Thursday, September 23

Trump is a divisive figure and there has been a lot of argument about his presidency.  Since it is near election day, I figured now is the time for me to be open about why I can’t, in good conscience  vote for Trump.

The bible has plenty to say about what God does and does not want in people and leaders.

Micah 6:8 “He hath shown thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

The book of Micah in the OT is a rebuke to Israel for dishonesty, idolatry, and corruption of government which led to the impoverishment of its citizens.  In chapter 6 Micah tell them what God requires of them.   Trump does not measure up well here.

He is not humble. His arrogance and pride are often on display.  He frequently congratulates himself and lies about the success of his accomplishments when the evidence clearly shows otherwise.

He is vindictive.  His statements about wounded veterans and the disabled are two egregious examples, and they are far from outliers.   His support of violent, far-right, and extremist content reflects a character that does not understand how much harm those philosophies have caused people.  These examples clearly demonstrate that Trump does not love mercy.  Trump loves himself.
He is not just.  Trump routinely skirts the law on matters ranging from his business dealings and his political maneuvers.  He was impeached and has been sued a record number of times for a president, both before he took office and during his first term.  Those suits range from defamation, assault, breach of contract, inciting violence, and fraud.

These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. – Proverbs 6:16-19

Of those seven, Trump ticks the box for 6.
  • Proud? ✔
  • Liar? ✔
  • Murder? No.
  • Deviser of Wicked Imaginations? ✔
  • Quick to get into trouble? ✔
  • False witness? ✔
  • Sower of discord? ✔

A leader should be held to a standard above that of the normal citizenry when it comes to conduct and virtue.  How can we ask someone to handle the temptations of great power if they do not also understand the burden of great responsibility?

The context of the Proverb 6, in that section, are practical warnings.  Just prior to listing the things that God considers to be an abomination, Solomon tells us

A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy. – Proverbs 6:12-15

Trump bears more than a passing resemblance to the man being described here.  And I do not want “calamity” to come to the office of the President of the United States nor do I wish it to be “broken without remedy”.

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. – 1 Tim 4:12

when speaking to Timothy Paul tells him to be an example in “speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity”.

Trump’s speech is far from exemplary.  He is impulsive and a bullyHe lies more than any other president in history.  His conduct demonstrates that he doesn’t know the limits of the presidential office, frequently threatening and then having to retract his statements when he is told that he office doesn’t have the powers to do what he said. He has publicly stated that he has accosted womenHe has been accused of sexual misconduct 26 times from 1989 to 2013.  His ham fisted approach to dealing with the race riots trampled on the rights of citizens to protest peacefully and his rhetoric provoked further violence.
He consistently fails to demonstrate the characteristics of love.  He is not slow to wrath.  He does not show mercy.  He does not hold his tongue.  He encourages violence.  He does not condemn deplorable behavior.  He is extraordinarily selfish.  He’s been married and divorced 3 times.
The Apostle Paul, speaking to Timothy about the qualifications of a Pastor says this
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; ( For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God? ) not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. – 1 Timothy 3:1-7
Though you could argue that the qualifications for Church leadership are not precisely the same as those for President, it should be clear that there is much that is shared between the two sets of qualifications.  Sobriety (in the sense self control), not greedy, not violent but patient, having demonstrated the ability to govern well in prior examples (for if a man knows not how to handle the affairs of his own house, how can he care for the affairs of a whole country?).
Trump has demonstrated again and again his lack of self control by virtue of his speech.  The record of accusations and law suits is clear evidence that he is above reproach.  He is not gentle, in fact he is intensely quarrelsome.  And his love of money is legendary.
Moreover he has not ruled his own house well.   He is heavily in debt.  His success as a businessman is average at best, having had the benefit of a large sum of money from his father to start his career.  He has been divorced three times, demonstrating his inability to make a relationship work long term.
In Matthew 20 and Mark 10 Jesus tells us that those who lead must be servants.
I see little of this in his conduct and behavior.  In Exodus God tells Moses, when looking for leadership for Israel to look for men who are “trustworthy and hate a bribe” who “fear God”.
Trump has had four years and has not managed to be even average in any of these areas, let alone exemplary. His character is of great concern. Character is what drives decision making, especially during a crisis.  You can’t argue that it doesn’t matter.

If you look at his performance on the responsibilities of the presidential office, I don’t think he fares well:

Truth:

Trump inherited one of the best economies America has had in a very long time. But instead of using the time to prepare for when times were bad (such as right now), he squandered the opportunity in a bid to stoke the furnace and make it burn brighter. I suspect this was driven by his need to look good. And now that we are in need of tools and resources to deal with the significant damage done to the economy, we don’t have it.

Racism:

Trump has done little to help heal the division of racism in our country.  Granted, the Presidential Office doesn’t not have much control over the specific causes of racism, but Trump’s rhetoric on the matter has inflamed existing tensions.

Trump inherited a roughly 500 billion dollar budget deficit and together with the Republican led congress have (excluding the pandemic) allowed that deficit to nearly double to about 1 trillion (or a ~ 1/4 of the national budget of 4.4 trillion).
To be clear, Congress shares a good portion of the blame for this, as they are the ones who pass the spending bills, but Trump signs it and is part of the process for creating the budget and proposing policies that affect revenue (like the tax cuts).
Trumps handling of the pandemic has been poor overall.  The way messaging about the pandemic has been handled was typical of the mismanagement and lack of planning evident in other efforts of his administration.  It has been inconsistent, contradictory, self aggrandizing, and prone to errors.

Commander in Chief:

Trump hasn’t had to deal with any major conflicts, and thus hasn’t been tested in this capacity much.  But his recent remarks about soldiers who have died being losers is a disgrace.

His handling of the riots inflamed an already tense situation, working against the requests of local officials.
The only bright spot in Trump’s presidency has been that he has appointed mostly conservative judges and has done what every republican president has done regarding federal support for abortion.  It is worth remarking that the handling of the Kavanaugh appointment wasn’t great though.  Given the importance of the office of a supreme court judge, Kavanaugh should have stepped aside and another candidate put forward.
And finally, on multiple occasions in the last year he has attempted to exceed his constitutional authority. I can only speculate that he either isn’t aware of the limits of the presidential powers or that he is trying to expand them hoping no one will notice, but neither explanation fills me with any confidence in his ability to govern well.

Conclusions

I could probably go on, but at this point it should be clear that Trump isn’t qualified for office.  I wouldn’t vote for him for any office, let alone for one as important as the President of the United States of America.
I want to end this by talking about the false choice that has been offered to the American people and specifically to Christians.  Many people I know chose Trump because he was the least bad candidate who had a chance to win.  They got behind him because they saw him as the only choice.

But that isn’t true.  As a Christian I have not been called to ensure who wins or loses.  It is my responsibility to be obedient, and to choose candidates who reflect the character that deserves the office.  It is God’s responsibility to deal with the consequences.  And He is more than able to move when He chooses.  All throughout the OT there are examples of God taking the unknown, the obscure, the overlooked and turning them into leaders.  See David the shepherd who because king, or Gideon who defeated an army of tens of thousands with 300 men.

God is bigger than your politics.  Choose faith.  Vote for someone who truly deserves the office.  For me that is someone who values the life of all people, pre-born, born, and every shade of brown from dark to light.  Someone who understands the power of words to heal or harm.  Someone who will take the long view and be wise, eschewing the short term gains for long term stability and growth.

This person may not exist… but we can do better than Trump or Biden.

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