Clinton or Trump? A Christian Perspective on Each Candidate (Part 2)

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:

  1. The office of the president and its cultural power
  2. Donald Trump’s lack of temperance (specifically in reference to drones)
  3. Mr. Trump’s positions on immigrants and refugees
  4. 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.

Drones

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.

Sentencing reform

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.

Abortion

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.

Judicial appointments

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.

The press

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.

9 thoughts on “Clinton or Trump? A Christian Perspective on Each Candidate (Part 2)”

  1. Charging Clinton of “high crimes’ assumes she’s guilty of such accusations in spite of numerous partisan congressional hearings and investigations that have failed to prove wrongdoing worthy of taking any legal action. Calling her a criminal ignores due process. And gives all credit to leaks and conspiracy theories.

    Trumpp’s ability to manage costs and benefits must be contrasted with his numerous bankruptcies, failure to pay contractors and service providers, resulting in loss of jobs. A man of integrity? If only he’d show us those tax records

    If Trump doesn’t understand what’s required of the staff he surrounds himself with, who might he appoint to key advisor and leadership positions other than cronies and financial suppprterd. His curren advisors are not those who understand the issues. They’re spokespersons without depth behind words.

    Today the Pope summarized best the concern about candidates who do not exhibit the character of a Christian. I hope the Catholic Church follows the direction of their leader in considering the choices. I hope his followers take note and pray.

  2. Hard to read, especially as a High Point parishioner and one who really likes your Sunday morning preaching. Did I really just read you making a case for a borderline demagogue to be the next president? Christian support for Trump – a man who clearly has no interior life, is a vocal misogynist, and is an even more brazen liar than most politicians- profoundly damages our credibility to proclaim the supremacy of Christ in the public square. Why would anyone listen to us if we can justify such a thing?

    More pastorally, I worry for you here. You are very smart, love formal argumentation, and I have heard you say on the podcast that you’ve worked to create that culture in HPC leadership. But wisdom isn’t always a syllogism, and I’m worried that no HP staff has the intellectual tools you would respect to check a self-evidently poor idea like advancing a case for Trump on a outward-facing church platform, even as part of a ‘let’s hear from both sides’ blog series. To the extent that this is true, that doesn’t serve your heart or ministry well, and it’s a little concerning about HPC’s leadership culture.

    1. Andrew Larson: For what it is worth, the classic liberal approach going back at least to Milton has been that truth is always best served when speech if most free. To cut one side out of the debate is limit speech. To limit speech is to limit thought. To limit thought is to limit liberty. That is why tyrants always want to censor in some way shape or form. In the West we no longer do this with prisons, but by considering some ideas beyond the pale. If they are beyond the pale, then all the easier to refute them! But to write them off as illegitimate only emboldens those that hold these ideas while limiting the ability of those that know the truth to defend it.

  3. in my view, how Trump is going to treat and talk about immigrants and foreigners is perhaps the most important question about his candidacy. I will grant you that. However, I would still submit that the alternative policy choices and likely actions of Sec. Clinton may be at least as bad. As a recent article said “people are streaming over the borders because they either believe it Trump will build a wall, or Sec. Clinton will choose an amnesty date.”

    I think there is a inconsistency in your comment. Trump is filed tax returns for which the IRS has not stipulated anything illegal. Yet you seem to be dramatically concerned in multiple comments about how this is some kind of obstruction of right public knowledge- him not releasing his own personal private tax returns.

    And yet you seem willing to overlook the fact that Hillary Clinton has by any definition broken numerous laws. We now absolutely know that she didn’t hand over to the federal government documents that, not only were relevant to her government work, but even included classified information. she was required by law to hand over everything that was at all relevant to her State Department work, but she destroyed most of it. These documents were only found later through mining around her obstructions. That is a fact. Whether or not Mr. Comey and the Justice Department have the stomach to prosecute the Democratic nominee, we know it is a fact that she has chosen to obstruct justice. Yet she is supposed to become our chief officer of justice.

    I obviously could go on and on about the objective laws we absolutely know that she has broken. we could also go on about things that are profoundly corrupt, incredibly unprofessional, and that our profound conflicts of interest and the worst kinds of cronyism- that are not yet technically illegal (see basically everything that happened under the roof of the Clinton foundation). there’s a difference between due process playing out, and us having good evidence that there is a lack of will in that due process to play out.

    Is it really that cynical to believe that a president is not motivated to indict through his own Justice Department the national nominee of his own party for a presidential election (especially when he knows he has a complicit press)? when you change how cynical it is if that president’s Atty. Gen. had a conversation on a plane with the husband of that candidate/defendant? What if the Atty. Gen.’s friends had plainly said to interviewers that she was shaking, sweating and felt profoundly intimidated by Mr. Clinton. and that their conversation was clearly about the intimidating power of the Clinton machine, and how much Mrs. Lynch owed Mr. Clinton for her original appointments to prominent life in the first place? This is all part of the public record.

    Obstruction of justice, something the Clintons have a long history of, is precisely the ability to circumvent due process. We know that she has engaged in obstruction of justice. It seems reasonable to assume that we have not found out every single case in which she has obstructed justice. but we don’t enough that in her case we probably shouldn’t resign ourselves to be fully trusting in due process as a meted out by a democratically and progressively controlled White House and Justice Department.

    and yet, instead of heavily weighing actual examples of profound corruption, we are supposed to extrapolate the possible ways trump may have saved money legally on his taxes that we might think could be thought a little greedy? Would it be a bigger deal if we found out that Trump gave virtually nothing to charity? let’s stipulate that Trump took every legal loophole and gave 0% of his income to charity, but with that tell us exactly? Anything we don’t already know?

    I think it was pretty intelligent of him not to allow the press to do whatever they wanted to with his tax returns. if they are unable to find the most basic parts of the public record by which to attack Hillary, then they certainly have the capacity to find anything they want to and something put out by Trump.

    1. On the later, it isn’t about what he did or didn’t give to charity. Or the legal deductions he took advantage of. And it is just something generated by the press. The serious concern is the concensous among investigative agencies that he has financial interests in Russia and potential conflict of interest. His relationship with Putin is troubling yo say the least. He’s obviously hiding something very damaging in the tax forms. These issues are of international significance to our allies as well. His supporters ignore the issue as if it isn’t important. He’s gotten away with it.
      Lots of accusations about the Clintons. From impartial sources? Or from those with an axe to grind or a vested interest? The Foundation records have always been public. The Foundation has been audited many times by the organization that rates charities. The Foundation has received high honors for its work. But now that an election is on the line, charges of improprieties.
      Congressional investigations and hearings in an attempt to discredit Hillary. An FBI Director with partisan actions. She’s been in the crosshairs of opponents for years. All in the buildup to Nov 8. Fact is we don’t really know what the facts are. We only know what the various media outlets tell us. If only it would be over Tuesday. But it won’t. Just like it hasn’t the past 8 years of anti Obama. Inpresidened roadblock after roadblock. Compromise is no longer a word in politics. And nothing in Congress gets done. It most certainly won’t with a president like Trump. Negotiation isn’t in his vocabulary. That alone is troublesome.

      1. satideas2013: I think this comment really got to the heart of the matter: “Inpresidened roadblock after roadblock. Compromise is no longer a word in politics. And nothing in Congress gets done. It most certainly won’t with a president like Trump. Negotiation isn’t in his vocabulary. That alone is troublesome.”

        While I agree with you that it is likely that nothing will be done, I don’t see this as a problem. Our founders valued liberty above efficiency—that is why we have separation of powers, federalism, why our constitution has only been amended a few dozen times over the past couple of centuries, etc. A more centralized government could get more things done, but would also have more ability to make mischief and would undoubtedly create more unintended consequences.

        Our founders rightly believed that things are best done locally. Think about the problems that our nation is facing: poor education, poverty, crime, etc. Literacy isn’t going to rise because some career bureaucrat drafts a policy—it is going to be improved when people found and fund good schools and members of the community give their time to tutor and help learners of all abilities and levels. The state has only blunt instruments to deal with poverty and crime: faceless programs and dehumanizing prisons. Poverty and crime will go down when couples decide to marry and stay together. Yes, single-parent households, not ethnicity, national origin, religion, etc. are the number one predictors of both poverty and crime. These are clear solutions, but difficult to live out in that we cannot outsource responsibility for our actions to a depersonalized institution.

        Ultimately the office of the presidency has way too much power. We all recognize this and it this that fills us with so much fright and division. Returning power to the local level will not only better equip us to solve many of our problems, but will also lower the stakes to federal elections and thereby bring greater unity.

  4. I think if Trump had significant financial interests in Russia, beyond simple resort investments and the like, then that would be significant. I don’t think it would be evidence of any kind of impropriety, but it would be relevant as a conflict of interest. Are tax forms the only way we can know this?

    however, I’m not sure the conflict of interest would be greater than those that have been discussed in relationship to the Clinton foundation, or those related to Huma Abedin, Clinton’s second daughter, closest advisor, likely Chief of Staff – who was herself the editor in chief of one of the more extreme Islamic advocacy magazines, and one that has been funded by similar groups that have funded much nefarious activity in Islamic extremism.

    So I’m not sure this area provides an edge for the secretary.

    auditing of nonprofit organizations doesn’t cover things like complex conflict of interest or pay to play with the State Department. The organization’s accounting can be top-notch and receive the highest honors, but that would be a non sequitur to the complaints about the Clinton foundation.

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