SESSION 7 – TRANSCRIPT
Full transcription of Session 7
FOR GENERAL SUPPORTERS OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: Identify one initiative President Trump has taken for which you agree with his “goal” (“end”), clearly stating your reasons for your agreement in terms of your Christian beliefs.
- How would you describe the way President Trump is “doing politics” (his “means” for seeking to accomplish his “political goals”)? Are his “means” consistent with your understanding of Christian values? If not, do you believe his “means” are justified because they lead to “ends” that you believe are consistent with Christian values?
TM QUESTION F
I think Trump’s economic plans have done us a great service as far as the economy and people’s lives are concerned. I’ve been banging this drum, but as the economy builds to full employment, opportunity abounds, and people can find the kind of work that moves them. One of the things I’ve learned in my career is that there are plenty of people who actually like working with their hands. I like to joke that God didn’t engineer my hands for physical labor, but there are a lot of people who feel the opposite, that they love to get into the physical, the dirty, moving things, driving forklifts, etc etc. These people don’t want an office job. I believe there are a lot of trades that won’t be eliminated by robots, and I don’t think they should be.
Cutting taxes is, in my estimation, the second best stimulus that we could have, noting that my preferred economic model, eliminating Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, isn’t politically viable. I’m not in love with the trade war, but if you look at what the tariffs hit, China is putting a tariff on raw materials, food, and feed stock, whereas our tariffs hit finished, manufactured goods. This seems to be hitting the Chinese economy harder than our own. From CNBC, China’s economy grew by 6% in the 3rd quarter, which is the slowest in 27.5 years. Again, I don’t love the trade war, and I’m not sure it’s as easy to win as Trump predicted, but he has hit Beijing in the place that they understand the most, their economy.
LN QUESTION F
I support President Trump’s Supreme Court Of The United States (SCOTUS) appointment initiative. Early in the campaign he declared that he would appoint strict constructionist judges, selecting SCOTUS justices from a disclosed list. He has kept that promise. How often are campaign promises kept?
A strict constructionist is someone whose interpretation is based on the actual words and plain meaning of the Constitution itself, with practical applications to modern life, as opposed to so called “dynamic interpretation,” which allows judges to create or assume rights and meanings never intended by the founders but preferred by cultural progressives.
I am focusing on the newly “discovered” rights of personal privacy, personal autonomy, personal choice, the right to be left alone (Thurgood Marshall, pornography case – Stanley v. Georgia) and more: “The process of implausibly stretching the Constitution beyond recognition reached its zenith in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, where progressive Justices dared to declare that “at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” (F. LaGard Smith, Journal of Christian Legal Thought, Vol. 9,No. 1, 2019, p.7).
These creative, high sounding phrases have no existence in reality, but form the shaky foundation for all of the new rights being discovered by progressive judges in deference to current cultural preferences.
You have already heard my suggestion that the Legislature’s failure to govern by reflecting the will of the people has been supplanted by an overreaching Executive Branch (both parties) and progressive courts. Conservative legal scholars suggest that the only way to re-establish the original harmony/tension between the branches is to reassert the original bedrock of a fixed starting point at the Constitution. President Trump is attempting to do just that, intentionally and uncompromisingly.
The pivotal point in this judicial appointment battleground occurred in July, 1987 when then President Reagan appointed Judge Robert Bork to the SCOTUS. This appointment came as no surprise. Senator Edward Kennedy on the day of the announcement declared in caucus that the party must defeat him (Bork) by whatever means and at whatever cost or all is lost – our social agenda will be forever doomed, and Kennedy proceeded to bash Bork as a person, as a jurist and as an ideologue – all without honest substance. Ever since SCOTUS appointments have been dirty, messy political assassinations – going both ways. SHAME.
As a Christian, I cannot presume to declare that I myself am the fountain of all truth—that I am free to define myself, my world and my eternal meaning in subjective terms as I see fit and to vary those pronouncements from time to time as I might find convenient or personally gratifying. NO, I find myself defined and described best in Scripture which tells me that I am created a little lower than the angels in my Creator’s image, BUT have sinned both by my federal representative Adam and personally every day all day so that I need a sinless Savior who is revealed to me in that same Holy Writ—Namely one Lord Jesus Christ.
I reject the agenda of cultural progressivism and the judges and justices who promote and protect it. And I applaud President Trump for his appointments to SCOTUS.
KN QUESTION F
It’s not really the question, but I feel it’s important to acknowledge credit where it’s due. President Trump seemed to be a collaborative leader in his support for criminal justice reform in the sentencing of non-violent offenders – a very important societal issue, and one that I’m still not clear about his rationale for supporting it since the growth of privatized prison system and “lock them up” seem more consistent with his rhetoric and values. But other than that, there is very little that I would agree with, either in substance, method, or style.
So there are several “initiatives” for me to choose from, but I think the biggest one must be his stance against any measures that would address climate change. His goal/end would seem to be to accelerate, rather than impede in any way, the plundering of our planet’s natural resources to satisfy the profit motive of any who can do so. I’d like to grant it as ignorant and somewhat innocent disregard/disbelief in what he so arrogantly declares as the “fake news” of science, but I think it’s more than that. I think he actively chooses short-term riches over the long-term sustainability of life on this planet. I don’t know what he actually believes about climate change – what’s more clear is that he doesn’t care to know or, even more, to lead in a way that would do anything about it. In such a global leadership role, on an issue of such importance for the whole planet, and with such consensus between nations and in the scientific community that it must be addressed – his stance goes way beyond an innocent difference of opinion to blatant disregard for future generations.
My Christian faith calls for stewardship of the bountiful resources God has blessed us with in His creation, and consideration of the needs of my neighbor near and far away. I realize that some Christians believe the natural order is bound for destruction, and some actually welcome such demise as a hastening of that outcome. I was raised in a tradition that often took that position. But I have come to question that, believing in God’s renewal of a new earth as well as a new heaven. And I think that’s the essence of my comment last time that I think eschatology is largely a distraction from what is right in front of us and our God-given responsibility to do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with our God and what He has entrusted to us. I am far from feeling that I have done my best part in environmental consciousness and action, but I don’t want to look away from it, and I think the world needs leaders who will help us to organize to do more together than we could do alone. The world is already at-risk, and Donald Trump is taking us backward rather than forward.
BE QUESTION F
“All children—born and unborn—are created in the holy image of God.”
Those wise, winsome words spoken by President Donald Trump express why I can and must continue to support him as President of the United States of America. No previous President has consistently supported the right to life of unborn babies. No current candidate of any political party has campaigned on the unequivocal right to life from conception on except President Donald Trump.
Donald Trump has also done more to protect the right to life of unborn babies than any previous President, whether Democrat or Republican. I will list and explain 10 of his top pro-life achievements.
First, President Trump has cut, by up to 60 million dollars, federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood, by its own accounting, kills over 300,000 unborn babies annually. Since Planned Parenthood donates millions of dollars to Democrats, cutting federal funding helps keep my tax dollars from murdering unborn babies and from supporting the Democratic Party, which is basically a blood money laundering machine for Planned Parenthood.
Second, President Trump has appointed, so far, two possibly pro-life judges to the Supreme Court. While I’m not convinced either of the new justices is completely pro-life, Hilary Clinton and the current Democratic candidates would appoint only pro-abortion Supreme Court justices.
Third, President Trump has issued new regulations for Title X funding. As a result, Planned Parenthood has withdrawn rather than comply. This has allowed these redirected federal funds to help health care centers that do not do abortions.
Fourth, President Trump has stopped our tax dollars from going to abortion-providing organizations overseas. According to the World Health Organization, the number of unborn babies killed annually by abortion is around 40-50 million. Trump’s action keeps our tax dollars from contributing to the slaughter.
Fifth, President Trump has defunded the United Nations Population Fund, known as the UNFPA because it formerly went by the name United Nations Fund for Population Activities. A very popular “population activity” the UNFPA funds is abortion. Thus, defunding the UNFPA keeps American tax dollars from, you guessed it, paying for abortions abroad.
Sixth, President Trump has required health insurance companies to disclose if they include coverage for abortion. That allows consumers to avoid helping fund abortion through the insurance premiums they pay.
Seventh, Trump has trumped every other President when it comes to nominating and getting confirmed his choices for federal judges in his first year. And as of August 2019, Trump has had 152 judges confirmed for lifetime seats in our courts, with another 40 nominees who are awaiting approval. Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates are appalled that some of these judges actually believe, correctly, that our Constitution protects life from conception until natural death. Unlike death-dealing Democrats, I am delighted at this.
Eighth, Trump has established at the Department of Health and Human Services a new office for conscience protection. This can prevent doctors and other health professionals from being forced to perform or to assist in performing abortions. A doctor should care about the Hippocratic Oath, which says “First, do no harm.” Since abortion harms society in general, the affected families in particular, and unborn babies especially, this new provision is wonderful and welcome news.
Ninth, President Trump has allowed states to defund Planned Parenthood of Medicaid funds. Medicaid, which helps poor people, should not spend our taxpayers’ money to hurt the poorest of the poor: unborn babies.
Tenth, Trump has cancelled a huge contract for taxpayer-funded experimentation with body parts of aborted babies. The research was often conducted by the National Institute of Health and has occurred at universities across the country. The University of California, San Francisco, for example, has been conducting research with the body parts of aborted babies for 30 years. Those researchers out-Frankenstein Dr. Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s classic horror story in their grisly procurement and use of body parts. Planned Parenthood employees have been videotaped discussing how to obtain body parts while performing abortions.
Closer to home, President Trump’s consistent, unequivocal support for life from conception until natural death has inspired pro-life proponents to pass legislation like Iowa’s Heartbeat Bill, which outlawed abortion when a heartbeat can be detected, around 6-7 weeks after conception. And the more Constitution-keeping judges President Trump gets to appoint, the more such laws will stand, rather than being overturned by pro-abortion kangaroo courts.
I believe that Christians must support the right to life from conception until natural death. The Bible says that God created human beings in His image. The Bible values human life so much that the first murderer, Cain, was punished severely for killing Abel. Psalm 139:13 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” This verse says God Himself causes each and every conception. Consequently, how can Christians do anything else except abhor abortion and do everything in their power to abolish abortion?
MK QUESTION F
I like limited government.
I like freedom to worship as I feel called by God to do.
The two are intertwined in a symbiotic relationship.
The founders of our country said that limited government is possible because of the virtue that comes from religion. The constitution guaranteed the free exercise of religion, but prohibited the establishment of a state religion. Other countries have gone the route of a state religion, and it has not ended well.
This arrangement of limited government and freedom of religion has produced a good balance between religion and state, that lets citizens follow their allegiance to God, while also obeying earthly authorities. The moral constraints brought about by an active, protected faith kept the populace mostly lawful, enabling the state to focus on bigger issues.
Families, churches, congregations all exercise moral constraint which is what allows us to have limited government. Because we can govern ourselves from within, we don’t need to be governed from without. Freedom of religion is an absolutely essential component of maintaining limited government.
Conversely, the encroachment of government—i.e., government becoming less limited—is directly linked to a people straying from Biblical truth and an understanding that certain freedoms are not granted by the government, but are protected by the government. As we become less and less sure of who we are as people created in God’s image, and more and more confused about Who we belong to, we look to others—often government—to be our source of identity and the one who provides all we need.
As sure and night follows day, government will expand to fill the void and take over more and more of a people’s daily affairs. Eventually, the cycle will be complete and the government will even try to regulate who, what and/or when a people may worship. Once that happens, it will be difficult or nearly impossible for a people to experience self-regulating morality that allows for limited government once again. Government will need to be much more pervasive as it assumes more and more of the role that God and self-regulating morality used to take care of.
Now, no longer able to be ruled from within, people without the freedom—or desire—to worship God, will need to be ruled from without.
Whether Trump sees the issue this way or not I do not know, but I do know that the freedom to worship is not a freedom for the government to grant. It is a freedom for the government to protect. Trump has taken steps to do that, both here and abroad, and I applaud him for it. Not only is it right from a religious perspective, but it is what our constitutional founders wanted.
LS QUESTION F
As I have stated before I feel that the most important and one of few mandates that God gives to any government is to protect its citizens. I feel that Trump has done more to accomplish this mandate than any recent president. This applies to not just to un-born children but also helping people get of government assistance, fight drug addiction, restoring the rule of law making our country safer by arresting MS-13 gage members, keeping us out of wars.
In the Belgic Confession Article 36 it says “We believe that our gracious God, because of the depravity of mankind, has appointed kings, princes, and magistrates; willing that the world should be governed by certain laws and policies; to the end that the dissoluteness of men might be restrained, and all things carried on among them with good order and decency. For this purpose, He has invested the magistracy with the sword, for the punishment of evil doers and for the protection of them that do well.”
Here are just some of the pro-life accomplishments of the President and his Administration.
TA QUESTION F
I disagree with Trump’s attempts to sabotage and dismantle the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act includes ideas and policies that were at one time Republican ideas, but Obama Derangement Syndrome became so pervasive in the Republican party that they shamelessly claimed up was down, black was white, and healthcare can be accessible and affordable for anyone who needs it without requiring that everyone have health insurance. Trump has perpetuated these lies and disparaged and damaged the affordable care act, despite its proven successes—including coverage of preexisting conditions and allowance for young adults to remain on parents’ policies.
I believe the Affordable Care Act was a step in a right direction (there may be other, unexplored right directions). I think the original design of it—that we would all help each other afford health care by all agreeing to purchase health insurance is almost biblical in the way it mimics our call as Christians to unselfishly share one another’s burdens. I disagree with Trump’s attempts to undo it without replacing it with something similar or better, and it seems clear to me that his claims he knows how to replace it with something better are nothing more than brazen, self-serving lies. (As a Christian, I also disagree with brazen, self-serving lying.)
SE QUESTION F
I have serious problems with President Trump’s actions on immigration.
- The border wall is ineffective and a waste of resources. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/trump-says-walls-work-its-much-more-complicated
- The detention centers are inhumane. http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/07/the-inhumane-conditions-at-migrant-detention-camps.html
- The Muslim ban on travel is an unAmerican policy and is stoking hatred toward our Muslim neighbors. https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/trump-s-muslim-ban-doesn-t-just-target-eight-countries-ncna868971
- Our rejection of asylum seekers, detention of asylum seekers, and reduction of refugee acceptance is a stain upon America’s identity. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/26/us/politics/trump-refugees.html
All the way back in Deuteronomy (10:19), God tells God’s people to welcome the stranger in the land and reminds the Hebrew people that they were once strangers in Egypt seeking food during a famine (Genesis 47). I think this example is incredibly powerful, because I think we have set the current refugee and immigrant need as low in comparison to the atrocities seen in Nazi Germany. But Egypt welcomed Joseph’s family (Israel) simply because they were hungry.
The biblical reminder to love the alien and offer hospitality to the stranger is seen throughout the entire biblical text. The author of Hebrews (13:1-3) tells us that when we welcome strangers we might be entertaining angels. It is a powerful thought.
I agree with others who have stated in previous conversations that the biblical mandate to love our neighbor and care for the alien is not a mandate for the government but for the person who loves God and seeks after Jesus. But if there is a policy that troubles me it is one that degrades at my ability to love well. The positions Trump holds toward immigrants and the actions his administration has taken against immigrants and refugees is, in my view, an anti-Christian approach toward the neighbor.
TM QUESTION G
I don’t think that Donald Trump has done politics in a way that most of our political class is happy with. As far as I’m concerned, he can interact with congress in any way he wishes, short of anything illegal or unethical. It’s no different from working at your place of employment, if you don’t follow the handbook you’re liable to get fired, but short of that, if you’re difficult to work with, you probably get what you deserve in your employment. I have worked with a number of people who are difficult, and I know it’s not fun. Personally, I wish he was more collaborative, but I know that’s not why he was elected.
Honestly, Trump was a giant middle finger to the DC class, so if you’re expecting him to be pleasant or even normal to work with, that’s not the mandate he received. He was sent as a change agent, and he has definitely hit that note. I don’t think Bernie Sanders would be much different in style quite honestly. He probably would have fit better into the DC mold than Trump does, but their messages are not that much different in all reality.
LN QUESTION G
I have mixed reactions to the way President Trump is pursuing his policies and goals as Chief Executive and Commander in Chief of the United States of America. He has governed in a style far more open but heavy handed than his predecessors. Within the Beltway there is continuing disbelief that he has not yet come to heel as he “should”. I find this refreshing but a little unnerving when I wonder what will happen next, Then I realize that I also expect him to behave in a certain way as if I own the process. Our expectations seem to control our judgment of others. We measure by our own standards and easily become judgmental in our assessments.
President Trump is very independent. He is still an outsider from the business world, not skilled in the niceties of party politics, and beholden to no one. That makes him more powerful than is comfortable for most. He is supposed to be predictable and thus, manageable. But he isn’t. Thus the anger and hate?
I do think his use of Executive Orders is overdone. Sometimes the objective seems a bit trivial (think of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation by Contrast) In this way he follows President Obama’s example – governing by fiat. Again, a result of a weak legislature? Where are the Statesmen/women? Do we need 6 year term limits to drain off the politics of re-election?
I think the age-old question is unanswered – does the end justify the means? I think of real life examples like the European resistance to the Nazi regime. I think of Bible examples such as:
Jacob the Deceiver
Cyrus the Persian
St. Paul’s Roman imprisonment — All meant for good in the final outcome, but seemingly unfair in the process. I am not wise enough, or brave enough to venture a definitive answer.
I can only accept the truth that God is in control and His plan is good, VERY GOOD. I don’t think the last election was out of His control – we need to wait and see what will come of it. Patience.
KN QUESTION G
More than anything else, I believe Donald Trump’s “fake news” mantra to decry anything that doesn’t agree with or fit his agenda has cynically degraded core institutions of our society. This approach is not at all consistent with what I would consider to be Christian values, nor does it lead to “ends” that I believe are consistent with Christian values. (It may very well lead to ends that amplify classic American values of individual freedom and material wealth, which might be at the heart of “MAGA” slogan, but I do not believe are at the heart of the gospel.) What Donald Trump stands for, I believe, is his own brand, and those who challenge that brand are excluded and/or disregarded. Jesus Christ, who we claim to follow, calls us to love God and neighbor as self. That’s hard enough to live into (impossible without experiencing God’s regenerating love and forgiveness ourselves) without a leader who blatantly normalizes self-interest and attack.
Maybe I’m naïve and this is always what politics has been about. I hope not. But if it is true, then Donald Trump has mastered it with little sham of anything else, and so far I don’t think we’re better for it.
BE QUESTION G
President Donald Trump has been attacked relentlessly. He understandably lashes out at the fake news perpetuated by most mainstream news media. For example, when he nominated Justice Brett Kavanaugh, many commentators and reporters supported the unsubstantiated accusations of Christine Blasey-Ford and attacked Kavanaugh’s character. Our justice system is predicated upon “innocent until proven guilty,” but that principle was ignored.
Nick Sandmann and the other Covington kids were considered guilty because they committed three cardinal “sins”: they were white Catholics protesting abortion. Nick wearing a Make America Great hat and standing still while being confronted by the lying fake Vietnam veteran made him the target of hate and vitriol.
MAGA hats have attracted much attention, as has defending the right to life of unborn babies, with signs and displays being destroyed and peaceful pro-life proponents being verbally assaulted and violently attacked.
These things I point out to explain why I can tolerate some of President Trump’s behavior that I would otherwise criticize more. He and his supporters do not deserve the dreadful behaviors they have encountered.
It is ironic how Democrats denigrate President Trump for behavior they have tolerated from their party. Here are some examples:
First, previous Presidents could trust that their Supreme Court nominees would be approved almost unanimously. None were subjected to horrendous personal attacks like Brettt Kavanaugh.
Second, President Bill Clinton was allowed to defend himself during his impeachment proceedings and, even after he lied, was not removed from office, in spite of what he admitted to doing in the Oval Office. By contrast, Democrats have vowed since Trump was elected to remove him via impeachment, with no evidence that President Trump deserves it.
Third, Trump has been accused of being bigoted and racist. Several awards from the black community, most recently for changing drug sentencing that hurt blacks in particular, do not matter to Democrats.
Fourth, the border enforcement policy and so-called “cages” for which Trump has been condemned were begun and used during Obama’s Presidency.
My conclusion is that nothing President Trump says or does appalls me like what has been said and done against him. I pray for protection for him and his family and urge all of us to do so daily.
MK QUESTION G
There’s also an old rhyme that goes like this: “Diplomacy is to do and say, the nastiest thing in the nicest way.”
Unfortunately, Trump does and says the nastiest things in the nastiest ways and rarely seems to have a nice way about him. Is this just Trump, or is Trump a symptom, a symbol, a representation of something bigger?
Before I answer that and before I get to my understanding of Christian values in this context, I want to make a comparison between Trump and Obama.
When it comes to politics, Obama wielded a surgeons’ scalpel. He could parse, make quick incisions, shake hands, smile and always be the gentleman. And with his diplomacy skills, he got a fair bit done. Much of what he accomplished, and the way he did it, left much to be desired. His means were different than Trumps, and he used those means to reach certain ends—many of which I strongly disagreed with.
Trump, on the other hand, does not wield a surgeon’s scalpel. He swings Thor’s hammer and smashes everything around him. If you don’t duck, you’ll get clobbered. Using his means, he also accomplishes much and also leaves a lot of destruction behind him. On a philosophical level, I agree with more of what he’s accomplishing than Obama did, but his means are more appalling to me than Obama’s ever were.
As a Christian, I side with Jesus that we turn the other cheek, give the cloak and not just the shirt, and trust with James 1 that Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
But in this age of borderline civil war between Left and Right, I don’t know how one would even go about being an effective ruler with a “turn the cheek” mentality. That’s why I asked earlier if Trump is a symbol or symptom of something bigger. Obama’s means—his subtlety and statesmanship—helped him get things done. Trump’s means of wild flailing and smashing helps him get a tremendous amount done. But at what cost?
Both of these leaders have thrilled some, and made cynics out of others. Both men pleased some, and dismayed others. My human understanding leads me to think that if either of them had turned the other cheek, they would have been mowed down.
So let me bring this to a close. Are Trump’s means consistent with my understanding of Christian values? Absolutely not. Do I believe that his “means” are justified because they lead to “ends” that I think are consistent with Christian values? Absolutely not.
Which brings me right back to voting day 2016 and 2020. When faced with only two choices, I’ll vote not for the means, but for the ends. What a hypocrite I am.
LS QUESTION G
President Trumps way of doing politics is not in the fashion or way of what we think of as normal politician. He has not changed his message from 30 years ago which you can see from videos of him from that time frame. He is working every day to fulfill his campaign promises, the ends. His use of vulgar language, rude behavior, or his belittle of his opponents are some examples that I feel are un-Christian means he uses. There is no justification for anyone to utilize un-Christian means to accomplish an end.
TA QUESTION G
I think the way Trump “does politics” is a dispiriting betrayal of American values and ideals. (To be fair, he is not the only politician whose methods I object to. There are others on both sides, but Trump’s performance is the subject at hand.) His means are not at all consistent with Christian values or even basic human decency much of the time. Forgive me if this is a clumsy analogy, but I believe his means taint his ends the same way crusaders’ means of achieving converts to Christianity corrupted the whole enterprise.
Trump’s means debase politics, debase civil discourse and taint his policy aims and achievements as well as those who celebrate them while excusing his behavior and methods. As a Christian, I particularly resent the way evangelicals have allowed Trump to stain the name and cause of Christ for the sake of political power. Conservative evangelical Michael Gerson expressed it better than I can in an October 28 column. Gerson is a Wheaton College graduate who served in the administration of George W. Bush as a speechwriter and assistant to the president for policy and strategic planning. He’s currently a nationally syndicated columnist and senior adviser at One, a bipartisan organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable diseases.
Gerson’s column is entitled “White evangelical Protestants are fully disrobed. And it is an embarrassing sight.” He references the findings of the Public Religion Research Institute’s 2019 American Values Survey and writes: “Consider the matter of immigration. Republicans who are white evangelical Protestants are the most likely group to say that immigrants are invading America and changing its culture. More than 90 percent of WEPs favor more restrictive immigration policies. They support the policy of family separation at the border more strongly than other religious groups and more strongly than Americans as a whole.
“How have we come to the point that American evangelicals are significantly crueler in their attitude toward migrant children than the national norm? The answer is simple enough. Rather than shaping President Trump’s agenda in Christian ways, they have been reshaped into the image of Trump himself.”
Gerson goes on: “According to the PRRI survey, nearly two-thirds of WEPs deny that Trump has damaged the dignity of his office … Forty-seven percent of WEPs say that Trump’s behavior makes no difference to their support. Thirty-one percent say there is almost nothing that Trump could do to forfeit their approval … [That] is not support; it is obeisance.
“… If Trump survives the impeachment process and somehow wins a second term, [a primary reason will be] because evangelicals lost their taste for character and gave their blessing to corruption. And this grand act of hypocrisy would mark them for a generation.”
SE QUESTION G
- The operating the executive branch:
As an owner and operator of my own business, I understand that it is not an easy task to be the leader of an organization. So I have tremendous grace for folks who lead much larger operations than I do. Of the many things I thought he would do poorly, I thought delegating the day to day operations of the Executive Branch would be one he would excel at. What I have witnessed instead is mismanagement that results in high rates of turnover. As a business owner, I know that turnover is expensive, and causes the entire progress of the organization to slow down. Without even having numbers for Trump’s fourth year in office, he has already gained the worst turnover rate since Reagan.
- Trump’s active attack on information:
In no way do I believe Trump is a Nazi. I want to be very clear about that. What I do know is that the Nazi Party actively attacked and destroyed the trust and reputation of the media which helped to errode the Weimar Republic. When a group of people want authoritative control, they eliminate access to the truth and squash the influence of the truth. In a brilliant and troubling shift, the President of the United States communicates to the American public through Twitter more than any other outlet. He actively discredits news sources, including Fox News, whenever he receives bad coverage. My deepest concern is that folks have stopped seeking and investigating truth, and instead sculpt reality out of the falsehoods of Trump’s tweets. This has the very real possibility of giving way to dangerous authoritarian behavior that can (and I think already does) tear at the fabric of our republic. https://apnews.com/ec9e76c9ac9c4c1e985a364f402882e7
- Trump is benefitting from private assets and foriegn governments:
We have a President who ran on the promise of draining the swamp of Washington D.C.. In my view, the swamp is an untrustworthy coagulation of career politicians and big money swapping policy for dollars and excluding the common good of the American people from decision-making considerations. When I see the way Trump uses his properties, and continues to profit off of his properties, it is difficult for me to imagine there being a drain installed anywhere in that swamp. To create effective change, we need a candidate who is anti-corruption, and it becomes clearer everyday that Trump is not that person. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/12/17/us/politics/trump-emoluments-money.html
- Trump’s rhetoric has fueled violence and shaped his Administration: This is not about being mean. This is about using a platform of power to propagate fear to the detriment of human beings. We’ve talked a lot about pro-life here in this group. We’ve even heard about policy positions and actions Trump has taken to the advance anti-abortion agenda. But I hold a deep and strong conviction that Trump cannot be pro-life because he does not value life. His candidacy was announced with racism toward immigrants, he openly lifts up far-right wing & Nazi talking points on Twitter and in press conferences, and his Administration’s abhorrent treatment of refugees and asyllum seekers at the border is beyond comprehension. “The federal government received more than 4,500 complaints in four years about the sexual abuse of immigrant children who were being held at government-funded detention facilities, including an increase in complaints while the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the border was in place, the Justice Department revealed this week.” (NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/27/us/immigrant-children-sexual-abuse.html ) This is a horrific stain upon both President Obama and President Trump. From AP news articles this past August, MICHAEL KUNZELMAN and ASTRID GALVAN reported:
“Overall, statistics released by the FBI late last year showed hate crimes in the United States rose 17% in 2017 compared to the previous year, the third straight annual increase. There were 7,175 hate crime incidents in 2017, and of the crimes motivated by hatred over race or ethnicity, nearly half involved African-Americans and 11% were anti-Hispanic.”
and then later in the same article,
“A team from the University of North Texas recently produced a study that found counties that hosted a 2016 Trump campaign rally saw a 226% increase in reported hate incidents over comparable counties that did not host such a rally.”
- Trump’s cozy behavior with authoritative regimes: Most troubling of these examples, is the Trump Administration’s response to the killing of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the direction of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman which has been confirmed by the CIA. Trump, who already holds public disdain for the media, shrugged off the death. The US has continued to sell heavy arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia despite the killing and Saudi Arabia’s responsibility in using blockade to cut off Yemen from resources resulting in the death of 85,000 Yemeni children due to thirst and starvation. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/23/us/politics/trump-khashoggi-killing-saudi-arabia.html & https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/21/world/middleeast/yemen-famine-children.html
What troubles me about each one of these points, is that not a single one is necessary for a conservative plan to reform American politics. It is entirely possible to be fiscally conservative and operate a small central government without using racism, dismissing violence, attacking the media, allowing corruption, and mismanaging one’s administration. One can even be anti-abortion and care for the lives of 85,000 children in Yemen. But President Trump veils his racism, xenophobia, and violence as patriotism when he uses phrases like “America First” which echo back to earlier time in America when pro-Nazi US politicians uttered the same isolationist phrase.
I am a person who loves solutions. I am a manager who is willing to try most things my employees suggest until they prove to not work. My worldview limits my desire to engage in specific spheres of life, but if folks across the political spectrum have practical solutions to the injustice I see, I want to hear about them and see them work. I am discouraged by the willingness of my neighbors to sacrifice sound ideology for chaos and violence, to trade in a practical political platform for the selfish, erratic decision making skills of President Trump.
I have stated openly before in this setting my understanding of the Gospel. I have also stated my commitment to life from womb to tomb. I love God, I trust Jesus, and I follow the call of the Spirit. I am committed to the work of the church. The previous stated list of Donald Trump’s actions are but a small sampling of the myriad of reasons that I cannot, as a follower of Christ, support President Trump.
To this point, I will add that if the Republican nomination had been a candidate like Mitt Romney or John Kasich, I would have voted R rather than vote for a Democrat I find problematic like Hilary Clinton in 2016 or if it’s Joe Biden in 2020.