I did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016, but I am planning on voting for him in 2020. I have walked in the Fourth of July Parade the last two years in my MAGA hat, in a liberal college town. In fact, I was the only one in the GOP parade entry with a MAGA hat. I say this to provide context for what I will say below.
What has been disappointing to me over the last four years is an “all or nothing” mentality surrounding Trump. I addressed those who have a hard line “never Trump” mentality last week. The “always Trump” mentality is just as bad. We need nuance and perspective on the “never Trump” side, and the “always Trump” side needs it too. I do not care if secular Republicans adopt this mentality, but Christians must reject it.
Trump has removed funding for Planned Parenthood, protected religious liberty, and reversed Obama’s anti-Constitutional attack on due process for men accused of sexual misconduct. While he has brought in bad people to work in his administration, he has also surrounded himself with good people, starting with Mike Pence. They have clearly influenced Trump in a very positive direction.
It is one thing to say that given the political landscape, it is good to vote for Trump. Like I said before, I am going to vote for Trump in 2020. Given the choice between four more years of a flawed man who has given us mostly good policies and the agenda of the Democrats, I will vote for Trump. While some have derided this as making politics transactional, the fact is that all politics are transactional, even if that transaction is “I will vote for you because I trust you to leave me alone.”
It is another thing entirely to say that Trump’s life of immorality does not matter at all, that his pride does not matter, and that his bad behavior either does not matter or it is good. This is a betrayal of the Gospel. There are sexual assault survivors who have had their faith shaken by Christians who dismissed the Access Hollywood tape. Other Christians are frustrated by the silence of prominent Christians when Trump takes God’s name in vain. Christians who have spent decades saying that the civil magistrate should be men of good character have tossed that aside for short-term political gain.
My point here is not to call out anyone in particular, though I have done that in the past. My point is that I have repeatedly seen this cult mentality across wider Christendom over the last four years. My point is not to call out a specific person, but a generic sin and to call for repentance.
So what is the path forward? The right choice requires hard work, critical thinking, and a sincere commitment to Scripture and one’s principles. Support Trump when he is right (and he is right a lot of the time) and oppose him when he is wrong. Make it clear that while you will be voting for him, you absolutely condemn his life of immorality, his pride, his language and so forth.
We must not fall into a tribal mentality where it is “my guy, right or wrong.” That is idolatry.