Archive | Politics

Would a President Trump be better than a President Clinton?

It’s no secret to readers of this blog that I am a #NeverTrump guy. I have explained what I mean by that here. The consistent objection that I hear to this position is that it amounts to a vote for Secretary Clinton. And nothing could be worse than electing Secretary Clinton.

I disagree with that argument for a number of reasons. But no one has put a finer point on answering this objection than David French has today. He argues that the apparently self-evident conclusion that Trump is better than Clinton is by no means self-evident. He writes:

Those of us who’ve pledged that we will never, ever vote for Donald Trump always get the same response: “You’d put Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office instead?” Clinton’s name is spoken like an epithet, as if it’s unthinkable that any conservative would take any single action that could facilitate her election. I will not, under any circumstances, vote for Clinton, but I also do not believe that Trump would make a better president. Not because Clinton isn’t as bad as you think, but because Trump is worse than you imagine…

Hillary Clinton is the most beatable likely Democratic nominee since John Kerry, and the GOP is poised to nominate the one man least likely to beat her, and the one man who would be just as bad in the White House. I don’t vote for despicable people. I don’t vote for leftists. And I will never, ever, vote for Donald Trump. He’s no better than she is.

I recommend that you read this entire piece. French makes a forceful case on issue after issue that Trump is in fact worse than Clinton on many points.

I know that many Trump supporters aren’t really interested in policy details. They like Trump’s defiant “tell it like it is” attitude. The primary problem with that posture is that Trump is not telling it like it is. He’s a pathological liar. Also, that preference for attitude over policy makes some of his supporters impervious to reason and common sense. That preference causes them to defend their candidate even when news breaks that his campaign manager has been arrested for assaulting a female reporter. And it’s why they are unlikely to respond to an argument like French has provided.

Still, there are many conservative Americans who are reasonable and will listen, and they would do well to read French’s entire argument. They can do so here.

Why social conservatives should support #NeverTrump

Conservative opposition to Donald Trump’s candidacy for president divides into two groups. The first group consists of those who may not support Trump in the primaries but who plan to support him if he becomes the GOP nominee (e. g. Hugh Hewitt). The second group consists of those who oppose Trump in the primaries and who will also oppose him in the general should he become the GOP nominee (e.g. Ben Sasse). We might label the former as the “Stop Trump” conservatives and the latter as the “Never Trump” conservatives.

The division presents Christians and social conservatives with a unique dilemma. While many agree that it would be best to stop Trump in the primaries, there is much disagreement about what to do if Trump wins the nomination. What if the alternatives in the Fall are Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton? Isn’t it the case that although Trump has his foibles, Secretary Clinton would do more damage to the causes that social conservatives care about most—sanctity of life, marriage, and religious freedom? Won’t the “Never Trump” position lead to a loss of the Supreme Court for a generation? Continue Reading →

Secretary of State accuses ISIS of genocide against Christians

You can read Secretary of State John Kerry’s full statement here or watch it above. Here is an excerpt:

My purpose in appearing before you today is to assert that, in my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions – in what it says, what it believes, and what it does…

Daesh has executed Christians solely because of their faith; that it executed 49 Coptic and Ethiopian Christians in Libya; and that it has also forced Christian women and girls into sexual slavery.

CNN reports on the significance of this declaration:

This is the first time that the United States has declared a genocide since Darfur in 2004.

The House of Representatives on Monday unanimously passed a resolution labeling the ISIS atrocities against Christian groups in Syria and Iraq “genocide,” a term the State Department had been reluctant to use about the attacks and mass murders by the terror group.

The genocide finding does not legally obligate the U.S. to take any particular action, but it could put pressure on the Obama administration to take more aggressive military action against ISIS. It could also give weight to calls by other lawmakers and humanitarian groups pushing the Obama administration to welcome more refugees into the United States.

“Go ahead, throw your vote away!” Lessons from the Simpsons for Election 2016

Twenty years ago, “The Simpsons” satirized the 1996 presidential election. In “The Simpsons” version, the candidates running for office were actually alien monsters disguised as Senator Bob Dole and President Bill Clinton. Voters did not realize that their only alternatives for president were actually committed to destroying the world. Voters would be forced to choose one alien monster or the other. That’s just the breaks of a two-party system.

The episode is eerily prescient of our current moment and the questions we are facing in 2016. What should people of conscience do when the two-party system renders two completely unacceptable candidates? Is it possible that conscientious voters might find both candidates unqualified for their support? What if both candidates threaten to undermine our constitutional order–one just promises to do so a little slower than the other?

What “The Simpsons” satire illustrates is that it is possible to refuse to vote for either of two bad options. Candidates can be so beyond the pale that it is absurd to try and figure out which one is the “least worst” alternative. In a widely-read essay for Christianity Today, Russell Moore put it this way:

Given these moral convictions, there have been times when I’ve faced two candidates, both of whom were morally disqualified. In one case, one candidate was pro-life but a race-baiter, running against a candidate who was pro-choice. I could not in good conscience put my name on either candidate. I wrote in the name of another leader. Other times, I’ve voted for a minor party candidate…

In the cases when I’ve voted for an independent or written in a candidate, I didn’t necessarily expect that candidate to win—my main objective was to participate in the process without endorsing moral evil. As Christians, we are not responsible for the reality of our two-party system or for the way others exercise their citizenship, but we will give an account for how we delegate our authority. Our primary concern is not the election night victory party, but the Judgment Seat of Christ.

When Christians face two clearly immoral options, we cannot rationalize a vote for immorality or injustice just because we deem the alternative to be worse. The Bible tells us we will be held accountable not only for the evil deeds we do but also when we “give approval to those who practice them” (Rom. 1:32).

That is where many people are finding themselves this cycle, and it is why many social conservatives and Christians will abstain or vote for a third party candidate if Trump is the nominee. When these voters do split, you can expect to hear the major party candidates yelling, “Go ahead, throw your vote away!” And when they do, it will be just as absurd and self-serving as when the alien monsters yelled the same.

Carson going “off-brand” and Rubio going back on

Senator Marco Rubio was criticized last week for going “off-brand” in his attacks on Donald Trump. I was really heartened to see his humble admission last night that he was wrong to make the off-color “hands” joke (see above). Rubio admitted that it not only embarrassed his wife and kids, it also went against his Christian faith. He promised last night that he would never go back to that “gutter” again. You have to respect his humility and candor. I do. Continue Reading →

Trump says he won’t commit war crimes after all, so I guess it’s okay now

Donald Trump released a statement today reversing his view that the United States military should target and kill innocent women and children who are suspected of being related to terrorists. When pressed on how he would get military commanders to carry out unlawful orders, Trump said he would force them to obey what he says. That was what he said in last night’s infamous debate.

Today, he has released a statement taking the opposite position:

I feel very, very strongly about the need to attack and kill those terrorists who attack and kill our people. I know people who died on 9/11. I will never forget those events. I will use every legal power that I have to stop these terrorist enemies. I do, however, understand that the United States is bound by laws and treaties and I will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters. I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as President I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities.

I guess Trump thinks after months of advocating war crimes, it’s all okay now because of this statement. This is absurd. This is a man who will say or do anything to get elected. He has no core priniciples or discernable political philosophy. He has proven himself to be a pathological liar. And it is asinine to think that he can erase months of war crime advocacy with a press release.

I think most sane people will understand that he has already disqualified himself. And there are no amount of press releases that can expunge his racist, war-mongering demogoguery. 

My take on the debate, the race, and our prospects

Here are my thoughts on last night’s debate and where things stand as far as the presidential race is concerned. Also, a brief word of gospel encouragement:

1. Donald Trump has debased himself and has lowered everyone who is forced to stand on stage with him. Senator Rubio was wrong to tell the “hands” joke earlier this week with the offensive innuendo. Having said that, Trump’s vulgarity last night was off the charts and beneath the dignity of the office he seeks. He has lowered himself. I hate to say it, but he has made the men on stage with him look smaller too. The candidates opposing Trump would do well to remember the ancient proverb: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him” (Proverbs 26:4).

2. Donald Trump doubled-down on the idea that innocent women and children should be targets in war. Don’t let that gravity of that be lost on you. A candidate for President of the United States says that he would order our armed forces to commit war crimes. When challenged whether our military would obey such an unlawful order, Trump said that he would force them to do it anyway. This is beyond the pale. It is a flouting of just war principles and an abomination to everything that our country has stood for. Our military commanders would be put into the situation of having to disobey their commander-in-chief. What happens to a Republic when military commanders decide that they cannot obey the lawless orders of their commander-in-chief?

3. The Republican Party is breaking apart. That result is inevitable at this point. The only thing that remains to be seen is how it will break. The most likely scenario is that Trump wins the majority of delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination. If that happens, you can expect social conservatives and the establishment (represented yesterday by Mitt Romney) to bolt. That would result in a third party candidacy. My hunch is that Mitt Romney would be the candidate. Another scenario is that Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich capture enough delegates among them to force a contested convention. Trump could still come out on top at a contested convention. But he might also be shut-out with one of the other candidates or Romney emerging as the GOP nominee. If that happens, then all of Trump’s supporters would bolt, and Trump himself would likely pursue a third party run.

4. There is no scenario in which a united Republican party faces the Democratic nominee this Fall. That ship has sailed. Unless Secretary Clinton is indicted (which is still a possibility), there really is very little prospect for a Republican victory in the Fall. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth opposing Trump. He is a Mussolini-in-waiting, a demagogue who is a threat to our constitutional order. If you love your neighbor and your country, I believe you are duty-bound to oppose him. He really is that bad.

5. I’ve done a lot of writing in recent days about the presidential election—in particular about the GOP race for the nomination. I have done so with increasing urgency because of the unraveling that is happening before our very eyes. The Republican Party began with Abraham Lincoln in 1860. It is about to be no more. That by itself makes this an historic collapse. But I am more concerned about the implications of this collapse for our national life going forward. Our traditions and institutions of government are based on a two-party system. What happens on the other side of this? I don’t know. I do know that once the GOP is gone, so too is the one party that has stood for the sanctity of human life, marriage, and religious liberty—the issues I care most about. Will a new party emerge that cares about those issues? That is by no means guaranteed.

6. Even though our current political moment is a dark one, I am hopeful. The Bible teaches that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5). For those of us who are Christians, our marching orders haven’t changed. We are to be in the world, not of the world, for the sake of the world (John 17:14-21). God has made us for this moment. Our mission field is before us, God’s power is in us, and we will march in His triumph (2 Cor. 2:14). We may be facing a situation of contracted religious liberty, but our prospects for faithfulness and fruitfulness for the gospel haven’t dimmed at all.

I spent Super Tuesday with Donald Trump

I spent Super Tuesday with Donald Trump. No, he didn’t come over to my house for dinner or anything like that, but he did come to Louisville for a campaign rally. A friend invited me to go with him, and I did. Neither of us are Trump fans. In fact, we are staunch opponents. So why did we go? For me, I mainly wanted to see what all of the hubbub was about. It’s one thing to watch a demagogue on TV. It’s another thing to see in person how a demagogue captures and holds a room. I got to see it with my own eyes yesterday, and it was illuminating.

I had no idea that the crowds would be what they were. It is estimated that that there were about 5,000 people there. I think it may have been more. The line to get in the convention center downtown wound through four city blocks. All along the way, there were street vendors selling t-shirts, buttons, and other Trump paraphernalia—much of it emblazoned with the familiar vulgarities of Trump’s stump speech (e.g., “Bomb the sh– out of Isis,” etc.). Continue Reading →

Trump’s candidacy has become a referendum on us

Make no mistake. Donald Trump’s candidacy amounts to a referendum on us. What kind of people are we? To this end, David French writes:

The crucible of the campaign has revealed him to be petty, malicious, and vindictive. He isn’t as bad as his critics feared — he’s worse. But the most disturbing thing isn’t that Trump exists — cruel and ambitious charlatans will always be among us — it’s that millions of Americans are embracing him because of his cruelty, because of his malice

I began by quoting one Founding Father. Let me end by quoting another. Benjamin Franklin said, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” Trump is running not for president of a constitutional republic but to be the strongman of a failing state. A virtuous people would stop him in his tracks. But are we a virtuous people? Tuesday will help tell the answer.

If you think that French is exaggerating the stakes of this election, you have badly misjudged our historical moment. Trump is the personification of everything that is reprehensible in politics. It is the duty of decent citizens to repudiate him. And that includes those citizens who go to the polls on Tuesday.

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