Tag Archives: Donald Trump

It’s High Time…


system-failureThis is not a political blog. If you look right below the title, The Rushed Contemplative, you’ll see the subhead, “Musings on Life and Faith.” But during this election season in the U.S.—perhaps as much as at any other time in my life—our nation’s politics intersect powerfully with “life and faith.” And it’s high time I took a stand.

I am surprised by the number of Republicans supporting Donald Trump. Many of the same people who cried out for Bill Clinton to be impeached twenty years ago are now defending Trump in the face of a pattern of affairs, lewd comments, and lascivious behavior. “But Clinton was president,” goes one defense. “He apologized,” goes another. (Ironically, we’re talking about the same man who said he has no need to ask God’s forgiveness.) “Talk is talk,” suggested one person.

If we thought Bill Clinton’s actions—not only his actions with Monica Lewinsky, but the lies he told to cover it up—rose to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” that warranted impeachment and possible removal from the presidency, then why in the world would we even consider electing a man with a long history of similar actions? At the very least (and it is certainly least) Bill Clinton didn’t proudly boast about his “conquest,” as Donald Trump has. (I recall one pagan ruler in the Bible whose arrogance resulted in a God-ordained mental illness.)

I am appalled by the number of Christ followers throwing their support behind Donald Trump. Yes, I am well aware that we are not electing a “pastor-in-chief.” But that doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to the significant character flaws Mr. Trump displays daily. We need not expect him to demonstrate all the fruit of the Spirit, but how does he measure up against the “works of the flesh” Paul outlines: “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, enmity, strife, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, orgies, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19–21; ESV). That’s quite a list—and I deleted several of the most arguable ones.

Look for a moment at the words in that list that have nothing to do with sex. Mr. Trump’s god is money. Or himself; that might be a close race. His talk has consistently increased the enmity of other nations against the U.S.—including some of our allies. He has in no way been the uniter of the Republican party that he claims to have been, as evidenced by the number of Republican stalwarts who have vowed not to vote for their own party’s candidate.

The arguments for electing Donald Trump ring hollow. The single most compelling argument I have heard centers around Supreme Court justices; the next president is likely to have as many as three appointments. As profound an impact as that may be, a president’s legacy goes far beyond the Court; it is formed in the relationships with other nations, both allies and adversaries; it is formed in his/her leadership of the armed forces; it is formed in national and global economics.

Next to the Supreme Court question, the most compelling argument I have heard is that by electing Trump, we will not have another President Clinton. It is the “lesser of two evils” argument. Some have countered by saying that at least with Hillary, we know what we’re getting; that’s actually pretty good thinking – because we really have no idea what a President Trump would be like, other than loud, arrogant, and belligerent.

If not Trump, then who? Donald Trump would be not just a bad president, but a dangerous one. He is patently unqualified, by reason of his character and demeanor, to lead what is still the most powerful nation on earth.

Hillary Clinton is by far the most qualified candidate, as she has been almost since day one. But I cannot support her politics and have serious qualms about her ethics—as I have since her time as First Lady.

Many people say that any vote for someone other than Trump or Clinton is a vote for one of them. In other words, if I vote against Trump, then I might as well vote for Clinton, and vice versa. In reality, it is almost undoubtedly true that one of the major-party candidates will be the next president. I have had a growing concern for a dozen years about our nation’s two-party system, how we do primary elections, and the electoral college. (I wonder what conversations we would be having today if we could have multiple candidates from each party.)

Many people say that to vote for a third-party candidate is to throw away my vote. There’s some truth to that. Some of these candidates are not even on the ballot in all 50 states—another massive systemic failure. But even if, somehow, a third-party candidate were to get more of the popular vote than either Clinton or Trump, I suspect that the electoral college would give the vote to one of them—and we’d have an even bigger uproar than in 2000.

So who will I vote for? I will vote for a third-party candidate. I will vote for someone whom I believe is capable of guiding our nation, of leading our military, of working with Congress, of exercising diplomacy with our allies and adversaries. I will vote for someone who can surround him- or herself with wise advisors and cabinet members. I will vote for someone whose character is honorable (the biblical term “above reproach” seems sadly unreachable) and whose politics are as closely aligned with mine as possible.

I’m not sure yet who that person is. I’m not even sure if there is such a candidate, or if I will have to write in a name (it would be Paul Ryan). But in so doing, I will have both confidence and hope: confidence that I will not have cast my vote for someone whom I cannot support for president; and hope that the millions of people who share my concerns will join me and at least begin the process of changing how we elect our president.

My First Political Post


I spent nine long months working as a letter carrier (technically, a “City Carrier Assistant”) for the US Post Office. One Friday during a morning standup meeting, we had a sendoff for a supervisor who was transferring across the country. She was known as a yeller who was constantly stressed, who treated most everyone with an air of contempt. In the generally-hostile atmosphere between union and management, she was a catalyst for much grumbling.

In her goodbye speech, this supervisor spoke about having been a Marine (she may have been a Drill Instructor; she certainly had the skills for it); she said, “that’s not really who I am, I just have to yell at you to get you to do your jobs.”

The second part of that was bad enough; it said everything about how much she valued the people she was supposed to lead. But the first part, if it was true, was frightening.

That’s not really who I am.

I know there are at least a few jobs that require a shift in personality; in a sense you have to be someone who, by nature, you are not. Acting is one of those. Military drill instructor may be another. Post office supervisor is not. Neither is presidential candidate—or president.

Vote HereSome of this nation’s greatest presidents are considered great because of their character. Certainly time has glossed over those mens’ faults, but the fact remains that for most of our history, one of the key qualifications sought for our highest office was character: integrity, diplomacy, strength in the face of adversity, moral uprightness. During my lifetime (though I don’t think it’s my fault!), character has slipped down the list of priorities.

Now I’m going to get very political: Donald Trump does not have the character to lead this country. His rhetoric is good media and an effective campaign tactic…if you’re trying to get free media coverage. Here’s the scary part: Trump claims that he’ll behave differently as president.

That’s not really how I’ll act.

Right or wrong, politicians have earned a reputation for being dishonest. Few reasonable adults believe the promises a candidate makes during a campaign—even if only because they recognize that the president has to work with a legislature that is often openly hostile to those promises.

We do, however, expect that what we see on the campaign trail will be what we see in the White House. Which brings up two glaring problems with Donald Trump: first, what we’ve seen from Trump during this campaign is not what I think we want to see in the White House. Leading this nation in the community of nations demands diplomacy and reason, not belligerent rhetoric.

Second, if the Donald Trump we’ve seen on the campaign is not the Donald Trump we would see in the White House, then we have no idea what President Trump would be like; we will have elected a ghost.

I’m scared. I’m scared because I don’t see a good candidate—a man or woman of character—who has a reasonable chance of becoming president. I’m scared because of the number of people who seem willing to put electability over character. And I’m scared because we might get exactly what we want in our next president—but not what we need. Character.

At the top, character counts.