Recently, theology professor Wayne Grudem of Phoenix Seminary wrote an article arguing that it is “a morally good choice” to vote for Donald Trump.
It’s high time for a sober consideration of how Trump compares with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and whether, in light of that comparison, a vote for Trump can be justified, morally or any other way.
Clinton is a known quantity. Throughout her political career she has held consistent left-wing positions, including feminism and support for abortion. She is corrupt, dishonest, and vindictive, and it’s difficult to say whether the chief characteristic of her tenure as secretary of state was incompetence or treachery. Both were present in large measure, She clearly violated the Espionage Act, and ought to be in prison. Since the mid-1990s the prospect of her as president has been a nightmare to conservatives. A vote for her would obviously not be a morally good choice.
Then there’s Donald Trump. He’s supposed to be much different. However, until shortly before beginning his presidential campaign, he was actually a strong supporter of Clinton and her positions. The question is how much he has changed.
Let’s look at some issues:
On immigration, Clinton favors “comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to . . . citizenship.” This is code for amnesty and the wholesale importation of new Democratic voters. Trump has built his campaign by claiming that he will build a wall along the Mexican border and deport those aliens who are now illegally in the country. In fact, Trump has admitted he uses this claim to stir up audiences at his rallies. “You know, if it gets a little boring,” he told the New York Times editorial board, “If I see people starting to sort of, maybe thinking about leaving, I can sort of tell the audience, I just say, ‘We will build the wall!’ and they go nuts.”
However, Trump is also in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants. His version of amnesty is known as “touchback amnesty.” “I would get people out and then have an expedited way of getting them back into the country so they can be legal,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash in a 2015 interview. He went on to claim that many of the illegal immigrants were necessary for the U.S. economy. “I want to move ’em out, and we’re going to move ’em back in and let them be legal.” So in this area, the area in which he has most touted his alleged anti-establishment views, Trump turns out to be little different than Clinton.
Trump also has asserted that he favors an outright ban on Moslem immigration, but after making that claim, he backtracked in a way that bears on everything he seems to promise in this campaign. “Yeah. It was a suggestion,” Trump told Brian Kilmeade in one of his innumerable phone interviews with “Fox & Friends.” “Look,” Trump continued, “anything I say right now, I’m not the president. Everything is a suggestion, no matter what you say, it’s a suggestion.” If you’d like to hear Trump say this, you can do so here.
Another controversial issue is government intrusion into the healthcare industry. Clinton led the charge for socialized medicine in the 1990s, and her position hasn’t changed. She promises to “defend and expand the Affordable Care Act . . . and make a ‘public option’ possible.” The so-called “Affordable Care Act” is Obamacare, and the “public option” is code for full-fledged socialized medicine. Meanwhile Trump says Obamacare has “gotta go.” In its place he proposes to set up full-fledged socialized medicine. That’s right. The same thing as Clinton. So Clinton wants to use Obamacare as a stepping stone to socialized medicine, while Trump wants to replace Obamacare with socialized medicine. Take your pick. It’s great having a choice, isn’t it.
Christian Conscience vs. the LGBT Movement
Another key concern for Christians is the right to obey their consciences and, much more importantly, God’s law, by refusing to participate in such evils as alleged “marriages” between persons of the same sex. A county clerk, florists, photographers, bakers, and even a pizza restaurant have been persecuted for their unwillingness to participate in such degrading proceedings. More recently another area of dispute has arisen over the movement to allow men to use women’s restrooms on the basis of those men’s claims to “identify as women.”
Clinton, of course, favors more of same. No surprise there. How does Trump differ? Surprisingly little. He had tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel speak at the Republican National Convention shortly before Trump’s own acceptance speech. In remarks that were of course fully vetted and approved by the Trump campaign, Thiel said he was “proud to be gay.” Efforts to resist the introduction of men into women’s restrooms were “a distraction from our real problems,” Thiel said, adding, “Who cares?” He admitted disagreeing with parts of the party’s socially conservative platform. “Fake culture wars only distract us from our economic decline,” he declared, “and nobody in this race is being honest about it except Donald Trump.”
In fact, Trump is widely regarded as the most pro-homosexual Republican on the national scene, something you can read about here, here, and here. It is not possible for a candidate to be both pro-homosexual and also defend Christians’ rights of conscience. Forcing Christians to act in ways that show approval of homosexual behavior is precisely what the homosexual movement now demands as its right. No one can take both sides. So far Trump has been taking the side of the homosexual movement.
At his June meeting with evangelical leaders, Trump was asked three questions pertaining to issues of religious freedom, and his responses showed that he either did not understand the questions or did not agree with Christians on these issues. Even American Family Association’s Tim Wildmon, in his otherwise favorable account of Trump and the meeting, had to admit, “Trump’s weakness is that he did not clearly state his views in answer to the questions . . . about when religious freedom and the LGBT movement come into conflict.”
Perhaps the most important issue for Christians is that of the sanctity of innocent human life, that is, opposition to abortion. Of course, Hillary is enthusiastically pro-abortion. Trump was in full agreement with her and supported abortion, including partial-birth abortion, until 2011, when he began thinking about running for the Republican presidential nomination. Since then, his announced position on abortion has frequently changed. During one three-day period in late March of this year, it changed five different times. The final position he articulated personally was that abortion should remain legal. As usual, his campaign staff tried to mop up behind him by contradicting that statement. It seems unlikely that Trump holds sincere convictions against abortion or that as president he would take action against the practice.
Trump has also stated that America’s leading abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, “does do wonderful things but not as it relates to abortion.” Of course, virtually all of Planned Parenthood’s services relate to abortion. Trump said, “Planned Parenthood has done very good work for many, many — for millions of women,” and called any who might disagree with that statement, “so-called conservatives.” He has frequently changed his position on whether the federal government should continue funding Planned Parenthood, finally coming down on the side of maintaining the flow of taxpayer dollars to the giant abortion business with the theoretical (and impossible) distinction that the money not be used for abortions.
The Supreme Court
Within Dr. Grudem’s article the largest argument to vote for Trump was tied to the Supreme Court and his claim that Trump would nominate good justices. I’ve already posted my belief that the problem of a tyrannical Supreme Court is not going to be fixed by appointing good justices, as desirable as it clearly is to do so. Nor is it at all clear that Trump would really nominate good justices. Hours after he released a list of eleven good judges from whom he said he would choose future Supreme Court justices, Trump stated that the list applied only to the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, not to future vacancies on the court. He also said that he might not choose from the list even then. “I thought what I would do is put this forward and this would be the list that I would either choose from or pick people very close in terms of the spirit and the meaning of what they represent.” This is fine, as long as you can trust Trump. Then again, it might be just another suggestion.
Trump himself has been thumping the importance of Supreme Court picks. In an August 2 rally in Virginia he repeated a message he is often proclaiming these days. Conservatives “have no choice,” Trump stated. “Even if you can’t stand Donald Trump, you think Donald Trump is the worst, you’re going to vote for me. You know why? Justices of the Supreme Court.”
A comparison of Clinton and Trump thus shows that Clinton is bad and Trump, even on the basis of his stated positions, is little, if any, better. Clinton’s positions are mostly clear (though she lies extensively about her corruption and low character), whereas Trump’s positions are either unclear, or clearly wrong, or else have changed so often that voters of practically any stripe of belief can find a version that agrees with their views. This may be no accident. Wishful thinkers like Dr. Grudem will be able to find statements on which to hang their hopes, and with the prospect of a Clinton presidency looming, wishful thinking is likely to become an epidemic.
I’ve already posted regarding Trump’s character and the poor likelihood that he will keep his promises (or “suggestions”). It’s also worth noting that Trump, as president, would control the Republican Party. Clinton would not.
A sober assessment of Trump suggests that in voting for him we would taint our consciences and weaken our testimonies and in the end have nothing to show for it, even if Trump wins. When Clinton and Trump are weighed in the balances against truth, justice, and the Constitution, both are found wanting.