There are many good conservatives who are Never-Trumpers, and there are many good conservatives who will vote for Donald Trump. Eight months ago, I warned that conservatives must resist gratuitous hatred or they will destroy themselves more effectively than the left ever could on its own.
I used the term “gratuitous hatred” because it is the term Jews and Judaism use to describe the reason for one of the greatest calamities of Jewish history: the destruction of the Second Temple and the second Jewish state. It wasn’t the Romans who Jewish tradition blames; it was the Jews themselves — for hating one another for no good reason.
When I read the Boston Globe column “How the Religious Right Embraced Donald Trump and Lost its Moral Authority” by Jeff Jacoby, a man whose work I have long respected, gratuitous hatred came to mind. Just as there are pro-Trump people who have expressed contempt for anti-Trump people since the very beginning — as an early anti-Trumper I can personally attest to this (even though I wrote repeatedly that if Trump wins the nomination, I would vote for him) — some Never-Trump people now dismiss the decency and moral credibility of conservatives voting for Trump.
In light of this, I would like to respond to Jacoby and the editorial against Trump that was published last week in the important evangelical journal World.
Jacoby’s piece consisted of contained attacks on the moral credibility and decency of pro-Trump Christians. He said: “Religious conservatives shed their principles, and thereby dismantled their influence. … Buried under the post-election wreckage will be the moral credibility of the religious right. … (Their) hypocrisy … is orders of magnitude worse than the customary flip-flopping and sail-trimming of a presidential campaign.” Unlike Jacoby, World went out of its way to be gracious to those Christians still voting for Trump, saying, “We also value those who still plan to vote for Trump so as to vote for the Supreme Court.”
But the private Trump comments on groping women pushed World to call for Trump to resign and for Christians to withdraw their support. It said, “If a person is unfaithful to his spouse, he’s also likely to be unfaithful to his country.”
I have heard this argument about the alleged connection between marital infidelity and infidelity to one’s country my whole life. And it has been false my whole life — as well as throughout history. There is no connection between marital fidelity and fidelity to country. Were the unfaithful Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy also unfaithful to America?
Indeed, some of the world’s greatest leaders have been unfaithful to their wives. And some of the worst have been faithful.
I wish there were a connection. Choices for leaders would then be much simpler. The only married candidates we would vote for are those we believe had never been unfaithful to their spouses.
Jacoby and World must think God was pretty flawed in voting for King David. King David did much worse than privately boasting about women allowing him to grope them. He had a man killed so his adultery with the man’s wife would not be exposed. And while God was angry with David and punished him, God still maintained David as king and gave him a central role in Jewish history. If God shouldn’t be ashamed for supporting King David, Christians shouldn’t be ashamed for supporting Donald Trump, given the far more corrupt and destructive alternative.
The unfaithful argument does not do honor to those fine people who make the argument because telling the truth is also a divine command.
World wrote, “To quote (Albert) Mohler (president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), we should not ‘allow a national disgrace to become the Great Evangelical Embarrassment.'” That means that World is for allowing another national disgrace — Hillary Clinton — to become president. Why wouldn’t that be a “Great Evangelical Embarrassment”?
But they will respond that they are not for Clinton either.
This is the only argument of anti-Trump conservatives that drives me crazy — this vociferous denial that they are not for Clinton. Of course they aren’t for Clinton intellectually, emotionally or morally. But the voting booth does not assess intellect, emotions or morals; it only assesses votes. So no matter how much a Republican loathes Clinton, in depriving Trump of Republican votes, anti-Trump Republicans are helping Clinton win the presidency.
In sum, a religious conservative can honorably support Trump just as honorable Christians supported Joseph Stalin against Adolf Hitler (and for the sake of those who enjoy mischaracterizing conservatives, I am, of course, not implying that Trump is Stalin, or that Clinton is Hitler — only that if Christians could ally themselves with Stalin to defeat a more dangerous foe, Christians could support Trump to defeat Clinton).
There is no defense for Donald Trump’s comments or alleged sexual misbehavior. But in terms of damage to America, there is no comparison between what he has said and allegedly done and what she has done and advocates for the future. Is acting on that realization un-Christian?