My endorsement here won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been reading my coverage of the presidential race, but I wanted to explain for the record why I cannot vote for either Trump or Clinton this year, and why I believe supporting NOTA 2016 is actually our best chance to do some good with our votes.
You may have noticed I’m not a huge fan of either of the major-party presidential candidates this year. It’s always tempting to shout “Worst ever!” but a strong case could be made that this year’s election really does feature the most toxic combination of options in American history. And you should care about that whether or you are naturally “political,” because the presidency influences the country in a thousand ways, from the policies that are made to the example that is set.
That’s why I created a petition on Saturday in a last-ditch effort to give American voters an option other than Trump v. Clinton. I’ll tell you more about that in a moment, because I really hope you will go sign it and share it with your friends. But first, I want to share why I am not worried about the fate of that petition, nor about the outcome of the presidential election. There is a broader principle here that is helpful when dealing with the setbacks that come with being “in the world, but not of it.”
As far as I can tell, the unofficial slogan of Trump 2016 is “Trump is awful, but SCOTUS.” When I talk with conservative friends who are debating whether they can bring themselves to vote for him—which is most of them—Supreme Court nominations are invariably among the first things they mention. And it is not an insignificant point. The prospect of Hillary Clinton appointing the replacement for Justice Scalia, and perhaps another justice or two, is appalling. If Clinton wins this election she will be in a position to shift the court significantly leftward for a generation, and that prospect is among the most compelling reasons for an “anybody but Hillary” vote, even if that “anybody” is an immature con man with dictatorial instincts.
Because (a) I think this is a compelling argument and (b) I remain firmly in the #NeverTrump camp, I wanted to explain why I don’t believe Supreme Court nominations are a good enough reason to vote for Donald Trump.
So, what now?
After Donald Trump’s commanding win in Indiana last night, Ted Cruz has suspended his campaign and there is essentially no doubt left that Trump will be the Republican nominee. According to polling, a substantial portion of the Republican base says they won’t vote for him, but the “party unity” drumbeat is already beginning, with the spectre of President Hillary Clinton to add urgency to the appeal. Particularly with Supreme Court nominations at stake, it will be terribly tempting to give in and check the box for Trump, hoping against hope that the unpredictable showman will end up being at least a bit less bad than the pathologically dishonest liberal. However, despite the pull of a grudging, desperate “anyone but Hillary” vote, there is every reason, both moral and strategic, to remain #NeverTrump through November 8.
The Moral Case For #NeverTrump
I get the logic of voting for the least-bad candidate. That’s why I reluctantly voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 and reluctantly voted for John McCain in 2008. But in some contests the least-bad candidate is still too bad to support in good conscience. In an election between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who would you vote for? A strategic vote against the other guy is still a vote for someone to lead your country and your fellow citizens; you’re still helping to put someone into office. In a small way, you are responsible for whatever that leader does in the office you chose them for.
It is time for evangelical Christians to unite to actively pray that Donald Trump does not win the Republican presidential nomination.
This isn’t about policy. The Bible leaves room for disagreement and debate over important political questions. But this is about character, and about whether serious character flaws should be disqualifying for the presidency of the United States. This is about a candidate who claims to be a Christian and asks for Christian support, yet lives a testimony of vulgarity and unrepentant sin. And it’s about our testimony, as Jesus’ followers, if Donald Trump wins with Christian votes.
When Bill Clinton was in office, we said character mattered in a president. Did we mean it? Because Donald Trump is the guy who decided that what his casino really needed was a strip club. Trump is the guy who thinks violating marriage vows is something to be proud of, boasting about “my experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women.” Yet Trump says he has never asked God for forgiveness for anything.
Perhaps you’ve heard: Donald Trump is running for president. (It’s been mentioned on the news a couple times.) Not only running, in fact, but consistently leading the polls by significant margins over his competitors in the Republican primary. Despite his awkward answers when asked about his faith at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa–he doesn’t ever ask God for forgiveness, he explained, but he does “drink my little wine” and “have my little cracker” in church–he leads among Christian voters as well as other demographics. This is embarrassing. Voting wisely is part of loving our neighbor, and Christians ought to be doing better than supporting a man who is basically the incarnation of the biblical definition of a fool.
Put aside the political question of why Republican primary voters would support a man who once described himself as “very pro-choice” on abortion, including partial-birth abortion; who once advocated universal healthcare and praised single-payer systems in other countries during last week’s debate; who used to actively support Hillary Clinton; and who was a registered Democrat until 2009. Perhaps he has simply changed his political views. All of them. Be that as it may, I am more interested in the man himself because, ultimately, a presidential election is not about a binder of policy positions–it is about a person.