As I mentioned in my last post, I will never vote for Donald Trump for president. I will never vote for Donald Trump for city councilman nor will I vote for him for dog-catcher, for that matter. But I realize my post about Ben Carson’s endorsement with my conclusion about never voting for Trump left some readers with a few questions.
So I’d like to address those two questions. The first: Why will you never vote for Donald Trump? And the second: If it comes down to Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton, what will you do?
The first question is easy.
The Case Against Trump
It is not because of his multiple affairs and divorces, or the way he brags about his dealings with women, or the way he objectifies women, or the way he compares women he doesn’t like to animals. It’s also not because of the way he incentivizes violence at his rallies, or the way he is threatening riots at the Republican convention if he doesn’t emerge as the nominee. And it’s not because he tried to evict a woman from her house so he could build a parking lot for his since-bankrupt casino. It’s not even because of his vulgar and pompous late-night Twitter tirades against any and all who dare question him.
I don’t mean to diminish the weight of these things. These things make Donald Trump a nasty human being. These are the kinds of things that disqualify a person from dating my daughters, as Max Lucado eloquently put it. And I think the character of a person matters when we’re considering electing that person to public office. The writer of Proverbs noted, “When good people run things, everyone is glad, but when the ruler is bad, everyone groans.” And about three thousand years later Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Wise and good men are in my opinion, the strength of the state; more so than riches or arms.” And in his farewell address, George Washington said, “It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”
Granted our country has a rich history of electing nasty human beings as presidents. From Andrew Jackson to Woodrow Wilson, and Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton, we’ve had a solid roster of unsavory characters leading the charge for our nation. We even revere Jackson by putting him on our twenty-dollar bill—despite that blemish on his legacy known as the Trail of Tears. And there are apparently strategists who believe Clinton helps his wife by supporting her on the campaign trail—despite his reputation as a sexual predator.
To be clear, I don’t think we need to elect a pastor or priest to be our president. And we know Jesus isn’t running for office this year. So we’re limited to only electing humans, which means we have to accept some level of moral failure. As the apostle Paul said in his letter to the Romans, we have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory. At the foot of the cross, I’m equal to Donald Trump. In terms of my need of God’s grace, I’m with Donald Trump, along with Bill Clinton and Andrew Jackson.
But we’re at a time when voters are willing to look the other way in regard to a person’s character, because of a perception that that candidate can “get things done.” I don’t fall into that category, but because there are many people who do, it’s necessary to make the case against a Trump presidency aside from all of that.
With that in mind, my decision not to vote for Donald Trump (no matter what) is because of his—drumroll, please—policies. Or lack thereof.
I know. Kind of anticlimactic, huh? That’s definitely not exciting or sexy.
But since we have been blessed to inherit this democratic republic, it seems we should look to elect people who represent the values we believe will further the best interests of our country. We should look at their policies, or their proposed policies, rather than their personalities.
We should figure out what each person wants to do as president, rather than examine who we would like to have a beer with.
We should look for the policies which will give us the best chance of creating our preferred future, rather than the ones which play to our fears and encourage us to hunker down and shut ourselves off from the world.
Here’s the biggest problem with Donald Trump: In my assessment of his policies, I can’t figure out what he actually wants to do. Like I mentioned, I agree with Dr. Carson’s observation that there are “two Trumps.”
It’s nice that he has begun posting policy proposals on his website, but he is known for contradicting his own policies in interviews and debates—and we still don’t know what he says about his policies behind closed doors. We do know he has a strong admiration for himself and his poll numbers. But we don’t know what his core values are, or which policies he will choose to stick with if elected. Is his strongest value pleasing people, such as the editors at the New York Times? Or is he willing to stick with what he believes is right, despite ebbs and flows in public opinion?
I don’t know the answer to that. No one does. If you are planning to vote for Donald Trump and you think you know what he is going to do, just remember, even he doesn’t claim to know what he is going to do—he wants to leave room to negotiate and make deals on seemingly everything.
With that said, it would be difficult to clearly define the positive policies of a Trump presidency. But there are some definite negatives, and some clear reasons I have come to the conclusion I will never vote for Donald Trump. Here are a few:
When Donald Trump praised the “wonderful things” Planned Parenthood does—in a Republican primary debate—I wondered, what will he say in the general election when he is campaigning against the first presidential candidate to earn Planned Parenthood’s endorsement? I also wondered, when referring to Adolf Hitler, why do so many people forget to mention the Autobahn or his plans for a really cool future city? Why are they so hung up on the one or two bad things he did? I wonder what percentage of Hitler’s activities were rounding up and killing Jews as opposed to all the really wonderful things he did?
Here’s the bottom line: For me, taxpayer funding of abortion is absolutely a non-negotiable. There is no “deal” to be made in that regard. A candidate whose moral clarity wavers on the issue of taking my money and giving it to the organization that murders the most babies in the United States is not a candidate I will ever consider voting for. Ever.
Supreme Court Nominees
Our country suffered a devastating loss when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February. He was perhaps the most eloquent and convincing defender of the Constitution and individual liberty we have ever had on the Supreme Court. If there is any hint of a bright side to his death, it is that this wake-up call happened during this election. His passing serves as a reminder that the presidency is only four years, but the legacy of each president lives on for decades through the lifetime appointments of justices.
On this Donald Trump waivers again. His first inclination was to announce that his sister, a judicial activist and progressive statist, would make a phenomenal Supreme Court Justice. On the contrary, I think she would be a horrible replacement. He later retracted his statement (as he often does), saying that he couldn’t nominate her because it may be seen as nepotism. In terms of determining Trump’s rationale for appointing judges, nepotism is a non sequitur. As in, yeah, that’s great—don’t nominate your sister because of favoritism. But what about the fact that her values are completely different than the guy you’d be replacing?
No, thank you. We can’t get this wrong. The future of religious liberty in this country, along with the lives of a multitude of unborn children, hang in the balance, largely because so many important votes come down to 5–4. If that one vote swings the other way because we like the guy who is good at “telling it like it is”, we are literally bringing judgment upon ourselves.
Imagine with me that you are really good at making sneakers, and I am really good at making potato chips. I can make 35 bags of potato chips in one hour, and you can make four pairs of sneakers per hour. Since you’re so good at making sneakers, you should focus on that, and not spend your time making potato chips. And since I can’t make more than four pairs of sneakers in an hour, I’ll focus my time and energy on making potato chips, and we’ll trade with each other. I’ll give you some of my potato chips in exchange for some of your sneakers. Win-win, right?
Play that out a bit more. Say you recruit your neighborhood to help you make sneakers, so you can make a lot more of them. I do the same thing. And now our neighborhoods can buy and sell our products with each other, and also with neighborhoods all around us, so that we are able to make the things we specialize in, and trade for things like cars and toothbrushes and pencils.
That’s a very rudimentary way of explaining a basic economic concept called comparative advantage. This concept based on free trade is at the heart of productive, flourishing societies. It should come as no surprise then that it is also part of the economic foundation of our own society.
What comes as a surprise is a man who is seen as having great wealth because of his success in business who seems to have little to no understanding of basic economic concepts, such as these. And yet, Donald Trump wants to economically wall off the United States from the rest of the world by imposing tariffs on China and Mexico as punishment for their success in trade, and for their illegal immigrants. But as any economic novice (like myself) understands, charging a tax on imports only costs us more. To put it into real life terms, if we have to pay more for iPhone parts made in China, the price of our iPhones could go from $650 to $950, based on Trump’s 45% tariff. That’s just one product. Look no further than the “made in” tags on all your stuff—everything from T-shirts to computers—to discover how many times that could play out.
The result of Trump’s absurd retaliatory tariff can’t just be measured in the cost of things we buy. The Chinese would almost certainly impose their own tariff on any goods we sell to them, thus hurting our companies overseas. They may pass the cost of lost business onto consumers here at home, or perhaps cut back workforces in order to meet the lower demand. Higher prices, and less jobs—but we’re going to make China (and their 100 million people living on less than $1 a day) pay. Just one way Donald Trump plans to make America great again.
These are the top three on my list of reasons not to vote for Donald Trump. I would also add his fascistic desires to close off part of the internet and to force companies to make products in the United States to the list.
To wrap up, there may be some positive things about Donald Trump as a political candidate. But it’s difficult to discern which is the real Donald Trump. Is he in favor of a high border fence, or is that just rhetorical framing for negotiations? Is he “very, very pro-choice,” or is he so pro-life he thinks we should punish women who have abortions? It would be difficult to objectively define his position on most of the issues. But there are enough strong reasons for me not to vote for Donald Trump.
That’s a high enough word count for one post (or seven). I’ll answer the second question, If the presidential election is Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton, what will you do? next week. (UPDATE: Read part two now.) Thanks for reading.