Thursday, August 11, 2016
Trump's Ends Don't Justify His Meanness
Okay. Remind me again why we evangelicals are supposed to vote for Donald Trump.
Many evangelicals have already decided they can't vote for somebody as acrimonious as the GOP's unlikely standard-bearer. Yet many more appear resigned to support The Donald simply because he's not Hillary Clinton.
After all, we can't have a habitual liar in the White House, can we? The fact that both Hillary and Trump tell all sorts of wild falsehoods notwithstanding, of course.
We can't have a pro-choice person in the White House, can we? The fact that Trump used to be pro-choice, has only paid token lip service to pro-life voters, and has voiced support for nominating his pro-choice sister to the Supreme Court notwithstanding, of course.
And speaking of SCOTUS, we can't have four more years of Democrats appointing justices to the big bench, can we? The fact that none of the people Trump has already mentioned as his nominee picks are shoe-ins for Senate confirmation notwithstanding, of course.
Frankly, Trump's SCOTUS nominee list, stocked with conventional right-wing resumes, appears to be the last thread of hope for conservative Republicans who can't bring themselves to abandon the party that apparently has abandoned its traditional moralistic heritage. Trump has intentionally scorned conventionalism in a caustic hubris his fans want to interpret as mere political incorrectness. Yet at what point should evangelicals be deciding that no matter how bad Hillary is, the ends still don't justify the means?
It can be argued that Trump really didn't mean to imply that gun owners should plot to assassinate Hillary Clinton if she wins and tries to gut the Second Amendment. It can be argued that Trump was only joking when he strategically mocked a handicapped journalist, or repeatedly insulted Jeb Bush, or Tweeted vindictively about Ted Cruz's wife. It can be argued that Trump was merely milking the PR machine when he lambasted the parents of a slain Muslim soldier. It can be argued that Trump's salacious comments about his own daughter were taken out of context. It can be argued that Trump didn't mean to imply that America shouldn't protect our freedom of religion when he called for banning refugees of a particular religion from our country.
Yet at what point should evangelicals admit that no matter how bad Hillary is, Trump's ends still don't justify his mean-spiritedness?
In Trumps' latest outrageous sound bite, he accuses President Obama of being the "founder" of ISIS. Today, on a conservative talk show, he refused to back down from that claim when host Hugh Hewitt pressed him on it. Finally, Trump appeared to concede that he should have said that Obama's failed policies as president allowed the creation of ISIS to take place, something which which most conservatives and even many liberals would at least begrudgingly agree. But why wouldn't Trump admit that he used false hyperbole and basically accuse the president of treason?
Because of the media, an institution he otherwise claims to loathe!
"[The media] do talk about my language, right?" he asked Hewitt triumphantly, pointing out how his egregiously inflammatory wording captures the media's attention and, thereby, the attention of the world. It's a phenomenon that's been recognized before in Trump's campaign, and a tactic that he's manipulated to his personal advantage during most of his public life.
In other words, Trump intentionally deploys reckless speech because he values the media exposure more than he values his personal integrity, or the personal integrity of the people about whom he's talking.
And evangelicals are OK with that? How can we trust that somebody like Trump is going to follow-through on whatever he's promising to whomever he's talking when he makes his promises? If he says whatever he wants because he knows his audience wants to hear it, whether he actually believes it or embraces it himself, what's the point?
You want to place your trust and hope in somebody like that?
"The ends justify the means" is not a Biblical concept. It's not a moral concept. It may be a reliable concept in terms of it being a habitual practice by people like Trump - and Hillary, for that matter - but it's no reason to place any confidence in people like Trump or Hillary to actually do the right thing once they get whatever they're aiming to acquire.
In fact, it says as much negative things about the people who willingly support people like Trump and Hillary as it does Trump and Hillary. It says their supporters don't really care about what you say, or how you say it, as long as it sounds like what they want to hear. Regardless of whether it's something that's true, edifying, helpful, productive, effective, or not.
Actually, the fact that people like Hillary and Trump have gotten this far in the presidential race says a lot of bad things about the voters of our country. But it's not too late. We don't have to commit America's Oval Office for the next four years to somebody like Hillary or Trump. Not that any of the third party candidates are perfect, either. But I'm voting for Libertarian Gary Johnson because unlike Trump and Hillary, Johnson seems the least eager to prostitute his integrity just to win an election.
No, Johnson is not pro-life. But how can any evangelical say with certainty that Trump is?