[Sound of me, crawling out of Blogosphere Cryo...]
So, it’s been an interesting week, where (absent a delegate coup in Cleveland) Donald Trump has sewn up the GOP nomination, and Hillary is all but a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination. There’s no way to put enough lipstick on this pig: The state of the union is at its nadir if this is the best the two major parties can puke up for the electorate to choose from.
As if it wasn’t already obvious to those paying attention, I’ve come out a #NeverTrump, #NeverClinton voter, and it appears that a veritable Who’s Who of Christian and conservatives have reached somewhat the same conclusion. But there are those, including some friends of mine, who’ve written to me privately or publicly, who are perplexed. If I am #NeverTrump, does that mean I want the Wicked Witch of the West Wing to return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? If I am actively opposing the GOP nominee, am I not declaring that I am not (and, maybe, never was) a Republican? Some even grant that the Donald Trump is indeed an odious individual, but if the only thing worse than President Trump is President Hillary, shouldn’t I vote for the lesser of two evils (or at least keep quiet about the whole mess)? As a Christian, shouldn’t I do whatever I can to keep a crook and serial liar like Hillary out of office? As a Christian, shouldn’t I vote for Trump and hope the best for him?
I’ve been praying about this for several months now, and hoping I’d never have to go this route, but that is the lot that was dealt. In trying to figure out how to explain myself, I guess it was high time to log back in to PPP – where we have dealt with such questions in the past – and have a good go at a satisfactory answer.
So let’s roll. And to get rolling, let’s start at the end. In Revelation.
Dressed in White
In the past, I’ve written on the church of Sardis, in the book of Revelation. The primary deity of that city in Asia Minor was Cybele (KIH-buh-luh), and one of the primary festivals that celebrated her was an NC-17 affair. Men who were devoting their lives to Cybele would castrate themselves, place their family jewels on her altar, and then dance (?!?) down the main street, spraying/throwing their blood upon those along the parade route. Everyone was dressed in white, and if you had the worshipers’ blood spattered on you , it was supposedly good luck.
And with this background, the Apostle John dictates Jesus’ words to the church in Sardis:
Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.
And so it is, with this bit of backdrop, that I will explain why I am #NeverTrump, and why I will invite any and all to come with me on that particular path.
I realize that many of my younger friends don’t much remember the 90’s, outside of TNMT and awful music. But I do.
Bill and Hillary took over the White House in 1992, and spent the next 8 years reaping the benefits of the Reagan economic reforms, while using 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as their personal cash cow/brothel. Even though the economy was good (thanks to nothing they had done), they were the most odious of individuals to have lived in those walls. But much of the public was willing to turn a blind eye to the corruption and escapades, simply because times were good. Sexual harassment of young interns? That’s just a private matter. Outright corruption (Whitewater, etc.)? A vast right-wing conspiracy. And on, and on.
But the one thing the critics of the Clintons’ generally had going for them was that their character, at least in the view of the public, was consistent and above reproach. Because something that has historically differentiated Republicans from Democrats is the former’s unwillingness to stomach corruption within their own ranks.
When a personal scandal erupts with a politician with an (R) after their name, the other R’s will typically call for them to step down and take their punishment. It goes right along with their law-and-order philosophy. And, because they tend to go overboard in this regard, this is why the GOP sometimes is called “The Stupid Party”.
When a personal scandal erupts with a politician with a (D) after their name, the other D’s will typically circle the wagons, blame the accusers for pointing out the obvious, and cry “foul!” until the media narrative moves on. And, because they tend to go overboard in this regard (paging Marion Berry…), this is why the Democrats are sometimes called “The Evil Party”.
Now, we’re on the verge of another Clinton administration. [Let's not fool ourselves. There's no way, short of an indictment, that Hillary won't win the Electoral College by a larger margin that Obama in 2008.] When that happens, only those who lived out #NeverTrump will have a leg to stand on when it comes to criticizing the corruption that inevitably follows the Clintons around, like flies in a junkyard.
All of those who voted for Trump will have white robes with varying degrees of blood on them.
Should a miracle occur and Hillary be indicted this time, we could end up with a President Trump. He has already shown his ill temperament, his raging narcissism, and lack of judgment over the last several decades, and throughout the primaries. When the rotten fruit of these fatal flaws come to bear, those whose robes have blood on them will be partially to blame, without a leg to stand on. It’s not like they will have an excuse of “I didn’t know he was like that when I voted for him”. Except for those who have drunk the Kool-Aid, it is as plain as the sun rising in the morning.
They will be no different than the people who voted for the Clintons in the 90’s, and turned a blind eye to their corruption out of reasons of economy and comfort. And they will have blood on their robes.
The Lesser of Two Evils
But if Trump is the lesser of two evils, shouldn’t I support him, just to prevent the more evil of the two from getting into office?
Short answer: No.
Medium Answer: The lesser of two evils can still be quite evil.
Longer Answer: “Of two evils, choose neither.” – Charles Spurgeon (and note – I am giving a positive quote of a Calvinist. That says something.) Since we are not compelled to vote – and there is no biblical instruction on “voting”, because no early Christians had a say as to who Caesar was – there is nobody forcing us to choose. We can simply refuse to choose a Presidential candidate in November, or we can vote for a third-party candidate, or write in whomever we want.
Longest Answer: Trump has no moral center, aside from what is good for Donald Trump today. So, whatever policy position he wakes up with this morning, be it good or ill, there will be MUCH more pressure on the congressional Republicans to cave to his wishes (because he is supposedly “one of them”) than if it was Queen Hillary proposing the same sort of nonsense.
Example: Yesterday, Donald Trump was suddenly for a higher national minimum wage (which – for the economically illiterate/ignorant – actually *hurts* the young and the poor), after months of being against it. To this point, the Republicans have ignored Obama’s proposals to raise it to $9, $10, $12 or even $15 per hour. They just say “yeah, I don’t think so.” But if Trump were President and suddenly demanded the same thing, you know that 1) the press would have a field day with “will congressional Republicans block their own president’s ‘incredibly reasonable’ request?”; and that 2) the surrender caucus within the GOP, that would so love to be invited to the DC cocktail circuit, would immediately cave and give Donny what he wants, lest he take to Twitter and savage them and say mean things about them.
If you don’t know that this is true, you’re either a) not paying attention; or b) stupid.
So, honestly, a President Hillary – for all the damage she would do, especially to the court system – would be far better (and easier) to oppose than a Demon King from our own party. This would be far more damaging than anything Herself would do, because we would be complicit in implementing the evil, and making it even more deeply-rooted, and hard to remove, from law.
To quote Alexander Hamilton:
“If we must have an enemy at the head of Government, let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible, who will not involve our party in the disgrace of his foolish and bad measures.”
It is because of this that some in the #NeverTrump camp have decided on #MaybeHillary, but I think that that particular route would also be a road too far, because it would still be voting for evil, but simply to serve our own purposes.
God before Country before Party
It’s kind of funny. I’ve been a die-hard Republican my entire life, but I have been increasingly uncomfortable with many Christians who have conflated faith with party politics, to the detriment of both. It’s like we’ve forgotten that our church was founded under persecution, without access to any levers of power, but once it tasted political power (see: Constantine), things have never been the same. Our allegiance is first to God above country, and even then to country above party. Somewhere along the line, we bought the lie that it was the job of the government to make people – Christian or not – to live as if they were Christians (by behavior). While this might have made it more civilized, it has had unintended consequences.
It’s like Rich Mullins once said to me – “the problem with pagans today is that they are just too shallow“. He went on to talk about how we’ve domesticated the pagans and taught them, by our actions, that Christianity is about sin management and good behavior. And our demands of them have immunized them to seeing their need for a Savior.
And so it is that I’ve had friends in the last week question why “a good Christian man” with my “integrity” would want to do something that resulted in Hillary Clinton winning the White House.
As if God really cared or was not in control of the situation.
The truth of the matter is that Trump and Hillary are so corrupt and odious, each in their own way, that were I the deciding vote, I would abstain, and trust God to choose our poison via the flip of a coin. Why on earth would I want to get blood on my robes for supporting either one of them?
If Hillary wins, I will be able to celebrate that Trump lost (and probably in spectacular fashion). And then, in 2020, after 12 years of Democrats running the economy and society into the ground, perhaps the GOP can nominate a Christian man or woman with a sense of integrity, who should be in a position to easily turn the economy around by taking the boot of government off of the necks of the people and businesses. And in the interim, I will be able to fight against 95% of what she proposes, to minimize the damage to clean up in 2020.
If Trump wins, I will be able to celebrate the Hillary lost (and probably be on her way to jail). And then, in 2020, after 8 years of a Democrat and 4 years of an idiot savant running the economy and society into the ground, perhaps the GOP will primary the Orange One (if he hasn’t already switched back to his home party) with one or two good challengers (with anyone who ever supported Trump barred from running), since by then they will be embarrassed enough by his behavior. And in the interim, I will probably be able to fight against 90% of what he proposes, because he will no longer have the need to pretend to support Republican policies.
Either way, the country will continue its path down the toilet – getting what it deserves from the leaders it has chosen – and the church will be there to help those hurt most by the decline, and – hopefully – will be less beholden to politicians in the next cycle.
What About Me?
A question I was asked: “As a Christian I would think that you would hope he succeeds. Instead you hope he fails.”
My answer: “As a Christian, I would hope that the leaders we choose are people we could point to as good role models for our children, because their words and actions are Christ-like. Neither major party has nominated an individual like that.” [And, in truth, if any of my kids grew up to be like Hillary or Trump, I would write them out of my will.]
As for hoping he will succeed. I will hope he succeeds as much as I hoped Obama would succeed. I would hope that he would follow a path of smaller, less intrusive government that allows its citizens to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness w/o persecuting its citizens for thought crimes. But I kind of know that he won’t – the same way I knew Obama wouldn’t – in which case I hope he fails spectacularly (see: Obamacare’s current trajectory into a death spiral), so we don’t try something/someone so stupid again.
But the GOP is the Stupid Party and the Democrats are the Evil Party, so I kind of temper my expectations accordingly.
So, before this gets WAAAY to long, I’ve included some final Q&A about the particulars of the view I am following and I hope that thousands of others will, as well.
Q: So who am I going to vote for?
A: If the Libertarians field a decent candidate, I will probably push hard for them, simply because a strong Libertarian party (strong enough to get invited to the debates, hopefully) will pull the GOP back towards smaller government philosophy. If I can’t support the Libertarian (who will probably be Pro-Choice – but so are Trump and Hillary, so it’s not like I have a choice there), I will probably write in “Mitch Daniels” or “SMOD” and get a good chuckle.
Q: If I’m pushing for #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary, why should I (or anyone who takes this position) vote at all? Isn’t that just a waste of time?
A: Not at all. We need good, principled people (i.e. probably not Democrats) to win the down-ballot races to prevent/minimize the damage that a President Hillary or President Trump would inflict on the country for the next four years. Either one of them will be a disaster, and the more power they have to assert their will, free of obstruction, the worse off the country will be. So the down-ballot races matter immensely in staunching the bleeding that is going to occur.
Q: If I am #NeverTrump, am I not really just aiding Clinton? Isn’t a vote for #AnybodyButTrumpOrClinton really a vote for Clinton?
A: Have you read what I wrote above? Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. Whoever wins, God will be in control, and my choosing not to support either monster allows me to sleep at night, knowing that God was in control all along, and I wasn’t complicit in supporting either repugnant, repulsive candidate.
Q: Hey Chris, I supported real losers put forth by the GOP – Dole, McCain and Romney – for the good of the party. Why can’t you do the same for a change of pace like Trump, for the good of the GOP?
A: God before Country before Party. I, too, held my nose and voted for Dole, McCain and Romney – even though I thought they were awful candidates. They were decent men, who (generally) supported decent policies, and who lived by a higher set of standards. Trump is an awful candidate with no moral center – besides himself – whose policies change from day-to-day, and whose lifelong inclinations, politically are anti-life, anti-freedom, pro-big-government. It should have been obvious that the quality, tenor and demeanor of the #NeverTrump crowd has been far different than those that opposed past GOP candidates. Opposing Trump, regardless of his winning the nomination, is easily a matter of principle I won’t lose any sleep over.
Q: You realize that the Libertarian Candidate will probably support legalizing marijuana and prostitution, right?
A: And I will oppose those policies, though if they passed, it would not be the end of the world, because I believe that the eventual backlash against such policies would “right the ship, itself”, and the coalition repealing them would not just be seen as “Christian busybodies”. And either way, Trump and Clinton – even if they may not support these policies – have quite a few awful ones of their own. But, chances are, the Libertarian candidate personal character wouldn’t be something I’d disown my children for emulating.
Q: What if Trump picks a good Vice-Presidential running-mate?
A: Whoever Trump chooses, if they accept his offer, is permanently barred from ever receiving my vote, because they will have shown themselves too stupid, naive, or corrupt to ever hold that office. In my heart of hearts, I hope he chooses Kasich, and that the delegates (mostly Cruz & Rubio supporters who have properly consigned Kasich to Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell) reject Kasich and stick Trump with Palin, out of spite. But that would be too much to ask for.
Q: Is there any scenario by which you would vote for the GOP presidential candidate in November?
A: Yes. If the delegates in Cleveland are allowed the exception to “vote their conscience” on the first ballot, and they choose someone other than Trump or Kasich, I’ll gladly vote for the GOP candidate. Heck, since Paul Ryan surprised me today by refusing to endorse Trump – the presumptive nominee – I’d love to see Ryan nominated. The very fact that he would be good in the office, but is not seeking it, is a big plus in my book. Or, if a strong subset of delegates walks out and holds an alternate convention that includes Indiana, I will vote for their candidate.
And so on.
Feel free to post any more questions in the comments, and I’ll be glad to answer them (and maybe add them to the end of this post, if they’re good enough).
Grace and peace to you.
EDIT: Cleaned up a bit of the language (feedback from the Mrs.), and corrected some typos.