Response to Allan Bevere’s “The President as Pastor-in-Chief?”

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Allan Bevere’s recent article made good points that I generally agreed with, but I do not think the situation is quite as black and white as he presents it.

Concerning refusing to support either Clinton or Trump, while I understand that such thinking makes sense in the primary, when it comes to the general election, either Clinton or Trump was going to be president. My stated view before the election was that neither was electable, but one would be. Thus, I do not believe people can be faulted for making a choice instead of sitting it out and letting others make the decision for them (and yes, voting third party is still sitting it out).

My biggest disagreement was with the statement, “When it comes to lack of moral character, Donald Trump is Bill Clinton on steroids.” I see a big difference between Bill (and Hillary) Clinton, and Trump. Trump has a massive ego, is brash, insensitive, boastful, crude, vulgar, argumentative and is clearly willing to sacrifice the truth to put himself in a good light or to attack a foe. Strange as it may sound, this was a positive for some of his supporters. Not the behavior itself, but because there is the sense that like him or not, this is Trump, and he is being honest about who he is.

The simple fact is that most people do not trust politicians of either party, and this is especially true of many in Trump’s base. A big factor in understanding Trump’s election is to realize that there are a lot of people, including many evangelicals, who right or wrong, believe that the government no longer works for them but is more concerned about itself.

In my review of Trump’s first year, while I gave the President a D on performance as President, i.e., much of which falls under the heading of character, I gave him a B on policy. While I would like to think that the other Republicans running in the primary would have done at least as good on policy, I am not sure, and in any event they lost to Trump.

A large reason for this was the sense he is being himself and not just being a politician. For Republicans, the recent norm has been to talk a good game during the election, but once in office they are full of excuses on why they could not do what they said they would. His supporters believed that Trump would do what he said, and so far, he has generally lived up to his promises.

As for many of the other charges against Trump, i.e., that he is a fascist, racist, etc., perhaps the Left has cried wolf too often, but I see little actual evidence for them, as such labels are routinely applied to anyone the Left disagrees with. Given his ego and insensitivity, Trump is more susceptible to such charges as he is virtually tone deaf to the restrictions of Political Correctness, which again gives him a sense of freshness and honesty when compared to the tightly scripted, poll tested statements you normally get from politicians. Who is more trustworthy, a person who is politically incorrect, or a person who holds the similar views but lies about it?

The Clintons, on the other hand, were known to poll test everything. They were also, I believe, very corrupt, driven by a desire for power and money, a dangerous combination. Now, with the me-too movement, Democrats have finally begun to question their shielding of Bill Clinton’s well-known tendencies with women, yet the Clinton’s problems were far broader than just Bill and the women he victimized. While many still reject any charge against the Clinton’s as a conspiracy theory, and true, some of the wilder charges do fall into this category, I believe the evidence is clear that the Clintons abused their positions to benefit themselves and expand their power. This is far more dangerous than Trump’s personal, but very visible, flaws.

Frankly, I believe that one of the biggest problems with the modern Democratic party is that, in their efforts to shield and defend the Clintons, they have allowed corruption to be more acceptable. This is not to say that all Democrats are corrupt. I believe Obama for example, unlike the Clintons, to be an honest man. Still there was a problem. Acceptance of the Clinton’s bending the rules for their own personal gain, led to a tolerance for bending the rules, i.e., a weakening of the rule of law in general.

For many Democrats now, what the law said, or what is right or wrong, is not as important as whether it benefits the agenda. This can be seen for example in the Obama’s administration use of the IRS for political purposes, and then the use of the Justices Department to shield the IRS. Andrew C. McCarthy, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, has written about the different ways the Justice Department handled the Trump and Clinton investigations and it is both striking and disturbing.

In my review of Trump’s first year I gave Trump an A in only two areas, the economy and the Rule of Law, the latter being a clear improvement over the previous administration and certainly better than Clinton would have been. For me, that a President follow and respect the Rule of Law is more important than any of Trump character flaws. Sure, I would like good character and the Rule of Law, but if I have to choose, I will choose the Rule of Law.

So were evangelicals wrong to support Trump, despite his personal failings? I don’t know. We cannot replay the primaries to see what would have happened if things had been different. God does use broken vessels, after all, look at King David. Perhaps Trump is what is needed to break up the business as usual that has plagued Washington. Either way he did win and is the President.

Frankly, I think the current fishing expedition to try and find something, anything, on Trump, is in and of itself troubling as everyone, Republican and Democrat, who has had access to the classified materials, has reviewed it and has commented on what they have seen and said they have seen no evidence of collusion. Even Peter Strzok, the lead investigator who was removed because of his bias against Trump said he did not believe any collusion occurred. So why is there an investigation, except to try and overturn the election? In fact, given the recent revelations, the whole investigation itself may, I repeat may, be yet another example of the politicization of the Justice Department and possibly even some elements in the FBI.

If Mueller’s investigations do end up finding actual evidence of real wrong doing, i.e., collusion with the Russians, then those guilty should be prosecuted, and if Trump is guilty, he should resign or be impeached. Frankly, in a perfect world, I would prefer a President Pence, or a President Ryan, the next two in line. But I do worry about the country should that happen, for many of Trumps supporters would see this, with justification, as the Washington Establishment taking down an outsider. It would correctly be seen as Washington vs the people, with Washington defeating the people’s efforts to be in control, and this would only further alienate them from government. Because of this I hope Mueller finds nothing, and Trump serves out his term. But the examples of the highly questionable prosecution of Scooter Libby and wrongful prosecution Ted Stevens do cause me concern.

Still, I would like to end on a note of agreement. I think it is important not to accept the behavior, even if you accept the person or the policy. While I think Trump has done a fairly good job as President in terms of policy, I remain troubled by his behavior as President and I think that is an important distinction to make, lest acceptance of the policy becomes acceptance of the behavior.

by Elgin Hushbeck, Jr., Engineer, teacher, Christian apologist, and author of Preserving DemocracyWhat is Wrong with Social Justice?A Short Critique of Climate ChangeChristianity and Secularism, and Evidence for the Bible.

 

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