A Personal Perspective on Evangelical Support for Trump

This is going to be a calmer post than I originally intended. My emotions ran high Saturday night with the results of the South Carolina primary. Make no mistake, I am deeply disturbed by political developments in the Republican party, but I will attempt to offer a reasonable commentary to explain my deep concern.

While Trump’s victory, in itself, is disturbing, it’s the way he won that bothers me more—with the apparent backing of a plurality of evangelicals.

Donald Trump 4According to the exit polls, Trump took about 34% of evangelical voters, while Cruz got around 25% and Rubio slightly fewer. One can always say that at least the combined tally for Cruz and Rubio was greater than Trump’s number, but just the fact that 34% self-identified evangelical Christians would vote for this man defies logic.

Perhaps logic is in short supply. Perhaps real evangelicalism is in short supply also. Perhaps the term “evangelical” has come to have so many different meanings that it is now a worthless word.

To me, an evangelical is a true disciple of Jesus Christ, committed to reflect the righteousness of God in one’s own life. A real disciple of Christ would want to see His ways permeate society, and a real evangelical Christian would never vote for a person whose lifestyle and policy positions were in direct opposition to the Biblical message of salvation and moral behavior.

Yet that is precisely what 34% of evangelical South Carolinians did.

First, let me say that I don’t necessarily accept the notion that all self-identified evangelicals are really Christians. Many are probably “cultural Christians” in the sense that they grew up in the church and still attend but have never had a face-to-face encounter with the Living Christ followed by a genuine heart change and desire to serve Him gladly.

God & GovernmentThen there are those who may be genuine Christians but who either don’t have a good grasp of how Biblical principles apply to government or who are operating out of emotion—angry over the trends they see in the nation and allying with Trump simply because he expresses their anger well.

Voting on emotion, and particularly the emotion of anger, is not the Christian way. We need to stay focused on principles and vote according to which candidates are most consistent with those Biblical principles.

I’ve said the following things previously, but the time is ripe for a reminder. If you vote for Trump, here is the man you are voting for:

  • Donald Trump has publicly stated that he can’t think of anything for which he has had to ask God for forgiveness. That’s because he claims to be a good man. This means he has no understanding of sin in his life and no desire to get rid of it. Neither does he have a clue as to why Christ laid down his life for sinners, since Trump doesn’t consider himself to be one of them.
  • Trump dumped two wives at his own personal whim when another woman appealed more to him.
  • He has boasted of having had sex with many married women. He also calls his sexual dalliances his own personal Vietnam (where he was able to avoid serving) because he dodged his own bullets of sexual transmitted diseases.
  • He built a casino with a strip club. How is that in any way acceptable to a Christian?
  • Up until recently, he was aggressively in favor of abortion, even the partial-birth variety. He says he is now pro-life, yet continues to claim that Planned Parenthood does many good things for women. He even touted his sister, a pro-abortion judge, as a possible candidate for the Supreme Court. That sister, by the way, decided a case that rejected a partial-birth abortion ban.
  • Just last week, he said he endorsed Obama’s healthcare mandate while simultaneously saying he would get rid of Obamacare, as if the mandate has nothing to do with that monstrosity. Does he even know what he’s talking about?
  • His entire campaign has been built equally on vague generalities, personal insults toward other candidates and anyone else who crosses him (e.g., Megyn Kelly), profanity-laced harangues, and phony threats of lawsuits (even a threat against Cruz using a video of Trump in his own words displaying his abortion views).
  • Increasingly, he has become an embarrassment by his over-the-top behavior at debates and rallies. He never really answers criticisms of his positions with reasoned responses. Rather, he starts yelling that the accuser is a liar, constantly interrupting and losing his temper. Is that what we should want in a president?

No one in the Republican field of candidates is more inherently contrary to a Biblical worldview than Donald Trump.

Yet he gets 34% of the evangelical vote.

This is a travesty. Those who claim to be the representatives of Jesus Christ in this woeful world need to match their words with their actions, and one of those actions is to vote according to the Biblical worldview they profess to believe in.

To vote for a man like Donald Trump is to violate one’s confession of Christian faith.

I’ve said it rather bluntly, but I will not back down despite the criticisms that may come for being so blunt. It’s time to be serious about how our faith ought to be expressed in the political realm.

Our Campaign Dramedy

With Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders in the presidential race, this campaign has taken on historic significance already—as possibly the most bizarre in American history.

First, we have a former First Lady, senator, and secretary of state who could be the first First Lady and secretary of state to end up in prison.

Clinton's E-mails

Besides that, she’s also, shall we say, a trifle greedy and disconnected from what most people experience in life:

Connect

Just this past week, she tried her hand—again—at humor that kind of fell flat as she took to barking like a dog in a campaign appearance. It was odd, almost surreal. One wonders who told her that would work. Yet perhaps she’s used to doing whatever is considered necessary to achieve her goals:

Learned to Bark

Her main opponent, outright socialist Bernie Sanders, spends all of his time telling everyone what “free” things the government will give them. With all the hubris of someone who never understood Economics 101, he boldly goes where no one ever should go. If we follow him, we can expect certain results that have been tried the world over:

Make America Greece

On the Republican side, Trump has turned what is supposed to be a serious consideration of issues into a circus, and in the process, has dazzled untold thousands by his grandiose promises, his public vulgarity, his steady stream of personal insults, and continual threats of lawsuits. It hasn’t been pretty.

Presidential

What might some of our former presidents who believed in the dignity of the office think of the current dramedy?

Front Runners

That’s pretty much what I think, too.

Political Cartoon Day: Campaign Edition

So many political cartoons, so little time and space to share them all. I’m going to try today, though. The emphasis will be on the Democrat side, but I won’t forget Republicans either.

Hillary Clinton has got to be one of the more radioactive candidates in presidential campaign history. Some Democrats are finally beginning to hear the alarms going off:

What

She thought she would waltz to the nomination, but results in New Hampshire show she hasn’t even won the majority of women, which has to be dismaying for her, since she bases most of her “appeal” on being the first woman president:

Shut Up

Yet there is some question about just how effective her husband’s support on that issue really is:

One Reason

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has surprised everyone with his appeal, which comes down to one thing only:

Free Stuff

Despite his appeal to pure-bred socialists like himself, Sanders realizes he needs to reach out to voters who might not ordinarily support him. So where does he go to win them over? To that champion of uprightness and integrity, Al Sharpton:

Black Votes Matter

Even though Sanders swamped Clinton in New Hampshire by 22 percentage points, they got the same number of delegates, thanks to Democrat party rules that include “super delegates” who can choose whomever they want. Sounds fair, doesn’t it?

Delegates

That would be Sanders’s philosophy coming back to bite him. Yet, despite how the game may be rigged for her, Hillary isn’t taking any chances. Perhaps she will unveil another campaign revamp. Hillary 4.0?

Revamp

On the Republican side, South Carolina may be Jeb Bush’s last gasp; that’s why he has brought in the former president to campaign by his side. Will it help?

Campaign Support

And Donald Trump keeps being Donald Trump, which is a problem in itself. His use of insults, vulgarities, threats of lawsuits, and claims of being cheated are what seem to dominate his campaign. Don’t go looking for any real substance there; you’re just supposed to feel his anger and jump on board his train wreck.

For what it’s worth, he’s pledged to stop using curse words and obscenities publicly.

Juvenile

For the record, I’m not impressed.

Will Scalia’s Legacy Be Honored?

News of the death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia stunned the political world over the weekend. Scalia, a stalwart defender of the Constitution, will be sorely missed, especially in this era of constitutional ignorance and/or apathy. His firm conviction that one must look to the Founders’ words and their original meaning kept the Court from straying more often than it did.

Nominated to the Court by Ronald Reagan and confirmed by the Senate unanimously, Scalia was considered a legal giant, a towering intellectual who knew how to skewer foolish and unconstitutional Court rulings with a biting wit in his many dissents.

Meeting with Scalia

When Reagan nominated Scalia, he said this of him:

Reagan Quote-Scalia

His death was a graduation for him personally, as he was an outspoken Christian believer. He is far happier right now than all of us he left behind.

Yet his death, at this time, opens a political debate that has ramifications for the future of this nation. President Obama would love to place another justice on the Court who reflects his personal philosophy of progressivism, which ignores constitutional limitations on the federal government.

To be clear: he has the right to nominate. To be just as clear: the Senate has the right to reject any nominee he puts forward. Will the Republican majority in the Senate show some backbone this time and not allow another progressive on the Court? They are showing signs of a growing spine. We will see.

Scalia’s death was announced just a few hours before the Republican presidential debate in South Carolina. At the beginning of the debate, all joined in a respectful moment of silence.

Unfortunately, with Donald Trump on the stage (who was the only one not even to close his eyes during that moment of silence), the air of respect soon vanished.

I won’t go into a blow-by-blow description of what took place at the debate, except to say it would have been a genuine debate without the circus atmosphere created by Trump.

February 2016 SC DebateHis favorite word of the night was “liar,” aimed constantly at Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, and mostly in response to their accurate accounting of his liberal beliefs and attitude of personal insults. Trump interrupted continually, attempting to disallow other candidates from completing their sentences. As I watched, even I, as someone who has always considered Trump to be a rude, crude joke of a candidate, could hardly believe how low he sank in this debate.

In all the commentary afterwards, very few have voiced what I saw, but Stephen Hayes came closest when he referred to Trump as unhinged. He was, quite often, out of control emotionally. Any other person running for this nomination who acted like that would be considered poison politically, yet Trump and his supporters somehow consider his manner justified.

He was the most unpresidential man on the stage. Yet he leads the polls.

Even fewer commented on what else I saw: the calmness of Ted Cruz while Trump berated him as the greatest liar he had ever known. Frankly, I was impressed that Cruz could keep his cool throughout the tirade. In my opinion, that’s the kind of character trait I want in a president.

I will admit to being discouraged that a narcissist who, under normal circumstances, would be dismissed as a serious candidate, is on the cusp of becoming the Republican nominee for president.

What’s wrong with this electorate?

I’m reminded of a passage of Scripture that I hope doesn’t truly describe where we are as a nation—a passage that deals with what it will be like as the Second Coming approaches. We’re told by the Apostle Paul in the little book of 2 Thessalonians what will transpire with the ascendance of the Antichrist, who will deceive people “because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.” He continues,

For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

Is that where we are now? I don’t know. I sincerely hope not. But there certainly is a lot of deception taking place and a lot of voters who seem to want to be deceived.

Will Antonin Scalia’s legacy of faithfulness to God and to the rule of law be honored this political season, or will we instead take another step into spiritual chaos and darkness?

Trump: The Vulgar & the Crude

I listen to a lot of commentary about the current campaign for president. Over and over, I hear everyone saying this election is all about anger. More often, lately, I’m hearing the refrain that Trump is ahead because voters like his expressed anger and are planning to vote for him even though he doesn’t share their views on policies.

That’s what disturbs me most. Isn’t it supposed to be about the right policies?

For Christians, it should be even more foundational: right policies carried out by the person who best represents those policies in his own life. Yet Donald Trump can be vague or contradictory about his beliefs and prescriptions and say the most outrageous things without denting his support materially.

He’s becoming bolder with his vulgarity, using crude and obscene language in his public appearances; yet, astoundingly, I still hear some Christians defend him.

Cartoonists have not let Trump’s use of language go unnoticed:

Make America Grate

Rebuttal

Well, that’s just our culture now, some may respond. Sadly, that may be true. But do I want a president who caters to that kind of culture? Do I want a leader of this nation to be brazenly awash in that culture? Trump’s whole manner lends itself to the further breakdown of a culture that used to operate within a Biblical framework—at least publicly. There are few obstacles now to a completely degraded public “conversation.”

Trump Report

Challenged on his use of foul language by Greta Van Susteren on her Fox program, Trump answered, “I’m very capable of changing to anything I want to change to.”

Exactly.

The electorate this time around seems to have fallen to that dreaded “lowest common denominator.” One commentator, assessing both the Trump (get angry!) and Sanders (get free stuff!) campaigns, describes it this way:

Those who believe that politics is little more than personal psychodrama played out on a grand stage might be closer to the truth than usual this election cycle. Neither Trump nor Sanders, despite their claims, is ushering in a revolution. They are ushering in a politics more petty, vulgar, and low—more animated by voters’ base inclinations—than any in recent memory.

If New Hampshire is any indication, voters are not about anything so high-minded as constitutional government or national security or racial justice or even “hope and change.” They’re about me getting mine, by hook or by crook. Free college, free health care, and winning.

This election is the Gollum-cry of the masses: WE WANTS IT.

I wish I didn’t have to say I agree with this assessment, but I do.

There is still time for us to come to our senses. That’s my fervent prayer.

What to Think of New Hampshire?

The New Hampshire Republican primary last night had some poignant results, some of which might be lost on those delirious over a Trump win. New Hampshire was Trump territory: allowing independents to vote as Republicans, a state described by some as one of the least evangelical in the nation. The state motto is “Live free or die.” As more than one commentator tweeted last night, after the Trump triumph, New Hampshire voters chose the “or die” part.

Democrats, faced with the choice of an outright socialist and a covert one with possible criminal charges hanging over her head, revealed their hearts by endorsing the former.

Sanders-Trump

Back to the Republicans.

Yes, Trump outdistanced everyone. Here’s the rest of the story, though. The vote was the death knell for at least three candidacies: Christie, Fiorina, and Carson. If they continue, it will not be because there is any credible hope they can win the nomination. Christie went back to New Jersey afterwards to talk with his people. A formal withdrawal from the race is expected soon.

Reports are that Carson will be talking with Ted Cruz on Thursday. There’s speculation about the reason for that meeting. We’ll see.

Kasich came in second, but this will be the high point of his campaign. He practically lived in New Hampshire for months and couldn’t win. Watch the media; he will be its darling until the South Carolina results later this month, but it won’t matter. He doesn’t have the organization on the ground anywhere else to even hope for a win.

Rubio, after his fifth-place finish, which had to be a major disappointment, in his concession speech acknowledged that his debate performance led to the poor showing. He vowed that won’t happen again, but one has to wonder now if his moment has passed.

Bush has to be disappointed with the result, especially since he spent $35 million on ads, etc., to get his message across. He came in fourth, not exactly inspiring, especially given the fact that Cruz beat him for third, even though he spent only about $800,000 total. Here’s another way of looking at it:

Money Per Vote

For me, Cruz is the one to watch if Trump is to be stopped. Cruz knew from the start that New Hampshire was not winnable, so he didn’t waste his funds on a hapless effort. What’s surprising is that he did so well comparatively, given that he not only spent less than everyone else, but also didn’t spend time either. He held fewer events in New Hampshire than the others. Yet he still came in third.

Why is that significant? He heads into more friendly Cruz territory now, and with the demise of Bush and Rubio–and the burnt-out comet of Kasich—he is now the one man standing. He won Iowa, despite what Trump says. He has a well-organized campaign in all the upcoming states. If his people do as well in South Carolina and throughout the South as they did in Iowa, he could very well emerge with the largest delegate total in the end.

Those who read this blog know I cringe at the thought of a Trump nomination. For those trying to make a comparison between Trump and Ronald Reagan, I have only one reaction: if you can make that comparison, you don’t understand who Reagan was.

On the Democrat side, the curiosity that is Sanders will now wade into states that Clinton people think she has sewed up. It will be interesting to see what happens. And there’s always the real possibility of a criminal indictment. Would even that persuade Hillary to drop her candidacy? Ego probably won’t permit it.

The last thing I want to see is a Trump-Clinton general election. I freely admit that would be the most depressing sight in my lifetime. The bright side is that if it occurs, I will be driven even closer to the Lord for comfort and guidance.

May God have mercy on us all.

And on the Democrat Side . . .

I’ve spent more time analyzing the Republican field than the Democrat. Of course, one reason is that there’s really no “field” on the Democrat side, but it has become more interesting. This was supposed to be a Hillary coronation, but it hasn’t quite worked out the way she expected.

I admit I never thought Bernie Sanders would get any traction anywhere. Maybe I was living in a dream world where I never imagined that even in the Democrat party an outspoken socialist would be a threat to Queen Hillary. Keep in mind that Sanders has not run as a Democrat for many years; he has preferred the title of “independent.”

Yet here he is as a possible nominee in a party he eschewed. One thing you can say for him is that he is consistent: as an avowed socialist, he is promising the sky—free this, free that, free everything:

Slackers Like Me

The little secret that his followers don’t understand of course is that nothing is free; somebody is going to pay for all of that, and that somebody is the rest of us who aren’t getting those freebies.

Hillary, realizing the threat, has become even more outspoken as a progressive. Those who know her (and the party as a whole) aren’t surprised by this; she’s always been a progressive but hasn’t been quite this open about it for fear of losing votes. Now, in a tight race, she feels she has to pull out all the stops.

What all of her rhetoric about the evils of Wall Street hides is just how tied in to Wall Street she is. Where does she receive much of her financial support? Reports show exactly where:

Definition of Progressive

Why the Sanders surge? Could this have anything to do with it?

Slow Speed Chase

I freely admit I would love to see Hillary (and Bill) finally get what they deserve. The FBI seems poised to recommend indictment. If the Obama Justice Department—a misnomer if ever there was one—declines to prosecute, she could still get the nomination. With that hanging over her, she should be easier to beat. If Sanders gets the nomination, America would have finally bottomed out if he is elected, but I believe he would be even easier to overcome.

The key now is whether Republicans are wise in their selection of a nominee or whether instead they will turn to Donald Trump. A Trump-Clinton or a Trump-Sanders race would be the worst of all possible scenarios because no matter who wins, the nation would lose.