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!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

#NeverTrump: Why? Part One

            Well, it’s happened. As of this writing, Donald Trump has won the Indiana primary, and the last of his rivals have suspended their campaigns, effectively handing him the nomination of the Republican Party for the President of the United States.
            Just to clarify, for anyone who isn’t aware, if someone claims to be part of the #NeverTrump movement, this means that they will never vote for him. They didn’t vote for him in the primary (likely actively voting for someone else), and they won’t vote for him during the election. As for me, it’s a lot easier for me to say what I won’t do now instead of what I will do. I won’t vote for Trump in the general election, I won’t vote for Hillary, and I won’t stay home that day. If some viable third party candidate presents himself/herself, I’ll consider them. I’ll definitely be voting for Republicans down the ticket, since in most cases they’re much better alternatives to the Democrats.
            But why won’t I vote for Trump in the general election? Do I want Hillary to win? Quite frankly, those seem like the only realistic alternatives at this point.
            Let me tell you why I can’t support him or vote for him.
            I’ve given all the reasons I couldn’t support him in the primary in my earlier posting, so I won’t go much into them here, but let me summarize them: 1) He’s not a conservative in any meaningful sense in which I identify with the term. 2) He’s utterly unfit as far as character to be President, and 3) It’s virtually impossible for him to win. Not one of those things has changed as far as I’m concerned. I don’t take back one syllable of what I’ve written about him.
            Let me do this by focusing on #2, then #1, and then hopefully you’ll understand why they tip me over into the #NeverTrump crowd. And I’ll start with a hypothetical conversation I might’ve had back in early 1992 with a liberal Democrat friend who’s been dosed with truth serum which actually works. Let’s call him Carl (just to pick a name out of a hat). Carl’s not a fellow Christian, but he’s a morally upstanding man who loves his wife, pays his taxes, is generous with his money to those in need, and is an all-around nice guy.

Me: So, you’re supporting Bill Clinton for President?

Carl: Well, he won the primary, right? So it’s either him or Bush. I can’t stand Bush! The very thought of Bush getting a second term makes me physically ill.

Me: And you agree with Clinton on the issues?

Carl: For the most part. I think he’s going to be much better on abortion than Bush is. I think taxes are too low on the rich, and he’s going to raise them. I think Bush was too quick to use the military abroad. I’m not too thrilled that Clinton believes in the death penalty, but in politics, you have to choose the one who agrees with you more, or at least the one with you disagree with the least. And that’s definitely Clinton.

Me: Fair enough. I don’t agree with you on the issues at all, but I can at least see where you’re coming from. But there’s one thing I need to ask you. . .

Carl: Yeah?

Me: You do know that Clinton is a serial adulterer, right? That he’s had affairs with lots of women, including women who worked for him? I thought you were really opposed to bosses who have sex with their female subordinates. If a boss in the private business world had adulterous sex with young interns, wouldn’t that bother you? I thought you called yourself a feminist, and feminists talk about power disparities in situations like that. Even if there’s no physical force involved, it’s not really consensual, right? At least that’s how you’d see it if someone other than Clinton did it.

Carl: (struggling against the truth serum) Well. . .

Me: And how’s about Juanita Broderick? She claims—with quite a bit of credibility—that Clinton did use physical force against her, that he did in fact rape her. And that Hillary threatened her to keep her silent. Do you dismiss her claims out of hand? And how about the multiple women who've claimed the same thing, that he either sexually harassed them or threatened them to keep them silent? That's quite a list, right? 

Carl: (after struggling futilely against the serum): Well, yeah, it bothers me a lot. I’m not sure about Broderick since I wasn’t there, but she’s too credible to just casually dismiss her. I mean, it’s not like this was Billy Graham being accused of raping a girl. And it's not just one lady; it's multiple women all claiming pretty much the same thing, over and over and over. And you’re right about the power disparity thing. If it was anybody besides Clinton, I’d call him scum. And if it was a Republican, I’d be bringing that up in every conversation I had.

Me: And there are also some really credible claims that they’ve abused people’s trust in other ways. Whitewater ring any bells? Carl, I know you’re an honest guy in your business dealings. Seriously, if you had the chance, would you do business with someone like the Clintons?

Carl: (wow, that serum is really hitting him hard) Never. If someone else had a reputation like the Clintons, I wouldn’t touch them with a 20 foot pole.

Me: So how can you support Clinton?

Carl: Like I said, you go with the guy with whom you disagree with the least. And I can’t stand the thought of Bush getting reelected.

Me: So let me get this straight. To you, winning really is the most important thing, isn't it? It doesn’t matter to you if Broderick was actually raped. It doesn’t matter to you that Clinton’s made a mockery of his marriage. It doesn’t matter how many times he and his wife have, well I was about to use another term, but let’s say. .  . stuck it to the little guy in dishonest business dealings?

Carl: Yeah, it matters. But not as much as getting my political agenda passed. I want abortion to be totally legal. I want taxes raised on the rich. I want a more progressive country than what I have right now. And in order to get that, I’m willing to jettison every personal principle I’ve ever had. In fact, I’ll pretty much vote for anyone with a “D” beside their name, no matter how bad they are morally, no matter how many people they’ve personally hurt.

Me: OK, Carl, thanks for being honest.

Carl: No problem, Keith. Of course, as soon as this serum wears off, I’ll get back to pretending like all the charges against Clinton are just made up or exaggerated.

Now, I realize that the above conversation isn’t an exact parallel for what’s happening now. As I’ve made clear--unlike my friend Carl here--I don’t agree with Trump on a lot of issues. And on the issues in which we (supposedly) agree, I don’t trust him at all. For the vast majority of his adult life, he’s given thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates and causes. Up until just a few years ago, he was fully supportive of abortion on demand. I see absolutely no evidence against the notion that he’s only saying what he thinks conservatives want to hear and I’ve seen plenty of evidence to the contrary. You either believe that out of the blue he’s suddenly and sincerely changed his positions on a host of issues—when he’s almost 70 years old--or you can believe that he’s a scam artist. Which is more compatible with Occam’s Razor?
But if I did actually believe that he’s really a conservative, or at least more conservative than Hillary, I still couldn’t support him, either in the primary or in the general. He’s a grifter who swindled thousands of people out of their hard earned retirement savings for his fraudulent Trump University. Veterans. Senior citizens. He’s a serial adulterer who’s shown not the slightest scintilla of repentance. He’s literally tried to steal the house of a widow.
What would be your reaction to Carl above? Does he get your personal respect? What would you tell him? I know what I’d say, and I daresay most of you’d say the same:
 Friend, I don’t agree with your positions, but at least I respect you as a person. Or at least I did. I know that no candidate is perfect, either morally or on the issues. I’m always going to find something to disagree with on a candidate, and all of us are sinners. But even if I agree with someone on most issues, there has to come some point at which someone’s personal character disqualifies him to be President. I feel for you, I really do. You’re in quite the quandary, when the only viable candidate with your views is a disgusting individual, a moral reprobate. But in order for me to personally respect you, I’d have to advise you to do something besides support Clinton. Stay home this time around. Vote for a third party. Don’t vote for President at all but still vote for Democrats further down the ballot. But if you continue to support this man for President, you’re telling me that rape doesn’t really matter, that being a sexual predator doesn’t matter, that being a complete crook who sticks it to the little guy doesn’t matter. Or at least it doesn’t matter to you as much as winning an election. That you’re willing to jettison some really important principles in order to win. Please don’t do that.
As conservatives we constantly accuse the Left of hypocrisy, of double standards. I’ve said for some time that everyone believes in rights for themselves. The biggest Leftist out there strongly believes in property rights and free speech rights and freedom of association for himself. But conservatives pride themselves on consistency, that we believe in those rights for people with whom we happen to disagree and even people whom we don’t happen to like very much. When people were really big fans of clamping down on sexual harassment in the workplace right up until the point in which Clinton was nominated, we ripped them for it. We couldn’t respect anyone who held a (supposedly) strong principle and then abandoned it as soon as it lost its political convenience. A lot of us believed that in their heart of hearts, most Clinton supporters were like Carl: personally disgusted by his behavior but willing to drop their principles in order to win politically. And that’s the best case scenario. I honestly think that there are quite a few people in the Democratic Party—especially in their leadership—who really don’t care if Clinton raped a woman. Power is all they care about.
             As conservatives, we're supposed to care about two really important things: Character and principles. On both of these, Trump is completely unacceptable. 
As a principled conservative—not to mention a follower of Jesus--I strongly believe in equal standards for people. The Bible tells us that the Judge of all mankind “does not show favoritism.” He abhors “dishonest scales,” in which you use one type of measure when buying and another when selling, in other words using standards of convenience.
If I would’ve told Carl to not vote for someone like Clinton, how can I do any less for myself now?

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