FACING THE ELECTION OF 2020
We are facing the election of 2020. I can feel the temperature rising. I have friends on both sides, people who can’t stand President Trump, and partisans for either President Trump or the conservative party.
Let me say up front I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I try to vote as a Christian according to my conscience. I also want to say that I respect anyone who is a member of a political party and tries to influence that party toward what is righteous and good. I think Christians should be politically involved and I know that to be in politics means you have to compromise on some things if you want to be active in a party. No party is perfect, and no candidate is perfect. So, we encourage people to do the best they can, and choose the best they can.
Usually, this means at times we will disagree amongst ourselves as to specific policies or directions. Maybe I should say in the best of times, but this is not the best of times. Today the disagreements, for some, have reached a standard we usually reserve for religious values, and to vote for or against the position of those with these religious or doctrinal values is not just disagreement, but judged as sinful and evil. There seems to be a lot less listening and a lot more vitriol. Politics has always had its seamy side, but when one adds religion, race, and fear to the mix things become more divisive than usual.
Partisans are those who hold to a certain ideology and even if their candidate is not the most appealing or compelling they will continue to vote the ticket that moves toward the accomplishment of that ideology. Ideology is a greater compelling force than party, as currently we have socialist ideologies in the Democratic Party and white nationalistic ideologies in the Republican Party. At the present time the Republican Party has almost ceased to function as anything but a “cult of personality” supported by various ideologically committed adherents. While the Democratic Party has held off dominance from its socialist wing it continues to be dominated by strong social/moral adherents.
Traditionally Republicans vote Republican because they don’t like taxes, think that Republicans will do what is best for business and the economy. Republicans believe their party will be restrained in regulations, hold to small government, and hold to a more conservative view of how to interpret the Constitution of the United States in the courts.
Traditionally Democrats believe in a stronger (larger) federal government, one that can enforce justice and civil rights in the states, one that will develop and continue programs for social welfare (such as Social Security and Medicare), and believe that taxing the citizens is acceptable to provide equity in social concerns. They have a more liberal view of Constitutional interpretation in the courts.
I won’t assign a historical view about the military or national defense, nor will I assign a historical view about national debt as parties have swung in sometimes puzzling and various ways according to each administration. Parties saying they believe in a balanced budget or a reduction in the national debt have often done just the opposite, and sometimes they have done that to support a war or national defense, or some kind of national emergency. Neither will I assign a historical view of “good” government versus “bad” government, as parties have varied in competence and in quality of leadership, and in corruption.
One may feel I have left off the major thing they love about their party. There are good people and good ideas in both parties. However, one of the greatest points of conflict for many of my friends is the issue of abortion. This is an ideological group within the Republican Party. For many Evangelicals the only issue in this, or most elections, is abortion. They choose to vote for or against the President, who, they think, will choose judges to either end it or continue it. In this coming election there is a more general concern for some, beyond any issue, and that is the incumbent, President Trump. There are many worthy concerns and my hope is that each person will make their choice according to their conscience.
According to my conscience I don’t feel I can vote for either major party or their candidate. I oppose abortion and yet I know that no president elected on that basis has been able to end it yet. In 2016 my brother evangelicals made the decision to either ignore character or to romantically believe they saw some, so as to choose policy first and vote for Donald Trump. On the other hand I cannot vote for a party that makes it fairly clear that they are not only pro-choice, but make it almost untenable to remain in the Democratic party if you are pro-life.
I cannot vote for the incumbent, and I will make my reasons clear in a moment. It seems to me that once a person votes for a specific individual one bears some responsibility for that administration and for its policies. Though each president is the president of everyone and for the whole country, yet those who did not vote for him or her have either some relief or the guilt for not supporting them. One cannot vote for either candidate without either endorsing the party’s agenda, or endorsing the candidate. I think Vice President Biden is a far superior candidate to President Trump, has more integrity, competence, and wisdom. However, I think the Democratic Party pursues personal (im)moral liberty and thus injurious to the freedom of religion, or social stability. One doesn’t have to be socialist to have ideas that are corrupting to our Republic. In fact one could have a socialist leader who at the same time might be opposed to immorality and opposed to abortion. That would give many conservatives and Evangelicals a moment of chilling exposure.
POLITICAL OPINION OF A CITIZEN
I am a preacher, and I would never, and never have, endorse a candidate from the pulpit. I am however a citizen and I believe I am a patriot. Since I am no longer a pastor I feel unconstrained in being able to express by personal view but they do not represent my church, denomination, or the ministries I lead or serve.
My personal view is that President Trump is one of the worst presidents we have ever had. He is a danger to our country and to our freedoms, and certainly to our unity. He is one of the most immoral men we have ever had to be president in terms of his known previous life. He said he would “drain the swamp” but instead has immersed his own administration with nepotism, and has corrupted our federal agencies into a means to protect himself or punish his enemies. His personal psychological needs and issues seem to drive him more than any commitment to ideology. As people dumped pythons into the Everglades President Trump has added snakes to the government, what ironic hypocrisy. Count the indictments!
He is incompetent, he is dishonest, and he is vindictive. When President Obama was in office I heard Evangelicals accuse him of being a “liar.” Yet I hear silence from them about what is scandalous prevarication from President Trump. He has, by crafty political strategic choice, attacked the foundations of our liberty by trying to intimidate a free press by calling them an “enemy of the people,” and has consciously pursued a strategy of discrediting criticism by labeling all negative reporting “fake news.” He has a group of followers who are no longer able to listen to, receive, or consider any criticism of the president from almost any source.
He has colluded with foreign powers, begging them to help him destroy his political enemies. He has given aid and comfort to dictators from countries that are opposed to our national commitments of freedom and human rights. This is a close to treason as I have ever seen, experienced, or known of from the President of the United States.
He has governed by bullying allies and assuming that his personal charms would help keep international peace. He has politicized our national institutions and federal agencies by creating myths of a “deep state” and conspiracies he learns from social media and right wing propaganda. He is a dupe of propaganda, a developer and spreader of propaganda, and his loyalists do the same. He has attempted to destroy the reputations of honest and loyal American diplomats, Federal agents, judges, and military members. I have watched as Evangelicals repeat slander on social media against Democratic Party leaders or Trump critics as if this was normal and acceptable Christian behavior. He has helped to corrupt Evangelicals into a stunning hypocrisy of nonchalance about the example and character of national leadership. He has developed a “cult of personality” that has become the litmus test of loyalty to those who work in and for his administration.
He is one of the most openly divisive presidents who has ever served, seeming to not care nor to pursue bringing us together. He uses race-baiting and fear-mongering to appeal to some of the worst attitudes and prejudices within us. He equivocates between Nazis and white supremacists with those who appeal for racial justice and equity. These groups are not moral equivalents. No president since World War II, when we helped to defeat the Nazis, has so openly supported movements that are aligned with them. Though he is an ardent friend of Israel’s right wing government he doesn’t seem to think white nationalism is a problem that the American government should vigorously confront and condemn.
He, and he alone, is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans because of his mishandling of one of our greatest national emergencies from the Covid pandemic. Because of his terrible failure in seizing the moment for what should have been decisive and courageous leadership our economy has taken a beating, the very thing he thought was his great achievement.
These are things about which he has denied responsibility. With amazing self-congratulation and self-deception he seems to believe that he has done a good job in dealing with one of the greatest threats to the health, safety, and economic well-being that has ever faced our nation. He has sown confusion, and not only has failed by his personal example but actually fanned the flames of resistance to the very things that could have slowed the spread of the disease. These things reveal his failure as a leader with any kind of character or competence. For us in the United States this is more accurately the “Trump Virus,” rather than the “China Virus” which President Trump has used as a label to take the focus off of himself.
His hatred and disdain of his predecessor prevented him from learning the value of preparation for coming emergencies when he dissolved the group that was created to give the President warning and expertise in how to respond to pandemics. He has not only mishandled it but lied about its danger, allowed and fostered conspiracies to replace science, and failed in his leadership to do what was expedient and prudent (such as wearing masks) to save lives. His attempt to be a cheerleader when our house was burning was not only ill conceived but based on hubris and arrogance. It has helped to kill us. Yet his followers do not demand accountability.
If the Democrats win the White House, and the House and Senate, in the election of 2020, let the Evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump in the primaries of 2016 take the blame. He was their short term hope, and the long term disaster for Conservatives to run the government. They had so many better alternatives, and they rejected them.
TIME FOR A CLEAR EYED CHOICE
Those political partisans who desperately want him to win so he can appoint more conservative judges, believing that in this way abortion can be ended seem to become furious with any criticism of President Trump. My hope is that they will face their choice fairly and clear eyed. I suppose one could still vote for Trump even if they would agree to all my observations about him. My conscience would kill me to do so, and it is not simply “holding my nose” to vote. One might attempt to deny these criticisms, but I think history will show that to be difficult, from his own words, actions, and the witness of others.
I honor and respect the office of POTUS. I will continue to do that even if President Trump wins re-election. I am not trying to mock or ridicule him, but I do want to tell the truth about him. I believe many of his populist concerns are real concerns, such as unrestrained illegal immigration, the economic and military challenge of China, his desire to bring troops home and not engage in any needless foreign war, his desire to appoint conservative judges, and his actions to bring about criminal justice reform. How he went about some of these things has made some matters worse, as he seems constantly blinded by his own supposed greatness and that his force of personality can make things happen against all measured, legal, and responsible action.
I will take my personal strategy of writing in a candidate. To me this is not a wasted vote, but one of integrity. Whoever wins there will continue to be moments of teeth gnashing, frustration, and irritation for some of us. My prayer is that there will not continue to be disaster for all of us. I believe in a Sovereign God, who cares about justice and hates injustice. He is a God who gives life and tells us to treasure it. He is a God who answers prayer, and faithful to those who love Him. “Lord, help us, forgive our nation of its sins, deliver us from evil and help us not to do evil. Please bring about righteousness not only in the personal lives of Christians, but in the public, political, and social life of our nation!”
AMEN, and END.