On binding a stone in a sling (or Why I won’t vote Trump)

At the end of the day I oppose Trump not because he’s a cad but because he’s a fool.

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slingThe gist of the evangelical argument in favor of voting for Trump seems to be this: Vote the policies not the man. Yes, Trump is morally reprehensible; but his policies more closely align with biblical values and that warrants a Christian’s vote.

In many respects I understand this argument and under different circumstances I might even subscribe to it myself. Even so, I assume we’d all admit that “separating the man from his policies” has its limits. A mad scientist may be on the cutting edge of his field but at the end of the day he’s still mad. It makes little difference to the peasants that the mad scientist accedes to the orthodoxy of scientific laws while his monster goes on a rampage through the village.

Assuming a vote for policy is justified in this election, the approach seems ominously short-sighted for at least two reasons.

First, the “policy matters” mantra comes with a subtle but significant change in our political discourse. Behavior that was once deemed unacceptable must be downgraded to indefensible as a candidates character moves from a central issue to a caveat in many of our debates. To be fair, I don’t think a Trump vote signals indifference on character issues. Evangelicals for Trump (ETs) can argue that character will still matter in future elections but they should also admit that after 2016 it won’t matter as much as it once did. Character will no longer be an evangelical trump card (no pun intended).

Second, since ETs admit their candidate suffers from a dearth of personal integrity, I can’t understand the confidence they place in Trump’s policies. The “vote policy” argument seems to require a willing suspension of disbelief since there’s no reason to believe Trump’s policies are any more inviolable than his wedding vows. To cite just one example, much was made of Trump’s commitment to defend religious liberty and free speech. But when a religious leader had the temerity to criticize Trump he responded with nonsense like this:

Call me a skeptic but were The Donald to become the most powerful man in the free world I seriously doubt he’d take a stiff rebuke from his Evangelical Executive Advisory Board when he begins to drift.

But set all of that aside. Reasonable Christians can and will disagree on whether a vote for policy sans character is justifiable. That discussion should be had but it’s not the definitive issue for me.

At the end of the day I oppose Trump not because he’s a cad but because he’s a fool.fool in the biblical sense:

A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind. (Prov 18:2)

Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will quarrel. (Prov 20:3)

A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back. (Prov 29:11)

And since Trump fits the profile I find it hard to shake these next proverbs:

Prov 26:8, 10 Like one who binds a stone in a sling, So is he who gives honor to a fool. Like an archer who wounds everyone, So is he who hires a fool or who hires those who pass by.

Needless to say, appointing a fool to high office sounds less than advisable even if others are looking to appoint a corrupt and hostile alternative. Lest this sound like moral preening, I’ll go on record and say that were it not for Trump’s temperament, his lack of governing acumen, and his inability to articulate anything resembling a political philosophy I could vote for the lout in opposition to “crooked Hillary.”

In my thinking our nation will suffer for at least four more years no matter who holds office (albeit on different fronts). And here’s where my Proverbial protest meets American pragmatism: I’d rather dodge the rocks hurled by the opposition than suffer disfigurement by a self-inflicted rock to the face. As Alexander Hamilton once said:

If we must have an enemy at the head of Government, let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible, who will not involve our party in the disgrace of his foolish and bad measures.

#NeverTrump #NeverHillary
(Donald, please prove me wrong!)

Author: Jonathan P. Merritt

Happily married father of six. Associate pastor for education at Edgewood Baptist Church (Columbus, GA). Good-natured contrarian and theological Luddite. A student of one book.

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