David French and attacks on personal character

If you think a particular rhetorical tactic is simplistic and unfair when applied to you, then you should think carefully before you use that same tactic against others. David French published a piece on April 19 alleging that Christians who support Donald Trump do not care about character, but then complained four days later about Trump supporters who attack his character and motivations because he opposes Trump.

French is both wrong and uncharitable in his assessment of Trump supporting Christians. But reading his April 19 piece was like looking in a mirror, because he is where I have been many times, and still go in moments of frustration. I am writing this at least as much as a rebuke of myself as a response to French.

Many millions of Christians dislike Donald Trump’s personal character but voted for him anyway because the alternative was worse. Many millions of Christians still strongly disapprove of Trump’s character, but will vote for him anyway – not just because of the alternative but also because Trump has advanced conservative policy agenda beyond many of our wildest dreams.

Contrary to what French wrote, impeachment was not a choice between Trump and Mike Pence. Many Christians thought that Trump’s conduct on the call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was bad, but not impeachable. Many Christians also worried about the precedent it would set to lower the bar for impeachment and how it would be abused in the future. French is wrong when he reduces substantive disagreement to not caring about character. It shows a lack of the charity that Scripture demands of us.

I did not vote for Trump in 2016, and I do not regret or apologize for that. I will vote for Trump this November. French will not, and I respect that. Millions of faithful Christians have made the choice to support a Trump in good faith, and absent evidence from specific people that they are acting in bad faith (and Trump cultists DO exist) we should be charitable in disagreement. This means that Trump opponents must be charitable to Trump supporters, and Trump supporters must be charitable to Trump opponents – not accusing folks like French of selling their souls.

I like David French. I go out of my way to read his stuff when I can and he is one of my favorite pundits and podcast hosts. However, his dislike of Donald Trump has colored his judgment.

Comment on Facebook.