We are not an age that likes absolutes. We temper, we hedge, we do not want to say a good man is doing a bad thing because we do not like conflict. I am thankful that a good man, Professor Grudem, has made his views known: he asserts a good man can vote for Donald Trump and, in fact, probably should. Sadly, his arguments are bad, his advice worse, and the outcome will be disaster.
Make no mistake: if we follow Professor Grudem’s advice we will lose this election and lose all moral authority to say character counts in the White House.
This is hard to say because Grudem is a good man and begins with an irenic tone. He says:
American citizens need patience with each other in this difficult political season. Close friends are inevitably going to make different decisions about the election. We still need to respect each other and thank God that we live in a democracy with freedom to differ about politics. And we need to keep talking with each other – because democracies function best when thoughtful citizens can calmly and patiently dialog about the reasons for their differences. This is my contribution to that discussion.
This is generally sound advice. I have given it myself on many occasions. However, I am convinced we are in the most rare of political circumstances where one man is manifestly unworthy of the office of President of the United States.
Donald J. Trump is not a normal Presidential candidate and Professor Grudem defining him as such is a failure. I will not guess why he has presented such a weak case for a reality television star to be given the nuclear codes, but he has.
What is important is not why Professor Grudem has betrayed Christian values, but how he has. We must not follow his lead. He has taught Christian ethics for many years, as I have, but has failed to apply those ethics. How?
Mostly by airbrushing the life of Donald J. Trump.
Isn’t this too strong? Shouldn’t we follow his advice and keep calm and realize that men of good will can disagree? Manifestly men of goodwill can disagree, but they should not, because Donald J. Trump is uniquely unsuited for the most powerful job on the planet. He is morally unfit, unqualified, and advocating for him stains any person who does so.
Just as saying a kind word for Mussolini is a perpetual shame to GK Chesterton, so in the same way, advocating for Trump will tar Grudem. I beg him to retract it or he will lose the moral authority to comment on politics for the rest of his life. Trump is that bad.
How can I say this?
Professor Grudem describes Donald J. Trump as a “good candidate with flaws.” This is a description so outrageously out of touch with reality as to defy belief. Let me ask Professor Grudem to play any interview with Mr. Trump and Howard Stern to his children and argue that this man has a view of women fit to occupy the Oval Office.
Professor Grudem ends up ignoring evidence to present an apology for a wicked man.
First, everyone agrees that supporting a flawed candidate is acceptable or we would vote for nobody: Lincoln was flawed, but then so was Huey Long. Lincoln’s flaws were acceptable and he was a great leader, Long was a demagogue who fortunately never became President of the United States. We must vote for flawed men, but not for men who glory in their flaws.
Donald J. Trump is the least qualified, least fit nominee of a major party in the history of the Republic.
How can I say this? I can say this by looking at Professor Grudem’s praising Trump with faint damns.
He is egotistical, bombastic, and brash. He often lacks nuance in his statements. Sometimes he blurts out mistaken ideas (such as bombing the families of terrorists) that he later must abandon. He insults people. He can be vindictive when people attack him. He has been slow to disown and rebuke the wrongful words and actions of some angry fringe supporters. He has been married three times and claims to have been unfaithful in his marriages. These are certainly flaws, but I don’t think they are disqualifying flaws in this election.
This is a man that Grudem would trust with the leadership of the Free World!
Notice the attempt to minimize insane rhetoric. Trump continues to flirt with birtherism, autism being caused by vaccines, and the notion that Ted Cruz’ father killed Kennedy. Professor Grudem calls all these lunatic ideas “brash.” It is not a lack of nuance that is the problem when you suggest we will abandon Estonia to Putin. It is ignorance combined with pride that does not care about the ignorance.
Mr. Trump has not abandoned his support for torture. He has not taken back his openly racist statements about an American judge he calls “the Mexican.” He has not retracted his sexist and ugly statements about scores of women. Today he justified his ugly sexist comments about Megan Kelly.
The man owns a strip club.
All of this Grudem minimizes. Why? God knows, but it is wicked.
His “angry fringe supporters” fill my social media feed. They are not merely “angry.” They send me pictures of ovens and talk of Jews. They use racist language I will not repeat. Trump has never done anything to push off the massive support he receives daily on Twitter from these people and from trolls hired by the Putin regime. Don’t believe me? Create an account and say something negative about Trump. Wait and you will see.
My friend David French has had his children attacked because they are not white. To call such hideous evil “angry fringe supporters” is to look at the worst evil in the face and blink. Grudem may not have to fear the anti-Mexican, anti-Islamic, and anti-immigrant ugly rhetoric of Donald Trump, but my students do.
To give a thin skinned vindictive man the massive power of the executive branch of the United States is madness. Trump has repeatedly had kind words to say for dictators including the butcher of Ankara and KGB Colonel Putin.
This is not the worst of it. In service to a man who makes a mockery of “traditional values” Grudem says:
Professor Grudem: I am a Republican from a family of Republicans stretching back to 1856. You are wrong. Trump has a long history of racist activity, beginning with fronting for his (openly) racist father Fred. This is vital since to the very end of his father’s life, Trump needed the support of his father.
On the other hand, I think some of the accusations hurled against him are unjustified. His many years of business conduct show that he is not racist or anti-(legal) immigrant or anti-Semitic or misogynistic – I think these are unjust magnifications by a hostile press exaggerating some careless statements he has made. I think he is deeply patriotic and sincerely wants the best for the country. He has been an unusually successful problem solver in business. He has raised remarkable children. Many who have known him personally speak highly of his kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity. But the main reason I call him “a good candidate with flaws” is that I think most of the policies he supports are those that will do the most good for the nation.
Professor Grudem refers to his “many years of business conduct,” but cites no successes. What has Trump done in business? Is this a reference to the open cons he has run? Is he referring to Trump University? As Professor Grudem should know, no unaccredited school can use the title “college” or “university” in many states. This ban includes New York and Texas. Trump ran a scam knowing it broke the law: that is why he is in legal trouble in New York. He also ran a supplement company that was a scam. He stiffed investors in a casino in New Jersey.
Does Professor Grudem think it possible to run a casino in New Jersey without mob ties? Trump has been through four corporate bankruptcies and escaped personal bankruptcy only with family help. He lies about his net worth, he lies about his education, he lies about his companies.
Trump lies like most of us breath . . . a point the man who wrote “his book” confirms.
In fact, Professor Grudem ignores the fact that Trump lies about everything. There is no facet of his life that is not built on lies. To pick one simple example: at the latest RNC, he lied that his wife graduated from college. She did not. Pick almost any Trump statement and you will discover that it is a lie. This is not normal political behavior, but continuous lying so grand that Professor Grudem seems to forget one lie for the next.
All this Professor Grudem shuffles off to a hostile press though biographies published before Trump got involved in politics confirm the picture of a narcissistic, selfish man, uninterested in anything or anyone but himself.
Professor Grudem says that Trump has raised “remarkable children.” This is both offensive and naive, a rare combination. By his own admission, Trump was uninvolved in child rearing. We know nothing of the actual state of his children’s lives. They are presented to us by Trump Inc. and we know that celebrities can turn out to be very different than we thought they were. Bill Cosby was Mr. Family until he was not. How does Professor Grudem claim to know anything about Trump’s children really? Why does the uninvolved Mr. Trump get credit and not the three women who did all the work?
Does Professor Grudem think that the “kids” will deny Daddy who has the money? Does he think he understands the complex feelings of a kid from a second marriage, almost always ignored, suddenly called to be a character witness at a national convention?
Professor Grudem is giving a man credit for doing a thing Trump vows he did not do: raise kids. This is disgusting.
Professor Grudem has not presented one qualification for President that Mr. Trump has earned. He has built a few buildings and sold his name to more structures. Many others have done the same without being fit to be President. He has lived a totally self-centered life.
He loves money, gilding everything. The love of money, I am told, is the root of all kinds of evil. He flies down from the clouds in Loni Riefenstahl fashion in a plane with his name on the tail. He asserts, as almost no other political figure in American history has done, that he is our answer. He does not invoke the people or God.
Professor Grudem sees him as a patriot. This is a man so patriotic that by his own admission he bribed and wined the most corrupt politicians on the planet. He now says to trust him. How can we when we say he will release his taxes and then does not? He is no patriot who lies to dodge the draft and then calls dodging VD his personal Vietnam. He is no patriot who will run for no office until he starts at the top running for President.
The most offensive part of Grudem’s defense is his downplaying of open racist dog whistles in the Trump campaign.
Grudem ignores Trump calling Mexican immigrants “rapists,” calling for the ban on all Islamic persons to the US, and repetitively re-Tweeting the worst anti-Semites and racists on social media. Grudem ignores Trump’s frequent use of illegals on construction sites and hawking for more immigrants on other projects. Grudem ignores Trump’s refusal to “disavow” the Klan and David Duke before a Southern primary. He ignores mob ties, Russian debt, gross crudity, forcing his wife to soft-porn shoots, lies, and almost total ignorance of our government.
Does Trump have to show Birth of a Nation and Triumph of the Will to behave worse? Has any Presidential candidate ever given more racist signals?
Trump is one of the few Presidential candidates to induce an international crisis through his reckless and ignorant rhetoric on NATO. Trump is the first candidate to discuss his manhood in a Presidential debate. He thinks the Constitution has twelve articles. He confuses Clinton’s Vice-Presidential nominee with a Republican governor of New Jersey.
The man is ignorant of even the most basic facts about government and has no interest in learning.
But let me be simple for Professor Grudem: I do not want a perfect candidate, but I will not vote for a man who bought and owns a strip club. This is not a “high standard.” So far every nominee of a major party, but one, could pass it. I will not explain to my daughters why the objectification of women for profit was good.
Trump is a Neo-Fascist. How can I say this? He advocates a personality cult: his movement is about his power to “fix it.” He invokes external and internal enemies to stoke fear. He is cozy with big business, but has a populist flair.
I don’t know why Professor Grudem wishes to support a neo-Fascist for President. I assume it is the triumph of hope over reality, but Donald J. Trump is immoral, ignorant, and incompetent. I challenge Professor Grudem to name one qualification for President that Donald Trump has.
Here is what we know for certain: if we back the man who is proud, sexist, racist, libertine, a lover of money, then we will lose the right to say “character counts” forever.
Wayne Grudem is wrong, dangerously, tragically wrong.