Last week, President Donald Trump ridiculed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s Senate testimony. Just as troubling as his mockery of Dr. Ford was the applause and laughter of those standing behind President Trump at his rally. Ridicule and mockery have been a constant tactic in Trump’s effort to win since he was a Republican candidate for President of the United States. And yet, while such ridicule and mockery have helped him win to this point, the end does not justify the means. In fact, the mean-spirited methods he employs will eventually come back to haunt him and those who support him. People reap what they sow.
Such mean-spirited tactics have already made a negative impact. It has eroded the President’s credibility with those beyond his base. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who served under Republican President George Bush, Jr., said recently that he does not believe the current President can be a moral leader given how he insults anyone who stands in his way. One of the most disturbing aspects of President Trump’s deplorable rhetoric in the case of Dr. Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee is that President Trump has been accused by 22 women of sexual misconduct. The President calls the women liars. Surely, his vote of confidence in newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is not the most ringing endorsement.
Aristotle argued that the most virtuous person in a given society should rule. If this is the case, President Trump certainly would not make the grade. The same would be true of former President Bill Clinton, who has been accused by 4 women of sexual assault or harassment. One allegation alone is deeply troubling, and so the difference of 22 allegations to 4 should not ease angst over former President Clinton’s alleged transgressions. But surely, the additional 18 allegations should not lessen the distress. What is perhaps as troubling from a public virtue framework is that my own demographic of white Evangelical Christians often expressed outright contempt for Clinton because of his policies and sexual misconduct but have sided with Trump because of his policies and in spite of his sexual misconduct (Refer here and here for two ringing endorsements of President Trump by Evangelical leaders).
Even if Roe vs. Wade is overturned with the conservative swing on the Supreme Court, white Evangelical supporters of the President should not think that the end justifies the means. They may very well find that their political victory is pyrrhic as Republican Governor John Kasich surmises. They may have won a short term battle but burned their bridge to America’s soul. How could it be that Donald Trump is deemed the most pro-life President, and the darling of the Evangelical movement that is known historically for the sanctity of marriage and for promoting sexual purity and chastity?
As a white Evangelical, I am deeply troubled by what the current state of our own movement’s soul says to the broader public. A difference of conviction is one thing. A compromise of conviction (a lack of civility and support of a President whose alleged sexual misconduct and lewd remarks are well-publicized) is quite another. Moreover, what does the mockery of Dr. Ford say to women in our own movement? It is one thing to question her testimony. It is quite another to mock it, as President Trump did. His antics likely emboldened others, such as one Evangelical who posted on Facebook an unflattering childhood picture of Dr. Ford. The post specified that there was no way a young Brett Kavanaugh would have been guilty of trying to rape her.
We as an Evangelical movement have a lot of soul-searching to do, including how we often turn a blind eye and deaf ear to President Trump’s conduct and our own treatment of women. This President may give us the restrictions on abortion we want and the protections on religious freedom we desire, but there will be no restrictions on many people’s disdain outside the Evangelical movement or fear of many women still inside.