What do they teach them in these schools?” – The Famous Professor Kirke

trumpWell, the days to the election are rapidly counting down, and with them we’re knocking out the last few arguments. Today’s is one of the weaker ones and is featured less often than others, but as Trump supporters scrape the bottom of the barrel you do still see it come up in one form or other. The essential idea is that we need not worry about Trump because he’s surrounding himself with good, moral people we can trust. It goes something like this:

I know you have reservations about Trump. Hey, I do too! I know he’s had some character issues in the past, but look at the people he’s surrounding himself with! You’ve got Ben Carson, for instance. He’s a good man and he’ll help Trump make good decisions. So, if you can’t trust Trump, you can trust the people endorsing him.

There’s another version of this argument that made an appearance in this particularly abysmal post by the American Family Association. Instead of offering specific, famous personalities, it focuses on the “little people” who would ride Trump’s coattails:

When you vote for President, you are literally voting for thousands of people that come along with the top of the ticket and the party platform that they will implement.

We’ve already dealt with the flawed idea that we can vote for a platform without voting for the candidate here, but this idea of voting for Trump because of the people around him requires us to take a different tack. There are two very significant issues here that undermine this argument.

All of us have strengths and weaknesses in terms of ability, and it is evidence of wisdom when we realize our own shortcomings and then do something about it. But that isn’t the situation being addressed here. The concern isn’t with Trump’s abilities but with his character. While you can delegate authority, you cannot delegate character.  That is exactly what this line expects us to believe is possible. Character is an individual trait. It is your own and no one else’s. Ergo, it doesn’t matter how many “good” people there are around Trump. If Trump is a man of untrustworthy character, he will remain a man of untrustworthy character until Trump decides to truly repent and make changes. When evaluating Trump, we can look only at Trump. We certainly can’t look to others to have character for him.

Further, if Trump is a man of low character, it is naive to believe that he will be influenced by better people. On the contrary, we can expect him to infect them. Consider 1 Corinthians 15: 33: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.'” So far, that is exactly what we’ve seen occur.  Just look at the number of evangelicals defending Trump’s sexual assaults as mere “locker room talk” or the ones who are already setting up others to shift the blame for failure off themselves – just like their leader. Trump has lowered their standards; they have not raised his.

Second, there are two ways we can judge the situation when we see Trump surrounding himself with “good” people. One way is, of course, to think that this is an indication that Trump’s character might be improving. The other is to question the people who are associating themselves with someone like Trump. Even if we stop short of questioning their “goodness” (as I do), we have strong grounds to question their judgment. Based on the facts above, I believe the latter scenario to be the more likely true. And if I’m already questioning their judgment it does no good to tell me that these are the people he’s appointing. Why would I vote for people whose judgment is compromised?

Trump must stand or fall on his own merit, not someone else’s.

Answering the arguments:

  1. “We allied with Stalin. Why not vote for Trump?”
  2. “If you can’t vote for the candidate, vote for the platform. Vote Trump!”
  3. “Haven’t you heard? Trump is a baby Christian now!”
  4. “Why is it only Bill Clinton gets away with rape? Vote Trump!”
  5. “Because Hillary. Vote Trump!”
  6. “You have an obligation to vote for the pro-life candidate. Vote Trump!”
  7. “Vote Trump. Because SCOTUS.”
  8. “But Trump is surrounding himself with good people! Vote Trump!”
  9. “If Hillary wins, it will all be your fault! Vote Trump!”
  10. You should repent of your arrogance and vote Trump.”
  11. “You will answer to God if you don’t vote Trump.”

Interested in what I think we should do about it? Find out here.