Personally, I think politicians should earn our vote.
Living in Iowa, every four years, I see representatives, senators, governors and those with no political experience whatsoever make their case for why they should be president, all in the hopes of starting off the election season on the right foot.
Like clockwork, they descend on our 99 counties, in VFW halls, high schools and auditoriums, trying to make a connection to the very same people they’ll likely forget as they set their sights on New Hampshire and South Carolina and the next slate of Super Tuesday contests.
As in all caucus states, such as Iowa, it’s the grassroots voters who get the most attention. For Democrats, that includes unions. For Republicans, that includes evangelicals.
Count me as one of the evangelicals. But let me explain.
There are those who let their politics inform their faith. They’re conservative to the bone. No matter what.
As long as a conservative radio talk show host says it, it must be true, right?
As long as Fox News reports it, I can believe it, right?
And as long as we nominate him to the highest office in the land, we should vote for him, right?
I would answer no to all of the above. I prefer to think for myself.
Personally, I let my faith inform my politics.
For example, I think governmental help, such as food stamps and other forms of welfare, are necessary and not worthy of derision and budget cuts, especially when corporations enjoy their lavish tax breaks.
I’m pro-life, but I’m pro-life from conception to the grave, which means I’m against the death penalty. I don’t believe a state should endorse any kind of killing.
I applaud the police, and I think they do a marvelous job of keeping us safe. Most of them. But I won’t be lighting a blue light bulb in complete deference to their profession, especially in light of the killings of unarmed black men. Changes need to be made. Now.
Those statements stand in stark contrast to conservative Republican dogma.
But I refuse to let a party tell me how to think. God gave me that ability, and I will take full advantage of it.
Here’s another statement, even though I’ve voted Republican in every presidential election from George W. Bush in 2000 to Mitt Romney in 2012, I will not be voting for Donald Trump.
My conscience won’t let me. But there are those evangelicals who have no problem supporting the Republican nominee.
Earlier in this campaign season, I sought to figure out why. And I found some telling quotes.
“I think the same-sex marriage ruling by the Supreme Court last June was a watershed moment for evangelical Christians,” said First Baptist Church of Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress in an interview with NPR. “I think in a strange way, that same-sex marriage ruling actually made evangelicals more open to a secular candidate like Donald Trump, and here’s why. I think many evangelicals have come to the conclusion we can no longer depend upon government to uphold traditional biblical values.
“Let’s just let government solve practical problems like immigration, the economy and national security. And if that’s all we’re looking for government to do, then we don’t need a spiritual giant in the White House. We need a strong leader and a problem solver, hence many Christians are open to a secular candidate like Donald Trump.”
But that’s not all. Consider this from the Washington Times when Trump visited the late Jerry Falwell Sr.’s Liberty University.
“Dad explained that when he walked into the voting booth, he wasn’t electing a Sunday school teacher or a pastor or even a president who shared his theological beliefs,” said Falwell’s son and school president, Jerry Falwell Jr. “He was electing the president of the United States, and the abilities and experience required to lead a nation might not always line up with those needed to run a church or a congregation.
“After all, Jimmy Carter was a great Sunday school teacher, but look what happened to our nation with him in the presidency.”
And that’s all well and good, if Trump was a great leader. If he had the temperament for the presidency. If Trump in any way resembled Ronald Reagan.
But from deriding former Republican presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain for being a prisoner of war in Vietnam to making fun of then fellow presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s looks to mocking a reporter with disabilities to initially refusing to disavow an explicit endorsement from David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, he’s shown himself unworthy of my support.
And he should be unworthy of any evangelical’s support. We purport ourselves to be the moral conscience of the country, and yet we support a man who would do such things?
Earlier in the campaign, noted Christian author Max Lucado said decency still matters to him, especially when he chatted with boys who wished to date his daughters.
“We appreciate decency. We applaud decency. We teach decency. We seek to develop decency. Decency matters, right?” he wrote on his website.
“Then why isn’t decency doing better in the presidential race?
“The leading Republican candidate to be the next leader of the free world would not pass my decency interview. I’d send him away. I’d tell my daughter to stay home. I wouldn’t entrust her to his care.”
I wholeheartedly second Lucado’s stance.
I refuse to just hold my nose and vote for Trump.
I refuse to support a man I find morally repugnant just because he has Republican next to his name.
He hasn’t earned my vote. But it’s sad that he’s earned the support of those who know and believe differently.
We’re better than that.