Trump has clinched the GOP nomination, and is, in all likelihood, going to be facing Clinton in the general election. Many conservatives and Christians are now faced with quite a moral dilemma. Facebook is full of reminders that “since Jesus isn’t a candidate we are always choosing the lesser of two evils”, that abstaining from voting is a vote for the Democrats, that not voting is equivalent to taking our bat and going home in an adolescent pout. Blah, blah, blah…
A few thoughts here, which I’ll hopefully be able to develop at length in the months to come, which should be rather fun for those of us who have a good sense of humor. As a disclaimer, there are still six months left until the general, and there have already been enough plot twists in this primary season for us to know that anything could happen (i.e. Hillary convicted, Trump getting bored with campaigning, Ron Paul running third party, Obama appointing Ted Cruz to the Supreme Court, etc.). This isn’t an insistence on NOT voting no matter what; but rather a reminder of how abstaining from voting is not a disease that needs curing. I plan to vote in November; but who I’ll vote for shall remain a mystery for now. So take all of this with that in mind!
In 2012, we saw a large majority of the Republican base stay home and refuse to vote for Romney; while some complain that that gave Obama four more years, they neglect to recognize that it also forced the GOP to put forward a field of candidates that was, by and large, the most conservative field we have seen in recent history. Paul, Huckabee, Santorum, Jindal, Rubio, Cruz, Fiorina, Carson, Walker, and Perry made up more than half of the field, with other more moderate candidates filling up the compulsory moderate wing of the party. However, almost all (aside from 3-5 of the candidates) were light-years to the right of Romney, McCain, and Dole.
So, to simply say that abstaining from a vote is non-productive is not entirely true; I think it largely contributed to the GOP bloodbath of the democrats in the mid-terms of 2014, which gave us a congressional majority.
Refusing to vote is not an endorsement of the “worser” of two evils. It is a deliberate decision that ought to be made very carefully, but it is not a morally vacuous one. We are not obliged to fall in line, when the line is marching off the cliff of totalitarian, big-government, and unprincipled populism. Trump is bad news, right down to the furthest reaches of his allegedly small hands; which ought to be kept far away from nuclear codes, executive orders, and supreme court appointments.
We are being told that we must not give up a chance to have “more conservative” justices appointed to the Nacho Supreme Court; but Trump has yet to demonstrate that he has a grasp of, or even loyalty to, the constitutional principles which ought to guide and govern the executive of our federal Government in his selection of our constitutional guardians of the judicial branch. He wants to “make America great again”, but it must be often pointed out that the greatness he is advocating includes war crimes, squishy faddishness on abortion, reprehensibly dishonorable demeanor & character, deeply concerning inconsistency on taxes, and an affinity for the unethical and fiscal irresponsibility of the Obamacare ball & chain.
A GOP run Congress will keep him in check we are told; but we are looking at a probable slaughter when it comes to the US Senate & House races (which I will acknowledge are, more than ever, of vital importance). But the blue collar democrats which are switching to vote for Trump, are not guaranteed to vote R on the down ballot candidates. The media lusted over the ratings which Trump gave them, but the oxygen they lent him during the primaries will now likely become suffocating fumes of carbon monoxide as we pivot to the general election. The media will use Trump for ratings, but they will certainly stop at nothing to ensure Hillary (and their leftist agenda) wins.
Should, however, Trump actually win, we will find ourselves in the smoking ruins of Western Civilization. The greatness he wants “again” is not hearkening back to a fundamental understanding of the role government ought to play in society; where the federal government was subservient to the states, but rather that it is the god which we must slavishly offer sacrifices and oblations to in the form of higher taxes for unethical government programs.
Could I be wrong? I have been wrong before, and would gladly acknowledge it should Trump actually nominate Cruz to the Supreme Court, or defund Planned Parenthood, or take a stand against homosexual marriage, or wean us away from the welfare state we’ve become, or reduce our national debt, get congress to balance the budget, etc. But I am not convinced in the slightest that this is his program, I don’t think he knows what his program is. Not because he is an idiot, but because he makes decisions off of his instincts; which means the GOP has the orangest of tiger’s by the tail.
Perhaps Trump will give rise to a new term: Tiger Republicans. The elephants and rinos were far too clumsy and slow-witted to respond to the slick shtick of Trump; it should have been as simple as thunderously trumpeting and stampeding him into a floor rug. Instead he ran laps around them while they blinked at each other.
By deliberately not voting for Trump, we are not being childish, nor are we “handing it to the democrats”. We are honoring our conscience, which is, by far, more precious that merely electing someone with an “R” next to their name. Furthermore, the two-party system is very much the reality we are in, and probably will be for many decades more. I’ve always believed that an abstinence pledge of this sort should certainly be a last resort. We need to remember that our republic may need to undergo four more years of famine before it is hungry enough to plead with God for the rain of grace and mercy.
Furthermore, abstaining from voting ought to be done as a principled and strategic act; not a petulant act of capitulation. Conservatives have fallen into two groups: those who have been snookered by Trump’s Nationalism, and those who have been sabotaged by the populist takeover. The later will need to regroup and retrench for the “down ballot” candidates, the 2018 mid-terms, and work their tail off to position Cruz for another run in 2020; the former will need to face the consequences of being deceived.
This election is fertile soil for a third (or even fourth–I’m looking at you Bernie) party to do–comparatively–well; I realize that might mean 10% or less, however, if there was an acceptable libertarian or constitutionalist party candidate that could push 10-15% of the general election it would certainly send a clear message that a large slice of the electorate want the GOP to come home to Madisonianism, with the optimism, whit, dignity and winsomeness of Reagan!
It is likely that either Clinton or Trump will win the election with only 45% of the vote; this would be a decisive reminder that they have no mandate from the people. This would be especially true if a third party took 10-15%, and other minor parties took another 5%, meaning that Trump or Hillary would only have a two-fifths of the country supporting them and the remaining three-fifths needing a fifth to make it through their four year term!
Finally, I’ll uncork my postmillennialism and pour a glass of reminder that Christians must not think themselves off-the-hook from being involved in the civic realm of society simply because they are Christians and should only concern themselves with “spiritual” matters. In fact, it is precisely because Christ died & rose and has commissioned us to “disciple the nations” that should compel us to vigorously seek to influence our society to worship and serve the risen & ruling Savior of the World in our families, churches, and cities.
The Gospel is not to be confined to the dark tombs of monasteries but it is to shine brightly right smack dab in the middle of the city of man, announcing that humanism’s program has been undermined by the Man who rose from the dead; and His rule & reign will spread from shore to shore (Ps. 72:11, 17 & Is. 2:2-4) and the knowledge of His glory shall soon fill the earth as water fills the sea.
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