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Friday, March 18, 2016

Conservative Critics Of Trump Still Do Not Get It

In January, an article (click here) written by Russell Moore (click here for bio) joined a chorus of conservative voices urging fellow conservatives not to vote for Donald Trump in the primaries. The fear, of course, is that Trump would become the Republican Party's candidate for President. The fear is legitimate. However, are the words employed by these conservative voices effective? Considering how the article to be reviewed here was written in January and that Trump has since increased his delagate lead, the answer is obvious.

Moore begins his article by espousing three principles on which religious conservatism is based. And we will come back to those principles to show where there is a contradiction. But first, we will deal with these principles as they relate to Donald Trump.

The principles consist of protecting each of the following:

  1. human life including the unborn
  2. the sanctity of marriage
  3. religious liberty for all

Moore aptly illustrates how Trump has failed to follow each of these principles either in the past or during his campaign. 

Much to his credit,  Moore examines Trump's commitment to human life by how Trump has regarded both the born and the unborn. For he not only questioned Trump's inconsistent stand on abortion, he also brought up Trump's proposals on immigrants and how he has talked about women and the disabled. In short, Moore questions whether Trump sees people in terms other than just winners and losers.

Moore then looks at Trump's view of marriage. Here, Moore considers Trump's multiple marriages and divorces as well as how Trump has bragged about having sexual relations with women outside of marriage. He then throws Trump's line about not needing  to ask for forgiveness into the mix. Trump's claim that he doesn't need to ask for forgiveness is one of the strongest indictment against Trump's understanding of Christianity. Moore also looks at Trump's casino holdings noting that such does not say much for Trump's commitment to the sanctity of the family.

Finally, while mentioning what he perceives as Obama's failure to protect religious liberty, Moore mentions Trump's promises that would infringe on the religious liberties of Muslims.

Thus, in the three principles Moore lists as being the most important to religious conservatives, he aptly shows how Trump has failed. In fact, I cannot see any errors in how Moore assesses either Trump as a person or his campaign. 

And yet, for not having made any mistakes, Moore still gets it wrong. How does he get it wrong? Moore's article does not succeed because it neglects to mention how the establishment has failed us and this is despite the fact that Trump is known as the Republican anti-establishment candidate. And for all of their faults, Trump's supporters know this. Thus, Moore has made a critical mistake by neglecting to discuss the failures of the establishment.

For Moore's article is designed to convince the choir not to stray. But what good does that do? If Moore wanted to write something meaningful, not only would he appeal to his choir, he would also appeal to Trump supporters. But to appeal to Trump supporters, Moore, and Trump's other conservative opponents, would have to acknowledge that the establishment they support has failed the rest of us. Then after making that acknowledgment, Moore would have to present some legitimate sounding alternative anti-establishment proposals to what Trump has said. And so far, none of the Trump's critics whom I have read or listened to have done this. They have neither acknowledged the failure of the establishment nor have they presented new anti-establishment ideas that would reverse our current course.

Since admitting to failure has not been a part of the articles and speeches criticizing Trump, why should Trump supporters pay attention to them? For it is their candidate alone who is challenging the people and institutions that have failed us. So for others to not admit to failure is to promise to continue the same old, same old. 

Such should cause us to question whether or not the only motive of each critic of Trump's is to stop the campaign of a rogue candidate. We should note here that Trump has gone out of his way to show that he is a rogue candidate. If stopping Trump is the only reason necessary for speaking against him, then why aren't his opponents owning up to the failures of the establishment in order to gain the ear of Trump's supporters? Are they afraid that the status quo would be changed? This is the question that Trump's Republican critics must answer if they are to have a better chance at stopping him from being nominated.

One more comment must be made and this is unrelated to Trump. When we examine the 2nd and 3rd religious conservative principles listed above, we find a collision. The collision is between maintaining the sanctity of marriage principle, which refers to heterosexual marriage only, and the religious liberties of those who are either atheists or whose religions accommodate same-sex relationships and marriages. And as it is in other places, we find that religious conservatives here are not as much into religious freedom as they are into creating a society in which they are comfortable.





1 comment:

Michelle Suzanne said...

I definitely agree with your assessment. I am more than a little skeptical of the "Evangelical Intelligentsia" suddenly being anti-Trump, when up until now they were in full support of lying, pandering, self-serving GOP candidates.

On the surface of course they are correct. Trump is a dangerous fascist, and no Christian should support him. What bothers me, however, is (as you point out) their refusal to address the corruption and disenfranchisement inherent in the current system. It also bothers me that they refuse to speak out about the causes of this sudden turn to populism, and why are people so disgruntled. It's almost as if they just want things to return to "normal" again.

It is so disheartening to me to watch all the many influential Christian leaders being so conspicuously silent on issues that are so obviously morally wrong. They just seem so afraid of what people will think of them, and afraid to leave their comfortable, familiar circles. So sad for the state of Christendom in America.