My goal with this two-part series is to present a Christian’s reasoning on why to vote for each candidate. In part one, I shared My Obligatory (Unoriginal) Donald Trump Post written by my brother, Stanford Gibson, in which he shared his reasoning for voting for Hillary Clinton. Below is my Christian perspective on voting for Donald Trump. My hope is to provide you with further knowledge to help you prudently and conscientiously make your decision on November 8.
To review, Stanford gave four reasons for voting for Hillary Clinton in his post:
- The office of the president and its cultural power
- Donald Trump’s lack of temperance (specifically in reference to drones)
- Mr. Trump’s positions on immigrants and refugees
- Sentencing reform
In this post, I will address the issues for which an opposite case can be made for Donald Trump, as well as provide additional reasons in favor of a Trump vote.
The office of the president
First of all, I’m not sure Mr. Trump’s indignity is more foundational than Secretary Clinton’s lack of integrity when considering who is more fit for office. Integrity in the functions of the office are more basic than the dignity with which one carries themselves in it. The disqualifying nature of Clinton’s high crimes and misdemeanors committed in office, misuses of power, and obstruction of justice must be taken sufficiently into account when comparing Trump and Clinton as qualified for office.
Clinton’s crimes against the rules of our system, obstruction of the justice process, misuse of classified information, and so on are all immediately related to the office itself and the parameters of its functional integrity. These seem to me to be more basic considerations than Trump’s mouth or accusations of sexual indiscretions. Clinton’s faults undermine the presidency; Trump’s are unpresidential. Although I believe Trump should be considered disqualified as a figure for the office (a choice only voters can make), I believe it is even more certain that Secretary Clinton has completely disqualified herself from holding the functions of the office (a choice votes must make because the executive branch isn’t doing their job). This disqualification is the only one that can be even more foundational than Trump’s disqualification as a figure for the office.
There is good evidence in Mr. Trump’s long business career that he is quite adept at balancing costs and benefits, and considering repercussions for the actions that he takes. There is also good evidence that he tends to surround himself with competent people—his present campaign staff perhaps notwithstanding, but I attribute that to him not knowing the job he was hiring those people for very well.
Presidents make decisions in the presence of key advisors, and so I think the argument that he’s going to have an itchy trigger finger is conjecture that lacks real support. Rather, it seems to put a lot of weight on an issue we in the public cannot know very much about. Trump is utilizing normal Republican advisors in areas where he lacks expertise: utilizing scholars from The Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, Brookings Institution, and others. We can see the influence of advisors in how he has softened his language on trade policy, for example.
Arguments such as this were also falsely used to attack Goldwater. The “you can’t trust that Republican with the trigger” trope is well-worn. However, what is different about Trump is his criticism of our Middle Eastern wars. If there is a danger with him, it is isolationism, not international interventionism. My fear is that like with Bill Clinton, we will stay out of wars but allow two very preventable genocides.
It is very difficult to argue that sentencing disparity is the primary injustice in this country, even racially speaking. Government-caused economic underperformance affects everyone, every moment of every day. For example, overall African-American wealth has been cut about in half in the last eight years, economic malaise disproportionately affects minorities, and the American government school system has been called by some an “educational Holocaust.” Even Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, was very strongly in favor of charter and choice schools—something Clinton has not been supportive of. In the Obama administration, the African-American lobby had more power than the teacher’s lobby in some situations. I don’t see good evidence that this will continue because of the large financial contributions the unions make to Democratic politics.
It should be noted that the beneficial effects of sentencing laws are often not discussed when people lament disparities in incarceration rates. I’ve heard several scholars clarify that a small proportion of people commit the vast majority of violent crimes in our society. Most of those crimes are committed in minority neighborhoods against minorities—namely, African-Americans and Latinos. A large percentage, if not the majority, of violent crimes are committed by people who have previous records, many of whom are on parole.
I don’t think we can treat the conundrums of criminal justice as simple questions of racial disparity. Ultimately, I believe they can only be handled morally without reference to pragmatics or disparity. Morally, punishments can only be deserved. One can only asked the question, “What is the right punishment for committing X?” This must be done without reference to what we may gain by imprisoning the person longer, or by considering how many of their race are already incarcerated. Increased incarceration rates have as much to do with urban decay, horrific public schools, policies that have destroyed the African-American family, and ghettoization projects as with sentencing laws passed with the overwhelming support of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
As Christians, we must not forget that abortion is the greatest human rights crisis and injustice in America, and that presently half of African-American babies in New York City are aborted every year. Just because we don’t have much hope in changing abortion laws, we shouldn’t forget that abortion is unavoidably the greatest injustice in our country, and possibly the world, making our leadership in global abortion a large part of our true global moral shame.
As I mentioned in my previous post, judicial appointments and other appointments matter greatly in the rule of law and functionality of our country. With most of American laws now being made as bureaucratic memos and executive directives within executive departments, the appointees of these apartments and the executive philosophy guiding them is critical. President Obama has not only had the opportunity to appoint Supreme Court justices, he has been packing federal courts for eight years, producing many of the legal decisions the Supreme Court has chosen not to overturn. Judicial appointments on the Supreme Court level and at the appellate court level are extremely influential in the present system of government that we have.
More importantly, the courts may be the only recourse American citizens have against the increasingly large bureaucratic forces of the executive departments—like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice, and others. Therefore, for the maintenance of individual rights and freedoms, it is incredibly imperative in the bureaucratic state that the courts are not in the hands of people that are pro-bureaucratic, collectivistic and progressive.
People utilizing judicial philosophies in which things don’t mean what they say can overrule virtually all of the rights regarding personal freedom. One organization has already estimated the attacks on religious liberty in America to be up 133% in the last three years. Clinton may be able to appoint four or more judges in a four-year term, which would have an incredibly negative effect on the court in relationship to anything related to the right of any civil unit besides the federal government, including self-government, family government, church government, civil society and state government. Federalism in local control was designed into our system of government so that states like California couldn’t dictate the way of life of people in Nebraska, Connecticut or Ohio. But with an ever-increasing executive bureaucracy, a decreasing place of Congress in the making of practical law, and a court increasingly complicit with that bureaucracy, the subsidiary rights are breaking down quickly.
Trump knows that Christians and conservatives are very concerned about judicial appointments, and he may even have the tenacity to appoint actually conservative people, something earlier Republican presidents failed to do consistently. It is very likely he will stick to the justices names that he has already released, most of them being very good choices.
Last, I think it is fairly important for the American public not to hand the American press a win in the situation. If they refuse to honestly report on Secretary Clinton’s many illegal indiscretions and obstructions of justice, how can we believe that they will be watchdogs over her administration? We cannot. However, we can assume that they will criticize every sideways breath of Mr. Trump, should he be president. The only way we can believe in a free press in our current America is if the president is of a different party than 95% of the press. It is the only way to force the fourth branch of government to work properly. This becomes all the more important when this administration has shown how weak a thing it is for an administration to investigate one of their own. Watchdogs are needed. Right now we have mostly attack dogs.
Pray, decide, vote and…pray.
Ultimately, this is the most difficult election in our lifetime, and certainly the worst choice of major party candidates. As I said in my post Voting In No-Win Elections, all voting requires judgment, and all candidates are at least imperfect. Act according to your conscience, to the best of your knowledge, and most importantly, pray.