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!

Monday, February 29, 2016

I can’t be silent anymore

            This is a posting I never expected to write. As you undoubtedly know from my postings on this blog and on Facebook, I am first and foremost a Christian—a follower of Jesus—and also a political/social conservative. I guess you can also call me a Republican In Name Only, since I only identify with that party inasmuch as it’s the only politically viable one which is the closest one to my beliefs.* Is the GOP as conservative as I’d like it to be? No. But in a fallen world you take what you can get and try to make it better.
            In the past I’ve pretty much stayed clear of current-day controversies. I try to keep my postings as timeless as possible. I do this by sticking to articulating principles and discussing arguments about ideas rather than focusing on this or that political candidate or news of the day. I’ve always thought of my Intersections Blog as kind of a primer for figuring out how the Bible and politics and popular culture intersect, hoping that it’ll be just as relevant 10 years from now as today.
            So I’ve kept pretty clear of the current low-grade civil war going on in the conservative movement right now during primary season. Conservatives are in favor of this or that candidate, and to be perfectly fair although I have a strong preference, I’d be pretty much happy with any of them representing me as the presidential candidate in November.
            But there’s one exception to that.
            There’s one candidate which I believe would be an unmitigated disaster for the Republican Party, the conservative movement, and my country as a whole.
            The other reason I’ve kept out of this intra-conservative battle is because I thought this particular candidate would’ve gotten out of the race before now. He seemed to me (and to lots of other people way smarter than me) to be a flash in the pan, and I thought he would’ve been forced out or would’ve left on his own months ago. With each new disgusting or completely unhinged remark, I thought, “OK, this has GOT to be it. This HAS to be the remark which will drive all true conservatives out of his camp.” But no. That hasn’t happened. And I can’t be silent on this anymore.
            As you might’ve guessed, I’m referring to Mr. Trump.
            Before I proceed, let me put a couple of disclaimers out there.
            I have some close friends who are Trump supporters. Like me, they’re Christians who’re conservative theologically, socially, and politically. I don’t doubt their sincerity. Their preferred vision of the country and mine probably wouldn’t have a dime’s worth of difference between them.
            But I think they’ve been had. They’ve fallen for a con.
            I’d also like to say that I understand the anger of a lot of Trump supporters, and to a large degree I share it. One of the reasons I call myself a RINO (a Republican in Name Only)—and think every conservative should—is because the party has really disappointed me at times. If there was a political party out there with which I agreed more and which had a chance of getting people elected and laws passed, I’d join it in a heartbeat. The GOP is not nearly as conservative as I’d like it to be, but the way to change that is not to leave it and join some joke of a third party which gets less than one percent of the vote. We have to work within it to try to change it.
            I also definitely understand peoples’ anger about illegal immigration. It’s a huge problem, and we need to deal with it decisively and effectively.
            But anger has to be directed in a constructive way. My Savior got angry during his earthly ministry (and still gets angry today), but he always channeled his anger in a selfless manner which actually dealt with the problem. He never threw a useless temper tantrum.
            And to be brutally frank, I think the vast majority of Trump support is more like the second than the former. I don’t think my friends have fallen into this, but the vast majority of Trump support seems to be a lot more emotionally based rather than on actually trying to make a problem better.
            So why do I feel like Trump is unworthy of our support and shouldn’t get within 500 miles of the White House? Why am I so opposed to Trump as the Republican nominee?

He’s personally unfit to be president

            More than any other candidate for president in my lifetime, this man seems to be extremely emotionally unstable. Quite frankly, most of the time his behavior would be more appropriate for someone slightly mentally ill, or maybe for a spoiled infant. He routinely insults anyone who asks him anything resembling a tough question, or even who refuses to give him full-throated support. As I write this, the last Republican debate was hosted by Hugh Hewitt, one of the strongest intellectuals among conservative talk-show hosts. Hugh asked him a question about a statement he’d made in the past on Hugh’s radio show, and asked him to clarify. Trump started off by personally insulting him, saying something to the effect of “Well, no one listens to your show, so that’s a good thing.”
            This is the modus operandi of Mr. Trump. He casually insults people, calling them a liar, calling them names (“loser” being the mildest among them), and reaching for ad hominem attacks as his first resort whenever someone isn’t obsequious enough for his tastes. I’m not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but this is completely consistent with narcissistic personality disorder. 
            He’s incredibly insulting towards women who ask him tough questions, making reference to their female cycles, and of course there’s the famous picture of him making fun of a disabled man in front of a crowd.
            And I know that Senator McCain isn’t as conservative as we’d like him to be. Honestly he’s driven me nuts sometimes. But the one thing we’ve all agreed upon is that he was a hero during the Vietnam War, deserving of our utmost respect. But not according to Trump. McCain had said some (regrettable) things about some Trump supporters, and Trump basically mocked him for having been captured (he was tortured for five and a half years, enjoying the wonderful hospitality of the North Vietnamese communists). McCain is a hero, but not according to Trump.
            And of course there is his lying. Let’s take the low-hanging fruit here. I don’t think Trump is a stupid man. So when he says he’s going to build a 50-foot wall to keep Mexico from “sending” us nothing but criminals and he’s going to somehow make Mexico pay for it, do you think he believes that? Do you think he’s really going to round up 11 million people--taking them from their homes--bring them to the border, then let back in the “really good ones”? Really? So if you don’t think he doesn’t believe he’s going to do that, then what does that make him?
            As a Christian, I need God’s forgiveness, pretty much on a daily basis. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t need to ask forgiveness for something. I ask him to point out any area in which I’ve disobeyed him, I ask him to forgive me, and I ask him for the strength to do better. That’s what repentance is.
            Trump is a serial adulterer. That alone wouldn’t disqualify him, I wouldn’t think, although I do have some problems with it. As Mrs. Truman once pointed out, a man can’t be one type of president and one type of husband. If he had several adulterous relationships in his past, but he’d repented of them and was now living a godly lifestyle, well, that’s the Good News in action. But he’s completely unrepentant. He brags about them in his book, and he’s never turned his back on that. He’s very specifically said he’s never asked for forgiveness, because he’s never done anything which has needed it.
            One of the things which Trump supporters claim is attractive about him is that he fights “for the little guy.” I’ve seen absolutely no evidence for this—not one scintilla. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence that he’s made a lot of money by sticking it to the little guy. Here are some examples:

1)    Google the name Vera Coking, or you can just look up one of the many articles about her (like here). She was a widow, and Trump tried to use city officials to take her house from her in order to build a parking lot for one of his casinos. If I recall correctly, I think the Lord has some things to say about trying to take widows’ houses from them, right?

2)    Google the name Trump University. It was a scam, bilking lots of people out of their life savings, ranging from $20,000 to $60,000. Actually a great summary is the article on National Review, featuring 3 video testimonies by people who got taken in by this. He did this. What he did is disgusting.

3)    Remember that debate which Trump skipped, supposedly so that he could attend a fundraiser for veteran’s groups? Yeah, that money got funneled through his own personal charity, which has given more money to the Clinton Foundation than to those veteran’s groups. More than a month after he made those pledges, those charities are still waiting for the money he promised them.

4) Lots of Trump supporters like to point out his business experience. But there are plenty of people who wish they'd never done business with this man. Read this article by USA Today. According to it, there are hundreds of people, "carpenters, dishwashers, painters, even his own lawyers – who say he didn’t pay them for their work." It's a pattern he's displayed time after time after time after time: Someone is contracted to do work for him, and once the work is done, he refuses to pay them. They ask, threaten, and finally are forced to sue him. His legal team strings out the court battles so that the people he cheated can't continue the fight, so they end up settling for pennies on the dollar for what he promised to pay them. And here are some more articles on his long long history of habitually cheating people who do business with him. 

Does this look like a man you want with his finger on the nuclear button?
But it’s not just personal character, integrity, and temperament which give me concern, it’s also the fact that...

He’s not a conservative       

            I’m well aware that no candidate is perfect. There’s not a candidate out there with which I agree 100%. As I heard on the radio from Dennis Prager the other day, the only way to find a candidate with which you agree 100% is to run yourself! When I hear someone say “X isn’t a real conservative,” my usual reaction is an internal groan. What they usually mean is “X isn’t as conservative as I’d like him to be.” Unfortunately, the Lord Jesus isn’t running for office, so we have to deal with sinful men who—at their very best—are foolish and wrong at times. But as President Reagan once put it, a man who agrees with me 80% of the time isn’t my enemy.
            But there are candidates who agree with me much more than 80%. As pointed out by National Review, Marco Rubio, just to put a name out there. . .

[has] a lifetime ACU rating of 98 out of 100. A man who has a perfect rating from the NRA in the U.S. Senate. A man who earned scores of 100 in 2014, 100 in 2013, 71 in 2012, and 100 in 2011 from the Family Research Council. A “Taxpayer Super Hero” with a lifetime rating of 95 from Citizens AgainstGovernment Waste. A man Club for Growth president David McIntosh called “a complete pro-growth, free-market, limited-government conservative.”

            But what do we mean when we use the term conservative? Well, in its simplest definition, a conservative is trying to conserve something. In our case, we’re trying to conserve liberty. Unlike virtually every other nation in history, this nation was not founded on a race or a certain geography. It was born out of a set of ideals: small government, rule of law, separation of powers, personal liberty, etc. It came out of a worldview heavily influenced by the Bible, since the vast majority of the Founders were really big fans of Christianity and the Bible, whatever their own personal beliefs re: orthodoxy. That’s what we’re trying to preserve.
            In stark contrast, Donald Trump doesn’t have any idea what the term “conservative” actually means. I don't have to guess this. I know this. When asked what conservatism means, he defined it as "to conserve our money." 
            Let’s take the issue of abortion for example. He’s called Planned Parenthood a “fine organization” which does lots of “good things,” like mammograms, etc. He wants to defund them just on abortion. Supposedly if we keep giving them federal tax money, they’ll only use that money for non-abortion activities. But this misses the point: Planned Parenthood is a political advocacy group with one focus: Abortion. They aren’t supposed to be using federal funding for abortions now (per the Hyde Amendment), but those videos show how well that’s being enforced. As late as 1999, he called himself “prochoice in every respect.” He worked hard to keep partial abortion legal in New Jersey. But it’s more than that.
            Why does he claim to be prolife now? Because there’s a possibility that a “superstar” child might be lost. Who know whom might be aborted—the next Mozart, the next Edison, the next Salk, etc.? But that’s not why I’m prolife. I’m prolife for the same reason I’m against slavery and against racism and against misogyny: Every human being is created in God’s image and thus has intrinsic worth and value, not based on their race, sex, abilities, economic background, national origin, etc.  There’s absolutely no indication that Trump understands this basic principle at all.
            Let’s talk about President George Bush for a bit. I know that his popularity among conservatives has dropped in recent years, at least regarding the Iraq War. I also fully realize that there’s a huge portion of the conservative electorate who thoroughly believe that entering Iraq was a mistake. The conventional wisdom is that we never found any WMD’s in Iraq, at least not to the extent we expected (although there are people who dispute that claim, or who believe that the WMD’s and the stuff used to make them were spirited out of Iraq in the months leading up to the invasion). At the very very least, virtually all of us can agree that the enterprise turned out to be a big disappointment. I personally think that A) It wasn’t a mistake, although we made plenty of mistakes in the execution of it, just like in any war, and B) I lean towards the theory that they were spirited out before the War, and C) President Obama recklessly threw away our victory by completely pulling out our troops. 
            But I think all reasonable people agree that the worldwide intelligence community was virtually unanimous that there was an extensive WMD program. The CIA and associated agencies, along with virtually every other country’s intelligence service claimed that there were WMD’s. The Brits, the French, the Russians, the Germans, and a lot of others were in agreement on this. President Clinton was the president under which it became the official policy of the U.S. government to encourage regime change because of this. A host of Democrat leaders, including Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, saw the same intelligence and agreed with it.
            Maybe they were all wrong. For the sake of argument, I’m willing to concede the distinct possibility that they were honestly mistaken.
            But if they were honestly mistaken, then ipso facto they were not lying.
            Whatever else you can say about President Bush, no reasonable person or responsible person says that he lied us into war. That he willingly and knowingly sent thousands of American troops to their death on a false premise which he knew to be false. That would make him guilty of mass murder.
            To accuse of him lying on this matter is a disgusting slander, made by the worst elements of the fever swamp of the Left. It’s the sort of thing you find on the pages and in the mouths of no one who’s trying to present a reasonable case from the Left. I can have a reasonable disagreement with someone coming from the Left, but if they make this charge, quite frankly, I have some trouble keeping my temper. President Bush, whatever else you say about him, is an honorable and decent man.
            And Donald Trump made the charge. In a Republican debate, he accused President Bush of lying in order to get us into Iraq, thus accusing him of willful mass murder.
            Does this bother you at all?
            And although he’s certainly not a fan of President Bush—calling him a mass murderer and all—he sure is a fan of Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia. Putin has invaded a sovereign nation which posed no threat to him. He’s an ex-KGB official, and every indication is that he bears sincere regret that the U.S.S.R. is no more. In an interview, it was pointed out to Trump that Putin has (credibly) been accused of outright murder of journalists who write things he (Putin) doesn’t like. And what was Trump’s response? “Well, I think our country does plenty of killing also.”
            You see, as I’ve discussed before, one big sign of a conservative is that we know how to make distinctions.We might wrongly imprison people for crimes they don’t commit. If we look hard enough, there might be a person within recent years who got executed wrongly. And in any war or serious conflict, we’re going to accidentally kill civilians, despite our best efforts. But we can make a sharp distinction in our minds between a nation which inadvertently hurts someone and a leader who orders the murder of journalists who write bad things about him.
            A mark of a Leftist--and the further left you go, the more prominent this tendency shows up—is false moral equivalence. “Sure, the communists murdered 100 million of their own people, but we had slavery and Jim Crow!” They can’t tell the difference between a good and decent culture/nation which sometimes does bad things vs. a thoroughly bad culture or nation. Anyone talking like that would be recognized immediately as someone who’s not to be taken seriously on any moral question.
            Unless your name is, well, you know.
            Donald Trump shows absolutely positively no regard for the rule of law or the Constitution. He admires both Putin and the Chinese officials who massacred their citizens at Tiananmen Square because all he cares about is strong leadership. Not moral leadership, nor leadership which recognizes the necessity of rule of law. He shows no understanding of the necessity of the separation of powers in our Constitution. Not one iota that I’ve ever seen.
            He loves to make overt threats to newspapers and other media outlets which print bad things about them, asking that journalists have their FCC license yanked because they criticize him. He wants to “reform” libel laws so that it’s easier to sue newspapers and magazines out of business if they print stuff he doesn’t like.
            Can I be brutally frank here? This is stuff worthy of a would-be dictator, not a presidential candidate.
            He’s an unapologetic fan of what we call “crony capitalism” of the most disgusting kind: Giving bribes, errr, campaign donations to politicians so they’ll give him an unfair advantage over his competitors. This is not something he’s ashamed of. This is his stated reason as to why he had Hillary and Bill Clinton at his wedding. This is not the Free Market at work, and these are not the actions of someone who believes in it.
            And oh yes, he’s a fan of Single Payer Healthcare. Obamacare is not SPH, as bad as it’s been. Maybe he doesn’t know what the term “Universal Healthcare” means, but I kind of doubt it.
            And of course I won’t go into the hundreds of thousands of dollars he’s given over the last few years to Democrats. Up until 5 years ago, he donated way more to Democrats than to Republicans.
            He says some things which sound conservative at first, like how he’s going to singlehandedly make sure people can say “Merry Christmas” in December. But to the degree they are really conservative, it’s pretty obvious that when he’s speaking to conservatives, he’s speaking a 2nd language, not his native one. Again, I see little to no evidence that he even knows what conservative means.
            “Well, maybe he’s not as conservative as I’d like him to be, but at least he’s going to win against Hillary!”
            Um, no. . .

He basically has zero chance of winning the general election in November

            In poll after poll after poll after poll after poll, he loses to Hillary Clinton among moderates, independents, and those who decide our elections. It’s pretty easy to find, but the problem is that polls are by their very nature very transitory. But as of this writing, here’s a great summary of them.
            These same polls show a much better chance among Cruz or Rubio. In fact, most of the polls I’ve seen show both Cruz and Rubio winning against Mrs. Clinton. For example, here's one that's showing him absolutely clobbering Hillary. 
            And this is before he’s had to face a hostile press. If you think the press has been hostile to him, you obviously don’t remember the elections of 2004 and 2008. If you’re conservative like me, you probably know already that the news media as a whole leans way over to the Left. They’re not objective or even fair. You know that, right?
            So why do you think Trump is getting all the free press coverage? Is it just because he’s the front runner of the GOP? Or is it only because he makes for good ratings and sells newspapers with his outrageous statements? Do you really think his scandals (like Trump University) are really getting fair coverage? This is a presidential candidate involved in a major scam which stole lots of money from innocent people. Did you hear about this stuff before I mentioned it?
            I’d submit that a huge part—maybe the majority—of the reasons why he’s gotten such great press coverage with such minimum attention paid to his scandals is because by and large the media want him to be the GOP nominee. They’ve seen the polls. They know that among the top 3 candidates, he’s the most likely to bring the Republican Party down in flames and hand victory over to Hillary.
            President Obama, to my everlasting regret, won a majority of Americans’ votes—twice. In order to win the general election, we have to persuade a bunch of people—including a lot of minorities such as Hispanics and Blacks— who voted for Pres. Obama twice to vote for our candidate. Otherwise we’re going to lose. Big.
            So here’s where the objections come in.

1)    He’s the only one who’s been talking about illegal immigration. Well, no. This was a big issue in President Bush’s time. I remember that. I will grant you that he’s the only one who’s recklessly insulted millions of Hispanics who have relatives and friends who are here illegally, claiming that Mexico is purposefully sending its bad people up here. He’s the only one who’s claiming to build a 50 foot wall (apparently not caring about the people who might not love the idea of the wall on their property). He’s the only one who’s claiming that he’s going to uproot millions and break apart millions of families and send 11 million people across the border and then bring back the good ones. So there’s that.

But he’s not the only one talking about illegal immigration. Cruz has talked about it. Rubio has talked about it. None of the Republican candidates are in favor of amnesty, just giving legal status or even citizenship to people who’re here illegally. No one is in favor of that.

But if you want real amnesty, then all you need to do is allow Trump to be our nominee. Then Hillary will be elected in a landslide.

2)    But I’m angry against the Establishment! Apparently this word, like the word “fascist” among the Left, basically is defined as “someone I don’t like.” If you don’t like someone who’s part of the Establishment, then the only person still in the race who fits that bill (as of this writing) is Dr. Carson. In what universe is Donald Trump, a multi-billionaire who has the Clintons at his wedding, not the Establishment? Apparently the slogan of a lot of Trump supporters is “We oppose the corrupt politicians being bought out by donors! So we're going to nominate the guy who was buying them off!” Once again, I get the anger, and share it. But misdirected anger has to be redirected and rechanneled in a positive direction, otherwise it’s like uncontrolled fire.

3)    But he’s the only nominee who’s not taking any donations! Well, actually, that’s not really true. That’s just another lie he’s been telling you.

4)    The Republican Party isn’t conservative. It hasn’t really conserved anything. So you’re proposing….what? Blow it up? Tear it down to its foundations so we can start over? Does that sound conservative to you? No, conservatives tend to believe in incremental change instead of blowing stuff up.  
            Look, like I said, I have friends who’re Trump supporters. So unlike some anti-Trumpsters out there (and unlike your chosen candidate), I’m not going to insult you and call you names and insinuate that you’re an idiot. But I can’t stand by while this happens, while the party which best represents my beliefs as a conservative and is pretty friendly towards people of faith goes down in flames like this. So I can’t be silent on this. Not any longer.

            As of this writing, tomorrow is “Super Tuesday.” If you don’t care about this stuff I’ve talked about, then there’s really nothing more I can say. But if you do, if by the Lord’s grace I’ve managed to persuade one person to vote for a Republican candidate other than Trump, then this will be worth it. Thanks for listening, and God bless. 

* I have to credit Jonah Goldberg for this point. 

No comments:

Post a Comment