#NeverTrump has only just started

Well, the verdict is in. Donald Trump is officially the presumptive GOP nominee for president of the United States. Trump’s decisive victory in Indiana and Senator Ted Cruz’s withdrawal from the race have all but assured that Trump will acquire the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the nomination on the first ballot at the GOP convention next summer. Unless you’re Joe Scarborough, you probably didn’t see this coming when the primaries began. But here we are.

I have made no secret of the fact that I am a #NeverTrump guy. If you want to know my reasoning behind this, you can read it here. What I want to offer here is a handful of reflections on this moment.

1. Those who think the #NeverTrump effort lost tonight do not understand what #NeverTrump is all about. It is not merely about keeping him from the nomination. It’s about keeping him from the presidency. And that effort is only just getting started. If Trump is the man we think he is, politicians and delegates of principle have to pull out all the stops to keep Trump away from the presidency. The surest way to keep him out of the presidency is to deny him the nomination. It is too risky to pursue any strategy that might make the nomination easier for him. If there are measures to preserve the GOP and conservatism along the way, I think that’s fine. But the priority is not conservatism or the GOP. The priority is protecting the country from an ignorant lecherous Machiavellian demagogue who will tyrannize our constitutional order.

2. I know, I know. It is probably too late to prevent Trump’s nomination at this point. Nevertheless, if there is any first ballot chicanery that can deny Trump the nomination (within the rules!)—perhaps something along the lines that Andrew Sullivan has suggested—then the GOP should not shrink back from pursuing it. If this alienates Trump voters from the party, then so be it. If it has negative consequences down-ballot, then so be it. Allowing Trump to be the nominee is just too risky—not just for the GOP or even for conservatism, but for the country. It is the duty of patriotic Republicans to keep Trump from the nomination no matter the political cost.

3. Principled conservatives cannot outsource Trump’s defeat to Secretary Clinton. I understand that Trump is very unlikely to beat Secretary Clinton according to most polls. But is there anyone who thinks the polls are set in stone? Is there anyone who thinks that there is a limit to Trump’s demagoguery? Anything can happen between now and November. Men of principle with power to influence the process cannot allow this man near the presidency. If ever the country needed its statesmen to be men of courage, it is right now. If any of you happen to be reading this, I ask you not to make your peace with Trump. If or when he clinches the nomination in Cleveland, actively oppose him through the general election. For the sake of your countrymen, spend every bit of political capital you have to defeat him. Remember Churchill. He was exiled to the political wilderness because he stood on principle. He was dead politically. But when the truth finally became clear to everyone, the nation turned to him—precisely because he didn’t waver when everyone else did. Even if you have to spend the next ten years banished to Chartwell, it will be worth it to stop Trump.

4. The 2016 primaries have given us Kang and Kodos—two completely unacceptable alternatives. Expect the pressure to mount to pick one of the two. Expect people to tell you that you must vote for one. Don’t believe it. Don’t stay home. You still need to vote. You can write-in a candidate or perhaps even an acceptable third-party alternative, and then you can vote for those who represent your principles down ballot. There are principled alternatives to voting for a demagogue. Pick one.

5. There are a host of characteristics that render Trump not merely a flawed candidate but a real threat to our constitutional order. Look at how he orders his supporters to perpetrate violence against protestors. Look at how he promises to direct the U.S. military to commit war crimes if he becomes commander-in-chief. If he is willing to advocate and defend such gross violations publicly, how do you think he will use (or abuse) the powers of his office if he were to become President? Do you think he might use his powers to punish dissent? I think he would. Even if he were solid on the abortion issue (which he isn’t), these other items disqualify him. I don’t think it is hyperbolic to say that he is a Mussolini-in-waiting. He must never be allowed near the Oval Office. Ever.

There are many good people still in the “Stop Trump” camp who oppose his candidacy now but who will support him if he becomes the GOP nominee. I think they hold this point of view in good conscience because they don’t want to lose the Supreme Court for a generation. They believe Trump to be wrong on a range of issues but to be otherwise benign. While I share their concern about the Supreme Court, I think they are sadly mistaken that he is otherwise benign.

I hope I’m wrong about the menace that I think he presents to our country. I really do. But I think there is more than enough evidence that I am exactly right about who this man is and what kinds of things he would do. And the uncertain chance that he might accidentally appoint good justices doesn’t overcome these other disqualifying concerns. That is why I will never support him, and I hope others won’t either.

47 Responses to #NeverTrump has only just started

  1. Chris Taylor May 4, 2016 at 1:06 am #

    Agreed: I look forward to writing in my mom. Munca 2016!

  2. Curt Parton May 4, 2016 at 1:54 am #

    Denny, I share your concerns and your resolve.

  3. Donnie Morris May 4, 2016 at 2:21 am #

    “Men of principle with power to influence the process cannot allow this man near the presidency. If ever the country needed its statesmen to be men of courage, it is right now.” What about women of principle and courage? Why are only men charged to get involved?

  4. Jay Mcclendon May 4, 2016 at 3:50 am #

    I understand and appreciate much of what you say here, Denny, but I fall into the second to last paragraph (Stop Trump) you have above. I can’t overstate my concern for the Court with regard to religious liberty and abortion issues that will certainly arise. Clinton is not clear about much, but she is clear in her commitment to Roe and her desire to expand funding for PP. My fear is that Never Trump supporters will spend the next 6 months listing the obvious concerns with Trump than on Clinton’s far worse record. From my perspective, she’s much, much worse. I could be wrong, but to my knowledge few of the Never Trump supporters have lengthy posts listing the negatives of Clinton like your above statements about Trump. Like so many, I’m not happy with either candidate, but at this time I am more against Clinton than I am for any other current candidate. Sure, I can write in a candidate, but as I see it that only ensures Clinton wins.

    • Barbara Jackson May 4, 2016 at 7:54 am #

      Do you really believe for a moment that Trump will actually protect religious liberty and right to life? After all the time we have watched him flip-flop and talk out of both sides of his mouth as seems best to him? He is a used-car salesman looking for the biggest personal profit from the sale and doesn’t even care enough about the product to know anything about it. It only to pass off a vague sales pitch about how this is the best car ever and promising a service package that when you read it only says “best service ever” but without a single detail or anything to back it up – worthless. As viciously as he speaks of everybody and everything except *his supporters*, do you really believe he won’t turn that same viciousness around on them too as soon as it becomes personally profitable for him to do so?

      • Jay Mcclendon May 4, 2016 at 9:32 am #

        Barbara, I believe the Court has the role of protecting our religious liberties, and the POTUS nominates those individuals to that seat. The check on that nominee is the Senate. So, yes, Trump could nominate a terrible candidate, but at least there is the protection offered by the Senate confirmation process. And if you apply your same scrutiny to Clinton, she is far worse. She is a pathological liar and disdains pro-life causes. I am a one issue voter. I can sleep a little better at night with Trump’s shaky pro-life views than Clinton’s outright dismissal.
        And I find it odd that Burk mentions Churchill since he has already told us he’s a 1 issue voter. Yet Churchill’s support of eugenics to build the “British breed” would make him a candidate Burk couldn’t support.
        And as I understand it, Ben Sasse doesn’t want the nomination (even if you could convince 50 million to do it).

        • Barbara Jackson May 4, 2016 at 10:26 am #

          I agree with you about Hilary Clinton but I think you have way too much faith in the Court – Trump wants to nominate his pro-abortion sister to the court which is already leaning liberal, which I’m sure you know in this day and age prefers sexual Liberty over religious liberty and views the Constitution as something to flow with the winds. I am not sure how anyone thinks this would somehow be better.

        • Ezra Thomas May 4, 2016 at 9:29 pm #

          I’ve gotta say that I admire Denny for sticking with @nevertrump even while being a so-called single issue voter. Moral relativism is no longer a thing when voting for someone is acceptable even when that person is a proven racist, misogynist, torture advocate, etc as long as that person pretends to be pro-life. You’ll find that many who professed to be abhorred by such traits during the campaign will find a way to get over it.

          If #nevertrump was the goal then why resist Merrick Garland? The GOP establishment needs social conservatives to go to the polls and vote for Republicans down ballot. They have to keep hope alive that the party is invested in fighting against a 5th liberal vote on the SC. Otherwise they’ll never have the support they need to pass more tax cuts for the wealthy or spend trillions more on another useless war in some foreign wasteland.

    • Terry Galloway May 4, 2016 at 2:14 pm #

      I totally agree with you Jay. Clinton is far, far worse. I am as an evangelical disappointed that others would vote for Trump, but I have been with Franklin Graham’s movement to keep this in my prayers and God is in control. Live every day ready for Jesus to return.

  5. Andrew Lindsey May 4, 2016 at 6:37 am #

    Re: “There are principled alternatives to voting for a demagogue.”

    – In order to even make a meaningful statement in the election, #NeverTrump needs to propose a specific write-in candidate. Otherwise, we might as well just stay home and pray on Election Day.

  6. Mary Rue May 4, 2016 at 6:53 am #

    I just “found” you via Twitter! Thank you for your stand against Trump. I share your passionate (but also rational) NeverTrump principles. God help our nation.

  7. Curt Day May 4, 2016 at 7:58 am #

    The reason why we will probably be stuck choosing between Trump and Hillary this election year is because we’ve refused to invest in third parties. Thus, we have been stuck choosing between the candidate from the them party and the candidate from the not them party. And the only thing each candidate must prove to earn our vote is that they do not represent the other party. With such a low bar set for our candidates, should it be any surprise that we will get to choose between Trump and Hillary?

  8. Ian Shaw May 4, 2016 at 9:13 am #

    I’ve done about 20 min of research on Ben Sasse and I hope he runs as a 3rd party.

  9. Elliot Svensson May 4, 2016 at 10:48 am #

    Saruman to Gandalf: “A new Power is rising. Against it the old allies and policies will not avail us at all. There is no hope left in Elves or dying Numenor. This then is one choice before you, before us. We may join with that Power. It would be wise, Gandalf. There is hope that way. Its victory is at hand; and there will be rich reward for those that aided it. As the Power grows, its proved friends will also grow; and the Wise, such as you and I, may with patience come at last to direct its courses, to control it. We can bide our time, we can keep our thoughts in our hearts, deploring maybe evils done by the way, but approving the high and ultimate purpose: Knowledge, Rule, Order; all the things that we have so far striven in vain to accomplish, hindered rather than helped by our weak or idle friends. There need not be, there would not be, any real change in our designs, only in our means.”

  10. Randy Tanner May 4, 2016 at 11:03 am #

    Endorsed. Just a little over 24 hours ago, after hearing a snippet from a Rafael Cruz speech/sermon saying Christians should vote in accordance with the word of God, Trump said that the speech was disgraceful and added he shouldn’t be allowed to say that. The “disgraceful” comment shows how he despises religion (except for his own cult) – combined with “shouldn’t be allowed to say that” shows where the whole 1st Amendment stands with him and it’s not hard to figure out what that would mean for judicial appointments. He (and the leftists) are not in this to secure the rights of the people. Sadly, the average voter probably doesn’t understand anything of how the federal government is supposed to work and looks at the government as some sort of provider god, which of course Trump intends it to be.

  11. bobbistowellbrown May 4, 2016 at 11:31 am #

    The Church needs to take the log out of it’s own eye before it tries to take the speck out of societies eye. I can’t believe how many church going “Christians” think we have to let the government continue to promote immorality. I know there are a few who are working for pro-life and marriage between a man and a woman, but where is the Church on unmarried couples living together and divorce? Are we preaching this? God is not pleased with all the wickedness abounding in our society. May 5 is the National Day of prayer. Will the Church. repent? God’s perfect will is done whether we cooperate and seek Him or not.

    “At some point the Church must directly take action against the state to stop it from perpetrating evil.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    • Ian Shaw May 4, 2016 at 2:00 pm #

      I agree with many points, but we have to remember that we are not a theistic monarchy. Our country is not a new Israel. Christ called us to be salt and a light.

      There are plenty of churches that speak on cohabitation and divorce. But quite frankly, there are many other sins churches could speak out on than those.

      Christians aren’t letting the government do anything. You can’t legislate sin out of people’s hearts. We have to remember that. Only the saving act of Grace and regeneration can remove the stain of darkness from our hearts. We must speak and act counter-culturally so people see the difference in us, much like how people saw the apostles in the early church acting so much radically different from the culture.

      Regardless of what happens, we must remember that God is in control and He is on His throne.

      Don’t forget, Bonhoeffer was involved in a plan to assassinate Hitler. But this isn’t the thread for ‘just war’ theology.

    • Curt Day May 5, 2016 at 6:23 am #

      Bob,
      The question I have for you is this: To what extent must societal laws be based on biblical values when society consists of Christians and nonChristians?

      • bobbistowellbrown May 5, 2016 at 11:10 am #

        Curt– “At some point the Church must directly take action against the state to stop it from perpetrating evil.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

        • Curt Day May 5, 2016 at 8:51 pm #

          Bob,
          I agree with that. The question becomes which evil was Bonhoeffer referring to and which evil are we referring to? And to follow that, would Bonhoeffer take the same stand with the evil you want the Church to take a stand on?

          If the state uses the Church’s definition of unacceptable evil, how do we separate Church and state?

          • bobbistowellbrown May 6, 2016 at 12:27 am #

            Bonhoeffer was referring to the evil of cursing Israel.

            Numbers 24:9–“The nation is like a mighty lion;
            When it is sleeping, no one dares wake it.
            Whoever blesses Israel will be blessed,
            And whoever curses Israel will be cursed.”

            We are referring to those things that God has forbidden–God’s laws are higher than the states laws. We are to obey God not men.

            Bonhoeffer would take the same stand as he believed God speaks to us in these last days through His son Jesus. See the greatest commandment Jesus gave– love God and love your neighbor. See Romans 1 for what happens when we do not obey.

  12. Christiane Smith May 4, 2016 at 1:10 pm #

    DENNY, thanks for putting that ‘Joe Scarborough’ link in this post. I watched Mia and Joe this morning when they talked about how they ‘called it’ when everyone else thought they were wrong;
    but I appreciate seeing the video of the original show when they predicted Trump’s success.

    Apparently, both Joe and Mia know Trump for some ten years, and they based their forecast on that knowledge . . . so it wasn’t just a blind call . . . (looks like Mia will win her pickup truck bet, too)

    As for what has happened, I am mourning the loss of a healthy two-party system in our country, which is something that I believe provided a needed measure of stability. In the times that are coming, we will need the traditional anchors to give balance to our government’s functioning. (I still can’t believe the candidates that the party fielded. Eight years to get ready and those candidates were dropping like flies before the Trump onslaught, leaving only Cruz and Kasich at the end.)

    There is more to the support of Trump that I have figured out. Maybe the Trump phenomenon is because of all the anger out there. Those angry voters sure aren’t responding in predictable ways, either. The forecast is storm and thunder.

    • Christiane Smith May 4, 2016 at 4:31 pm #

      oops, Mika, not Mia 🙂

  13. Trevor Throness May 4, 2016 at 3:04 pm #

    I just finished Erik Larsen’s ‘In The Garden of Beasts.’ It’s an interesting read about America’s first ambassador to Nazi Germany in 1933. He paints a story of a fed-up populace ready to lay down sense and morality to a deus ex machina leader who was merely a product of his (christian) country’s ‘Germany first’ mania.

    There are some parallels, just saying.

    • Elliot Svensson May 5, 2016 at 10:39 am #

      Have you ever read “Germany Jekyll and Hyde” by Sebastian Haffner? He escaped Germany with his Jewish wife in 1938 and wrote this book in 1940, which skewers all the divisions of Germany and makes some really accurate predictions about the outcome of Hitler’s influence and the Nazis.

  14. Chris Hohnholz May 4, 2016 at 5:11 pm #

    Amen sir. Amen.

  15. twebb2 May 4, 2016 at 6:01 pm #

    Dr. Burk,

    I’m #NeverTrump too. Trump will likely lose to Secretary Clinton in a landslide. I’m even considering voting for her, and before Trump I had never disliked any candidate as much as her.

    But let’s say that somehow the Republicans do contest him based on some rules, and somehow get another candidate. (99.99% chance it won’t happen, but whatever.) Trump will run independent, split the Republican vote, and President Clinton again.

    Just name her president and save the billions of $$$ that will be spent on advertising, etc. And I can’t stand her!

    Tim Webb

    • Johnny Mason May 5, 2016 at 9:26 am #

      Trump would never run third-party.

      a) He does not have the liquid assets to do it
      b) He is notoriously cheap and would not waste money in a sure to be failed campaign.

  16. MIchael Dupuis May 4, 2016 at 7:38 pm #

    Denny, I can understand your concern and agree that Trump is not the man for the office but was Obama and Americans will be paying for that choice as well for many years.

    There are two things in your post that concern me. 1) Your language of fear: “The priority is protecting the country from an ignorant lecherous Machiavellian demagogue who will tyrannize our constitutional order.”

    This type of language is beneath the usually constrained, winsome and thoughtful writing for which you are appreciated and known for. Yes politics can be very emotional but no more so that the crucial matters of abortion and sexual morality that is pervading western society.

    Secondly, the political process is not controlled by one man. If the GOP had some decent candidates, the Tumpfoonery would easily have been exposed and cast aside by a confident and competent political candidate. It is not Trump’s money, wit, charm and political expertise that is winning, It is the lack of these offerings in any other candidate that is allowing him to win by default. No amount of rallying or railing against the wind will change that! (I am not a Trump fan but if Trump ordered his people to be violent, who has been ordering violence at the anti-Trump protests? Please keep these kinds of aspersions in check unless the facts are clear enough that law enforcement can do its job, this too is beneath you and out of character with your other writing)

    Trust the constitution! Obama could not destroy the USA, only weaken it financially and even then it required collaboration from compliant conservatives. It is unlikely that even a President Trump can rewrite the constitution or ignore it, bypass it or whatever, without a great deal of collaboration and he is likely to be even more inept than Obama in managing his way through both congress and the senate. Rest assured…

  17. Floyd Lee May 4, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

    There are several reasons (some have been generated by Trump himself) as to why Hillary Clinton is likely to defeat Trump. But people need to take seriously that a third-party write-in — any third party write-in — really DOES translate (de facto) into a vote for Hillary.

    I do not have any solutions here. A desperate “God help us all” seems to be all that is left to say. But make no mistake: Liberal Democrats will be quietly counting on #NeverTrump and similar movements to help seal the deal for Clinton. And when she becomes the next President, Hillary Clinton will ensure that Bible-believing Christians pay a most sobering price.

    • Elliot Svensson May 5, 2016 at 10:52 am #

      It seems that there are two questions that the election answers: who is going to be in charge?… and what do the people think? If there weren’t two questions to answer, reporting on the popular vote would be completely pointless— the Electoral College is the only answer to the first question!

      Voting against Trump, in spite of what we think about the outcome, would send this message to government: Trump’s vision of leadership is not shared by me. He may have acquired the presidency but let the numbers serve as a warning that many people aren’t impressed— and we vote.

      And if it goes to Hillary, there’s consolation that we are submitting to our American form of government and to our neighbors and have not thrown our lot in with Donald Trump.

    • Ezra Thomas May 5, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

      Why do you assume that Bible-believing Christians won’t pay a sobering price in a Trump presidency? Trump essentially neutered social conservatives as an influential broker this cycle by co-opting them. Majorities of “evangelicals” voted for him in quite a few states. A nation that is more like Trump, after 4 or 8 years of his Presidency, would not be a friendly place for Bible-believing Christians.

  18. Lon Spector May 6, 2016 at 11:12 am #

    America is TOAST. It neglected it’s historical obligations to preach the Gospel all over the
    world. So God is pulling the plug on America as a blessed nation.
    Trump is nothing but a Hillary employed infilltrator working for Hillary (And Satan)
    to destroy this nation.
    Neither Trump or the Clinton’s earned their fortunes in legatimate ways. They made
    “Crossroads” type deals with Satan the Devil, earlier in their lives. A Crossroads deal
    is when Satan is congered up at a certain intersecting location. The person signs their
    soul over to him for power and influence NOW. An example of a “cross road” is the
    overhead shot at the conclusion of the film “Cool Hand Luke,” (1967).
    America is TERMINAL. It is demographally finished. It should be called “The United States
    of Satan.
    Hillary’s first order of business will be the genocide of the White Christian American male,
    and the sexual enslavement of the white female.
    Hillary will be suceeded by President Kanye West, and First Lady, Kim Kardashian.

  19. Mike Gantt May 6, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

    Denny, I don’t object to any of your objections to Trump. However, Trump is not the issue. The issue is who is going to be the next president. It appears at this point that the choice will be between DJT and HRC. From a practical standpoint, voting for a third party candidate will have the same effect as not voting. The question therefore is not “How bad is Trump?” – rather, the question is “Is Trump worse than Clinton?” Oddly, you don’t address this.

    As for my own view, we can be confident that HRC will use presidential power to resist evangelical and conservative interests on every front, just as Obama has done. With Trump, we have no guarantee that he will appoint Scalia-like justices or that he will support any other issue we deem important. But just on the face of it, no guarantee of support sounds better than a guarantee of opposition on every front.

    My main objection to the #NeverTrump people is that they are ipso facto not #NeverHillary people. There is something wrong with that way of thinking.

    • Denny Burk May 6, 2016 at 2:15 pm #

      You’re right. That is the question. I am not convinced he’s better than her. If I were, I’d vote for him.

      • Mike Gantt May 6, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

        Neither am I convinced that he’s better than her. However, I think we do know how bad Hillary would be as president; what we don’t know is how bad Trump would be as president. It depends a lot on the leadership team with which he surrounds himself. Since that has yet to be determined, it seems #NeverTrump is a premature stance to take. In fact, #NeverAnyone is an inappropriate stance to take six months out when the choice will come down to which is the lesser of two evils. If it turns out that Anyone’s opponent is worse than Anyone, you’ve hung yourself with the #NeverAnyone decision.

        Now’s the time to wait and see what Trump does, and with whom he becomes aligned – not the time to concede that Hillary would be better when we don’t have enough facts to know that. As they say, “personnel is policy.” Once the wagon boss chooses the horses who will pull the wagon train, he can only go where, when, and as fast as those horses will take him.

        I may end up voting for Hillary, but right now that would be choosing the devil I know over the one I don’t. We will know a lot more about DJT when we know his veep, his general election campaign leadership, and what policy advisors he chooses and uses. And I would consider it a godsend if he were to name his cabinet before the election. This is because that would help convince me one way or the other that he is either a greater or lesser evil for the USA than Hillary Clinton.

        I am sure DJT would be a bad president no matter who he chooses. However, what I want to find out – and what I hope Christians will wait along with me to find out – is whether or not he would be worse than the person who is sure to cement and expand on every bad decision that Barack Obama has made. In just seven and a half years, Obama has advanced and accelerated the decline of America at a pace I did not think was possible. We don’t have the luxury of forgetting this election and just thinking about 2020.

  20. Christiane Smith May 6, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

    Something for Christ-followers to think about, and I am quoting Debbie Kaufman who was quoting Bart Barber from his post on SBCvoices, this:
    “With Donald Trump, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, and hatred aren’t Democrat insults, they’re planks in his platform.”

  21. Thomas Womack May 9, 2016 at 9:24 pm #

    I’m with you, Denny. Never Trump. I’m also considering withholding my vote from any down-ticket candidate who endorses him.

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