If you are considering casting your vote for Donald Trump tomorrow, you have almost certainly had quite enough of listening to his critics, with their many wild claims and accusations. Fear not, within this post I am not asking you to listen to another critic make hyperbolic and shrill prognostications as he pontificates about Trump’s unsuitability for office. Watching this election from the other side of the Atlantic, I think I can see why many Trump voters might have had their fill of his critics. Nor do I have any desire to encourage you to vote for Hillary Clinton, Evan McMullin, or any of the other third party candidates tomorrow. None of them would get my vote.
No, I want you to put all of the critics to one side for a while. They have had their say and you are probably justified in doubting the accuracy and trustworthiness of many of them. For now, I want you to close out their voices and to listen carefully to your own. I will offer you ten sets of questions and I only ask that you reflect carefully upon the responses that you give.
You are entirely free of any duty to give an account of yourself to me—that is not the purpose of these questions. They are for your sake, not for mine. We must all give an honest account of ourselves to ourselves and before God and the question of whether it is possible to vote for our favoured candidate in good conscience is a question that we must all ask of ourselves. In an election where so much seems to be at stake, there is no easier time for the voice of conscience to be drowned out by other concerns. To be capable of acting in good conscience we must be people committed to asking the toughest questions of ourselves and unflinchingly addressing them, without deflecting attention to the failures of others. The only person that you need to persuade of your answers to the following questions is yourself.
- What do I believe will happen to the credibility and moral authority of Christians who support voting for Donald Trump? As the demographic advantages that once gave Christians social and political power fall away, will we still have moral authority in standing against the evils, depravity, and corruption that exist on the left? Are we in danger of sacrificing immensely important moral authority and clarity for short-lived political capital? At what cost am I prepared to win or hold onto political power? Is there profit if, rather than to gain the world, I compromise my soul so as not to lose it?
- Is Trump someone with a track record of being faithful to his promises and of loyalty to others when things get tough? Do I believe that Trump is someone who consistently puts others before himself? Do I believe that Trump is prepared personally to sacrifice to ensure the well-being of American Christians and keep his promises to them if he comes to power? Do I believe that Trump is genuinely committed to and capable of wisely addressing issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage?
- What bearing does Trump’s personal morality have upon his suitability for office? Do I hold to a double standard for my political opponents in this respect? If Trump were running for election as the Democratic Party’s candidate, what would I be saying about him?
- Considering Trump’s self-reported treatment of and attitudes towards women, and the many outstanding accusations against him, what does my willingness to support him nonetheless say of the relative importance that women and their concerns have in my view of the world? How do I square Trump’s widely reported statements and actions with my honouring of my wife, my mother, my daughter, my sister, and/or the many other women in my life?
- While the blow his election would strike against the current political order might be cathartic, is Trump the sort of person that I trust to build an America where truth and righteousness would prevail in its place?
- Do I believe that Trump has a suitable temperament for a world leader? Is he a person I trust to bring calm and peace to volatile and divisive situations? Do I trust him to respond wisely to crises, rather than to react impulsively? Do I believe that Trump is someone with the prudence and judgment to make wise policy decisions, to follow through on his promises, and to respond to situations in an effective manner?
- Is President Trump someone I expect to represent me and my compatriots and America’s interests with dignity and moral credibility on the international stage? Is he the face of America that I want the whole world to see?
- Do I believe that Trump’s presidency will be a successful and a popular one, largely free of scandal, producing a better, happier, and less divided America? Merely from the perspective of political prudence, will a Trump presidency place us in a stronger electoral position in four years’ time, or will we have established the conditions for a devastating blowback, a situation far worse than a loss this time around?
- How does Trump make up his mind on issues? What place does book reading have in his life? Is his mind one formed by a 24-hour TV news cycle and an entertainment culture? Is he someone I trust to read and digest briefings, to reflect deeply on events, and to deliberate carefully in considering an appropriate response to them?
- What do I believe the election of Donald Trump to the presidency would mean for minority American groups? What do I believe his election would mean for the future of race relations? On what basis do I believe that my Christian interests will prevail over those of his supporters who have a more racist animus?