Taking a Stand Against Evil

Back in the 2008 election, I held an event on the Southeastern campus where I compared the Republican and Democrat platforms. Without saying anything myself about my own beliefs, I simply laid out the differences between the parties. Normally, that’s a very effective approach. At the very least, it makes people come to grips with the extremism on the Democrat side on issues like abortion. This year, the Democrat platform is even more extreme, pushing same-sex marriage also.

At the top of the Democrat ticket this year, we have a woman who is arguably the most corrupt candidate in presidential electoral history. New revelations about her come out every day.

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The combination of her private e-mail server while secretary of state and her mingling of her high position with donations to the Clinton Foundation are an abomination.

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And should she be inaugurated as president in January, the oath of office might be unique:

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In a normal year, Hillary Clinton would be defeated handily. But this is not a normal year.

While it’s still valid to compare the two party platforms, the effect is not the same as it was for me back in 2008. I had my doubts about John McCain as the Republican nominee that year, and those doubts persisted when Mitt Romney was nominated in 2012, yet I still voted for them.

This year, we keep hearing a mantra that goes something like this: “There is no perfect person running for president. Both candidates are flawed. We just have to choose the lesser of two evils.”

I’m a little sick of hearing that. Here’s why.

It’s no big revelation that no perfect person is running for the office. There never has been one of those throughout American history. All candidates have some flaws, but there is a distinct difference between having flaws and being evil. I will never choose the latter.

Sadly, this year we have the latter. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump represent evils that I cannot stomach in the White House—nor any other political office no matter what level.

I love the Republican platform. However, the person at the top of the ticket is not someone who actually believes in that platform. I am for candidates who truly support that platform, which is why Republicans down ticket will receive my vote. The one at the top, though, will not.

There is a difference between being a flawed candidate and being a reprehensible one. McCain was a maverick who couldn’t always be counted on, but he adhered to most of the platform. Romney had the baggage of having introduced a prototype of Obamacare when he was governor of Massachusetts. Yet he was a decent man with a strong family who has always been faithful to his wife.

So despite their flaws, I could vote for them. Trump goes beyond simply having flaws. His character is absolutely despicable. I won’t repeat the litany of horrible words and actions throughout his life (and continuing today, not just somewhere in the distant past). Almost daily, he reminds us how despicable he is.

Trump went to Gettysburg to deliver what was supposed to be a serious speech about policy. Instead, he made other headlines by using that august forum to declare he’s contemplating suing all those women who have come forth to tell of his unwanted sexual advances:

seven-accusations-ago

His campaign has been a disaster (to use one of his favorite words). Many Republicans now have had second thoughts. Too bad they didn’t have first ones.

results-of-primary

Yet, despite everything Trump has done, and despite the latest round of evidence that he is a moral reprobate, many evangelical leaders have reaffirmed their support for him. I find that incomprehensible.

Fear of Hillary Clinton has led people who used to stand for Biblical principles and Biblical morality to abandon that stand. I know, they think they are doing the right thing by keeping Clinton out of office. But putting Trump is that office is not the right thing either. He’s a petulant man-child who will not follow through on his promises.

I want a good Supreme Court as much as anyone. Trump will not deliver it. Even if he should offer a solid nominee, that nominee will not make it through the Senate. He will then compromise with the Democrats and nominate someone they can like. Mark my words. Hanging everything on Supreme Court picks is a false hope.

I will not choose the lesser of two evils. I will not willingly choose blatant evil. Both candidates qualify as evil.

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accept-the-results

However this turns out, we will have no choice but to accept the results. Here’s where real Christian faith comes in. Can we still believe that God is working in ways we may not see? Do we maintain the confidence that the best way to assure God hasn’t given up on us is for us to stand apart from the evil choices before us?

The Lord will work through His people if they stand firm against all types of evil. By giving in to evil, we short-circuit much of what He might do to extricate us from that evil.

It’s time to take that stand and then see what the Lord really will do in spite of the circumstances we now face. I am taking that stand.

Where I Come From & Where I Am Today

I’ve been musing the past few days on the roots of my political and/or governmental philosophy. Why am I where I am today in my understanding of what’s best for the governing of this nation?

I wasn’t raised in a home that taught me what I now believe, so it’s not a matter of merely copying what my parents thought. In fact, I grew up thinking the Democrats were the party to support.

I was conservative as far as I understood what conservatism was, but didn’t grasp the drift taking place in that party. I thought that because I was sympathetic to the civil rights movement, I was a good Democrat.

Liberal-ConservativeIt took a conversation in college with someone knew the difference to show me I was truly a conservative in outlook and that my views lined up better with the Republicans. That actually surprised me.

Yet I didn’t just follow the advice of that person blindly. I began to investigate what I should believe and why. Two factors guided my thinking: my growing Christian faith and the influence of certain writers I was beginning to enjoy reading.

First, I began to learn about Biblical principles and how they should be applied to society, including government. Those principles continue to guide me today.

William F. Buckley Holding BookSecond, two periodicals honed my thinking in accordance with those Biblical principles: National Review and The Freeman. The first offered witty and insightful commentary on the current political scene, and I greatly admired William F. Buckley, the founder of the magazine; the second grounded me in free-market concepts.

When I decided to pursue my doctorate in history, I was in a time of uncertainty spiritually. I was searching to see if anything else could fill that void. My professors, generally speaking, were far more liberal than I, and some of the reading I was given allowed me to test my convictions. Would they stand?

They did. I was now grounded in what liberals thought, as I expanded my understanding of both worldviews.

My advanced degrees offered no answers for life; God mercifully drew me back to Himself. Yet that pursuit of higher education did prepare me to better define what I believed and why.

My path to what I believe is not everyone’s path, by any stretch. My spiritual quest combined with my educational quest to make me what I am. It was a fascinating integration of intellectual and emotional satisfaction.

TextbooksI have been in higher education circles ever since. Seven of my years of teaching were at the graduate level; another five at a college that stressed classical education.

In my courses, I try to communicate to my students a worldview that is spiritually and intellectually sound.

I’ve always approached politics from this foundation of Biblical principles and solid reasoning from a well-grounded conservative philosophy. I don’t repent of any of this, but I do think my approach has left me a little bewildered by the politics of 2016.

As I meditate on what has developed politically over the past year, I have been astounded by what seems to me to be a devastating loss of principle in both the Christian world and the corresponding conservative world.

Donald Trump at DebateI’ve been trying to understand why this is so. You see, for me, the first time I saw Donald Trump on the stage with all those other candidates, I came away thinking that this was the biggest con of recent political history and that no one would take him seriously. Why? Because I didn’t perceive him as a serious candidate.

Trump had no command of the issues. He was an egotist who blustered, interrupted, and insulted anyone he thought was in his way. His entire history was as a liberal Democrat, and now he was trying to convince everyone he was a Republican.

I thought everyone would see through this charade. I’ve been sorely disappointed.

True, he didn’t get the majority of Republican votes in the primaries. I console myself with that fact. But once he became the nominee, so many who had previously said he was unacceptable suddenly decided he was now worth supporting, and anyone who disagreed should be shamed and guilted (is that a word?) into abandoning their principles and declaring their undying allegiance.

My entire background and training doesn’t allow me to board this train. I’m dismayed that so many others have decided to do so.

PrinciplesI’ve learned a valuable lesson, though. I have to realize that not everyone makes decisions based on principles only. Sometimes emotions carry the day. The emotion that leads some to vote for Trump now is fear—fear of a Hillary Clinton presidency.

I understand that fear. What I don’t get is why those same voters don’t see the danger of a Trump presidency as well. In my view, both are equally undesirable.

Some probably wonder why I continue to warn about Trump when it is clear that one or the other—Trump or Hillary—will be the next president. The answer is this: I’m looking beyond this election; I’m trying to keep us thinking about what comes next and whether there will be a Christian witness left to the nation after this, and whether there will be any conservative movement to build upon and salvage the disaster that is sure to come regardless of who wins this particular election.

We need to be principled people. My task, I believe, is to stay true to that calling and convince as many others as possible to do the same.

A Squandered Opportunity

There has never been a more eminently beatable candidate than Hillary Clinton. Yet she is now poised to win the presidency despite her manifold lies, despicable character, disastrous tenure as secretary of state, and no real record of accomplishments.

The latest is that the FBI has now “found” another 15,000 e-mails that ran through her private server. We will be told what is in some of those by mid-October, according to the report I read.

One has to wonder if FBI director Comey may now be forced to reopen the investigation for the purpose of an indictment after all. Of course, with the Obama administration still in charge, that is probably a fantasy.

Hillary has also made herself scarce when it comes to answering questions from the press, having not held a press conference for something like 200 days. What other candidate would be allowed to get away with that?

Next Question

Questions have been raised about her health, stemming from a possible concussion a few years ago. Some of that may be pure speculation, but there are legitimate concerns about whether she is really up to handling any responsibility, let alone the presidency.

Hillary's Health

Polls show that a significant number of Americans don’t really trust her and believe she lies about almost everything.

And yet she is on the verge of occupying the Oval Office.

This was supposed to be the year when we could put the Clintons behind us forever. This was the year Republicans were practically salivating over, after two disastrous Obama terms. This was the year when widespread revulsion over what has transpired over the past eight years would give Republicans the chance to fulfill their promises.

Then this happened.

Eminently Beatable

I’ve been accused by some of “Trump-bashing.” The reality is the Republican voters and the establishment have joined together to bash themselves with a Trump candidacy, thereby losing the greatest opportunity ever presented to them.

They said they wanted a candidate who tells it like it is. They blindly followed someone who fed their anger and fears. They stopped thinking and just let their emotions take over. This is the result.

Tells It Like It Is

Set aside, for the moment, all the ideological reasons why Trump is a bad nominee. Don’t think about, for now, his character (equal in despicability to Hillary’s). Just look at how he’s conducting this campaign.

Trump promised to spend a billion dollars of his own money on the campaign. He has thus far contributed $50 million. Why not more? Why has he not fulfilled that promise? Could it be because he’s something like $650 million in debt, far more than what people thought? Is he really telling us like it is?

In his most recent campaign disclosure, we find that Trump spent nothing on ads in June. The total raised in July is only one-third of what Romney raised that month in 2012.

Of the $18 million spent in July, $8 million went to a web-design firm for fundraising, which is a little disproportional.

The campaign spent $500,000 on hats.

The campaign spent $2.5 million on private air travel, which is six times more than what it spent on staff, state organization, and ground game in the states.

Conservative commentator Steve Deace points out the following instances of incompetence:

What would we say if trailing consistently in polls, Hillary Clinton decided to hold rallies in unlosable blue states like California and Massachusetts with less than 80 days to go before the election? Because that’s essentially what Trump is doing by campaigning in Texas and Mississippi this week.

Trump lacks organization in Hamilton County, which may be the most pivotal county in must-win Ohio. Last week, Trump opened a second field office in must-win Florida, where Hillary Clinton already had 14 field offices. Trump’s organization lags behind Hillary’s in Virginia, which no Republican has won the presidency without since before Reconstruction.

Earlier this summer GOP leaders in Pennsylvania, which is crucial to any hopes Trump has of winning the White House, said there was “almost no sign” of a Trump organization there.

This is virtually a no-hope candidacy.

I’ll restate it: Hillary Clinton is the most eminently beatable candidate in recent history. Republicans have squandered their best hope. What remains is the issue of whether the party can pull itself together again after this fiasco.

Friends, Colleagues, Former Students–Lend Me Your Ears

I am going to make a concerted effort next week to turn to other subjects in this blog, but for today, I feel compelled to make a heartfelt appeal to those I count as friends or colleagues, and to a multitude of former students of mine who appear to be supporting Donald Trump.

Please lend me your ears. I come not to praise Trump, but to expose him.

But I’m sure you already know that.

Donald Trump at DebateWhen Trump first announced his candidacy, which seems like an eon ago, I immediately viewed it as a joke. After watching his debate “performances,” that view only strengthened. Nothing he has done since has changed my mind, despite the fact that he is now the Republican nominee. The joke is now on us.

My first real indication that something was going terribly wrong was when I went to speak to a Tea Party group here in Florida. This was in early February, prior to the vote in Iowa’s caucuses. The group conducted a poll of its members and Trump won by an astounding margin. The man who spoke right before me was a Trump surrogate who assumed everyone was on his side, and judging by the response, he was correct.

Frankly, I was stunned.

Since the Indiana primary, it now seems as if nearly everyone in the Tea Party and/or 9/12 movements in my area has come out enthusiastically for Trump.

Book Cover 1In January of this year, I spoke to a large gathering of Republican women from across the state. My talk, which was about my book on Reagan and Whittaker Chambers, went over so well that I was besieged afterwards with invitations to come speak to various local Republican clubs.

That has not yet happened. Neither was I invited to speak to our local club this summer, even though I always have done so in recent years. I understand. My vocal opposition to Trump makes that rather untenable.

One of my regular readers, a man who has been active in Republican circles in another state but who also has chosen not to endorse Trump, wrote to me and said he has never felt so isolated from fellow Republicans and that he has been treated pretty much as an outcast.

I’ve also noticed that a good number of friends, colleagues, and former students who used to “like” my blog posts regularly have fallen strangely silent lately. Of course I know why; they have decided to back Trump, even though many, I’m sure, have come to this decision with deep reservations.

If you are part of that group, let me tell you that I do understand your frustration with the way things are. I’m also interpreting your silence as a measure of respect for me, not wishing to publicly come out against my position.

The most bothersome thing to me is that most of us all want the same thing, but we disagree on how to achieve it. Rest assured, your difference of opinion on Trump doesn’t sever our relationship, but it does sadden me.

Why? Well, in the case of former students, in particular, I had hoped that all I’ve taught so fervently these past decades would help ground you in principles. I’m not saying you aren’t principled—you continue to stand firm for all those things we believe in with respect to the rule of law, religious liberty, the proper type of education, etc.—but you somehow think that Donald Trump will protect and preserve what we all cherish.

That’s where I think you are violating your principles.

I’m especially disturbed by those who would say I am part of the establishment, and that’s why I oppose Trump. Good heavens, would anyone who really knows me say anything like that? I ask you, who is in bed with the “establishment” right now? Isn’t it Trump himself? Didn’t the “establishment” cut off all opposition to his nomination? Why are you now siding with the very people that have so angered you all these years?

After the Republican convention, an organization called Conservatives Against Trump came out with a statement that accurately conveys where I stand and why.

Against Trump 3

Let me share some of those comments.

The statement makes it clear that the goals of this group are what “we” have always encouraged: limited government, religious liberty, freedom of speech, the sanctity of life, and a strong national defense. It goes on to note,

We see no small irony in the fact that the Republican Platform Committee produced one of the most deeply conservative platforms in modern electoral history, but nominated a candidate who has taken positions contrary to its central tenets. Donald Trump is a contradiction to most everything the Party states as its core beliefs.

Abdication of principle is not the problem of those who oppose Trump; that abdication is found within the party that nominated him.

Then there is this reminder of where Trump has stood on policy and his previous political commitments:

Trump begins as a liberal Republican, arguably more liberal than any other Republican presidential candidate in recent memory. He repeatedly praises Planned Parenthood. He has donated significant money to liberal politicians – including Hillary Clinton.

He wants the government to run health care. He opposes entitlement reform. He supported the Obama stimulus spending plan, the auto bailout and the banks bailout. He opposes free trade agreements. Trump is much closer to the Democratic Party than the Republican. He is a man whose deepest creed is himself.

It continues with commentary on his character, which should be a primary concern of all real conservatives, and Christian conservatives in particular:

Donald Trump Addresses GOP Lincoln Day Event In MichiganThis pretend Republican has preyed on misunderstandings, ignorance, and sometimes violence and rank bigotry. He has been vulgar, coarse, demagogic, and cruel. He has mocked disabled people, lauded dictators, and insisted that military leaders would follow his lawless orders should he attain the Presidency. He has been slow to condemn racists – the very reason the Republican Party was founded. He has praised torture as a form of punishment and promised to extend retribution to the innocent.

4.1.1But what about the Supreme Court? Even if everything else I’ve said about Trump is true, we can’t let that slip through our fingers, can we?

Some of our fellow conservatives have argued that the Supreme Court vacancy compels them to vote for Trump. We respect them and their reasoning, but we do not agree. We do not trust that Trump would appoint a good Justice or, if he does, would fight for a conservative jurist against an adversarial Senate.

The statement correctly notes that the Supreme Court is only one part of the government and that a Trump presidency would probably be just as disastrous to the whole concept of our government as a Hillary presidency:

Furthermore, we would be gambling on a good Supreme Court nomination at the price of constitutional integrity – and this coming from a Republican President leading a party that prides itself on originalist jurisprudence.

We do not trust Donald Trump to bow to the authority of the Constitution or the laws of Congress. He is running on a platform of strength and action, and our Constitution was formed to hobble not just quick lawmaking, but the very kind of strongman governance Trump embodies, despite the angry clamor from a justifiably frustrated electorate.

The antidote is not to seek a “strong man” who will force everything to go the way he perceives it should. Recall Trump’s words at the Republican convention when he said only he can solve the problems of the nation. Really? That’s been the attitude of a steady stream of dictators throughout history.

So what is the solution?

The antidote is to put forward leaders who will appeal to our reason and virtue, not our instincts and vices. We are committed to the principles of the Republican Party, not because they belong to the Party but because we believe they are right and just. We are conservatives before we are Republicans.

We believe that politics is about the art of the possible. We have often been in a position of supporting the lesser of two evils. But Donald Trump appeals not to our better angels but to our baser instincts.

Constitutional RepublicThe statement then ends with the following declarations:

We will not compromise core principle for the sake of Party allegiance.

We will not allow vulgarity to stand in the place of virtue.

We will not allow Trump to be the face of the nation to the world – not with our votes.

We will not sit by idly and allow conservatism to be hijacked by a man who shares none of the values of Reagan and Lincoln.

We will support conservative candidates down-ballot.

We will vote our conscience because we believe such a vote is our right and duty as citizens and is never wasted — whether that be voting for another conservative candidate or a write-in.

We will continue to speak out on issues important for our nation. We will seek to impact the newest generation of voters and educating them on the Constitution, the role of faith, family, and freedom as the basis of limited government.

I am in agreement with every one of those declarations. I appeal to all of you—friends, colleagues, and former students—please rethink your support of a man who is just as much a threat to our government and our culture as the horrible candidate put forth by the Democrats.

It’s time to see Donald Trump for what he really is, not for what you hope he will be.

About Last Week’s Convention

There are different types of Trump supporters. First, there are the angry people who just want Trump to get back at those who they perceive have created all the problems in the country. Trump will build a wall, they say, and make America great again. We believe him.

They are so confident that he is the new political savior that their faith is unshakeable, no matter what he does. As Trump himself famously stated, he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue in New York and shoot someone and not lose their support.

I don’t write to convince those people of anything. They have stopped thinking.

Then there’s the establishment types who originally loathed Trump and still wish someone else had gotten the nomination. Yet they will support him because they are Republicans first and principled people only tangentially.

Finally, there are the true conservatives, many of them evangelicals, who would not ordinarily come near anyone like Trump but who are so afraid of a Hillary Clinton presidency that they have reluctantly pledged to vote for him. They know in their hearts he is probably reprehensible but they conclude they have no other choice; at least he might choose a good Supreme Court justice or two.

I write primarily for that last group. There remains some hope they can be persuaded that they have hitched their wagon to a leader who is going to destroy the republic in a way that Hillary cannot—by destroying the GOP itself and, in the process, undermining every moral value that Christians profess to believe.

When Ted Cruz spoke at the Republican convention last week, the Trump people and the media declared it a disaster for Cruz. Yet what did Cruz do, precisely?

First, Trump gave the invitation to speak. From all accounts, he knew up front that Cruz would not publicly endorse him. Second, Cruz gave his speech to the Trump campaign two days before he stood at the lectern to deliver it. Trump approved the wording.

Then, when Cruz told the delegates (and all watching throughout the nation) that they should not stay home on election day but go out to vote, and that they should vote their conscience and for those who uphold the Constitution, pandemonium occurred.

We now pretty well know that the boos that cascaded upon Cruz at that moment were orchestrated ahead of time. Trump’s people were prepared to initiate the booing when Cruz spoke that specific line.

What was so wrong with that? Are we not supposed to vote our conscience and uphold the Constitution?

Don't Vote Conscience

The uproar, to some extent, was the implication that voting for Trump is a vote against conscience. Well, for anyone who holds the Constitution, the rule of law, and Biblical principles paramount, I would have to agree.

Yet the wording was approved by Trump ahead of time.

Pundits have now declared Cruz persona non grata in Republican circles—never mind that he has since gone to rallies for Republican candidates and been well received. They rant that he broke his pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee.

I like what one person said about that particular complaint:

Christians need a serious primer in ethics. So many are attacking Ted Cruz because in their eyes he committed the unpardonable sin. He didn’t keep the pledge.

What they fail to understand is the nature of ethical dilemmas.
Sure it is right and proper to keep one’s pledges. It is also right and proper to defend the honor and dignity of your family.

So I ask all the Christian men criticizing Cruz, would you have any problem endorsing a man who insults your wife in front of the nation, makes your little children wonder if daddy is unfaithful to Mommy, and says your father was involved with the assassination of JFK?

Would you? If you could disrespect your family enough to endorse the lying scoundrel who made those attacks on them, then what kind of man are you?

After Cruz’s speech, Trump resurrected the conspiracy theory about Cruz’s father being in league with Lee Harvey Oswald. He actually brought it up again, despite the complete idiocy of the charge. He even praised the National Enquirer and said he couldn’t understand why it hasn’t received a Pulitzer Prize.

Stephen HayesStephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard then wrote an article provocatively titled “Donald Trump Is Crazy, and So Is the GOP for Embracing Him.” Hayes notes, with regard to the innuendo concerning Cruz’s father,

The Kennedy assassination is one of the most heavily investigated events in the past century. Cruz’s father was not implicated. There is no evidence to support claims that he was ever in the presence of Lee Harvey Oswald or had a role in the Kennedy assassination. And scholars who have studied those events have said without qualification that Cruz wasn’t involved. But Trump peddles his nonsense anyway.

Yet where is the outrage over Trump’s nonsense? Hayes continues,

Either Trump believes Rafael Cruz was involved or he’s making the implied accusation in a continued attempt to discredit Cruz’s son. In either case, this isn’t the behavior of a rational, stable individual. It should embarrass those who have endorsed him and disgrace those who have attempted to normalize him.

The degree of this normalization is stunning. The Republican nominee for president made comments Friday that one might expect from a patient in a mental institution, the kind of stuff you might read on blog with really small print and pictures of UFOs. And yet his remarks barely register as news. There are no condemnations from fellow Republicans. His supporters shrug them off as Trump being Trump.

Hayes further recounts other Trump craziness: peddling the theory that Antonin Scalia was murdered; that thousands of Muslims rejoiced in the streets of New Jersey on 9/11; the whole birther episode with Obama (sorry, folks, but I never believed that one).

When Trump went on Alex Jones’s radio program, he praised that 9/11 Truther who claims a 98% chance that the Twin Towers were brought down by controlled bombings perpetrated by the US government—that Bush was behind it all. What did Trump comment about Jones? “Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.”

Really? Is this the man who deserves the vote of evangelicals who say they put Christ first in all things?

And what about the Republican party as a whole? It used to be the party of Biblical morality, pro-life, in favor of traditional families, etc. Yes, I know that the official platform states all those things, but the convention itself promoted the opposite in many ways. A “proud gay” man speaks and receives a standing ovation. Trump promises to be, in effect, a better president for the LGBT “community” than Hillary.

Trump’s acceptance speech didn’t even offer a cursory comment about the GOP’s pro-life position. Donald Trump Jr. has even stated that he doesn’t see what the big deal is about abortion; the Trump family is working to excise all those “social issues” out of the GOP.

On top of that, Trump sounded like the proponent of big government solutions. Or that he himself was the solution for all our problems. He is a total narcissist. In a Trump administration, the era of small constitutional government would be over.

This was a Republican convention?

Caboose

Hillary Clinton does not deserve the presidency. She ought to be in prison. Donald Trump does not deserve the presidency. He ought to be kept far away from any levers of political power.

Some of my readers have complained that I am aiming too much at Trump. Why not make Hillary the target? Do a search on my blog site. You should be satisfied that I’ve clearly laid out over the years the case against her.

Why focus on Trump? Because I’m appalled at the collapse of principle in those who should know better. I’m still hoping against hope that I can say something to help right this ship. We need to look beyond the 2016 election and try to salvage what has been best in the Republican party. That is my goal. And if that party is now beyond saving, I pray a new party will arise to take its place.

We should never sacrifice principle and long-term goals for the sake of short-term, unprincipled actions. Nominating Donald Trump is a short-term, short-sighted, unprincipled action that will be just as disastrous as another Clinton presidency.

On Political Courage

Here’s a thought. What if, at the Republican convention next week, the powers-that-be allowed a secret ballot to choose the nominee? What if the delegates truly had the freedom to vote according to what they believed best for the party and the country instead of being pressured by their political leaders to fall in line with Donald Trump?

Would that secret ballot vote be different than the public one? If so, what would that say about those delegates? What would it say about their adherence to principle? What would it say about their personal character? Where are the spines? Where is courage when it is needed?

History affords us examples of courage in voting. One comes readily to mind for me. President Andrew Johnson was brought to the Senate for an impeachment trial in 1868. The Republican party at that time, which controlled the Senate, sought to remove him from office over disagreements in policy.

Edmund RossIt would take a two-thirds vote for that removal. Everyone knew the vote would be close, and one Republican senator, Edmund Ross of Kansas, would not commit to voting for removal. No one knew exactly what he might do.

Two days before the first vote, Ross had received a telegram from his home state that read, “Kansas has heard the evidence, and demands the conviction of the President.” It was signed by “D. R. Anthony, and 1,000 others.” Ross responded,

I do not recognize your right to demand that I shall vote either for or against conviction. I have taken an oath to do impartial justice . . . and I trust I shall have the courage and honesty to vote according to the dictates of my judgment and for the highest good of my country.

Not to be outdone, Mr. Anthony and his “1,000 others” retaliated. “Your telegram received. . . . Kansas repudiates you as she does all perjurers and skunks.”

The roll call began. Ross had been warned by fellow Radical Republicans that a “no” vote would end his political career. When his name was called, Ross stood and quietly cast his vote—for acquittal. His vote effectively ended the impeachment proceedings.

Some newspaper editorialists decided that Ross could best be compared to Benedict Arnold, Jefferson Davis, or Judas Iscariot. As predicted, his political career did end swiftly; he lost his reelection bid.

In a letter to his wife one week after his momentous vote, Ross declared,

This storm of passion will soon pass away, and the people, the whole people, will thank and bless me for having saved the country by my single vote from the greatest peril through which it has ever passed, though none but God can ever know the struggle it has cost me.

Where are the Edmund Rosses in the current Republican party? Where is the courage needed to stop the most foolish nomination in the party’s history?

Donald & Hobbes 1

Donald & Hobbes 2

We need to be looking out for the nation instead. It’s time for real principle to come to the forefront.

The Most Dispiriting Presidential Election in My Lifetime

Let me dream, please. In my dream, I see Hillary Clinton so tarnished that the Democrats decide they can’t really offer her up as their nominee. I see a party that finally comes to the realization that a woman who can’t be trusted with official documents should never be president.

Also in my dream, I envision a Republican party that actually looks at the platform it just created and shakes off the spell put on it by the Trump circus, acknowledging that he is no more than a Democrat in Republican clothing. In that dream, the delegates come to their senses and deny him the nomination next week at the convention. They will turn, instead, to someone who really believes in the stated goals of the party.

Now, back to reality.

Donald Trump is doing what he can to head off a delegate revolt by readying his announcement of his VP running mate, supposedly tomorrow. He’s been vetting people, doing things like asking for their tax returns—you know, the very thing Trump himself refuses to release. Of course, if he had his first choice for VP, it would be an unconventional pick:

Vice

In the running, presumably, are Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, and Mike Pence. Gingrich is smart, but his personal reputation is almost as smarmy as Trump’s. Between them, they would be the first team to “boast” of six marriages, three apiece. Gingrich led the Republicans to victory in the 1990s, then fell from grace and had to resign from Congress. This is a positive choice?

Christie was my next-to-the-last choice during the primaries, second only to Trump. He’s not that different from Trump in personality, and he also wouldn’t be wedded to the platform.

Pence has a solid background as a conservative stalwart and Christian man with principles, but he’s let those principles slip in some startling ways lately, particularly with his rather spineless action in backing off the religious liberty bill in Indiana. Although he endorsed Cruz in the primary, it was a tepid endorsement, again betraying a disturbing trend toward loss of principle. In my view, Pence would be lowering himself to attach himself to Trump. He needs to regain his reputation.

Regardless of whom Trump chooses, that person will have one major job: having to defend Trump’s artless statements and actions the rest of the way, often being put in the position of defending the indefensible:

Shovel-Ready Job

Hillary has recently received the coveted Bernie Sanders endorsement, which isn’t going over too well with those fanatical Sanders supporters:

No Establishment

Whichever candidate wins, the inauguration will be a grand joke on us all:

I Do

Nightmare Inaugural

If you follow the latest developments closely, you know that Trump has now said he wouldn’t mind the Republicans losing control of the Senate—he likes the idea of being a free agent.

He’s also initiated a lawsuit against a former campaign senior consultant, Sam Nunberg, for allegedly outing ousted campaign manager Corey Lewandowski for having an affair with campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks. Nunberg also alleges that Trump set up a fake company for the campaign and misused the funds in that company. Stay tuned for more on that.

This has got to be the most dispiriting presidential election in my lifetime, and that’s saying a lot, considering we’ve suffered under two Obama elections. For the first time, the Republicans are not offering a viable candidate, if indeed Trump escapes the convention intact.

Is this really the best America can offer?

Uncle Sam's Head Bag

Divine intervention is sorely needed. I cannot vote for either of these two people. I have to put my complete trust in God’s mercy.