How Much Sin Disqualifies a Politician / President?

How Much Sin Disqualifies a Politician / President? July 20, 2020

The following is a collection of nine Facebook posts written about this general topic during the 2016 campaign (and two from after that election). Since this issue and President Trump himself remain very controversial “hot topics”, I decided to move them over to my blog. At the end I engage in very extensive debate with Church historian Dr. Edwin Woodruff Tait, who is of the opinion that enthusiastic Trump supporters (not just the ones who plugged their noses when they voted for him, as the lesser of two evils) are basically blinded, out of their right minds, and under the wrath of God. Makes for a lively debate!

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I definitely think character counts. I just don’t think we are required not to vote for someone because he has some serious sins in his life. I deny that all sins disqualify one to even be a candidate or require an abstention on voting day for a Christian.

I’ve made various arguments along these lines. God chose to make an eternal covenant with David, knowing from eternity that he would have a man killed, in order to take his wife.

God chose St. Paul to do what he did, despite having murdered Christians. Peter was pope after having denied Christ three times. Etc. ad infinitum . . .

Yet we are to believe that Trump is too sinful to do anything good (politically) at all? It has elements of Donatist and puritanistic thinking.

I detest any sin he has committed (along with my own and King David’s and St. Paul’s and St. Peter’s). It doesn’t follow that I (or any Christian or “moral conservative”) can’t possibly vote for him in the present circumstance. Those guys were murderers and adulterers. God used them. Trump’s sins are lesser than theirs. I don’t think a felon can even run for President. So both David and Paul would be (if this is true) disqualified from the get-go.

My point is that great sin (greater than Trump’s) is not inconsistent with a person leading a country or writing the Bible, or even with God choosing the king and one with whom He made an eternal covenant.

If God had reasoned like anti-Trumpers do, He would have said, “I can’t choose David! He’s gonna murder and commit adultery in 40 years, so he’s out!” But He reasoned as Trump voters do: “I can use anyone for My purposes, no matter how much he has sinned in the past. I can even use a donkey or the wicked king of Babylon.”

The above is half tongue-in-cheek, of course.

If Trump wins and is found having sex with an intern in the Oval Office, rest assured that I will publicly renounce and lament my vote and instantly call for impeachment.

I have agreed that if Trump is proven to be a predator (i.e., coercing and abusing women against their will), that that disqualifies him, and I would not vote for him. I’m obviously not convinced that it is the case. If undeniable proof surfaces in the next 12 days, assuredly I will not vote for Trump. My vote won’t matter in Michigan, anyway. [ah, but it did, as matters turned out; Trump took Michigan]

I think he could do a lot better in how he talks about women, for sure. It still doesn’t prove that he did these alleged “predator” things. It helps create plausibility that he may have (as I have said in the past, too). The man is thin-skinned and often flies off the handle. Most of even his biggest supporters concede that.

In other words, the fact that certain behaviors may suggest a lack of respect for women does not prove that he groped or otherwise coerced / forced them into having sex. It’s consistent with such a possible scenario, but not proof of it.

Arguments from plausibility are not airtight or irrefutable by nature.

Originally posted on 10-27-16.

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Title: “Saul, David, and Donald Trump (Saintliness and Being Used by God)”

Someone wrote on my wall:

“We will get Saul, not David. There are no Davids in the race.”

My reply:

I’m glad you brought that up. David had a man murdered so he could have his wife. Trump has never done that. But God somehow managed to make an eternal covenant with David, didn’t He? He used David despite his sin. He uses all of us for His purposes, despite our sins.

If David can be the forerunner of the Messiah Jesus, with His great sins, I’m quite sure Trump can be a mere President. If St. Paul can murder a bunch of Christians and then become a great apostle and write much of the New Testament, we know that God can use all kinds of people. After all, He used the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar to judge His own chosen people. For heaven’s sake, he used a donkey once to set forth His message.

This notion that someone has to be a saint before we can vote for him is thoroughly unbiblical and contrary to the history of the Church’s teaching about sinners always being present in the Church. It’s a form of puritanism or revival of the Donatist schism.

Originally posted on 10-15-16.

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Title: “Is Trump a Good Man? (Character Issues and Voting for President)”

I think Trump has many good qualities, and also some significant bad ones, just as all of us do, to differing degrees. I think his motivations for running are honorable. The common picture painted of him is not accurate, in my humble opinion. It’s a gross caricature, which is what the Democrats, of course, do with all GOP candidates. I think I’m a pretty good judge of character. I’ve been observing him very closely all along.

I like most of his policies. That’s what we primarily vote for; just as when we are getting surgery, we want someone who is successful at it, and don’t give a rat’s rear end about whether he is an adulterer or politically different from us.

If we get a new roof put on, we want them to do a good job. We don’t inquire about all this character stuff. Governance is also a problem-solving task.

Granted, the better a person’s character is, I think it is a net gain, but I don’t see that we have to require saintliness or perfection in a presidential candidate. Sure character is important, but does anyone know of any President-saint that we’ve had? I don’t. Voting is necessarily pragmatic to a large extent. Who will get done what needs to be done at the present hour? JFK the inveterate womanizer got us through the Cuban missile crisis. Reagan was a lady’s man in Hollywood. He did pretty good as President.

Voting for someone is obviously not a carte blanche approval of everything about the person. It’s up to us to make the better choice between the final two, for the good of our country. I don’t see how choosing Trump over Hillary, from the Catholic perspective, is even an arguable proposition. Of course we vote for Trump (the pro-life issue alone would determine that). We’re literally facing a radical secularist revolution in this country.

I’ve been saying that if Hillary wins, we are “Canada” immediately. After four or eight years of her, we’ll be “England.”

Originally posted on 10-18-16.

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Title: “Is Trump [Causally / Logically] to Blame for [X Number of] Morons & Fanatics & Anti-Semites Who Say They Support Him?”

The issue brought up was supposedly large numbers of Anti-Semites among Trump’s followers: said to be caused by Trump and a reason in and of itself to never vote for him. This is as illogical as someone saying that Moonies or Jim Jones cult represent Christianity, and so they would never be a Christian because of them. There are always fanatics and morons on the fringe of any political party because the two parties encompass most of the country. Morons are generally the loudest in very large groups.

I’m not dismissing any hatred. I detest hatred and bigotry and racism and anti-Semitism as much as anyone; always have. I am dismissing the idea that one wouldn’t vote for Person X because some idiot bigots out there say they support him. It’s simply a hostile assumption that it’s a “large swath”: just like Hillary’s “deplorables” and “irredeemable” folks that are supposedly half of all Trump supporters. He received 14 million votes in the primary. That would be seven million people.

Everyone (with any moral sense at all) condemns violence and hatred. Some of us are also addressing the question (that was brought up in the original post) of whether Trump is tarnished by these morons, simply because they say they support him. There are always fringe characters when we are talking about a national election.

Likewise, The Hillary campaign would say that the two idiots they just fired due to Wikileaks revelations (who encouraged voter fraud) do not represent them. They’d say that the bombing of a GOP headquarters or numerous beatings of Trump supporters were fringe folks, etc. None of that would be a reason to not vote for Hillary, either (because — again — all large political parties will have their extreme, fringe elements, and nutcases).

You appear to associate anti-Semites with conservatives (certainly with Trump). All hate groups seem to be increasing. I just don’t attribute that to Trump: I attribute it to our moral sewer of a society that we live in.

It seems to come down to a virulent dislike of Trump that exists before any issue (actually or supposedly) regarding him is discussed.

Obama said that he could understand why someone wouldn’t vote for him if they watched only Fox News. I can understand the disdain for Trump if folks never read anything good about him, and only bad stuff in the mainstream liberal media, and/or from the 3rd partiers and never-Trumpers.

We are what we eat.

Originally posted on 10-19-16.

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Title: “On Trump as Supposedly Extraordinarily ‘Divisive’ and ‘Unpopular’ ”

Nothing is more desired by the Never-Trumpers than that Trump lose, and lose decisively, so that they can pretend that their opinions are justified and were right all along (which it would not prove, anyway, but that’s a separate discussion). Accordingly, the inimitable Mark Shea wrote on my own Facebook page yesterday (complete with three of my “fisking” bracketed interjections, in blue):

Nate Silver knows what’s going on. On November 8, he will be borne out, Clinton will win, Trump will be shown to be less popular than cancer with minority voters [he’s polling at 34% with Hispanics; I guess more than one-third of them like cancer, too], and he will tank with women as the misogynous sex predator he is [yet he is doing better with women than Romney’s poll results in 2012; even winning among married women]. Then you guys can either face the reality that you have been living in an echo chamber or you can join Trump in denying reality and screaming ‘rigged’ until Inaugural Day. [while Hillary’s minions are pathetically squealing about KGB and Putin / WikiLeak conspiracy theories about the election]

If Trump is “divisive” why cannot one contend all the more that GOP candidates and Governors who break sworn pledges to support the nominee (Bush, Kasich) are at least equally divisive and that folks who openly oppose the candidate (Will, Kristol, elder Bush et al) are far more “divisive” than Trump ever was? It works both ways: at least if we are logical about it, and not merely reacting out of Emotional Trump Detestation Syndrome.

As for “unpopular”: Trump received more primary votes than any GOP candidate in history. If that’s “unpopular” then I’d like to see “popular.” How else is popularity determined, for heaven’s sake — bottom line — than by votes? Is it determined by a head count at Republican blue-blood country clubs and pointy-headed establishment cocktail parties?

And now he is neck-and-neck with Hillary, whereas we were told by these all-knowing folks all along that he had no chance whatsoever. If that were true, he should have been consistently at least 20 points behind (or, to accept Mrs. Rodham Rodham Clinton’s idiotic nonsense, “50 points”). He’s polling ahead of Romney in several categories, including Hispanics and women (yes, believe it or not, despite the ubiquitous propaganda you have been fed).

Originally posted on 11-2-16.

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Title: “Voting for a Ruthless First-Degree Murderer?: Reply to an Anti-Trumpist”

I won’t be “changed” for the worse in the least by voting for Trump. I’ve voted for a sinner (as a sinner meself) in every election since 1976, and this one won’t be any different. I’m still waiting for a saint (even an orthodox Catholic) to run for Prez.

We simply disagree as to whether Trump is such a vastly greater sinner than all the other sinners you and I have voted for, and whether or not he is Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, or Satan Incarnate.

I think that the United States can survive Donald Trump’s sins. We’ve already survived Harding’s, JFK’s, Nixon’s, and Bill Clinton’s (note the bipartisanship of that list).

Originally posted on 11-6-16.

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Title: “Has the GOP Undergone a Sea Change (for the Worse) with Regard to Character Issues Involving Their Nominees? 2nd Reply to an Anti-Trumpist”

I agree that views about character in politicians have changed to a significant degree. That’s true even of the secular Democrats, as we saw in the difference between Gary Hart’s campaign going down the tubes in 1984, and the winking at all of Bill Clinton’s 952 serious sexual transgressions.

But your analysis continues to neglect the fact that the choice is between Trump and Clinton. There is no third choice except in pipe dreams and puritanistic perfectionism that has no relation to the reality of governance. This is how the primary process works.

Usually, we don’t get our favorite guy, and so are forced to settle for less. That was true the last three times for me (I fought hard against Romney, as Todd Aglialoro can tell you, but I voted for him and even came to like him a bit by the end: no more, after his asinine behavior this year). And so the evangelicals were heavily for Cruz (as I was for a time).

The nominee is then determined by votes and Republicans (and evangelicals and conservative Catholics) decide if they will support the nominee, warts and all, or devour each other again, as we usually do.

In the past we have had divorced candidates (Reagan, McCain), womanizers (Reagan: quite the lady’s man in Hollywood), a man who wasn’t even a Christian (Romney), and many who supported murder in the case of rape and incest (such as elder Bush). And that’s not even getting into war and (real or alleged) torture issues.

So, different? Yes, I agree. But I disagree that it is some sort of essential change or sea change. It’s not. There have been strong libertarian strains in conservatism all along, and that is where this trend comes from, as I see it (as a political junkie for three decades and old sociology major). People don’t care about character issues as much because of that: because they don’t see that a person’s private life is of much relevance. That’s why we have increasing legal drugs and now even same-sex “marriage.” The latter is what is truly a dramatic and essential cultural sea change (I just wrote about it at NCR): not Trump’s nomination.

That’s not just post-Clinton and a double standard, but a long-term trend, even going back to Goldwater (who had procured an abortion for his daughter) and Reagan (signed an abortion bill in 1967), etc.

I think Trump was the result of a combination of this growing libertarian trend, and also a very strong anti-establishment view: being absolutely fed up with GOP two-faced spinelessness in Congress. Trump was the one perceived to be the outsider and to have a spine for a change.

It doesn’t follow that all Republicans think he is a perfect saint. They merely think he is acceptable, flaws and all, in the current situation, and (above all) against Hillary Clinton.

This is why I absolutely reject your (and Mark Shea’s much more loudmouthed and obnoxious) analysis that somehow we have changed and have forsaken long-held principles. I would have much-preferred another candidate. Trump was my original 15th choice. But he was selected in the primary democratic process, and if the choice is him or Hillary, he wins hands down. I had to think about that for no more than a half-second.

It involves no moral compromise on our part to vote for him, because one never totally agrees with absolutely every position of a candidate, nor is (thank heavens!) one required to by the Church, or even common sense.

I have noted in one of my articles on the campaign that those of you more on the left or moderate or whatever you call yourselves do the exact same thing in this regard. You say you don’t agree with a pro-abort’s policies on abortion, yet [some of] you will vote for him or her, thinking (I think, quite foolishly) that other policies of theirs will lessen abortion. So the ones who think like that don’t accept every policy of their candidate, yet are willing to vote for him or her.

Neither do we, and complete agreement on all character issues is not implied by our vote, either.

I have loved Paul Ryan, because I love articulate policy wonks and sharp guys, like he is. He seems to be of upright character. But he laid down and died in terms of any opposition at all to Obama. Like Trump says, he talks a good game, but is “all talk and no action.” He’s been a severe disappointment. Republicans are sick to death of that — tired of all the political nonsense and game-playing and corruption in both parties — , and above all, wanted a fighter and a winner this year. Trump fit the former category and we’ll see if he fulfills the latter in two days.

We were like Lincoln looking for a general who wasn’t a wimp and who would fight. So Ulysses Grant proved himself to be such. People like you were around, running him down because he was a heavy drinker (and indeed, had a connection to slavery as well). Pragmatist / realist Lincoln’s response was: “find out what he drinks and have it sent to all the generals. He fights . . .”

Originally posted on 11-6-16.

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Title: “Trump’s New Year Tweet Compared to St. Paul and His Enemies”

People have been having a field day over Trump’s new year tweet: “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!”

Over at Deacon Greg Kandra’s page, this was put up and a host of people criticized the President-elect. I replied there (utilizing my incessantly analogical approach to argumentation):

St. Paul took such a thing much further than that:

2 Timothy 4:14 (RSV) Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will requite him for his deeds.

Trump wished a happy new year and love to his enemies (albeit with some quirky acerbic humor that is invariably misunderstood in his case or not even grasped as humor at all). Paul, by contrast, states that (basically) God will smite his enemies. Elsewhere (1 Tim 1:20), Paul “delivered” Hymenae’us and Alexander “to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” Cf. 2 Timothy 2:16-18.

Paul would have made a terrible political liberal. I realize it is the gospel here and not mere politics (so it’s a quite imperfect analogy), but — that said — Paul didn’t do Kumbaya, touchy-feely “PC” stuff that Trump gets excoriated for not doing.

And Paul, of course, tells us that he is an example for us to imitate (2 Thess 3:7, 9).

Meanwhile, since Christians are exhorted even to honor the pagan Roman emperor (1 Pet 2:17), liberals and Never-Trump whiners will have to somehow find it in their hearts to honor President Trump in some remote nose-plugged fashion (i.e., if they take a command in inspired Scripture from St. Peter, the first pope, seriously).

And yes (anticipating the retort), I have honored President Obama in at least a minimal sense. I just think he was incompetent and that this is manifest and undeniable. He did harm. But I honored him insofar as he filled the office of the President. Now liberals and Never-Trumpers will have the opportunity to do that, rather than simply writing hit-pieces constantly about “Emperor” Trump.

Now, if it is thought that Obama was above this sort of tweaking (thought to be so “juvenile” etc.) that’s not true. I remember during the televised [farcical] “negotiations” with Republicans about Obamacare, President Obama being quite rude to Sen. John McCain, whom he had just beaten, saying (close paraphrase), “well, John, the thing is, I won.” In other words (my own interpretation): “shut up; the American people elected me.” To me it was the height of tactlessness and lack of graciousness.

McCain, for his part, was gracious and said with a smile, “I’m reminded of that every day . . .” The difference between Obama and Trump is that the former was humorless and boorish in his tweaking, whereas Trump used [relatively harmless] provocative humor: a thing not incomprehensible to liberals, whose comedians specialize in it. They just can’t ever take it when a non-liberal uses it towards them.

Originally posted on 1-1-17.

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Title: “Edwin Woodruff Tait’s Opinion of Enthused Trump Voters: ‘Blind’ Folks ‘Driven mad by the wrath of God.’ ”

Edwin [words in green below], who has known me for more than 15 years, seems to classify me as a “blind wretch driven mad by the wrath of God.” [he does for sure, as he makes clear in the combox below]

It occurred in the thread today on my page, discussing Mark Shea:

[N]ote that I carefully avoided broad-brushing people who voted for Trump. I have a lot of people who say, “My goodness–has it come to this, that we had to vote for this guy in order to stop Clinton?” But insofar as “supporters” means “people who, on the whole, have a positive feeling about the prospect of a Trump Presidency” I am happy to broad-brush them as being, with all charity, blind wretches driven mad by the wrath of God.

Yeah, I have a very positive feeling, from what I’ve observed, so according to you I am one of the “blind wretches driven mad by the wrath of God.” Nice touch of charity there, Edwin. Is that a piece of the “passive aggression” you talk about?

ADDENDUM: Edwin has retracted his use of the word “wretch”: After sleeping on it, I am sorry for using the word “wretch.” I wanted a strong word that would convey a sense of how miserable a state I think you guys have reduced yourselves to without actually making an uncharitable judgment about your general intelligence or moral character. I knew it wasn’t a perfect choice, but in the heat of the moment couldn’t think of a better one.

I stand by the claim that you have been blinded and have lost the capacity to make right judgments in political matters, and that this is evidence of God’s wrath being poured out on America and specifically on American conservative Christianity.

Edwin has also now stated: “I think that if American conservative Christianity is not under God’s wrath, then there is no meaningful way to say that any group of people has ever been under God’s wrath.”

He has said he would have voted for Hillary Clinton if he lived in a swing state, that voting for Trump is the equivalent of voting for King Ahab, and that he doesn’t apply this analysis to Hillary or Obama voters (“I haven’t made the kinds of statements about Obama or Clinton I’ve made about Trump. But then I haven’t made those statements about other Republican politicians either. Trump crosses a line, . . .”).

And we are “blind” due to God’s wrath against us?

It’s remarkable to observe, but alas, not shocking in the slightest to me. I’ve been observing liberals — as a political junkie — for 35 years now.

I would say that the most vocal anti-Trumpers talk like this, but that is how it always is regarding anything: those with the most passionate and/or irrational emotionalism about something or someone come to the foreground and are most visible. How much they represent the whole group is open to dispute. They are the noisiest faction of the whole.

The present discussion is whether you can justify saying such a pathetic thing about me and any enthusiastic Trump voter. Obviously, I think they are outrageous and indefensible comments, but you are digging in. It’s a clear line crossed. It’s judging souls in a way that is eerily reminiscent of fundamentalists who are characterized by a highly uncharitable and legalistic judgmentalism. It’s unworthy of Edwin and his generally irenic, amiable, and insightful level of thought, and he ought to retract it. But no sign of that so far . . .

I have mixed feelings about Clinton. If I were a citizen I would probably have voted third party, though I might have voted for her simply to stop Trump, especially if I lived in a swing state. I don’t think she’s as bad as most Republicans think, but I am certainly not an enthusiastic fan.

My anger at Trump’s victory is largely about my horror at what he has revealed about my conservative Christian friends in this country, though it’s also about my deep concern at what he’s likely to do to the country as a whole.

I appreciate those two qualifications or clarifications very much. Thanks!

Your notion of God’s wrath being poured out on American conservatism is interesting. How does that work? Do you have any particular Bible passages that apply? So God has blinded us, hardened our hearts, and given us up to our own devices, leading us to choose evil and the equivalent of king Ahab?

And why would not the same analysis apply to voters for Obama and Hillary [and, of course, Biden this year]: advocates of, e.g., partial-birth infanticide. What do you think God thinks of that practice and voters who uphold it by voting for the candidate and party that favors such diabolical butchery?

I’ve heard people say my whole life that God was pouring his wrath out on America for abortion. And I would say that the hardness of heart that makes people unable to see the humanity of the unborn is indeed both a cause and an effect of God’s wrath (I don’t really distinguish, because I view God’s wrath as the effect of our rejection of God, so that God no longer able to show mercy on us and we continue on a downward spiral, reaping the fruits of our own evil choices). I wouldn’t think that you and I would differ about that, though we probably do differ in the importance we would give to the role of pro-choice politicians. I think their position is reprehensible, but I wouldn’t characterize it as “advocating” abortion. They have a misguided understanding of individual rights which leads them to think that protecting “abortion rights” is a necessary part of standing up for women’s dignity.

But it’s possible that I’m hedging too much here. That’s why I need people who tell me in uncertain terms that abortion is evil and that I shouldn’t compromise.

And so do you, when you are tempted to compromise with evil in your turn.

How am I cooperating with evil, Edwin? Do you not acknowledge that we all have principled, ethical disagreements with ANY politician we vote for? If it is possible to vote for Hillary according to you (something even you — just like another famous and loudmouthed critic of conservatives — would have done, in a swing state, and what Simcha Fisher actually DID), then how is it not possible to vote for Trump, while partially disagreeing?

Virtually every GOP President believed in, e.g., the rape and incest exceptions for abortion. That is intrinsically evil. But we were allowed to vote for them because they were far better than the alternative (abortion for any reason for all nine months).

Yet somehow you say Trump is Ahab while Obama and Hillary are not.

And Edwin is a classic case of what I have been observing: an otherwise thoughtful, insightful — I’d say even brilliant and wise — man and scholar, who becomes mushy silly and ultra-insulting when discussing Anything Trump.

Edwin perhaps had the following passage in mind, in his allusion to God’s wrath (but we can’t know for sure unless he tells us). It talks about God’s wrath and how God “gave them up”:

Romans 1:18-26 (RSV) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. [19] For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. [20] Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; [21] for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. [22] Claiming to be wise, they became fools, [23] and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles. [24] Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, [25] because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen. [26] For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural,

The key idea is deliberate suppression of the truth of God, and Paul applies it to atheists, idolaters, and practicing homosexuals. It hardly applies to a vote for one of two plausible choices for the presidency.

In Matthew 21:41, “wretches” in RSV, in the interpretation of the parable, means those who go to hell. Anyway one looks at it, whatever biblical allusions Edwin had in his mind, are not very complimentary to the enthusiastic Trump voter or erstwhile supporter. Nothing good can come from this profound judgmentalism and seeming “political bigotry” of a sort.

We were told that Reagan was a terrible “cowboy” and war-monger and would blow up the world. All we had during his tenure was the short little conflict in Grenada. We’ve been in wars the entire time of Obama’s eight years (yet, oddly enough, no protest songs from Neil Young and John Fogerty: both of whom I love — about that!). He didn’t stop all of them. He stopped Iraq in a stupid way, so that ISIS could be born.

My Christian / Catholic social teaching values are in complete accord with what I like about Trump’s policies, though there would be a few areas of disagreement, as there is with virtually anyone we vote for.

We’ll always hear the silly canard that Trump voters are more political than Catholic or Christian. That’s standard boilerplate. It’s a lie, of course: at least among those who think at great length about these matters and have been cultivating a political worldview in line with their own Christian views for 35 years, as I have. As Francis Scaheffer: one of my big influences, used to say: “Jesus is Lord of all of life, including politics.”

[reply to atheist Marxist Jon Curry] I’ve gone round and round with all these things. You guys never get it. But why not one more time?

No Trump voter contends that Trump is a saint, and I’ve never seen any condone the usual things that are brought up. So that is neither here nor there. It’s based on the premise that political candidates are these saintly, holy characters. What a joke. Reagan had some 50 lovers in Hollywood. He was a womanizer, though he seems to have ceased at some point.

The manhood thing was because Rubio in the debates made a stupid joke in rather poor taste, saying what it means if a guy has small hands (like Trump). That seemed to have been in response to Trump’s silly “Little Marco” nickname. So Trump responded in kind. It was pretty harmless bawdy humor, but it was in reaction to Rubio, who (to his credit) later felt very bad about it, said he was embarrassed, and apologized publicly and to his family. But all we hear about is Trump, with no context whatever given.

If you wanna talk about male sex organs, that goes right to Bill Clinton: remember him? Hillary’s husband? Or the husband of Hillary’s soulmate Huma . . .

There is no evidence of racism, admiration of Hitler, etc. Get a grip! This is embarrassing. But it is appropriate that you make such a ludicrous hysterically anti-Trump display in the thread about Edwin’s hysterically anti-Trump ludicrous comments. Thanks for the quintessential example!

I certainly didn’t mean “wretch” to imply damnation. But God’s wrath can take temporal manifestations as well. I meant that it is wretched to be as blind as Christians who support Trump are. (And again, by “support” I mean “have a generally positive attitude toward his candidacy and now his upcoming administration,” not “vote for him as the lesser of two evils”).

I think of you, Dave, more or less as you think of me–a good person who is hopelessly blind on political matters. What frustrates me all the more is that, as you keep pointing out, we have a lot of common ground. That’s why I find your whitewashing of Trump to be so frustrating. And yes, I think that God’s wrath is involved. I think that American “Christian conservatism” stinks in God’s nostrils and that God appears to have given American conservatives up to their own folly by allowing Trump to become their chosen, victorious candidate. I stand by my language, and I stand by my characterization of it as charitable.

Trump is a test for conservatives. Plenty of solidly conservative people, such as Robert George and David French, opposed him. This isn’t “conservative” vs. “liberal” except insofar as you and many other people have allowed your hatred of “liberals” to blind you to the evil you are supporting.

So it is an application of Romans 1: perhaps in a roundabout way, but still . . . You falsely accuse me of hatred of liberals and being so utterly blind that I must be an object of God’s wrath, who supports “evil”? That is among the top 50 or so insults (among innumerable ones) that I have ever received, and from a longtime friend and a soon-to-be-Catholic who admits even now that he thinks I am a “good person.”

It’s an absolute disgrace.

I am going to speak the truth as I see it, and if you don’t like hearing it, that’s your choice.

I am sorry for saying “hate liberals” instead of “hate liberalism” which is what I meant. I wasn’t accusing you of wishing individual people harm.

But I think that if American conservative Christianity is not under God’s wrath, then there is no meaningful way to say that any group of people has ever been under God’s wrath.

And I would remind you that Biblically God’s wrath is frequently spoken of as falling on God’s people. Even in Romans, Paul’s overall point is that God’s wrath falls on the Jews as much as on the Gentiles.

The Biblical parallel I had in mind was much more along the lines of Jeremiah begging the people of Judah not to make an alliance with Egypt.

This language (of God’s wrath falling on a blinded people) is there in our tradition. It’s there for a reason. It’s there to warn us away from exactly the kind of reasoning by which you have, step by step, argued yourself into supporting Trump. I’ve watched you do it. I read the post in which you argued that he really was quite “conservative” (of course, these were the aspects of conservatism that are most questionable morally, but you don’t see that, apparently) and thus, if you had to, you could support him.

The logic is quite simple. Dave doesn’t think he supports evil, obviously. Hence the blindness. Plenty of good people support evil. That’s the source of much of the tragedy in human history.

I have heard over and over against from conservative Catholics and other conservative Christians that people who vote for pro-choice candidates are supporting evil, and indeed aren’t “true Catholics” or “true Christians.”

What I am saying is less extreme than that. I have been careful to say that I don’t judge those who voted for Trump reluctantly, and I have never suggested Yet I’m the extremist?

As for whether I support evil–obviously I try not to, as I’m sure Dave does. But you may well think I support evil, and I would expect you to call me out on it.

If I were a citizen and lived in a swing state, I would have voted for Clinton. And I have been told over and over again that that constitutes support for evil. I support social welfare programs, which many conservatives tel me are “socialist” and thus evil. I support measures to protect the environment, and I’ve been told that that’s evil too.

It would be, in Ratzinger’s terms, “remote material cooperation.” (I don’t see gay marriage as a significant political issue at this point, but that’s another discussion.) And if you’re asking “do I think I can get through life without remote material cooperation in evil,” then the answer is “no.” So I guess your charge that I think I’m a “pure snowflake” has been refuted.

Again, what I’ve taken aim at in this thread, consistently, is enthusiastic support for Trump and positive statements about the prospects for his presidency, because these statements are rooted in profoundly wrong judgments of many kinds: dismissing the fact that Trump’s moral character is notoriously bad in practically every way, trivializing or denying the persistent undertone of racial and religious hatred in his campaign, supporting a merciless policy toward immigrants that is flatly contrary to Catholic social teaching, putting forward the monstrous and immoral notion that a rich person is somehow more trustworthy because of his wealth, and so on.

I have said numerous times now that I am not attacking people who voted for Trump reluctantly. I think they are wrong, because I think Clinton was the lesser of

But many conservatives seem to be supporting Trump because of his attitude to immigrants and Muslims and because of his wealth and his ruthless, amoral attitude to acquiring it.

And the superior alternative, money-wise was Hillary Clinton, who, of course, was a paragon of virtue, accepting millions of dollars of money from Muslim Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, that deny the basic rights of women. She’s great, but Trump, like all Republican nominees, is an “amoral” money-grubbing rich white guy.

He’s against non-vetted immigrants from countries that have a terrorist problem, and illegal immigrants. There’s not a damned thing wrong or bigoted about either one of those views. It’s just plain common sense and every country’s right to examine possible immigrants.

During the peak years of Ellis Island immigration (1905-1914), an average of one million people a year came through, to try to become US citizens. 2% were denied citizenship, so that is about 200,000 people during that ten-year period. So now the folks at Ellis Island were a bunch of bigots, too, having turned away 200,000 poor souls?

There is very little reason at all in these discussions. I feel like I’m going over the times tables. It’s embarrassing.

Edwin has said a number of extreme things about Trump and [some number of] his voters:

A vote for Trump is a vote for King Ahab. It’s as simple as that. [sometime before 5-6-16]

Assuming that we get through the next four years (or, God forbid, eight) without a nuclear war, a coup, or genocidal internal violence, it might just barely be worth it to kill forever the idea that being a businessman qualifies you to hold public office. [12-1-16]

Trump’s America may not be a fascist dictatorship, but something much more trivially sordid–a banana republic without the bananas. I suppose this is one way he can keep his campaign promise to deal with the immigration “problem.” Why come to America to find the same kind of corruption, authoritarianism, and lawlessness that you sought to leave behind at home? [11-24-16]

Trump’s utter lack of any of the virtues needed for governing. . . . Even if you think Trump was the lesser of two evils, his election is still a very great evil. [11-11-16]

Gee, I wonder if Edwin ever called Obama or Hillary Clinton voters “blind wretches” or voters for the moral equivalent of King Ahab?

And there you go again ascribing to me the belief that all Trump voters are “blind wretches,” when I carefully said that I was not saying that.

I certainly think that people who are enthusiastic about legalizing abortion, say, are morally blind on that point. Don’t you?

But no, I haven’t made the kinds of statements about Obama or Clinton I’ve made about Trump. But then I haven’t made those statements about other Republican politicians either. Trump crosses a line, because his public persona and most of the reasons people give for supporting him are (with the exception are morally vacuous. (In another post on this thread I listed the three possible exceptions that I see.) Some reasons are rooted in understandable but not particularly reasonable or virtuous frustration with the “establishment,” and others are rooted in fear and hatred and greed and lust for power, though of course these things are always cloaked with euphemisms like “security” or “law and order” or “protecting our borders” or “fighting terrorism.”

I have said over and over again that I’m not attacking people for voting for Trump. I think it was the wrong choice–I think that all the options you mention would have been preferable, as would voting a smaller “third party” (like the ASP, to which I belong) or even not voting at all. But, as Trump supporters are fond of reminding us, the election is over. So why keep going back to it? The question is how to go forward _now_.

As for what my issues are with Trump, here are the three things I potentially like about Trump, all of which I think are very shaky (i.e., I’m not actually sure he will do these things, but he might):

1. His promise to appoint justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade
2. His professed reluctance to get involved in aggressive military actions
3. His alleged willingness to negotiate rather than digging in ideologically

I can’t think of anything else about Trump’s public persona that I like, and most things about him (other than the three mentioned) are excellent reasons to weep in sackcloth and ashes over his election. Your own professed reasons are among them, other than “not abandoning prolifers” (which really we haven’t seen yet). Explain to me why it is good and just to “support Israel” where “supporting Israel” means “supporting those elements in Israeli politics most opposed to peace and least inclined to do justice to the Palestinians.” As for his “conservative picks,” if “conservative” means people who serve the interests of big corporations, then yes, he’s made “conservative picks.” But if “conservative” has come to mean “sycophantic slavery to wealth” then my point about divine wrath is simply reinforced.

Does your stomach turn when you hear people suggest that Trump is somehow above being corrupted because he is wealthy?

If it doesn’t, then you are blind and deaf to the social message of Scripture and the Church.

Edwin Woodruff Tait has made a direct analogy of Trump to King Ahab. This is what the Wikipedia article states about Ahab:

Essentially, 1 Kings 16:29 through 22:40 is the story of Ahab’s reign. This reign is one which faces opposition from several prophets of Yahweh throughout as well as various consequences because of his marriage to Jezebel, because of his worship of Baal, disobedience to prophetic warnings and words, and also because of the murder of Naboth. The murder of Naboth (see Jezebel), an act of royal encroachment, stirred up popular resentment just as the new cult aroused the opposition of the Israelite prophets, including Elijah and Micaiah. Indeed, he is referred to, for this and other things, as being “more evil than all the kings before him” (1 Kings 16:30). The followers of Yahweh found their champion in Elijah; his denunciation of the royal dynasty of Israel and his emphatic insistence on the worship of Yahweh and Yahweh alone, illustrated by the contest between Yahweh and Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18).

Another short biography observes:

Ahab became a pioneer and champion of evil. Not content with Jeroboam’s golden calf cult, Ahab sponsored Baal and Asherah worship, introduced by his evil wife, Jezebel. Rituals of the Baal and Asherah cults involved detestable practices, including prostitution, homosexual prostitution, and human sacrifice of children.

Yep: that’s Donald Trump! But not Obama and Hillary: who endorse so-called same-sex “marriage” and are the most radical proponents of abortion imaginable. There is your immoral sex and child sacrifice. Yet Trump enthusiasts are blind and under the wrath of God and it is possible to actually vote for Hillary without cooperating in evil.

Edwin has, at least, managed to do one extraordinary thing that I would have thought utterly impossible: to be more ridiculous and outrageous than Mark Shea in political matters. That’s quite a feat!

Very unlike Mark Shea, however, at least Edwin is able to have a real conversation (i.e., on the not-so-frequent occasions that he chooses to do so). It’s not rational, and is filled with liberal “useful idiot” boilerplate and spin, but it is civil, for the most part, in-between the ludicrous allusions to God’s wrath, profound blindness, Ahab analogies, etc.

Liberals talk about God’s wrath? Well, I guess liberals ain’t what they used to be. . . .

Former fundamentalist 3rd party useful idiots who are Christians do so . . .

You talk tough; so can I; but I speak accurately and present facts, not just a bunch of name-calling and half-ass biblical exegesis.

It [“useful idiot”] is a slur–its a jargon term that people use to dismiss someone whom they can’t actually refute and know isn’t really on the side they want to attack but want to smear anyway.

I think it’s hilarious that you object to my language of straightforward denunciation and then use smarmy smears like this.

But maybe I’m just weird. I’ve always responded fairly well to being told I was a wicked person on whom God’s judgment might fall, and very badly to more secular kinds of rebukes. It probably has something to do with growing up in a family dominated by a grandmother who frequently told me I was a “very wicked boy,” and being relieved that she couldn’t think I was too bad, because the people she really disapproved of she said were “full of the devil.”

I haven’t called you wicked, or a bad person. To the contrary, I said you were “brilliant and wise” in your field. I haven’t said God’s wrath is upon you. But latch onto useful idiot (even though it fits you like a glove) and become all indignant! If I’ve said you were “blind” it was in a purely political sense, not this melodramatic, God-induced thing that you claim for Trump enthusiasts. There is no comparison at all.

Originally posted on 1-2-17.

***

Related Reading

Trump & Reagan: Shocking Similarities [1-15-16]

Is Trump a Conservative; Even “Reaganesque”? [3-9-16]

In (Partial) Defense of Donald Trump [3-10-16]

Trump is a Slimeball, Moron, & Scumbag [5-27-16]

“How Can a Catholic Vote for Trump?!!?” [5-28-16]

KKK & Kooky Karikatures of Konservatives (vs. Dr. Edwin Woodruff Tait) (+ Facebook discussion) [11-20-16]

“Trump Ain’t Really Pro-Life” [1-24-17]

Holy Scripture: Honor and Respect Political Rulers [2-2-17]

“Lessen Evil” Votes for Hillary? (vs. Mark Shea) [4-7-17]

Honoring Rulers: Biblical Teaching vs. Crass Political Bigotry [5-18-17]

Trump’s Inadequate Rebukes of Rocket Man & Neo-Nazis [sarcasm] [8-13-17]

Does President Trump = Frankenweinstein? [11-20-17]

Wicked Rulers Honored (Saul, Solomon, Nero, High Priest) [11-30-17]

Good Christians Can Support Trump (Amazingly Enough)! [7-21-18]

Are Trump & His Supporters Nuts & Evil? (vs. Mark Shea) [9-6-18]

More Biblical Evidence on Honoring Political Rulers [9-7-18]

Trump is Attila the Hun, Vlad the Impaler, and Stalin [sarcasm] [9-7-18]

Debate [?] on Biblical Honor of Rulers: Including Trump [11-14-18]

The So-Called “Trump Cult”: Exchange with Mark Shea [11-3-18, 11-8-18, and 1-22-19]

Could God Possibly Use Trump, Like Queen Esther? . . . and Like He Used Balaam’s Ass, Jonah’s Whale, King Cyrus, and the Babylonian Heathen King, Nebuchadnezzar (Not to Mention Adulterous Murderer, David)? [3-23-19]

Explaining the Pro-Life, Christian Vote for Trump Yet Again [4-30-19]

Dialogue: Christian Witness, Trump, & Prudential Voting (vs. Deacon Steven D. Greydanus) [5-10-19]

“Warmonger” Reagan & World War III: How Soon We Forget [1-8-20]

Dialogue w Never-Trumper: Is Trump Really Pro-Life? (vs. Scott Eric Alt) [1-24-17; expanded on 2-9-20]

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(compiled from nine Facebook posts: October 2016 to January 2017; arranged on 7-20-20)

Photo credit: DonkeyHotey (1-21-17) [Flickr / CC BY 2.0 license]

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