of wisdom and sound judgment, lack of self restraint, lack of respect, lack of trustworthiness, lack of principles in general, etc."

I ask to clarify whether you simply "support" no politician, or whether it is just Trump.

 

mmartin's picture

Aaron, you wrote in a previous comment about approaching an election biblically.  How should evangelicals approach an election Biblically, including voting for Trump (as a vote against the Democrat candidate)?  Are you suggesting that evangelicals who voted for Trump (as a vote against Hilary) were not acting Biblically? 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Mark_Smith wrote:

I have tried to ask you this before but you never answered it. Are there previous presidents in your lifetime whom you thought did not have "lack of maturity, lack of wisdom and sound judgment, lack of self restraint, lack of respect, lack of trustworthiness, lack of principles in general, etc."

I ask to clarify whether you simply "support" no politician, or whether it is just Trump.

I've answered this before also, but maybe not in the right thread. I'm not sure there are any other presidents in my lifetime that "lack of maturity, lack of wisdom and sound judgment, lack of self restraint, lack of respect, lack of trustworthiness, lack of principles in general, etc." to be president. Bill Clinton was pretty close. Of course, there have been several I disagreed with profoundly on political philosophy and policy. That's not the same thing.

I supported Reagan, G. H. W. Bush, and G. W. Bush when they were right and criticized them when they were wrong (was a bit young to do much of the latter in the case of Reagan). I never saw them as immature, egotistical. I believe they lied at times, but I still don't see them as essentially dishonest men.

As candidates, I voted for John McCain and Mitt Romney. I saw all of them as less than I'd like in various ways, but men of basic good character and men well above the minimum thresholds for wisdom, good will, and respect for both their fellow humans and the office of US President.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

mmartin wrote:

Aaron, you wrote in a previous comment about approaching an election biblically.  How should evangelicals approach an election Biblically, including voting for Trump (as a vote against the Democrat candidate)?  Are you suggesting that evangelicals who voted for Trump (as a vote against Hilary) were not acting Biblically? 

Well, first, I think we need to acknowledge that whenever we say "this is more biblical than that," we are, by implication sort of saying "that" us unbiblical. But the reality is that we're talking about probabilities with a lot of these things because we have to (a) interpret the relevant biblical teachings correctly and (b) apply them correctly to an accurately-understood situation.

Second, you've raised the issue of intent and I think that's very important (as do the ethics textbooks I've been perusing... back past Kant to Aristotle, and further I think). A guy who attempts murder and accidentally saves his intended victim's life is no hero. Similarly, a guy who tries to save a life and accidently ends it instead is no murderer.

So intentions and secondary consequences (vs. direct actions) are really important factors.

To answer the question, then, I don't want to say that "a vote for candidate X with the intent of defeating candidate Y" is "unbiblical." It depends on how bad candidate X is. Since people get confused about the "evilness" factor, I'll use a different example than the usual "Hitler vs. Darth Vader" sort of thought experiment. Let's go back to Reagan's first term. During his campaign for second term, there were rumors he wasn't of sound mind. Alzheimer's or something. Suppose he fell down the stairs somewhere, suffered traumatic brain injury, and woke up with the mental capacity of a 3rd grader.

He would not be qualified for office. It's 1984. Would it be right to vote for him in order to defeat Walter Mondale? Of course, it would never happen, but if he were actually on the ballot with severe brain damage, would it be responsible to give him the keys to the nuclear arsenal?

Intent counts for something, but it can't completely erase the significance of direct action in helping put someone in power.

The biblical way to think about this situation would be to recognize that I can't vote for brain-damaged Reagan. I need to refrain from casting that vote. The indirect consequence may be that I help elect Mondale, but that isn't my responsibility. I didn't create the situation that gave me these these options. My job is to act wisely (to do right) and leave the outcomes to God.

So there's two important things to factor in: intent but also directness. If I vote for candidate X I'm contributing directly to his becoming President. If I refrain from voting for either of "the big two," I'm not contributing directly to anything at all. When you have two genuinely unacceptable candidates, the choice most consistent with a biblical ethic is refrain from directly empowering either of them.

Conclusion...

So would I say voting for Trump as a way of voting against Clinton was "unbiblical"? I wouldn't put it that way. I would say that evaluating the options solely in terms of "how will it turn out?" is unbiblical. And I would say that rejecting both unacceptable persons is "more consistent with biblical ethics."

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

JNoël's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

When you have two genuinely unacceptable candidates, the choice most consistent with a biblical ethic is refrain from directly empowering either of them.

I would say that evaluating the options solely in terms of "how will it turn out?" is unbiblical. And I would say that rejecting both unacceptable persons is "more consistent with biblical ethics."

Follow my logic, and tell me if I'm wrong.

  • God is responsible for who the rulers are
  • In America, the ruler is chosen by the people
  • God uses people to accomplish his will of who the ruler will be

So,

  • A large number of Americans who willingly identify as evangelical voted for Trump and continue to support/praise/endorse/defend (pick a term) him at various levels
  • The conscience is one of God's sanctification tools, especially in areas God did not specifically call out in the Bible (lying, cheating, adultery, murder, etc.)
  • The Bible does not have any explicit commands telling Christians how to vote
  • All Christians must vote how their consciences lead them

We then come back to something said earlier - voting for and/or supporting/praising/endorsing/defending Trump is a matter of conscience.

Therefore, according to Paul's teachings to the church at Corinth, it is wrong to condemn anyone who voted for Trump. It is a matter of conscience, plain and simple.

That doesn't mean we can't talk about it, as it can help us to understand each other and to possibly help adjust our thinking on the matter. But as okay as it is for one Christian to believe that not only is voting for Trump a vote to keep secular leftism at bay, but is actually even a good thing in itself, it is also okay for another Christian to vote for the 21st century version of Charles Spurgeon, John Calvin, or whoever else various Christians believe is the absolute best person to be sitting in the Oval Office, regardless the reality that person will never actually do that.

Neither choice is wrong, unless the person making it is doing so against his own conscience.

That, indeed, is sin.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

TylerR's picture

Editor

Here is Dr. Michael Svigel, a NT guy from Dallas Seminary:

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Dan Miller's picture

TylerR wrote:

Here is Dr. Michael Svigel, a NT guy from Dallas Seminary:

Tautology. Yes voting for Trump is a relatively good choice. Because it is CLEARLY the lesser of two evils (in 2016, and again in 2020).

No one on here believes Trump is perfect. And no one believes he's thoroughly evil. 

Aaron thinks that Trump is [bad]* enough that it is somehow nobler or perhaps morally better to waste his vote rather than voting for him. (I think that position is the best example of "derangement" in this debate.)

I think that Trump is better as a presidential candidate than Hillary or the socialist 2020 field. (I wonder if Aaron agrees with this.)

I think that Trump is enough better as a presidential candidate that I would feel it would be wrong not to cast my vote for him. ("My vote" - I will not judge someone who took Aaron's line and voted for [wasted vote].)

Larry's picture

Moderator

Theology 101: I’m no ethicist, but it’s hard for me to think of a more relativistic ethic veiled as virtue than “the lesser of two evils.” Yet many who claim to embrace moral absolutes defend this stance as if it were self-evidently true.

— Dr. Michael J. Svigel (@Svigel) December 28, 2019

Incoherent. If they defend it, it's because it is not self-evidently true. If it were self-evidently true, it would need defending. 

However, relativistic is not always wrong. The idea that it is is not founded in a biblical worldview or biblical anthropology and hamartiology. 

Larry's picture

Moderator

If I refrain from voting for either of "the big two," I'm not contributing directly to anything at all. 

But you are directly contributing. Silence in the face of evil is no virtue.

Larry's picture

Moderator

I'm all for "taking steps to minimize" abortion and various other social problems. Is that really in doubt?

I would like to think it wouldn't be in doubt, but you immediately follow this up with, "I can't help him [gain power], no matter [that he might decrease abortion] along the way." And that is why, at least in terms of this argument, it is in doubt. You would like for abortion to decrease so long as it doesn't require you to vote for Trump. You talk as if you would rather have abortion increase than Trump be in power. You would rather not have Trump  in power even if more babies die because of it. 

I know that's strong, but tell me how else to interpret your words.

The pragmatism comes in when we:

  • Begin the evaluation of whether to back or not back with the questions: what will be achieved? and will the alternative outcomes be? rather than with "Is he qualified from a Christian (and historic American as well) point of view?"
  • Continue to defend all sorts of wrong on the grounds of some good he's done

As to the first, that is always a consideration and I understand that there are cases in which I could not offer a vote in good conscience. And I may not vote for Trump. I don't know. But to pretend to outcomes aren't a part of civic responsibility is strange. There are lots of high character and even godly people who have no business running a race, much less a business or a company or a government. Many wicked unbelievers are well qualified to run organizations and governments. And given the option, we should choose someone qualified and able to run the government as opposed to someone who isn't.

As to the second, I don't think a lot are defending all sorts of wrong, though perhaps there are some. You will have to have that conversation with someone who defends all sorts of wrong. 

I will gladly rebuke them with you.

It's never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right.

So is it right to not vote for Trump in order to get a chance to vote for someone else in the future? 

That is a common argument, that if we can somehow defeat Trump, it will teach the GOP not to have candidates like him in the future. There is no guarantee that will happen. Furthermore, it might not matter by then.

Again, I think your arguments typically cut both ways. You have defined voting for Trump as wrong, and see everything in that light. But if voting for Trump isn't wrong, your argument entirely falls apart.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Larry wrote:

If I refrain from voting for either of "the big two," I'm not contributing directly to anything at all. 

But you are directly contributing. Silence in the face of evil is no virtue.

What happens indirectly isn't the same as what I directly do. In any case, I wasn't silent. I voted for a good man.

I would like to think it wouldn't be in doubt, but you immediately follow this up with, "I can't help him [gain power], no matter [that he might decrease abortion] along the way." And that is why, at least in terms of this argument, it is in doubt. You would like for abortion to decrease so long as it doesn't require you to vote for Trump. You talk as if you would rather have abortion increase than Trump be in power. You would rather not have Trump  in power even if more babies die because of it. 

You're ignoring all the context and explanation and supporting reasoning I've already layed out... more than once.

I'm pretty confident you don't believe that all means are justified by good ends. Almost nobody believes that. And if we don't believe all means are justified by a good end, we must also accept that sometimes we must reject a means even though that rejection will have bad indirect outcomes. There's no away around this. (Ignoring it isn't really getting around it.)

As to the first, that is always a consideration and I understand that there are cases in which I could not offer a vote in good conscience. And I may not vote for Trump. I don't know. But to pretend to outcomes aren't a part of civic responsibility is strange. 

I have never done this. I find it hard to believe that I haven't made this clear already.

The process has to go something like this:

  • Determine if an action requires justification (it wouldn't normally be right)
  • If it requires justification, determine whether it can be justified (it may always be wrong)
  • If it can be justified, decide whether the intended outcome justifies it

Some actions don't require justification, so of course, the outcome is reason enough to do it. Some actions are justifiable, and a good outcome might be enough--if it's good enough. But some actions can't be justified by any outcome.

I've previously provided examples of all three I think... certainly of the last one.

I don't think there is any indirect outcome that can justify directly helping an unqualified man gain the presidency.

Outcomes matter. I've always said so.

They are not all that matters or the first thing to consider. This is my thesis. I can't make it any clearer than that.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

mmartin's picture

Aaron, 

You wrote the following (in part) in response to my question about voting "biblically:"

Aaron Blumer wrote:

 

mmartin wrote:

 

Aaron, you wrote in a previous comment about approaching an election biblically.  How should evangelicals approach an election Biblically, including voting for Trump (as a vote against the Democrat candidate)?  Are you suggesting that evangelicals who voted for Trump (as a vote against Hilary) were not acting Biblically? 

The biblical way to think about this situation would be to recognize that I can't vote for brain-damaged Reagan. I need to refrain from casting that vote. The indirect consequence may be that I help elect Mondale, but that isn't my responsibility. I didn't create the situation that gave me these these options. My job is to act wisely (to do right) and leave the outcomes to God.

When you have two genuinely unacceptable candidates, the choice most consistent with a biblical ethic is refrain from directly empowering either of them.

So would I say voting for Trump as a way of voting against Clinton was "unbiblical"? I wouldn't put it that way. I would say that evaluating the options solely in terms of "how will it turn out?" is unbiblical. And I would say that rejecting both unacceptable persons is "more consistent with biblical ethics."

Your response does mention voting biblically, but without reference to a story, example, or verse taken directly from the Bible.  For example, what "biblical ethic" teaches me to refrain from directly empowering either of two, what may considered to be, bad candidates?  What "biblical ethic" directs me to reject "unacceptable persons" and at what level does that biblical ethic tell me to transition any human candidate (we all are flawed sinners) from "acceptable" to "unacceptable?"

Larry's picture

Moderator

I will end with this:

Regarding direct vs. indirect, I don't think you can bail out that easily. Failing to take reasonable steps to minimize evil is directly affecting it. Calling something indirect does not make it so nor does it make it less real. You appeal to something akin to "negligent," as in "negligent homicide," as in, "Didn't mean to" or "Wasn't my intent." But as indirect as that is, it is still culpable. It was a foreseeable result that you could have taken steps to avoid. You can't avoid responsibility by declarations or denials. You have judged it's better to not vote for Trump. Fine. But you can't turn around claim you are not responsible, to some degree, for the results. It's a bit like a child who drops his glass of milk and then claims he didn't cause the floor to be messed up. He only let go of the glass. "It was indirect," he says. "I didn't do that. It was gravity." No one believes that, and with good reason. One of the ethical and legal standards is a reasonably foreseeable consequence. And that certainly seems to apply here.

Regarding explanation about abortion, I am not ignoring it. It makes no sense to me. What is the context and explanation that makes the increase and acceptability of abortion acceptable? I don't find your comments convincing for what seem to be obvious reasons and I find it strange that is even controversial on a board like this. Are you arguing that we should not help a bad guy limit evil? Again, I can't see the argument there. I can't grasp what context makes that okay.

Let's say you are in a store parking lot, and a couple of young thugs are beating up an old lady. There is a guy trying to help the old lady, but it's one against two. You recognize the guy as a guy you know who cheated on his wife and is living with his new lover. He is also under investigation for extortion from the company he works for. 

Do you help him defend and protect the old lady? Or do you walk on by because he's a bad guy?

I bet you help out, and I bet you don't think you are endorsing all his other sins because you helped him stop evil.

I don't think there is any indirect outcome that can justify directly helping an unqualified man gain the presidency.

First, it's not indirect outcomes we are talking about. They are direct and foreseeable. Second, it is hard to imagine that  your mindset about qualifications for presidency takes precedent over life and the future of our lives. 

Again, Aaron, I think this makes little to no sense in a real world. I realize you are convinced and that's fine. Hopefully you realize how hard this is to grasp for some of us because of the enormity of what's at stake. I don't like Trump any more than you do. But there is a bigger picture than my personal dislike. 

Kevin Miller's picture

Larry wrote:

I will end with this:

Regarding direct vs. indirect, I don't think you can bail out that easily. Failing to take reasonable steps to minimize evil is directly affecting it. Calling something indirect does not make it so nor does it make it less real. You appeal to something akin to "negligent," as in "negligent homicide," as in, "Didn't mean to" or "Wasn't my intent." But as indirect as that is, it is still culpable. It was a foreseeable result that you could have taken steps to avoid. You can't avoid responsibility by declarations or denials. You have judged it's better to not vote for Trump. Fine. But you can't turn around claim you are not responsible, to some degree, for the results. It's a bit like a child who drops his glass of milk and then claims he didn't cause the floor to be messed up. He only let go of the glass. "It was indirect," he says. "I didn't do that. It was gravity." No one believes that, and with good reason. One of the ethical and legal standards is a reasonably foreseeable consequence. And that certainly seems to apply here.

Regarding explanation about abortion, I am not ignoring it. It makes no sense to me. What is the context and explanation that makes the increase and acceptability of abortion acceptable? I don't find your comments convincing for what seem to be obvious reasons and I find it strange that is even controversial on a board like this. Are you arguing that we should not help a bad guy limit evil? Again, I can't see the argument there. I can't grasp what context makes that okay.

I'm curious about something since you wrote this paragraph about abortion right after a paragraph in which you said Christians are culpable for indirect results. Anytime abortion is restricted, and especially so if abortion was outlawed, women are going to find ways to abort a baby if they are feeling desperate. Some of these ways cause permanent bodily damage and even death to the mother, as well as killing the unborn child. The mother's death would then be an indirect result of the restriction on abortion, so would the people who put the restriction in place be culpable? Would they be unable to avoid responsibility by declarations or denials?

I understand that Trump has put judges in place who value life, but do we really believe, as those judges look at the laws, that they will put the lives of the mothers at an equal or lower position than the lives of the unborn? Look at the two choices in place - allowing the death of the unborn or being responsible for the death of a mother as well as the unborn child. Those are both bad choices, so then we have to go to which one is less evil. Is the death of the mother and child less evil than the death of just the child?

Is the law really the way that we as believers should be trying to decrease abortion? It's one way, but it's not a very effective way. We've been trying to decrease abortions through the law for years and years and years. Is it really just "bad judges' that have prevented it from happening? I've always thought that if people come to know the Lord, then they personally will choose not to abort, and they'll choose to convince family members not to abort, and they will help strangers with dealing with unwanted pregnancies, and they choose to adopt. Some of those issues, such as dealing with the financial pressures of pregnancy and adoption, are issues that can be dealt with by the federal government, especially if the president has the power of persuasion and the respect of those he is trying to persuade. If we put in place a president who is intemperate, disrespectful, and dishonest, then how can that president be persuasive in regards to abortion issues (or any issue of value to believers)? Such a president would cause a foreseeable reaction of disdain, a foreseeable reaction of immediate political reversal of any of his accomplishments during future political cycles. Sure, those are indirect results, but if we are culpable for indirect results, then aren't we culpable for people's reactions to Trump?

JNoël's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

I'm curious about something since you wrote this paragraph about abortion right after a paragraph in which you said Christians are culpable for indirect results. Anytime abortion is restricted, and especially so if abortion was outlawed, women are going to find ways to abort a baby if they are feeling desperate. Some of these ways cause permanent bodily damage and even death to the mother, as well as killing the unborn child. The mother's death would then be an indirect result of the restriction on abortion, so would the people who put the restriction in place be culpable? Would they be unable to avoid responsibility by declarations or denials?

 

I understand that Trump has put judges in place who value life, but do we really believe, as those judges look at the laws, that they will put the lives of the mothers at an equal or lower position than the lives of the unborn? Look at the two choices in place - allowing the death of the unborn or being responsible for the death of a mother as well as the unborn child. Those are both bad choices, so then we have to go to which one is less evil. Is the death of the mother and child less evil than the death of just the child?

Is the law really the way that we as believers should be trying to decrease abortion? It's one way, but it's not a very effective way. We've been trying to decrease abortions through the law for years and years and years. Is it really just "bad judges' that have prevented it from happening? I've always thought that if people come to know the Lord, then they personally will choose not to abort, and they'll choose to convince family members not to abort, and they will help strangers with dealing with unwanted pregnancies, and they choose to adopt. Some of those issues, such as dealing with the financial pressures of pregnancy and adoption, are issues that can be dealt with by the federal government, especially if the president has the power of persuasion and the respect of those he is trying to persuade. If we put in place a president who is intemperate, disrespectful, and dishonest, then how can that president be persuasive in regards to abortion issues (or any issue of value to believers)? Such a president would cause a foreseeable reaction of disdain, a foreseeable reaction of immediate political reversal of any of his accomplishments during future political cycles. Sure, those are indirect results, but if we are culpable for indirect results, then aren't we culpable for people's reactions to Trump?

This is the same argument made by those who want to legalize anything and everything. The government is supposed to protect its citizens, but it cannot protect everyone at all times and in every circumstance. Maternal protection is ancillary to legal abortion. Those who are pro-abortion want the choice to terminate a life for reasons almost exclusively other than protection of the mother. Before we got into this age of questioning whether or not abortion should be legal, the doctor and the rational-thinking adults were the ones who had to make the agonizing decision as to whether or not they need to end the pregnancy to save the mother . . . or save the child knowing the mother would die. But they did so with (or at least should have had) a respect for both the life of the child and the mother.

I completely agree that no one can legislate morality. But the government is supposed to protect its citizens. Legal abortion does not protect lives.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Your response does mention voting biblically, but without reference to a story, example, or verse taken directly from the Bible.  For example, what "biblical ethic" teaches me to refrain from directly empowering either of two, what may considered to be, bad candidates?  What "biblical ethic" directs me to reject "unacceptable persons" and at what level does that biblical ethic tell me to transition any human candidate (we all are flawed sinners) from "acceptable" to "unacceptable?"

Well, I'm taking some things for granted. Assumption 1: it's unbiblical to do wrong. Assumption 2: it's unbiblical to directly help other people do wrong. Assumption 3: it's wrong to help the wrong sort of people become rulers.

Do I need verses to prove these? Maybe the third. I can work on that. It's not a hard case to make.

Let's not go back to lumping together "flawed" and "unfit." Assumption 4: there is such a thing as an unfit ruler. It's kind of built into assumption 3, so if I write up a case for that, the two will go down with one stone. But do any of these assumptions seriously need proving?

Regarding direct vs. indirect, I don't think you can bail out that easily. Failing to take reasonable steps to minimize evil is directly affecting it. Calling something indirect does not make it so nor does it make it less real. You appeal to something akin to "negligent," as in "negligent homicide," as in, "Didn't mean to" or "Wasn't my intent." But as indirect as that is, it is still culpable. It was a foreseeable result that you could have taken steps to avoid. You can't avoid responsibility by declarations or denials. You have judged it's better to not vote for Trump. Fine. But you can't turn around claim you are not responsible, to some degree, for the results. It's a bit like a child who drops his glass of milk and then claims he didn't cause the floor to be messed up. He only let go of the glass. "It was indirect," he says. "I didn't do that. It was gravity." No one believes that, and with good reason. One of the ethical and legal standards is a reasonably foreseeable consequence. And that certainly seems to apply here.

I would agree that inaction in a situation where you can ethically act to prevent some harm matters. Inaction is a kind of action. I'm not advocating inaction. What I'm talking about is situations where all actions (and inaction) have consequences, some of them direct and some of them indirect. I'm also talking about actions themselves, and their built-in ethical nature.

In another thread I used the example of a cave full of people that is flooding with water. The only way of escape is blocked by a person who can't be removed without killing him or her. If you do nothing, you may be responsible for the indirect deaths of the persons in the cave. However, if you kill the person blocking the exit, you are responsible for directly killing someone. It would, in fact, be murder. To make the morality of the act more clear, suppose the individual clogging the exit is your own baby daughter.

So I'm not saying inaction never matters. I'm saying that we never have to directly do an inherently-wrong thing in order to avoid an indirect outcome. We don't have to sin in order to avoid bad things happening. This was the point of the Saul example. The bad things that happen when we choose not to sin are not our responsibility.

Regarding explanation about abortion, I am not ignoring it. It makes no sense to me. What is the context and explanation that makes the increase and acceptability of abortion acceptable?

It is not acceptable.

The question is "when does that become my responsibility?"

It may help to pose this question: Are absolutely any means appropriate in preventing an abortion? We all remember Randall Terry, who used to block entrances to abortion clinics. Did the end justify the means? Many thought so. Many didn't. Where does that end? Would blowing up clinics be right? Killing abortion doctors? 

There are clearly acts that are not right even though they are performed in order to prevent some other wrong.

So, in the case of elected officials, would it be right to help Charles Manson become president if he pledged to fight abortion? Surely we can agree on the principle that there could be a leader who is too unfit to back, even with the goal of preventing abortion. Suppose we replace Charles Manson with Forrest Gump. Is it responsible to hand Forrest the keys to the nuclear arsenal if he says he'll fight abortion? There are other consequences to consider. And there's the morality of helping an unfit person into office -- as an act in itself, regardless of outcomes -- to consider even before that.

Do you help him defend and protect the old lady? Or do you walk on by because he's a bad guy?

I bet you help out, and I bet you don't think you are endorsing all his other sins because you helped him stop evil.

You're not "helping him" at all. You're helping an old lady.

First, it's not indirect outcomes we are talking about. They are direct and foreseeable. Second, it is hard to imagine that  your mindset about qualifications for presidency takes precedent over life and the future of our lives. 

I may not yet be using the best language for what I'm talking about. 

  • Direct: what I do myself
  • Indirect: what happens beyond my control because of what others do, or what others do because I didn't stop them  (again, I'm not saying indirect doesn't matter; I'm saying it matters less than the direct and can't always justify the direct)

I'm sure Saul could have reasoned, "By not waiting for Samuel, I will save many lives."

It's just not sustainable to say that a good end justifies all means available to me. It's even less tenable to say that preventing a bad outcome justifies all means available to me.

Would we agree that some means cannot be justified by good outcomes/prevention of bad outcomes?

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

mmartin's picture

Aaron,

You wrote it is unbiblical to do wrong, to help others directly do wrong, and wrong to help the wrong sort of people become rulers.

So, it was wrong, as defined by the Bible, to vote for Trump (even as a vote against Hillary)?  If you are making that kind of "biblical" case then you are also arguing that it was a sin for a Christian to vote for Trump in that manner.

Correct?

It was a sin to vote for Trump??  I violated God's commands when I voted for Trump?  I could've been the first perfect, sinless human (who was not Jesus) in the history of earth, but since I voted for Trump, I now would be condemned to hell - unless, of course, I trusted in Christ as my saviour.

Is that what you are saying?

Kevin Miller's picture

mmartin wrote:

Aaron,

You wrote it is unbiblical to do wrong, to help others directly do wrong, and wrong to help the wrong sort of people become rulers.

So, it was wrong, as defined by the Bible, to vote for Trump (even as a vote against Hillary)?  If you are making that kind of "biblical" case then you are also arguing that it was a sin for a Christian to vote for Trump in that manner.

Correct?

It was a sin to vote for Trump??  I violated God's commands when I voted for Trump?  I could've been the first perfect, sinless human (who was not Jesus) in the history of earth, but since I voted for Trump, I now would be condemned to hell - unless, of course, I trusted in Christ as my saviour.

Is that what you are saying?

Does it really bother you that much if your conscience allows you to take a particular action, but some other person might consider that action to be a sin? Isn't that the situation in practically every instance in which matters of conscience are  involved?

And I'm not even saying that Aaron considers it a sin. However, for me, if my conscience does not allow me to vote for Trump, then it would be a sin for me to vote for Trump. Wouldn't it be? 

mmartin's picture

Kevin,

No, it doesn't bother me in the least if Aaron considers it a sin, based on his biblically informed conscience, if he chooses to not vote for Trump.  His body, his choice.

You are correct, for him and others, in that case it would not be right to vote for Trump.  I agree with that.

On whether he thinks it is a sin for anyone else to vote for Trump, while it will have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on my personal choice, I would also say that is pretty arrogant to assume a matter of conscience and a yet undefined biblical ethic on others.  

Would you agree?

That said, it certainly feels to me as if some who don't like Trump and would not ever vote for him talk from the point of view of projecting their conscience on others.  For example, stating that it is unbiblical to do wrong and support unfit people into leadership while not at the same time stating that is a personal conscience matter does come across as this type of projecting.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

mmartin wrote:

Aaron,

You wrote it is unbiblical to do wrong, to help others directly do wrong, and wrong to help the wrong sort of people become rulers.

So, it was wrong, as defined by the Bible, to vote for Trump (even as a vote against Hillary)?  If you are making that kind of "biblical" case then you are also arguing that it was a sin for a Christian to vote for Trump in that manner.

Correct?

It was a sin to vote for Trump??  I violated God's commands when I voted for Trump?  I could've been the first perfect, sinless human (who was not Jesus) in the history of earth, but since I voted for Trump, I now would be condemned to hell - unless, of course, I trusted in Christ as my saviour.

Is that what you are saying?

I'm surprised a bit at how this is framed, but I'll be as clear as I can. First, we're all condemned to hell because we are sinners, not for any particular sin we commit. Second, all sins are not equal in seriousness (see recent series on that from Bob Gonzales; highly recommended.)  Third, any time believers disagree with one another about right and wrong, and make a case that X or Y is wrong, they are also saying it's sin. Fourth, I'm persuaded that helping a man such as Trump gain power is a sin, which is why I couldn't, in good conscience, do it... and won't do it in 2020, assuming he's on the ballot. (It makes no difference to me who is running against him.) Fifth, though I'm claiming voting for Trump is a sin, I probably commit bigger sins several times a week. Nonetheless, I'm not going to add a Trump vote to my list of personal failings. Sixth, maybe this is redundant, but I'm sure there are better men and women than I who voted for Trump and are likely to do it agian. Still, on that topic, as with others, I'm going to tell the truth as I see it.

Rajesh wrote:
(Quoting Jim Daly article) As a Christian, I would ask Christianity Today this: What is more important? A president who talks smoothly and statesman-like but accelerates the killing of innocent human life? Or perhaps a president who supports the deconstruction of religious freedom and undoes societal norms for the sake of the few to feel included?

Fortunately, this is not really the debate. Everyone in the conservative evangelical debate is agreed that "talks smoothly and statesman-like" is less important than killing innocents. Likewise on religious freedom. The society norms point is more debatable, given that Trump has undone quite a few societal norms (of the positive kind), and this is part of the case against him, though it's kind of a symptom/consequence of his lack of maturity and self-restraint.

In general, what I'm seeing is a very high degree of selectivity in what Trump's supporters choose to notice about his conduct and its consequences.

(For what it's worth, taking out Suleimani was probably a good move. It's certainly good to have him gone. The guy was apparently a real monster.)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

RajeshG's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

 

mmartin wrote:

 

Aaron,

You wrote it is unbiblical to do wrong, to help others directly do wrong, and wrong to help the wrong sort of people become rulers.

So, it was wrong, as defined by the Bible, to vote for Trump (even as a vote against Hillary)?  If you are making that kind of "biblical" case then you are also arguing that it was a sin for a Christian to vote for Trump in that manner.

Correct?

It was a sin to vote for Trump??  I violated God's commands when I voted for Trump?  I could've been the first perfect, sinless human (who was not Jesus) in the history of earth, but since I voted for Trump, I now would be condemned to hell - unless, of course, I trusted in Christ as my saviour.

Is that what you are saying?

 

 

I'm surprised a bit at how this is framed, but I'll be as clear as I can. First, we're all condemned to hell because we are sinners, not for any particular sin we commit. Second, all sins are not equal in seriousness (see recent series on that from Bob Gonzales; highly recommended.)  Third, any time believers disagree with one another about right and wrong, and make a case that X or Y is wrong, they are also saying it's sin. Fourth, I'm persuaded that helping a man such as Trump gain power is a sin, which is why I couldn't, in good conscience, do it... and won't do it in 2020, assuming he's on the ballot. (It makes no difference to me who is running against him.) Fifth, though I'm claiming voting for Trump is a sin, I probably commit bigger sins several times a week. Nonetheless, I'm not going to add a Trump vote to my list of personal failings. Sixth, maybe this is redundant, but I'm sure there are better men and women than I who voted for Trump and are likely to do it agian. Still, on that topic, as with others, I'm going to tell the truth as I see it.

I'm interested in learning if you also hold that those who voted for Obama also sinned when they did so.

JNoël's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Still, on that topic, as with others, I'm going to tell the truth as I see it.

And that, brother, respectfully, and as kindly as I am able, I believe you should consider whether or not you are violating the principles laid out in I Corinthians 8:1-11:1. This is not a matter of a clear command of scripture, it is a matter of conscience. You claim it is sin to vote for Trump - yes, if it violates your conscience, then it would be sin for you. But that does not mean it is sin for everyone. You cannot make a definitive, biblical argument that clearly tells a Christian that it is sin to vote for Trump. Therefore, by telling others it is sin, you are violating God's principles of Christian liberty.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

RajeshG's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

 

Rajesh wrote:
As a Christian, I would ask Christianity Today this: What is more important? A president who talks smoothly and statesman-like but accelerates the killing of innocent human life? Or perhaps a president who supports the deconstruction of religious freedom and undoes societal norms for the sake of the few to feel included?

 

Fortunately, this is not really the debate. Everyone in the conservative evangelical debate is agreed that "talks smoothly and statesman-like" is less important than killing innocents. Likewise on religious freedom. The society norms point is more debatable, given that Trump has undone quite a few societal norms (of the positive kind), and this is part of the case against him, though it's kind of a symptom/consequence of his lack of maturity and self-restraint.

In general, what I'm seeing is a very high degree of selectivity in what Trump's supporters choose to notice about his conduct and its consequences.

(For what it's worth, taking out Suleimani was probably a good move. It's certainly good to have him gone. The guy was apparently a real monster.)

Actually, no, I did not write those words. Those words are a direct quote from that article. Looking back on that post, I see that I did not make that clear so I would like to make that clear now. Since I am not able to edit that post any longer, perhaps you can go back and edit my post to show that what is in that post is a direct quote?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

it is a matter of conscience

Yes, it is. This means my conscience (which I've supported with quite a bit of facts and reasoning) says it's wrong. It doesn't follow that if one's conscience says X is wrong, it's only wrong for him. My conscience also tells me abortion is wrong.

I don't want to try to lay all of this out here again and I've written on the topic of matters of conscience before. An excerpt.

2. Stand. A conviction of conscience doesn’t call for cowering in a corner or yielding to the views of those who differ. It’s neither safe nor right to yield when the conscience calls us to stand. “He who doubts is condemned if he eats.” (Rom.14:23). Thinking we have to have “chapter and verse” in order to be firm is a serious mistake and has lead many to compromise and harm their relationship with God. The same thinking has led others to twist Scripture for support when it would have been enough to say, “this is what I have to do because I can’t do otherwise in good conscience.”

3. Persuade. Differences of belief on matters of conscience don’t require a Christian version of political correctness that remains silent for fear of hurt feelings. Though Paul warned believers to avoid “disputes over doubtful things” (Rom14:1), he was not teaching that a person with a conviction on a matter of conscience should never attempt to win others over to his point of view. Paul himself engages in a little of this persuasion in the context. He wrote, “I am convinced by the Lord that there is nothing unclean of itself” (speaking of foods), yet he did not prescribe this position for everyone. It was subtle persuasion. Sharing what we believe and why we believe it, even on matters of conscience, is an important part of how we teach and admonish one another (Col. 3:16).

Even within the category of "matters of conscience," all questions aren't equally weighty. In the case of who we put on the throne of a nation, it's a somewhat high-stakes question. Not quite on the same level as "should Christians ever eat at a restaurant that serves alcohol?"

So, while I think the "posture of conscience" applies, some vigor is appropriate.

Actually, no, I did not write those words. Those words are a direct quote from that article. Looking back on that post, I see that I did not make that clear so I would like to make that clear now. Since I am not able to edit that post any longer, perhaps you can go back and edit my post to show that what is in that post is a direct quote?

Yes, I'll edit that.

I'm interested in learning if you also hold that those who voted for Obama also sinned when they did so.

It was also not right to help put a man in office who was on record as wanting to expand "abortion rights," among other things.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Anytime abortion is restricted, and especially so if abortion was outlawed, women are going to find ways to abort a baby if they are feeling desperate. Some of these ways cause permanent bodily damage and even death to the mother, as well as killing the unborn child. The mother's death would then be an indirect result of the restriction on abortion, so would the people who put the restriction in place be culpable? Would they be unable to avoid responsibility by declarations or denials?

You know, if we outlaw breaking and entering, some people are going to get shot when they break into and enter someone's house, and they are going to die. Therefore, we should not outlaw B&E. Anyone who votes to outlaw B&E are responsible for the death of those who are shot during a B&E.

Hopefully that makes it easy to see this isn't a real issue. 

Of course if someone is endangered, injured, or killed while they are breaking a just law, it is not the fault of the lawmakers or the Law Enforcement for that. 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Larry wrote:

Anytime abortion is restricted, and especially so if abortion was outlawed, women are going to find ways to abort a baby if they are feeling desperate. Some of these ways cause permanent bodily damage and even death to the mother, as well as killing the unborn child. The mother's death would then be an indirect result of the restriction on abortion, so would the people who put the restriction in place be culpable? Would they be unable to avoid responsibility by declarations or denials?

You know, if we outlaw breaking and entering, some people are going to get shot when they break into and enter someone's house, and they are going to die. Therefore, we should not outlaw B&E. Anyone who votes to outlaw B&E are responsible for the death of those who are shot during a B&E.

Hopefully that makes it easy to see this isn't a real issue. 

Of course if someone is endangered, injured, or killed while they are breaking a just law, it is not the fault of the lawmakers or the Law Enforcement for that. 

It's actually an insightful example. We're not morally responsible for secondary outcomes when we choose to do the right thing. So the laws that protect property are not to blame for those who break in and rob anyway.

It's not precisely parallel, because in the case of abortion, restrictions do remove relatively safe (for the mother) options and leave only less-safe options. But it's still true that doing the right thing (protecting the unborn) has indirect consequences that are not our responsibility.

I would argue this is also true of voting or refraining from voting for an unqualified candidate. The secondary outcomes are arguably partly a result of that voting decision, but not entirely or even mostly. And we're not responsible for the fact that there is nobody to vote for on the ballot.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

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