So What's This All About?

In case you didn't know, I'm in the multi-year-long process of posting a Christian devotional at the TAWG Blog. The TAWG Blog is, and always will be, mostly apolitical. For the most part, Bible-believing Christians will find little to disagree with there. But I also firmly believe that God's word can--and should--inform everything in life, and this should include politics and popular culture. How should we vote? How should we respond to hot topics such as abortion, capital punishment, taxes, and other issues? Which party, if either, is closer to the Biblical ideal? Tony Campolo and Ron Sider, Evangelicals whose political leanings are on the Left, have made the case in several of their writings that God wants his followers to vote politically on the Left more than on the Right. At times, some of them have gone so far as to equate voting on the Left with obedience to Christ, either subtly or not-so-subtly contending that the converse is true as well: If you vote Republican, you're sinning against the Savior.
I don't agree. I think that to the degree they actually resort to the Bible, they're misinterpreting it. With a whole bunch of caveats, I think politically conservative positions are a lot more compatible with the Scriptures than the Leftist positions.
Just to clarify, I would never accuse people who disagree with me--especially siblings in Christ--of what they accuse me of. I don't judge my own heart, much less anyone else's, and I don't equate political disagreement with theological fidelity to God. I have no reason to doubt their love for the Lord and "for the least of these," but I believe that they're sincerely wrong.
So there are two main purposes for this blog. One is to make a case for my political beliefs based on Scripture. The other is a bit more vague, basically to work out my political beliefs and figure out what's based on Scripture and what's based on my own biases. I certainly don't have all the answers. Some of this stuff I'm still figuring out. And I'm certainly open to correction. As long as you make your case civilly and based on Scripture, feel free to make a comment, and I promise I'll post it and consider your arguments thoughtfully and prayerfully. Who knows? Maybe we'll learn a little something from each other.
May God bless our common striving together towards both the "little t" truth and "Big T" Truth. Our watchword here is a line from C. S. Lewis's The Last Battle: "Further up and further in!"

P.S. -- Below on the left is "Topics I've Covered" which lists everything I've posted topically. It's come to my attention that some people would like to see everything just listed for them. If that's you, you can get it here. Thanks to my friend Stephen Young for the tip!

Friday, May 6, 2016

#NeverTrump: Why? Part Two

Ok, now let’s start handling some objections.

So you want Hillary to win? If so, you’re going to be to blame for everything bad which happens in her administration.

Sorry, I don’t accept the premise. I don’t want her to win. I know that’s the most likely scenario if Trump doesn’t win. I’m not naïve.
I do understand the criticism, and I certainly get that I’m opening myself up to the charge of double standards/hypocrisy. I’ve been criticizing third party fantasists like the Libertarians (who routinely get less than 1% of the vote), and my argument has always been: Work within the two-party system to nominate your candidate, then just pick the candidate with whom you disagree with the least. I know that you strongly disagree with the Republicans on some things, but if you don’t vote for them, the Democrats will be that much worse. I know you’re really big on legalizing pot, but is that really more important than all the issues on which we agree? Really?
However, I have to make a distinction between moral disqualifications vs. policy disagreements. As Mrs. Truman once put it, you can’t be one type of husband and another type of President. If a man’s wife can’t trust him to keep to his word and honor his commitments when doing so becomes inconvenient, how can we? As noted before, I’m never going to find a candidate who agrees with me 100%. But I can find a candidate who’s not been a complete crook. I know that a lot of men have committed adultery, and I don’t think that would necessarily disqualify him from being President, but I would have to ask some questions, such as “Is he repentant? Was it a one-time affair, or part of a pattern?” Also, if there was some type of scandal involving corruption, I’d have to know the circumstances. There were 1000’s of people who got ripped off by Trump. I’m never going to stop repeating this until people stop defending him: He literally tried to steal a house from a widow. And he’s never shown the slightest—not one iota—of repentance for what he’s done.

But isn’t Hillary just as bad if not worse?

            I’m not sure. I think Hillary’s corruption and illegal actions (yes, people have gone to jail over what she did with her email server) and Trump’s misdeeds are hard to compare with each other. But even if she’s just as bad—or worse—as far as personal integrity (I honestly believe neither of them have any at all), that doesn’t mean I have to make a choice between them. To paraphrase Kevin D. Williamson, which eye would you rather lose, the right or the left? Which lung would you rather have removed? Would you rather die by shooting or hanging? That’s the type of choice between the two as far as I’m concerned.
            And there's another point for which I have to give full credit to Kevin D. Williamson:

Donald Trump is unfit for the office. 

He is unfit for any office, morally and intellectually. 

A man who could suggest, simply because it is convenient, that his opponent’s father had something to do with the assassination of President Kennedy is unfit for any position of public responsibility.

His long litany of lies — which include fabrications about everything from his wealth to self-funding his campaign — is disqualifying. 

His low character is disqualifying. His personal history is disqualifying. His complete, utter, total, and lifelong lack of honor is disqualifying. 

The fact that he is going to have to take time out of the convention to appear in court to hear a pretty convincing fraud case against him is disqualifying.

His time on Jeffrey Epstein’s Pedophile Island, after which he boasted about sharing a taste with Epstein for women “on the younger side,” is disqualifying. 

The fact that he knows less about our constitutional order than does a not-especially-bright Rappahannock River oyster is disqualifying. 

There isn’t anything one can say about Mrs. Clinton, monster though she is, that changes any of that. 

Donald Trump is not fit to serve as president. He is not fit to serve on the Meade County board of commissioners. He is not fit to be the mayor of Muleshoe, Texas.

If he indeed is the Republican nominee, Donald Trump almost certainly will face Hillary Rodham Clinton in the general election. That fact, sobering though it is, does not suddenly make him fit to serve as president, because — to repeat — the problem with Trump isn’t that he is less fit to serve in comparison to Mrs. Clinton, but that he is unfit to serve, period.

            OK, time for some brutal honesty for all those out there who tell me "If you don't vote for Trump, then you're voting for Hillary." This is emotional blackmail, and it's not very pretty. Expanding on the illustrations in the last paragraph, let me tell you what I feel like. You're holding a gun to my head and telling me "You either drink this cyanide, or you can drink this hemlock, or I'm going to shoot you in the head! And if you refuse to drink either poison, you're forcing me to shoot you, and it'll be your fault that you're dying!" None of them are an acceptable choice, and if you pull the trigger, that's on you, not on me. 
            But that leads into an interesting point raised by Jonah Goldberg, who’s been one of the leading opponents of Trump (along with the entirety of National Review). First, we have to come out of fantasyland and realize that there is absolutely, positively, zero chance that Trump could win the general election. He has the highest negative ratings of any candidate in the history of presidential politics. Basically the polls hold to this general pattern: He has somewhere around 30-35% of the population who absolutely adore him, who defend anything he says and does. As the inimitable Frank Fleming put it, if Trump starting wantonly murdering his own supporters, the only supporters he’d lose would be the ones he actually murdered. I know it’s an exaggeration, but like all good humor it’s only a slight exaggeration of the truth. But outside of those diehard drink-the-Koolaid followers (who rival the true believers in Obama), he seems to be utterly incapable of gaining the support of people who doesn’t like him already. He never got the majority of Republican primary voters. You pick the demographic, and he has 70-75% negatives: Women, Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, etc. Without an incident like a meteor strike which takes Clinton out, there’s absolutely no way he can win the general election.
            Which makes my decision a lot easier. Here’s where Goldberg makes his brilliant point. Trump is going to lose no matter what. So either A) I can lose with my integrity relatively intact, or B) I can abandon my principles and watch us lose anyway.

But don’t you have party loyalty? Don’t you want the Republican to win?

            No, I want the most conservative candidate to win, the one with whom I disagree with the least. As Jonah Goldberg put it so well, I’m a RINO, a Republican in Name Only, and everyone else should be too. I have loyalty to any political party only inasmuch as it advances a political/economic/social agenda I stand for and which can actually get elected to something. Even if I agreed with the Libertarian Party more than the Republican Party, the fact that they routinely get less than 1% of the vote would be a pretty strong deal breaker.
            But if my party nominates a complete reprobate as its Presidential nominee, even if I did agree with him on most (stated) issues, I still couldn’t support him. If I can’t trust him to keep his word at all, that’d pretty much make it a moot point as to whatever he was promoting at any particular moment anyway.

But they’re all crooks and liars anyway, so why are you getting on your high horse about Trump?

            I disagree with the premise. We’re all sinners. For example, all of us have lied at one point or another. But is there really no difference to be seen between someone who’s occasionally told lies and someone you absolutely can’t trust? I know that all of us are sinners and ultimately we deserve nothing but Judgment before God. But in this world we make those types of distinctions all the time. If you’re claiming that you’d have a hard time deciding between your decent but flawed brother-in-law vs. Bill Clinton to babysit your teenage daughter, that’s a pretty tough case to make.
            Conservatives are supposed to be able to make good distinctions. We can tell the difference between a really decent and good country like America which occasionally does horrible and shameful things vs. a thoroughly bad country like Iran or North Korea. The Bible makes a distinction between a (mostly) good king like David or Hezekiah and a really bad one like Ahab. 
            And there are honest people in politics. I was a supporter of Marco Rubio right up to the point where he dropped out, and I haven’t heard a single thing which would make me seriously question my support. Ted Cruz wasn’t my first choice—I personally think he led the government shutdown for his own self-aggrandizement more than for any legitimate purpose. But compared to Trump he’s an angel.
            Look, I don’t know anyone’s heart but my own, and even that’s iffy. I’m not the judge of men’s hearts. There’s only one Judge in that category, and I’m certainly not him. If you’re still a Trump supporter, or at least are willing to vote for him in the general election, I don’t know why other than what you tell me. I’m really trying not to impugn the motives of anyone who disagrees with me on this. But if you’re asking why I can’t support Trump—even as the nominee of the Republican Party against Hillary—I’m going to ask that you extend the same courtesy to me.
            If I supported Trump, I’d be like Carl. And I can’t do that. I just can’t.  

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