I’m posting this on my personal blog. The viewpoint I share here is not necessarily the viewpoint of the church I serve as pastor nor is it a topic of my messages on Sunday mornings.
Perhaps you like the Trump presidency.
Perhaps you hate it.
Your opinion matters, and the comment section below is open for you to share your perspective, so please do so.
Perhaps I will say something here that will deeply offend you and get you angry at me.
Perhaps I will say something here that will make you want to remove me from your friends list.
Perhaps I will say something here that will cause you to leave my church or disregard my opinion in the future.
But before I say anything, and before you read anything more, let me ask you to do one small favor for me, reflect… reflect on this one single thought: “Do I want to be a person of reactionary outrage like a child throwing a tantrum or do I want to be a person who knows how to love and respect those with whom I disagree?”
Simply put… what kind of person do you want to be?
(After all, the rest of this blog post is simply me sharing with you what kind of person I want to be.)
Why I Voted for Trump
Yes, I am an evangelical Christian who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. I do not specifically regret that action even though as I will say later I will not repeat it in 2020. However, in the intervening years there is a question that I have wrestled with from people inside and outside my circle: “How do followers of Jesus justify voting for a person like Trump?” I have had to respond to that question in small and large ways, but now, I want to be thorough regarding my own thought process in 2016.
1. In 2016, I voted Republican
The first and foremost reason I voted for Trump was that I was not voting for him as a person, but I was voting for the policy platform of the Republican party and Trump was the only candidate given to me for that policy platform. Here are my reasons for voting for the Republican candidate.
- My parents are Republican, and as of 2016, I had not thrown off the mantle of the political party into which I was raised.
- The Republican party is the only party that will go on record saying that human life before birth is worth preserving. The Democratic party refuses to embrace anything but a full pro-choice platform with no abortion restrictions whatsoever. I’m saddened that they refuse to fight for the rights of the unborn even though the rest of their platform ostensibly is about defending the rights of the impoverished and oppressed!
- The Republican party is the only party that goes on record to speak of religious freedom especially in the face of social pressures from the LGBTQ+ activists. Christians who were being accused of “discrimination” are now being accused of “hate speech,” and the vitriol comes exclusively from the liberal media and the Democratic party. The Christians I know don’t wish any ill on gay people, but they also want the freedom of religion, worship, and speech that allows us to say, “I can love you as a person without writing certain words on the cakes I bake.” (I think this is the main reason Mike Pence was selected as Trump’s running mate.)
- The Republican party is the only party that upholds the Constitution as a document that stabilizes our society. From the Republican perspective, the legislature is the source of novel solutions to novel problems, and the Supreme Court should restrain those laws or interpret those laws in light of the established Constitution. That is, the Supreme Court, as the highest power in the land, should not introduce novel ideas into our society.
- The Republican party, at least in theory, is the party of capitalism, responsibility, and small government, and these are values I once held dear.
Oh, there are many problems with the Republican party as well:
- The Republican party hasn’t figured out that eliminating abortions requires promoting contraception, healthcare for pregnant women, daycare for single moms, and streamlined adoptions.
- The Republican party hasn’t figured out that being pro-life might mean universal healthcare for all, the elimination of the death penalty, the need for gun control, or drug company regulations.
- The Republican party hasn’t really figured out that freedom of religion means freedom for every religion.
- The Republican party hasn’t figured out that a giant military budget is the opposite of small government.
- The Republican party hasn’t figured out that unrestricted capitalism is actually irresponsible and reduces the responsibility of many individual citizens who are victimized by the massive corporations.
- The Republican party hasn’t figured out that extreme wealth disparity is a problem.
- The Republican party hasn’t figured out that scientists are right about global warming and that according to Genesis environmentalism is our first responsibility as human beings!
- The Republican party hasn’t figured out that undocumented immigrants could become tax paying citizens if someone would give them the chance and that more tax paying workers will improve our economy.
I could go on, but the problem is that all of these points rank slightly lower than my previous points when it comes to my own personal priorities, and that’s why I voted Republican in 2016.
2. In 2016, Trump was the Only Republican Option
Oh, I could go on and on about my frustrations with the Presidential primary process, but this is my analysis for why we ended up with Donald Trump as our Republican candidate in 2016.
- For some reason, 17 candidates stepped into the Republican race in 2016. (Why in the world could these 17 people not actually talk with one another to determine who was the best candidate for the country at the time?)
- 16 of the 17 candidates were basically carbon copies of each other with minor differences, and none of them were as charismatic, attractive, or well-spoken as then-President Barack Obama. One candidate was different, though… terribly different.
- Trump was brash, politically incorrect, completely outside the political norm, and for people truly angered by the liberal perspective, Trump hit every single button. Not only did Trump perfectly embody every one of the standard Republican talking points (small government, strong military, tax cuts, NRA, pro-life Supreme Court, enforcement of immigration laws, and “successful businessman” running the government “like a business”), he also was so obviously anti-liberalism that he outright called the news establishment “fake news.”
- As a result, four factors came together to make Trump the frontrunner:
- During the primaries, roughly 30% of the Republican population, angered by encroaching liberalism, and fearful of diminishing freedoms, and stirred by nationalistic pride voted for Trump. All the other Republican votes were disbursed among the nearly indistinguishable other 16 candidates. If there had only been one or two other candidates, he most certainly would not have won the nomination, but with so many candidates in the field, he won primary after primary. By the time the field narrowed, he had too much momentum to be stopped.
- Trump accused the news media of lying about him, and in fact, all the news outlets other than Fox had only bad things to say about Trump all the time. To liberals, Trump looked like a buffoon. But to likely Trump supporters, CNN started looking like a bully, and the more they portrayed him as a fool, a racist, or a criminal, the stronger his base became.
- Hillary Clinton was guilty of borderline criminal behavior both in her handling of some foreign affairs, in her emails that looked like she was trying to rig the election, and in the simple fact that she had classified documents on an insecure personal email server. Many Republicans were sick of another “Clinton” who was skirting the law for personal benefit and wanted to see her pay. Trump was the only one who spoke of Hillary Clinton as a criminal. By selecting Hillary Clinton as their leading candidate, the Democrats gave Trump the perfect straw man to fire up his base even more.
- And finally, I should also add that I firmly believe the Russian efforts during the election were effective at making Trump’s supporters even more aggressively fired up. I don’t accept the theory that they actually changed votes, but their posts on Facebook and their releasing of hacked emails repeatedly confirmed all of Trump’s talking points while further inflaming his supporters against his opponents.
Bottom line, Trump was the Republican candidate, like it or not, and though I hated the process that brought him to the forefront, and though I hated nearly everything about his personality, history, and methods, by the time the election rolled around and I had to mark my ballot, his platform was the only platform that supported my deepest convictions.
3. In 2016, I Actually Voted for Mike Pence
This is actually something I think a lot of Christians did. In fact, I think the selection of Mike Pence was a brilliant political move by the Trump campaign because at the time of his selection Mike Pence was really only known for one thing: as Indiana governor, he signed into state law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The liberal world went wild in opposition to him and to that law even to the point where Apple and other major corporations called people to “boycott” Indiana! For conservatives and for religious conservatives in particular, that was an expression of liberal bullying that proved our society was going “down the drain” and caused evangelicals especially to fear the coming day when religious freedom would be eliminated completely. Since then, Mike Pence has continued to receive bullying from the liberal media who can’t accept his evangelical conservative Christian morality.
Choosing Mike Pence as running mate was even more proof that Trump was going to stand on the side of religious freedom and against the liberal establishment.
For my part, I literally hoped that Trump would drop out of the race before the election or that he would be immediately impeached by the Congress after the election and that Mike Pence would be our President.
I actually voted for Mike Pence as my President-soon-to-be.
4. Side Comment… Why I Think Hillary Lost
After Trump won, the news outlets went crazy trying to figure out how they got all their polling numbers so wrong. Here’s my theory. They didn’t get their polling numbers wrong. The polls accurately showed the majority of the American population favored Hillary. (After all, she did win the popular vote.) However, since the major news media was so convinced Hillary would win by a landslide, they shot themselves in the foot and made their entire viewing audience complacent. If no one believes Hillary will lose, why inconvenience yourself to vote… unless you are so mad at the system that you want to vote for the underdog. If everyone tells you your guy is going to win, you don’t bother to vote. If everyone tells you your guy is going to lose, and your guy tells you everyone is out to get you and that he is the only one who can save you, you just might be motivated enough to cast a vote. The Democrats were lulled into complacency and the Republican votes took the day.
What Happened Since I Voted
A few major things have happened since I voted in the 2016 election and all of them have turned my stomach:
- Trump has continued to use Twitter and his rallies as a bully pulpit to rail against all kinds of people in the most disrespectful of ways.
- Trump has refused honesty at every turn. He won’t admit even to his spelling errors, he won’t recognize that he sounds like a racist and in fact emboldens racists, he won’t release his tax returns, he won’t acknowledge the reports of the FBI about Russian interference, he won’t recognize the low turnout at his inauguration, he won’t acknowledge the family separation policy, he won’t be honest about the Mueller investigation, he won’t be honest about the accusations of sexual assault against him, and on and on.
- The economy is better, but healthcare is worse, the environment is worse, relations with foreign governments are worse, the media environment is worse, and the divisive attitudes of the American people are worse.
And that last point has revealed the biggest problem to me: The Republican Party and the Democratic Party have gone into “full fortress mode” because of Trump.
Watching any amount of Fox News, watching the Supreme Court hearings, watching the Mueller hearings, listening to anything Trump says about “The Squad” or listening to anything “The Squad” says about Trump, listening to anything from Pelosi or Schumer or McConnell have all confirmed something to me. No one is listening to the other side anymore. No one is treating the other side with respect anymore. No one cares about the truth anymore.
The Mueller hearing pushed me over the edge. I watched 90 minutes of it and was angered to my core because sitting in that room was Robert Mueller, one of the most well-respected public investigators in our country’s history who came out of retirement to tackle a two year long investigation into a severely important national security issue and wrote a 400+ page document outlining conclusions that embraced a level of nuance that neither Republicans nor Democrats could fully call their own, but there on the dais were Republicans and Democrats who obviously were there only to grandstand before the cameras. Repeatedly, they would ask a question, only to interrupt Mueller in the midst of his answer because in their words, “I only have a few more minutes” (emphasis mine). None of them wanted to use their time to listen to the smartest man in the room but instead they wanted to spout their own accusations in the hopes that they could somehow humiliate him or humiliate Trump, and none of them cared about what Mueller cared about… the Russians are actively hacking our democracy, in his words, “as we sit here.”
The hearing was a sham perpetrated by people who wanted to use Mueller as an excuse to get their soundbites on the news to rally their base to get themselves elected again and who didn’t care at all about the truth or about the integrity of our democracy.
So here is my biggest frustration. Despite Trump’s obvious weaknesses, the Republicans feel like they have to support him lock stock and barrel and so none of the Republicans are acting like rational humans. They are party-line supporters of their President regardless of any reason. But that’s not all! While the Republicans have become blind supporters of Trump, the Democrats have doubled down on their opposition of him. Say what you want about Trump, there are a lot of people who truly love what his policies are doing for the country, but the Democrats are turning a blind eye to all those people.
Sure, they could impeach him. There is ample evidence that he attempted to obstruct justice, that he is antagonistic toward American citizens, that he is guilty of criminal sexual harassment, that he might be guilty of employing undocumented immigrants, and that he might be guilty of tax evasion. If they want to impeach him just do it! However, they are afraid of the political ramifications, so they don’t.
I could go on and on about this.
Why I’m Not Voting for Trump Again
Simply put. I’m no longer a Republican.
I’m also not a Democrat, but I’m okay with one being the President.
Let me explain.
The number one reason I’m no longer a Republican is that I can no longer support a party that cares more about protecting the divisive and destructive personality of her leader than about the actual stated policy platforms of the party. In other words, you don’t have to support the President’s behaviors to support the party platform. However, the current Republican establishment is only focused on propping up the President. I’ve never supported Trump, the man, but the Republican party is unwilling to address even the most repulsive features of their President. I will not support people who turn a blind eye to egregious behavior for the sake of some possible political gain.
However, let me revisit the reasons I said I was a Republican:
- My parents are Republican. I still love my parents, but I’m an adult now.
- Pro-life. Although I still think abortion should be treated exactly the same as euthanasia and follow the same legal and medical guidelines, I reject the fact that the Republican party is truly pro-life. I don’t want any babies to be murdered, but I realize now that prohibition never really works, and legislation is not the only solution. I can achieve my pro-life goals by promoting universal healthcare, inexpensive adoptions, free daycare, higher wages and more. One of these days, maybe we will live again in a society that values the life of the unborn, but the current fight over this legislation isn’t cutting it.
- Religious Freedom. I can’t continue to support a party that claims to want religious freedom while actually opposing certain religions or belief systems. For example, the LGBTQ+ worldview is a belief system that conflicts with my evangelical belief system, but religious freedom means the government must have no laws that respect one belief system over another. I hope and pray that Amendment #1 will stand the test of time and will continue to protect my expression of faith, but I can’t pretend to support the First Amendment unless I’m willing to embrace an understanding of freedom that includes things like the legalization of gay marriage. Did you hear that? I don’t perform gay weddings, and I’m glad that for now I have the freedom to say no, but I have to respect the responsibility of the government to protect the rights of people to express belief systems contrary to my own.
- The Supreme Court. Since the Republican version of pro-life is no longer my highest priority, I no longer feel the need to make a conservative Supreme Court my highest priority. I will simply hope and pray that wisdom will prevail.
- Small Government / Capitalism / Personal Responsibility. Ha! I no longer believe the Republican party has the wisest policy regarding these things. Under Republican leadership, our government never shrinks… the military grows larger, the debt grows larger, the disparity between rich and poor grows larger, the prisons grow larger, healthcare costs grow larger, carbon emissions grow larger… the only things that get smaller are regulations, taxes, and social services. Some might think it’s good to see regulations, taxes and social services get smaller, but I’m becoming more and more convinced that the rampant unbridled capitalism of the USA is an experiment that has run its course. The USA has the largest economy in the world, the strongest moral history, the smartest scientists, and the best technology. As such, we should begin to take the global lead on solving major issues with novel solutions. We should be guiding global trade and cooperation, we should be championing the cause of renewable energy, we should be changing the world when it comes to alleviating economic disparity both within and without our own borders. And when it comes to global military problems, why don’t we start to ask Why there are military problems in this world and start to develop novel solutions?
So what are my goals? Well, my policy goals are really now just this one thing:
I will vote for anyone in any race who is committed to listening to opposing viewpoints and who will tirelessly labor for consensus over important decisions, but I will oppose anyone who plans to “fight” for some idealism even if I share their ideals.