As Albert Mohler intoned in his recent Washington Post article, Donald Trump has created an excruciating moment for evangelicals.
While liberals who have flouted sexual ethics for decades, including poo pooing the sins of their own luminaries like Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and JFK, they are suddenly prudish when Donald Trump speaks of his own lecherous sexual assaults on women.
So it confuses liberals when it seems that conservatives are making the same mistake – allowing their ideology to override their sense of ethics and morals by dismissing Trump’s bravado as mere “locker room talk.”
Is Trump Different than Bill Clinton?
In the area of intelligence and charm, Bill Clinton has a lot going for him. As a former Rhodes Scholar, he’s got bona fides in the smarts department.
In the arena of marital fidelity, both men are infamously promiscuous. Both are accused of sexual assault, though neither has been convicted.
Trump’s bragging is disgusting and certainly goes beyond mere locker room talk. But it is just talk. Both men have unenviable sexual histories.
Does Sexual Lechery Mean Trump is Unqualified for POTUS?
Of course not. From FDR and Harding to JFK, LBJ, and Bill Clinton, sexual escapades and kinkiness have been commonplace. That doesn’t make it OK, but it seems that these presidents didn’t crash the United States into irredeemable chaos. 1 And let’s not forget that the intellectual giant and founding father Thomas Jefferson had six children with his slave girl Sally Hemmings. 2
What does make the candidates undesirable as POTUS?
Trump: Lack of intelligence, emotional immaturity, possible xenophobia, and sexual lechery and unfaithfulness to his wives.
But what about Hillary? Is her intelligence and elquence enough to outweigh her downsides?
Clinton: Lying to Congress, obstruction of justice, deaths resulting from her poor judgment, and opposition to life for the unborn.
So Christian, what are your priorities?
When all the candidates violate some ethical or moral norm for social conservatives, you have to prioritize and choose. The way I see it, you have four choices.
Pietism – refusing to vote
Perhaps your conscience does not allow you to vote for any of the cads on the docket. However, you may be taking the way of cowardice or laziness, not taking the time to prioritize what is important and allowing others to choose for you.
Third Partyism – the protest vote
You could vote for a third party and hope that your ‘protest vote’ shapes the future options. Perhaps it is better called a prophetic or free speech vote.
While some argue that this is a wasted vote, it’s just not entirely clear that that is so. So vote your concscience. 3
In fact, in winner take all states like California, it may be that a vote for Trump is entirely wasted if Hillary is going to win by a large margin. It might be better for California anti-Hillary voters to vote third party in order to affect the GOP positively in the future. 4
At this point, perhaps who wins between the top two candidates are equally heinous, and it just doesn’t matter. Perhaps a statement of protest is our best bet. 5
Supporting Hillary – Because Trump is too Risky
There are many supposed risks associated with electing Donald Trump, including:
- The Economy – will his unpredictable nature kill the stock market? Will his attacks on free trade hurt the US?
- Foreign Policy – will Trump offend all of our partners and allies, while creating new enemies?
- Nuclear War – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard liberals wonder if giving Trump the nuclear codes will lead to use of nukes, and Trump has made overtures to tactical usage. Will he anger North Korea, who has a leader with an equal intelligence and ego? Perhaps.
- Totalitarianism – will his ‘strong man’ approach lead us to tyranny? (I highly doubt this, but some think the Union can’t stand with Trump in the Executive Office for 4 years) 6
- Abortion – look, Trump may be posing as a conservative, or he may be a Johnny come lately to our cause. He has promised to put conservative judges up for nomination. I’d bet that’s a 50:50 chance. Not bad if you’re a betting man. Hillary? 0% chance.
- Intelligence and Character – Trump seems to lack both. But is that enough of a downside to overlook Hillary’s faults? Is taking these as a priority wisdom or mostly irrational fear? YMMV.
Supporting Trump – Because Hillary is Pro Choice
Look we know that Hillary is a schemer, obstructs justice, consciously lies to the camera and the American people, and wants to tax us all to obliviion – but is that enough to dismiss her and choose the boob? Here are some of Hillary’s risks:
- The Economy – If you believe more national debt, promised higher taxes on the middle class, higher medical deductibles due to the ACA, and who knows what other unethical ways she will funnel tax dollars to her ‘charities’ (friends), then go kiss your bust of John Maynard Keynes and get on with it. Otherwise, you will have grave economic concerns.
- Foreign Policy – Even the centrist Atlantic Magazine has proposed that Hillary Fails to Offer a Foreign-Policy Vision. But does that matter? Do the dead in Benghazi matter? I mean, if she retains John Kerry, is that a huge risk? YMMV. 7
- Nuclear War – If Clinton continues the Iran deal that this administration started, not only will we have a nuclear Iran, but they have promised to use it on Israel. So which candidate is more risky when it comes to nukes? I’d say promises are more sure than conjecture.
- Abortion – see above, Trump beats the 0 of Hillary.
- Intelligence and Character – Hillary has the former, but arguably, lacks the latter. So my conservative friend, do you value intelligence over character? Or is it that because Trump lacks both you feel vindicated in voting for a pro choice candidate?
A Word About Lowering Abortions
Many of my progressive Christian friends have noted that the biggest impact on reducing abortions has been reducing pregnancies through contraception, and since conservatives don’t like contraception, putting liberals in office, despite their tolerance for promiscuity, practically reduces the abortion rate, and so a vote for Hillary can be seen as pro life in utilitarian terms.
I’ll discuss this more in the future, but I think this utilitarian argument fails the test of ethics, in that it fails to eliminate the problem finally, and it continues to encourage other immoral, unethical, and harmful practices.
It’s like arguing that slaves have it better under slavery than they would under emancipation. That might be true at first. But not in the long run.
I can see conservatives not voting, voting third party, or even voting for Trump. I cannot see how they can vote for a pro-choice candidate – and that includes Gary Johnson, the Libertarian.
- 10 Scandalous Presidential Affairs We’ve Totally Forgotten About (listverse.com) ↩
- The 7 Biggest Presidential Sex Scandals in History (alternet.org) ↩
- How Not To Waste Your Vote: A Mathematical Analysis (fee.org) ↩
- The wasted vote myth (freepress.org) ↩
- Are Votes on Third Parties Wasted? (chalcedon.edu) ↩
- For conservatives, this election boils down to one issue: life (wholereason.com) ↩
- Was Hillary Clinton a Good Secretary of State? And does it matter? (politico.com) ↩