To Trump or Not to Trump? Where I Landed, and Why

“Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”trump
-Romans 14:5

A highlight of this crazy election is the division among conservative Evangelicals. As long as I’ve been a voting adult (beginning with Ford vs. Carter in 1976) we’ve tended to back the same man, but 2016 is nothing if not a year of contention. So today, supporters and opponents of the Republican candidate find themselves side by side in the pews; miles apart in the polls.

Granted, there are Evangelical Democrats favoring Hillary, some of whom I know, communicate with, and worship alongside while enjoying the occasional
friendly jab.

I’ve no patience with people questioning the spirituality of someone on the other side of the aisle so I won’t go there, other than to insist “Devout Democrat” is absolutely not an oxymoron, and I’ve certainly known my share of
Raunchy Republicans.

Still, we who are often labelled Religious Conservatives usually occupy the same page. But browse Facebook and note how heated things have become, not between Reds and Blues, but between the Pro and Anti-Trump believers.

Stating your take on the man can spark a high-octane dispute, but blogging affords a chance to explain your position on issues that matter. Since this issue unquestionably does, please let me explain where I’ve landed.

There are four general points I weigh when choosing who gets my vote:

1. The principles and policies the candidate promotes
2. The principles and policies of the party the candidate will elevate
3. The appointments the candidate will make, particular in the Supreme Court
4. The general trajectory the candidate will take the country if elected

Based on those four considerations, I’ve decided my vote and support will go to Trump. Let me take each of these four categories and explain why he’s my choice.

Principles and Policies of the Candidate

A candidate’s principles on questions of big versus limited government, American exceptionalism, immigration reform, national defense, taxes, and personal liberties, will guide her or his policies. Those two items – Principles and Policies – carry more weight with me than the temperament, character, or personality of
the candidate.

If I were choosing a Pastor, sound character, like sound doctrine, would be a non-negotiable. And if both candidates for the pulpit were of questionable character, I’d say “forget it” and find another church, because within the Body there’s no room for leadership which is not high in both character and competence.

But while I’d prefer any leader – City Councilman or Police Chief or Governor or President – to be godly, I won’t demand godliness in secular leadership. Nor will I even place it above policy, because ultimately, I believe the policies of the President have more lasting impact than her or his character. Mother Teresa was, after all, a woman of immeasurable character. I’m not at all sure she would been an effective Commander in Chief. It’s a President we’re electing this November, not
a Saint.

At this point quite a few sisters and brothers I respect probably just got off the bus. I get that, and I’ve heard from many close friends and associates that voting for a blustering, quick-tempered, multi-married hothead is akin to being in communion with the unrighteous.

But my concept of being in communion is more about the believers I interact with inside the Body, my own congregation especially, and less about the secular leaders I vote for in society.

Indeed, the most enthusiasm I ever felt at the ballot box was generated by Ronald Reagan, yet as a supporter I was also aware of his wife’s unrepentant practice of astrology. I loathed Nancy’s willingness to engage the occult, much as I loathed Mr. Reagan’s quiet acquiescence to it. But personal shortcomings, however blatant, couldn’t diminish my conviction that his governing principles and policies were in the best interest of the country.

As far as personality goes, I’d say Ms. Clinton presents herself in a far more mature, professional manner than Mr. Trump. I’ll also admit without malice that I don’t trust her, but I do find her general demeanor contained (if a little controlled) and she doesn’t make me wince the way Trump often does.

For that matter, when it comes to moral temperance, she may have a much cleaner bill of health than he, from all we do or don’t know. I give her that, but my objections to her governing policies outweigh her strengths.

To put it more plainly, my question to any candidate is more “How will you run the country?” and less “What sort of person are you?”

Principles and Policies of the Party

I am not just voting for an individual, but for a party platform as well. On that point, while not finding the Republican platform perfect by any means, I strongly prefer it to the alternative.

On the issues raised above – national defense, immigration reform, taxes, and personal liberties, I have far more confidence in my own party’s goals, even if the one representing the party would not have been my first choice. (Full disclosure – he wasn’t.)

On this point, as a believer, I have a growing fear of the open hostility which will surely be levelled towards the church under a Clinton Administration.

I don’t think that’s because of a personal animosity on Mrs. Clinton’s part, who identifies as a Christian and I’m not about to assume I could judge such a claim. If she says so, I accept it.

But her party is largely beholden to groups whose commitment to silencing the Christian influence is unyielding. The LGBT movement in particular, along with the more radicalized facets of the feminist movement, have already shown their hand brazenly around the world, and certainly in our own nation, as groups intolerant of opposing views and more than willing to punish individuals and institutions promoting values different than their own.

Especially the Church, a fact which can only be denied by ignoring countless incidents of lawsuits and sanctions, and both current and proposed legislation.

Some Christians are shrugging this off, suggesting that even if the Church in America should suffer censorship and limitations, it will only make for a purer church. Hardship refines Christians, no doubt, so the argument has some merit.

But it misses a larger point: If our ability to speak truth is crippled, we may indeed become better believers. But our potential hearers, now unable to receive a message which has been muted by endless statues and limitations, will be that much more lost. If we lose our voice, those who would benefit from it lose much more. Is there any virtue whatsoever in letting that happen?

The Early Church was birthed in an environment unfriendly to the faith, but the same cannot be said of the American church. It thrived for centuries in a nation celebrating religious freedom, and if modern believers, through poor decisions, timidity, or laziness, forfeit those freedoms, let’s not call it persecution. Let’s call it failure, one which we’ll answer for both to future generations and to the God
we serve.

Appointmentssupreme-court

A President’s legacy lies largely in his appointments, and nowhere is that legacy more keenly felt, often for decades, than in the Supreme Court. That’s where more and more of America’s future is being decided, and on this point, I find it simple to support the candidate who I consider more likely to appoint non-activist justices who view the Constitution as an authority rather than a friendly guide.

Domestic issues in particular are less than ever in the hands of the voting public, and more than ever in the hands of unelected judges. Our liberties, then, will be secured or decimated by a select group with unbridled powers.

It matters less to me whether the group’s dominated by left or right leaning justices, and more whether it’s dominated by people who commit to interpreting laws rather than imposing or composing them. Trump’s choices in this matter would be, to my thinking, far safer.

Trajectorytrajectory

I’m way past believing that any candidate will, if elected, fulfill all promises made. But while looking at specific “I Will Do Such and Such” commitments stated during a campaign, I also look at the general trajectory the candidate seems to be going and will, if empowered, take the rest of us.

That’s a bit vague, I know, but I still see it as crucial. So when considering the direction this person already moves, I ask myself:

-Is the Presidential aspirant someone who moves towards expanding government powers or reigning them in?

-Will she or he consider the protection of current Americans to take precedence over the benefits available to non-Americans wanting to enter the country?

-Is our safety important enough to this person that she or he will take an unmistakably aggressive posture towards any ideology, group, or nation threatening us?

-Does he or she believe in the fundamental greatness of America, or view us as good but not exceptional?

-Will expression of personal conscience and religious liberty thrive or wither under this person’s administration?

Answering these questions has helped me decide. If making this decision was difficult, tempting me to say, “None of the above” in November, it became more difficult for me to see any virtue in withholding my vote – and thus granting one to the candidate I don’t support – just because my party’s candidate doesn’t pass my own moral muster. Because while it’s true that I can leave my church if there’s no godly leadership available there, I cannot just pack and leave my country.

Someone is going to sit in the Oval Office, and it will only be one of two people. If I choose what some call the lessor of two evils, I am also choosing the better of two options. I see that as both reasonable and responsible, and I feel that throwing my chance to influence the future leadership of my country away out of distaste for the options available would be a poor stewarding of my responsibility to vote.

Let’s Say Grace after November

After this election, some of us will have to forgive some of us.

Trump critics, should he win, may be angry with those of us who supported him, feeling we introduced an unqualified blowhard into the highest office. Should he lose, those of us supporting him may be angry with fellow believers who, we may feel, helped plunge us over a cliff.

Either way, grace is certainly going to be called for.

But let’s not wait until November to show it. Disagreeing is fine, and as adults we should be able to do so without questioning each other’s integrity or sanity. I am persuaded to vote according to my conscience, as are you. And I promise I will assume you have made your choice carefully and prayerfully. Please assume the same of me, because I think you and I both deserve that courtesy.

So here we go. And as we go, God bless us. God bless His church. God bless, and have mercy on, America.

Comments

Mike Wilbur | Sep 24, 2016

As a Canadian I've never been drawn into an American Presidential election like this one.
I'm hooked, and though I've never cared for Trump I'd vote for him too Joe.
The thing that really disturbs me about Hillary is her fanatical pro abortion views.
Sure appreciate your blogs.
Very interesting days ahead for sure.

Brian Eisenbart | Sep 24, 2016

Yes Joe, not choosing the "lesser of to evils" is sometimes supporting the greater of the two. This election I've heard more about voting against someone (while proverbably holding ones nose) than ever before in a presidential election. I'm not an enthusiastic Trump supporter, but given the choices.....

Wayne | Sep 24, 2016

My friend, Joe:

While I'm not quite all the way there in terms of your rationale for voting, you've given me something else to prayerfully consider. I was dead set against voting for either candidate for many of the reasons you cited, but I will think about what you've written here and see if the Lord might open my heart and mind to realize that the direction of the country is very important, and we must choose the best person that will lead us in respecting the right to life, the family as God created it, and other issues such as who will serve on the SCOTUS. I will admit however, while I'm not a big fan of either candidate, I do believe that Donald Trump will at least honor what I and millions of other people hold near and dear to our hearts in terms of being pro-life and honoring holy matrimony as a union between one man and one woman.

Thanks Again!

Wayne

Shannon R Gerdel | Sep 24, 2016

Awesome article Joe. You hit the nail on the head when you stated "As adults we should be able to do so without questioning each other’s integrity or sanity."

Emphasis on Should be. Thanks again Joe!!!

Darla | Sep 25, 2016

I pray you will reconsider this endorsement, Joe.

Donald Trump has been compared to a rising Hitler, who also exploited the fear and shame of a great people to deceive them. In that they are similar. But I would see him as closer to Caligula, the emperor of Rome at a time when many well-reasoned Romans longed for the once-great Roman Republic.

Like Trump, Caligula was given to incest and all other manner of sexual immorality, and it drove him to insanity. Trump has flaunted his adulteries and has paraded his current wife around in the nude. He has discussed his desire to "date" with his own daughter and went on the Howard Stern show to describe her in sexually explicit terms. He has been accused of raping a 13 year-old girl, and it was well-known that he frequented the sex parties where this event allegedly occurred. Caligula truly believed himself to be a god, and Trump did something very similar when he declared that he has never asked God to forgive him for anything. Bill Clinton committed adultery, but at least he publicly acknowledged that he was wrong and asked for forgiveness. At least he went to counseling with his wife and tried to do better. Even if he failed, he is better than Trump, who wears his sexual licentiousness as a badge of honor. Trump is nothing more than a creepy, dirty old man.

Like Trump, Caligula was mad as a hatter (he loved his horse so much, he made the animal a senator...I can see Trump doing something just that crazy, and his demented followers will just laugh and praise him for being "politically incorrect"). Those closest to Caligula in power finally dispatched him because of his madness. Right or wrong, they felt they had no choice. I am happy when I hear so many Republicans are voting with sound reason and not their knee-jerk hatred for Democrats.

Trump would call most of the women in my family, and possibly yours, "fat pigs", "animals" and "ugly". That's what any woman is to him if she doesn't look like a super model. Do you approve of that?

Aren't you aware of his crooked business dealings and his thieving ways? He is nothing more than a common pick-pocket. Do you find that presidential?

Hillary has her faults, but dearest, dearest brother, you cannot possibly find that she is worse than Trump! He is at best a petulant child, at worst a destructive force from which our country may never recover should he win the White House. He has certainly brought great shame on the once great Republican party, which is no more the party of Lincoln or Eisenhower. It has become the party of the reality show, the sound byte and the utterly ridiculous. In this last 40 years, "Republican" has become synonymous with ignorance, greed and bigotry. It is certainly antithetical to the teachings of our dear Lord, He who called the poor "blessed" and commanded us to love our enemies. He who endured violence upon His blameless person did so to banish violence from our hearts...not to promote militarism and xenophobia.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the power of money and privilege has made Trump almost a reprobate...I pray he is not beyond hope. Jesus said that the rich will only enter heaven by the power of miraculous intervention, so I pray for Donald Trump's miracle. But I will not willingly put power into his hands until he presents with a contrite heart of repentance. Trump will only grow more mentally unstable with the power of the presidency in his hands. He will have access to our military and nuclear arsenal. A Trump presidency is a catastrophe in the making, with no extreme behavior outside the realm of possibility.

I pray that Christians in this country will come to their senses. I know many who have, and it's better to vote for a third party candidate than for this obvious lunatic.

Norman Birthmark | Sep 25, 2016

So, just to be clear, Joe Dallas, a supposedly principled moral Christian leader, supports the three-times married, lying, misogynist, non-religious, self-serving, flip-flopping, disability-mocking, POW-mocking, Gold Star family-attacking, racist candidate with vague policies and unknown allegiances.

Jim | Sep 25, 2016

As you said, Joe, many people are gaga over Hillary, and many others over Donald. There's vitriol on both sides of the very wide aisle. I appreciate the calm, thoughtful opinions I read on Facebook, regardless of which candidate is being viewed as the most viable one. I do not like reading the harsh, judgmental, castigating opinions, especially when the writer poses as a Christian. I've pretty much stopped reading any political remarks, unless something catches my eye or is humorious without being mean.

Uncivil Rights - Joe Dallas - Joe Dallas | Oct 10, 2018

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