Is there a difference between political morals and personal morals?
When the ramping up and campaigning began in 2015, I was dismayed to see Donald Trump in the top half of the candidates who announced. I perceived him as a bombastic arrogant New Yorker of low morals. Is that an unfair characterization?
Well, bombastic and arrogant seem undebated; even his fans acknowledge that, and New Yorker seems not to be considered a drawback; he won lots of Southern votes. What I want to address in this post is related to the way his fans call him an “honorable man” and a “principled man.” Well, perhaps, but with qualifications.
Remember the “Access Hollywood” tape? Journalists thought it would be an “October Surprise,” but in fear that they would be scooped (they had been holding it back for many months) they rolled it out in mid-September of 2016. It made no difference to the polling numbers. This puzzled journalists who knew that Evangelicals’ support was key to Trump’s base. They had expected the Trump campaign to wilt. The NeverTrump pundits were even more distressed than Leftist journalists. They faulted the journalists who broke the story for not waiting until mid-October to drop their October Surprise.
We remarked at the time that it was old news. Evangelical voters had already absorbed the understanding of Trump’s sexual immorality, and had decided to support his candidacy anyhow. When the Nevers railed at “rationalizing” and said it was “immoral” to support such an immoral man, we brushed them off. Our response was “but Hillary.” The choice was clear.
And there was no question about the immorality of Donald Trump. He had famously bragged about adulterous affairs with “top women” who were wives of “A-list” men whose names you would recognize. He clearly had been planning to take up a wife number three at the very time he was planning the wedding with wife number two. There were rumors of other affairs besides the ones he bragged about. He said rude things. He implied in the “Access Hollywood” tape that he was willing to take advantage of his star status to treat women badly. He was uncouth. He made reckless accusations in obvious bad faith.
Nevertheless, we chose to support Donald Trump. He won the Republican nomination on the strength of support among Evangelical voters. By the time the fall campaign season neared the debates, the revelation of the Access Hollywood tape was only one additional piece of evidence for an aspect of Mr. Trump that was already well known. And the emotional distress of the Nevers over that issue was revealing of their true position. Their failure to see that other issues were more important and more relevant was indicative that their moral values did not match our moral values. Though they are mostly not Christian, they clamored about Trump’s sexual immorality. They invoked Biblical teachings.
Though we are Christians and promote conservative teachings about sexual morality, we brushed aside their histrionics and continued to support Donald Trump, the unapologetic serial adulterer who famously opined that he felt no need to seek forgiveness.
Does this mean, as the Nevers say, that we have “jettisoned morality”?
No. It only means that we made a different political calculation than they did.
I don’t care how many times the Nevers stamp their feet and shout that the choice in November of 2016 “was not binary,” that election was a choice between only two outcomes. But it does beg the question: why were Evangelicals determined to keep Hillary out of the White House? Even if that left only one choice, to vote for an immoral man?
With the choice set before us, we chose to support immoral Trump over “moral” Hillary.
So now to explain. Many of us would question that Hillary Clinton is “more moral” than D.J. Trump. We are considering the entire range of personal morality, and not just sexual morality. There are many aspects to the human moral condition. Perhaps it is appropriate to weigh different vices and virtues differently when making political decisions.
One of the reasons that western civilization always prized Socrates, Plato and Aristotle was because they were exploring what makes something a virtue and what makes something a vice. They were looking for a way to make distinctions between good and bad human behaviors, and this became the foundation of western philosophy.
It would have been far better to have grounded western philosophy in Solomon, for the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. This may not be commonly recognized as it once was in America, but this is common to us Evangelical voters. We use the Bible as our source for moral learning. (As the universities embraced modern post-Enlightenment thinking, there was a deliberate shift of philosophy away from the Bible and to a line of thinking that is more directly descended from the Pagan philosophers. Ethics for business and journalists is a field that draws on the language of philosophy and not on religious language. When journalists hear terms they think are religious, they think “dog whistle.”)
We Evangelical voters recognize all sorts of aspects to human morality. Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, and Humility were the classical “Seven Virtues” of Christian antiquity. To those can be added Courage, Justice, Prudence, Faith, and Hope. They come down to us through the generations.
While we may commonly recognize President Trump as lacking in chastity, prudence, temperance, humility and faith, we also thought he had shown a solid core when it comes to courage, diligence, and justice. We see this in opposition to his 2016 opponent, Ms. Hillary Clinton. We think of her as lacking in courage (triangulation and focus-group testing and scapegoating provide the evidence there). We think of her as lacking a sense of justice (her attacks on Bill’s bimbos is recalled). She showed a lack of both faith and courage, plus a lack of trustworthiness (which is an aspect of justice), when she disallowed a military response to Benghazi. Her e-mail scandal, plus the baggage of many scandals from the Obama Administration, counted against her as moral failings.
This sort of evaluation did not necessarily leave us with a sense of balance, but it did leave us with a sense that there were other factors in the political decision that could outweigh Mr. Trump’s moral failings.
I posted this past weekend about the fears of Evangelical voters. These have been very badly mischaracterized by Leftists in journalism, religion and politics. The fear that a Hillary Administration would crush individual liberties was paramount in the consideration of many Evangelical voters.
We did not look to Donald Trump as some sort of spiritual savior. We did see in Candidate Trump a clear alternative to the Party of Death and Mrs. Clinton. We were far more concerned with fears that a renewed Democrat Administration could kick the final props out from under western civilization. That would not endanger our salvation, but it would deprive our grandchildren of liberty.
We made the right choice.
President Trump has exceeded our expectations. And, every day when I get up in the morning, Hillary is not my president.
I had been thinking about this when I stumbled across a post at R>. (I was browsing there in the wake of their banning of our friend Ms. Hypatia.) The interesting post was by one of their popular Catholic ladies.
She posted to describe how she has turned 180 degrees around in her thinking, just in the past year. She was an ardent NeverTrumper all through the campaign, and for the first half of 2017. In the past year she has experienced a complete change of thinking. She posted to describe her thoughts, and to say that, though reluctantly, she now supports President Trump, and, in fact, strongly supports President Trump.
Her reasoning is that the ascendency of the Left is endangering western civilization to a far greater extent than she had previously realized. The revelations of how deeply entrenched the Deep State is in the Department of Justice, the FBI and other agencies shocked her into looking more carefully at the threat within, and the hysterical groupthink swarming of Leftist mass media, with their transparent lies, confirmed for her that the pro-Trump conservatives were actually on the right track.
Here are delightful excerpts:
I’ve had to revise practically all my opinions. Maybe the outward civility and personal rectitude of people like George W., Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Marco Rubio actually were a liability. Maybe “principled politicians” like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz really are insufferable and out of touch. Maybe we needed a crude, narcissistic president to make headway in a crude, narcissistic culture. And maybe Trump’s not as bad a person as I’d thought. Maybe he does have some core principles and values down there somewhere, under all the bluster and mess. In any case, he’s getting stuff done, and his media-baiting has served the good purpose of exposing their extreme bias, thank God.
His enemies have proven to be far worse than I’d imagined. I knew Obama was a covert narcissist and a leftist ideologue, a Marxist even. I knew he was governed by an evil worldview that saw America as needing to be taken down some pegs, while peoples marginalized by colonialism were given a leg up. I knew he’d set out to be the great un-Reagan and un-Churchill. He had a Saul Alinskite political MO: ends justify whatever means; isolate a target (like marriage) and destroy it. Pose as high-minded, even-keeled, and above the fray, while really being deeply nasty and harboring contempt for American institutions and the rule of law. And oppose all things Judeo-Christian and conservative, except insofar as they provide a handy cover for a leftist social justice agenda. I knew his appointees were bad guys — either ideologues like him, corrupt opportunists, or both.
But even I couldn’t have believed it was this bad — that the Justice Department and the FBI would shamelessly deploy the awesome tools of their trade to destroy Trump and elect Clinton, that the mainstream media would openly abandon even the pretense of objectivity to become flagrant propagandists while demanding the deference due to true reporters, that it would become almost impossible to have a conversation with an anti-Trumper (since to defend him is to be instantly shunned as a racist and a fascist), that so many of our institutions would be so decimated so fast.
It’s weird and ironic, but true: our best hope for national salvation lies in rallying round Trump.
I’m back with Rush and Drudge and Ricochet. I’m practically stalking Mark Steyn and Victor Davis Hansen. Now it’s David French and Jonah Goldberg I can hardly stand to read. Forget about Commentary and The Weekly Standard. How can they not see what’s really going on here? Who cares how sleazy and corrupt Trump and his inner circle have been over the years? It’s nothing, just nothing, in comparison with the depth and extent of the corrosion at the heart of things in Washington DC. If we care about our country, we’ll make electing Republicans this November our top priority.
And then the capper came in the comments:
Why is Donald Trump the only person capable of saving the Republic?
Because he happens to be the President right now, and if he’s impeached, the corrupt DoJ and FBI plus their media sycophants will be vindicated and strengthened. Pence will be horribly weakened. The already divided Republicans will be more demoralized and divided, plus alienated from the voters. If he’s strengthened, on the other hand, he will be in a great position to clean house, plus do lots of other good stuff. Weak-kneed Republicans will be more likely to come on board, etc. I’ll have hope that America can actually be turned back around.
With good moral devout Catholic married white female Nevers like her coming around to a full-throated energetic support for President Trump, I am taking heart and renewing hope that we can forestall the collapse of western civilization for a few more years.