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.

17 Responses to My take on the debate, the race, and our prospects

  1. Bridget Pkatt March 4, 2016 at 10:41 am #

    Amen. Perfectly stated.

  2. Jonathan Nida March 4, 2016 at 10:59 am #

    I think the party shrinks if a brokered convention denies Trump the nomination, but I don’t think it is likely that the party crumbles in that scenario. It could come out stronger than ever having put it’s stake in the ground on what is and is not negotiable. You’re already seeing this in the Rubio and Cruz tactics of late. There’s a common enemy. I think there’s a Derek Webb song in there somewhere.

    • Denny Burk March 4, 2016 at 11:06 am #

      I hope you’re right!

    • Randy Tanner March 4, 2016 at 11:20 am #

      The Republicans may actually come out with a platform reflecting deeply-held constitutional convictions, and candidates that will stick to their commitments.

  3. Randy Tanner March 4, 2016 at 11:16 am #

    Point 3, last sentence. Trump going 3rd party and taking his voters is not really a split to the Republican Party. Trump has few if any Republican Party convictions and his voters are economic protectionists and a former Democratic constituency completely abandoned by the Democratic party. This is illustrated in the open primary voting tallies – where 2008 had basically the same number of voters in the Democratic and Republican primaries, 2016 has 33% more Republican and 33% fewer Democrats. This disparity ends up almost being exactly equal to the Trump vote. A Trump loss is no loss to the party, and a populist nationalist Trumpist celebrity-worship party will not last because it has no convictions aside from economic protectionism that won’t solve any problems. Given the weakness of the Democratic candidate, the silliness of Trump, the Republican nominee should still win.

    • Christiane Smith March 6, 2016 at 8:22 am #

      Hi RANDY,
      you wrote “Trump has few if any Republican Party convictions and his voters are economic protectionists and a former Democratic constituency completely abandoned by the Democratic party.”

      By ‘a former Democratic constituency’, are you referring to the ‘Dixiecrats’ of old ?

  4. Dan Phillips March 4, 2016 at 11:40 am #

    “Will a new party emerge that cares about those issues?”

    No; but fifteen will. A Grand New Party, a Constitutionalist Party, a Theonomist Party, A Burkite Party…

    Meanwhile the one, single Democratic Party will stand as what is is now, “a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.”

    • Matt Martin March 4, 2016 at 5:30 pm #

      Denny, its rather humorous how you block tame comments and then approve ones like this.

  5. wcbcpastor March 4, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

    Thanks – I had not watched any of the previous debates and as long as Trump is involved I won’t watch any more – though I enjoy reading and observing the political process. I sort of felt like I was watching a middle school fight between a bully and his targets. I also thought FOX news pandered to the bullying by asking Trump to respond to every criticism made about him. I was disappointed by his constant interruptions and name calling. Prayerfully Trump’s candidacy will self-destruct and/or Rubio and Cruz will win enough delegates to force the convention to decide: principle or pragmatism.

  6. William Smith March 4, 2016 at 2:19 pm #

    When O’Reilly, Krauthammer, Boehner and others were discussing about 5 years ago that Obama’s goal was the destruction of the Republican party you’d think we would have listened I guess. Call me a conspiracy nut but most institutions are destroyed from the inside. Congratulations I guess.

  7. Ike Lentz March 4, 2016 at 3:12 pm #

    If there was any remaining hope for the GOP, it was vanquished when the 3 other candidates pledged to support Trump if/when he becomes the nominee. That was the defining moment of the campaign- a party that panders to the religious convictions of evangelicals was unable to stand up to the most openly hateful, racist, insane demagogue in American politics. How are we supposed to trust Rubio, Cruz, or Kasich to lead when they lack the moral courage to shun such obvious evil?

    • Christiane Smith March 4, 2016 at 4:22 pm #

      I’m concerned about the folks who pledge to support him. Particularly if they are openly known as ‘evangelical’. When Trump has come and gone, the poor witness of ‘evangelical’ people who supported him will not be forgotten.
      Perhaps, they feel that he will win the nomination and then go on to defeat Hilary, whom they see as a ‘greater’ evil. This is where I have a problem. Their thinking is flawed, if they underestimate Trump’s intentions, if we are to take him at his word.

      If I am angry, it is that a great American political party has allowed this to happen when was once an honorable option for Americans to choose to support. Without a healthy two-party system, our government will have trouble functioning; and with the tensions and divisions that now exist, I suspect our ‘ship of state’ may be rudderless in the great storms that are sure to come.

      I hope people realize that it is no longer believable to avoid our collective responsibility for what has happened, and why it has happened . . . we know that choices were made to at least tolerate, if not encourage, divisiveness, hatred, fear, and bigotry . . . and from this, what did we really expect would result ??? There are no winners in this. We need to pray.

  8. Cindy Young March 4, 2016 at 5:20 pm #

    I can assure you brother burk, no one in my personal household is going to vote for trump! I honestly believe the republican party will overcome by the spirt of the living God, not by power nor by might! We will have victory through prayer even if comes at the last hour! I STILL BELIEVE.

  9. Richard Huggins March 5, 2016 at 12:41 am #

    1. Trump has no idea how most of what he has promised can be done. Be ready for a lot of “unforeseen circumstances” type excuses. But of empty promises therr is an unlimited supply.
    2. Let’s pray that the North Korean military *can.*
    3. Reminds me very much of the SBC fundamentalist vs. conservative-moderate wars of years past.
    4. Why vote for Sanders when you can more respectably vote for Trump and still get a country that is screwed up?
    5. and 6. Good thing God wins!

  10. Don Johnson March 7, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

    I voted anti-Trump in the Rep. primary in my state and saw it as my duty to do so, I think Trump is by far the worst Rep. candidate. I think the best alternative to Trump that has the best chance to win is either a Rubio-Cruz or Cruz-Rubio ticket, which at least might unite the non-Trump factions.

    In the meantime, Trump must be prevented from taking FL and OH which are winner take all states. My suggestion towards that goal is for all other candidates to tell their supporters to vote for Rubio as a favorite son in FL and Kasich as a favorite son in OH.

  11. Andy Orlovsky March 8, 2016 at 9:21 pm #

    Don, I worry that if Rubio wins Florida and Kasich wins Ohio, both will stay in the race. We need at least one to drop out soon. I think Cruz needs to drop out too. He’s done well so far, but the only states I see him winning from now on are underpopulated states in the Mt. West and Great Plains. We need someone who can challenge Trump in NY, NJ and CA if we have any hope,

  12. Curt Day March 14, 2016 at 7:44 am #

    I very much appreciate the stand taken against Trump here, but there are problems.Those problems revolve around the main reason of many who are supporting Trump: he is a Republican anti-establishment candidate. And despite the truth and effectiveness employed by people like Romney as he publicly spoke out against Trump as a candidate, he ended up speaking to the choir because he didn’t man up to the failures of the Republican establishment that he represents. Thus, he has supplied no legitimate alternative to those who follow Trump as a protest against the Republican establishment. This makes the nomination a king-of-the-hill battle between the Republician establishment and its rebels.

    The second problem with this article is the fact that the Republican Party’s demise really began during the 1960s after a mass influx of Dixiecrats into the party in protest of the Democratic Party’s support of Civil Rights laws.

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