Donald Trump recently came to Austin, TX where I reside. I decided to go to the rally with a friend and silently protest his candidacy for Presidency of the United States wearing a shirt that said #NeverTrumpChristian. (We even ended up in the Texas Monthly article entitled “What Does a Donald Trump Rally in Austin Look Like”. We are in the video near the bottom.) I decided to add the “Christian” part on my homemade shirt as a juxtaposition to the narrative in today’s society that seems to state that Evangelicals have no choice BUT to support Mr. Trump. You see, I am an Evangelical Christian who will not be voting for the Republican Nominee this year.
I am writing this post, not to tell about what happened (maybe another blog post for that – it is already up on my FB page.), but in response to a question that a very dear friend, a groomsman in my wedding in fact, asked me after the rally. It came about, a bit like this:
My wife posted on the Book of Face that she was proud of me “for braving the Trump rally”, and multiple friends, on both sides of the aisle (both political and religious and no I am not forgetting you my Libertarian friends… Your side of the aisle too.) made statements in support of my protest. My aforementioned dear friend (henceforth referred to as “Z”) asked on the thread “What are things you don’t like about Trump?”. I told Z that I would get back to him tomorrow (This was a little over a week ago, so I am running a bit behind). Later in the thread Z stated that “I’m confused why people on this post are proud of you for being this immature at a presidential candidate’s event? It must be an Austin thing.” We talked quite a bit more on the thread about why he thought that I was being immature, but I won’t bore you with those details here. I want to, as fully as I can, express my reasons for not only not supporting Mr. Trump, but for actively protesting his candidacy.
There many reasons that I oppose Mr. Trump but I would say that they fit into two main categories: Moral and Nationalistic. At times I am sure that I can conflate the two ( I am an American after all), but I will try my best to differentiate them in this post. The moral aspect is the reason that I added the “Christian” on end of my #NeverTrump shirt for the rally. I also have multiple friends and family that support Mr. Trump today and several that have said that they will probably end up voting for him for various reasons. So, although I disagree with their decision, this is not intended to be derisive or dismissive of any of the supporters of Mr. Trump. I simply want to start a conversation. Let’s get started:
Please understand while you read this that I do not consider myself a member or supporter of any political party. I will probably vote for some candidates on both side of the aisle in November and, at this point, never intend to join either party. Texas had a closed primary and in order for me to vote for an opponent of Mr. Trump, I registered as a Republican for this primary. The reason that I mention this fact is that many of the sources that I will be quoting are Republican sources or at least right leaning ones. For example, one of the most compelling reasons that I chose to not vote for Mr. Trump is that 121 members of the Republican national security community released this open letter (I was made aware of this letter because one of the signatories is an elder at my church. This was not brought up at church, it is just due to my friendship with him that I came across this article) in March that stated some very explicit objections to Mr. Trump and his candidacy. I encourage you to read the article in its entirety (it is very short) but here are the pieces that are most disconcerting to me personally:
- “His embrace of the expansive use of torture is inexcusable.” (I would add on here as well what I consider to be his aggressive support of war crimes by doubling down on his statements “to take out their (terrorists’) families.” My issue here is both of a moral and nationalistic nature.)
- “His hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric undercuts the seriousness of combating Islamic radicalism by alienating partners in the Islamic world making significant contributions to the effort. Furthermore, it endangers the safety and Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of American Muslims.”
- “He is fundamentally dishonest. Evidence of this includes his attempts to deny positions he has unquestionably taken in the past, including on the 2003 Iraq war and the 2011 Libyan conflict. We accept that views evolve over time, but this is simply misrepresentation.”
That covers (very briefly) some of the political/secular/nationalistic/American reasons that I so vehemently oppose Mr. Trump’s candidacy. There are many, many other examples of things that he has said or done that have convinced me to not vote for him and I may add to this as needed but I also want to focus on the most common argument that I have heard for why many of my friends and family have decided to (or are considering supporting) support Mr. Trump and why I feel that that justification is insufficient: You guessed it: SCOTUS nominations. I could make an effort to wax eloquent about my reasoning, but why do that when you know someone who is much more knowledgeable and eloquent who can do it for you.
John Seago (who I am about to quote) is the Legislative Director at Texas Right to Life, an organization that says that they “fight for the rights of the unborn (including the nascent humans created in laboratories), the disabled, the sick, the elderly, and the unloved in a world where the lack of respect for innocent human life has escalated to the point where we are all at risk.” So, simply put, this is not Planned Parenthood that we are talking about here. What I am about to share with you is John’s personal position. and not that of Texas Right to Life. I wanted to provide you with some background so you don’t simply think that “being imbedded in Austin has changed me” or that I joined a “movement that is driven by the environment you’re in down there in Austin”. (those are in quotations because my friend Z thinks that might be/is what motivated me to protest at the Trump Rally. It seems to me to be bordering on an ad hominem argument, but I wanted to address it nonetheless.)
Before I supply John’s quote, I wanted to provide two other articles (and a special bonus article) that I have read about this very issue. I tend to agree pretty strongly with multiple facets of both of these articles, which, if you read them, you will find that interesting because one is in direct opposition to the other. I don’t have the time/bandwidth to discuss my points of agreement in each article so I will just leave this here if you are interested. Both are worth a read and I hope that they make you think: Rachael Held Evans in this piece discusses many problems that she has with Mr. Trump, multiple moral and political stances that she holds personally and why they have convinced her to vote for Secretary Clinton (before you say anything, no I have not decided who I will be voting for in November. I do not agree that a “no” vote for Mr. Trump is the same thing as a “yes” vote for Secretary Clinton. But that is another post for another day.) And this piece by Jay Hobbs has his rebuttal to her stance on voting for Secretary Clinton but seems to be arguing for a “no vote” in November (although he does not explicitly say such). Now on to John’s quote which did a very good job at describing how my wife and I felt this election cycle. I have added in hyperlinks and emphasis that were not in the original post for your reading pleasure) Here is one more bonus article that, IMO, does a very good job at addressing the SCOTUS argument in great detail.
John introduces this lengthy post by stating that he and his wife “have personally concluded that we cannot in good conscience vote for Donald Trump”
“Some have argued since the next president will nominate at least two Supreme Court Justices that we must hold our nose and support Mr. Trump (It is true Mr. Trump released a very good list of individual he may nominate for SCOTUS, however the same day, characteristically, he said he could pick someone else not on the list). This argument kept us on the fence for several months, but we have realized, given the whole picture, this is not a compelling reason to support Mr. Trump (thankfully, two of the top experts in the Pro-Life movement I respect the most have thoroughly refuted this argument). Given Mr. Trump’s unpredictable nature, his record of changing his mind, contradicting himself publicly, taking five different positions on elective abortion within three days (not to mention his praise of Planned Parenthood, the organization that commits the most abortion in the US annually), and explaining these changes in position (being “flexible” in his term) are a virtue, there is no guarantee he will appoint an acceptable justice. Earlier I thought that I would vote for Mr. Trump to buy myself a SCOTUS lottery ticket, I may lose, but I may win. However, we have recently realized we would lose much more by supporting or even tolerating Mr. Trump.
We cannot in good conscience overlook Mr. Trump’s words, actions, and policy positions that promote injustice and attack the dignity of other human beings because we are hoping he will eventually assist us in promoting justice in our specific policy areas. The principles that cause us to fight for preborn children, pregnant women, and vulnerable patients require us to oppose Mr. Trump. On countless occasions he has spoken about individuals in ways that Speaker Paul Ryan admitted are the “textbook definition of racist comment[s],” Mr. Trump has a long and ugly record of sexist comments about women in general and has viciously attacked prominent females who criticize or challenge him, he has publicly mocked individuals with disabilities, he has encouraged his rally attenders to “knock the crap out of” any protestors, he has mocked “the weak,” and recommended banning individuals from entering the country because of their religion. These actions and views are entirely inconsistent with the principle we work to promote privately and in the public square: respect for the dignity and worth of every individual human being.
We cannot allow Mr. Trump to win and shape the Republican Party in his image, which will promote injustice, ignore the dignity of whole classes of individuals, and replace principles with political expediency. We do not want to encourage the rise of similar politicians (e.g. David Duke). Our opposition and the opposition of other conservatives will not cause us to lose this election in November. We have already lost. We lost by entertaining and tolerating Mr. Trump’s rhetoric, political strategy, and positions to gain such political traction. I hope that Mr. Trump loses in November and the party can return to our principles and character. We must lose the battle so that we may win the war. Brandy and I will still be supporting principled Republicans down the ballot and are committed to continuing to engage politics at other levels. However, we cannot vote for the Republican Presidential Candidate.
Like I said, much more eloquent and educated than I could write it. John’s is a much more Republican focus than mine is but our reasoning is the same. I am not concerned about what happens to either party, I don’t have a dog in that fight. I do however, choose to oppose Mr. Donald J. Trump in every way that I can because of what I believe to be very very large lapses in character, judgment, and critical thinking.
Again, I hope that this opens up discussion. I am not trying to say that if you chose to vote for Mr. Trump that you are stupid, or morally bankrupt, but rather, I disagree with you and would love to talk more. I have had many rich discussions (and some not so rich) with supporters of Mr. Trump and I feel that I understand their position much more than I did at the beginning of the primary season.
I will leave you with one final thought. If there is only ever one issue that will cause someone to make a decision, then that person becomes incredibly easy to manipulate and deceive. All one has to do is say “sure that is my position, now pick me”. That concerns me and I hope that we are not that easy to manipulate.