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?
Good questions, but all void of Clinton. Doesn’t seem like this article considers the consequences of the alternative.
Why does the alternative matter?
When answering the question of what will lead to greater human flourishing, considering the alternative positions is important. This article does not do that.
But can a worse alternative justify an action that fails utterly to pass any moral standards in itself?
It does pass moral standards when compared to the alternative because that decision will lead to greater human flourishing.
Are these moral standards different than the moral standard to which the action would be help apart from the alternative? If so, how is the change in standards justified?
These are great questions, Alastair. They further confirm my decision to not vote for Trump (or Hillary, for that matter). Might I ask why you would not vote for Evan McMullin in particular? I’m curious.
McMullin comes across as a sane, level-headed, and honourable candidate. If I had to support someone, he would probably be the one. However, I just don’t believe that he is presidential material, certainly not yet. He comes across to me as a young and gifted policy wonk. A president needs to be more than that, though.
I resonate with your concerns, but I don’t believe McMullin’s shortcomings disqualify him from the presidential office, as I believe the other candidates’ do. I certainly think he could be more qualified, if that is a valid category. I also think that merely not voting would fail to send as strong and clear of a message to the Republican party as voting for a different conservative candidate would. Not voting is ambiguous and could be interpreted a number of different ways. Voting for McMullin would directly indicate: “If you would have elected someone like this, these votes would be yours.”
I can respect that argument and wouldn’t strongly disagree with it, even though I just wouldn’t select anyone of the candidates (while voting for other offices on the ticket).
I appreciate the interaction. Also, there is a typo: “You are entirely free or.” I think you mean, “free of.”
Thanks! I’ve just corrected it.
While an interesting discussion, this list fails to consider the best reason I have heard that a Christian might consider voting for Trump: that it will result in a less unified opposition to a Christian agenda.
Now, I realise co-belligerency has its risks – one could argue whether supporting Stalinst Russia against Nazi Germany ended up as a net win for eastern Europe – but it can be a legitimate course of action.
Note that an argument from co-belligerency is not the same as a “lesser of two evils” argument. The latter is a “least harm” argument, while the former is a tactical argument with a view to longer term goals. A similar consideration is the contrast between refusing to support any bill short of complete abolition of abortion and supporting a less acceptable bill that nonetheless makes progress towards long term goals.
In this case, the “short term goal” is restricting the establishment of a hegemony that – among other goals – explicitly desires to push Christianity out of the public sphere. (As one wag put it: “Trump’s agenda is unreliable; Hillary’s is not”)
I think his list does consider the reason you bring up. Consider the second question in #8.
This post seems like classic concern trolling to me. You could write an equally strong list against Clinton but you omitted one. Rather than asking you to be balanced, I’d like instead to respectfully suggest that it’s really none of your business whom Americans choose to vote for.
Note I’m English and cannot vote in the election but if I could I would vote Trump. And now my responses to the 10 questions:
1. This question implies too greater import to voting. In voting you have a package deal.Voting for a package does not imply support for all of it. Further, there’s no guarantee that your candidate will actually enact the policies on which you voted for them. Also the chance that your vote will actually make a difference is very small even if you live in a swing state. More important here is communicating why you are supporting the candidate so not as to seem like you’re endorsing the entire package,
2. Trump has little genuine concern for marriage or abortion. Also do I trust him, no. However, do I trust any Presidential candidate? No. The only two who have attempted to run for the GOP or the Dems I’d trust from the past 30 years would have been Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan. The key with voting for Trump is the shifting of the Overton Window.
3. Given my low view of almost all politicians, personal morality of the candidates in most cases makes little difference. Obviously character matters but I’d rather vote for someone with good policy and a bad character than the other way around. That said bad policy can be taken as indicative of bad character. If you’re seemingly a all-round nice guy but believe that for the society to work the government needs to tax everyone at 65% because families left to their own devices will entirely ignore the poor etc – that is pessimistic on the wrong part of human nature and thus is a character flaw.
4. His wife is articulate and his daughters play an important part of his business empire. That said he’s a sleazy old man who likes to boast- my wife read his comments and didn’t think much of them as she thought he was clearly joking. But again, my vote does not imply support for his various adulteries and recorded comments.
5. No, but he will help in bringing the bad institutions down. He won’t fill the glass, but at leas help clean it.
6. He is quite impulsive and relies on his instincts quite a bit however you don’t build a business empire by being short-sighted and tempremental. In regards his instincts, his civic nationalist instinct (which is one of the few things that seem genuine about him) will serve America better (and the rest of the world) than thought-out liberal internationalism.
7. Again, he would not represent me in the same way Keith Crawford wouldn’t have represented me if he’d become my MP.
8. Divisiveness is why to vote for Trump. America is broken and the past institutions need razing to the ground, not reformed. a perfect scenario would be an achingly blue state make serious moves to secede from the USA because of Trump. The individual states are bigger than most countries- they should govern themselves.
9. Instinct and ego. But as I said before his instincts at least in regards foreign policy will serve America better than the previous policies – Jill Stein has been very clear on this.
10. He will go someway to expunging white guilt and hopefully prevent a huge amnesty which will ultimately change the face of America and lock-in a voting block for an interventionist government. This won’t change race relations but merely unmask the tensions already prevalent in the way that Brexit has done. The government policies of forced integration (the Equality Act here and the Civil Rights Act over there) must be repealed and also the cultural subsidy of victim narratives for any group which isn’t white, male and heterosexual. In the absence of this resentment and tension from both sides will exist.
Now my three reason to vote for Trump:
1. Shake everything up.
2. Immigration (his policy is far from ideal but is a step in the right direction especially his anti-amnesty position)
3. America First Foreign Policy.
Pingback: Ten Questions Post over on the Huffington Post | Alastair's Adversaria
1 The credibility and moral authority of Christians come from Christ, not from popular opinion or media reaction to political stances a Christian may take. A Christian demographic advantage is not about being good for Christians. More people being humbled and broken, turning to Christ as savior is healthy for all of society. The core of Christianity is not about moral authority; it is about grace and about admitting we are all morally fallen, needing a savior. Electing Trump is not about winning or holding onto political power. He is merely running for some executive position in a government office (the government being a highly limited organization). Most Christians’ real focus should be on their families, their churches, and the mission field around them. Government has some role, only it how it serves these primary focuses.
2 The U.S. government’s role is primarily to secure the Creator-endowed rights. The president’s role is merely the executive in this. A track record of faithfulness to promises and loyalty are not so central as a track record of executive skills. The executive branch is under checks and balances. It is expected a president doesn’t keep all their promises, and therefore they will be checked and balanced by the other branches of government. Trump gave a list of the kind of Supreme Court nominees he would consider. That is one of the president’s role. The president’s role is not so much to have specific stances on abortion or SSM.
3 Everyone’s personally morality is totally depraved without Christ. If Trump was running for the Democratic Party, he would still be totally depraved, and would likely have expressed many different stances. He would not have listed Scalia-like SCOTUS justices to consider.
4 We are created in the image of God, male and female. And Trump’s self-reported attitude and treatment of women is that “no one respects women more than I do.” Considering that all women are created in the image of God and deserving of respect, Trump’s statement here is in line with the Bible. Does Trump always reach his stated ideal? No, no one does.
5 The president is not a role the U.S. ever trusts. That is why the U.S. government is highly limited and the U.S. Constitution is full of checks and balances.
6 Temperament is often subjective. And not all situations call for calm and peace. Jesus knocked over tables at the temple and made a whip to drive people out. And Jesus is full of wisdom. Trump does have some executive experience, but if and when he ever makes unwise decisions, the checks and balance of the U.S. political system are meant to counter that.
7 The U.S. should not be so concerned about how some executive in a government office represents them. Many may see the president as an elevated figure-head, but really Christians should show no such partiality. (See James 2)
8 Success does not primarily come from the president; it comes from families, churches, local communities and their business. And Christians should always expect a devastating blowback. (John 15:20) Even with the best most loved “Christian-friendly” candidate winning, there should be expectation of devastating blowback.
9 Trump is running for the executive role. Really regarding the political issues, the minds are supposed to be made up in the legislative branch.
10 Christianity is about grace covering any kind of sin (even racist animus). The most racist of Trump’s and Clinton’s supporters need Christ’s grace. The least racist of Trump’s and Clinton’s supporters need grace. Trump has self-reported that “no one respects minority groups more than me.” That is a great ideal to strive for. All men are created equal. Male and female, God created them in the image of God.
To turn it around (now that the election is over), I wonder how much having to occupy the office is going to systemically rehabituate Mr. Trump and form in him the traits you’ve asked about here.
I guess we’ll see!