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Friday, August 5, 2016

Voting Truth Depends On Perspective

Dr. Wayne Grudem (click here for a brief bio), a rather well-known conservative theologian, has endorsed Trump and has said that is a 'morally good choice' (click here for the article). This has caused more than a few religiously conservative Christian leaders to write rebuttals to his views due to their opposition to Trump. A list of those rebuttals can be found at the end of a Gospel Coalition article (click here). Another critical article regarding Grudem's endorsement was written by Jonathan Merritt (click here).

The short of Grudem's endorsement of Trump is that Trump is not a liberal according to Grudem. The identity of the opposing candidate doesn't matter. The gender of that opposing candidate doesn't matter. What matters to Grudem is that Trump is not campaigning as a liberal and thus Grudem is expecting him to act as a conservative once elected while his opponent is a liberal. Why is Grudem so opposed to liberals? It comes down to two issues: Supreme Court Justices and legislation that would be signed into the law by the President.

Regarding Supreme Court Justices, Grudem is afraid of the number liberal Supreme Court Justices, activist ones at that, who could be appointed. This concerns him because of how a liberal Supreme Court decide on abortion, religious liberties of Christians who own businesses or who professionals who speak out against homosexuality, religious liberty of Christian Schools and even churches that deal with new laws regarding the rights of the LGBT community, freedom of speech of those who would pray public events, and the expectation that 'liberal activists' would work to make political dissent a criminal offense.


In contrast, Grudem expects Trump to nominate conservative judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade, protect Christian religious liberties, and protect Christian ministers from the IRS when they speak about political issues in church.

In terms of legislation, Grudem is afraid of another liberal President because such would lead to the continuation of high taxes on businesses, liberal policies that he says hurt minorities in terms of employment, and the further depletion of the military. In addition, Grudem believes that Hillary and liberals do not properly support Israel, or protect Americans by properly sealing the border, fighting terrorist groups like ISIS or by opposing Russia and China. 

In short Grudem is a conservative political ideologue. But here we should note Jonathan Merritt's criticism of Grudem. For while he regards Grudem as a first rate theologian, he views him as political layman. This puts Grudem on my level in terms of political expertise.

Much of what Grudem claims about Trump is true in the same way that Obi-Wan Kenobi's statement about Darth Vader killing Luke Skywalker's father is true. It is true from a certain perspective. And the most pertinent question to ask Grudem here is not necessarily his views on Trump, but what political resources he has used to form his political perspective. A while back, I reviewed his book on what he regarded was a Biblical approach to politics. As one could guess knowing that Grudem is a conservative theologian, his politics were very conservative and that is his choice. His statements about socialism in his book indicated that he had read nothing about socialism except by its antagonists. In other words, he didn't know what he was talking about when talking about Socialism. 


Here, Grudem sometimes selectively reports on problems liberals cause while at other times he makes some bizarre statements. For example, when discussing the Supreme court and religious liberty, Grudem lists a small number of cases where Christians have been hurt in the business world or in their professional lives because of  court actions or corporate responses to moral convictions. For example, he mentioned how a Christian owner of a Washington pharmacy was going to be put out of business because the Supreme Court would not hear his appeal in his dispute with the Washington State Pharmacy Board. But the reason why they didn't hear his appeal had to do with how federal laws were written and how they didn't apply to Washington state's regulations. He mentioned how a Boston urologist lost his practicing privileges at one hospital because he expressed his unease about the medical dangers of homosexual activities. The problem is that he expressed more than just basic concerns over certain activities. Plus he used intranet resources to express his dissent inappropriate ways according to the intended use of those resources.

Not all of the examples Grudem cited were off-base. Brendan Eich, he former CEO for Mozilla Firefox was dismissed from his responsibilities because of a politically correct reaction to legitimate political activities. But here is the problem, Grudem offers no comment on the 28 states where it is legal for businesses to harass and terminate the employment of people because of their sexual orientation. Nor does he offer comment on how homosexuals were once incarcerated for acting on their sexual orientation. And while he complains about how Christian businesses are put into a tough position of being punished for not serving same-sex weddings while forgetting that allowing businesses to refuse to provide goods and services echos back to the days of Jim Crow when Blacks were denied services by businesses. Such is a very serious problem in an economic system where only private sector provides such goods and services.

In addition, Grudem doesn't mention the lack of religious liberty for those from the LGBT community who, until recently, were denied  the right to marry the person of their choice because of the religious views of conservative Christians were being imposed on them through laws that were passed.


The blaming of the plight of minorities on liberal policies as well as expectation that the right to political dissent might be abolished  under Clinton seemed somewhat bizarre. Minorities have been hurt by a neoliberal economic system that favors private sector elites as they offshore jobs often to places where working and environmental regulations do not protect the people but allow these elites to lower manufacturing costs. Such has led to glut of available employees for low skill jobs in America. And the higher the supply of workers, the lower the wages of low skilled workers of course not dipping below minimum wage. In addition, much manufacturing has moved away from urban areas where there is a great need for employment opportunities.




Likewise, Grudem's complaint about business taxes seems ignorant of the fact that many businesses and corporations either pay no federal income tax or pay an effective tax rate that is on par with other nations. In addition, the corporate tax burden has dropped down to 10%.







When Grudem talks about Obama having depleted the military, Grudem is merely echoing the same conservative complaints made about Presidents Clinton and Carter. However, US military spending still exceeds approximately the next 8 nations combined. In addition, while conservatives note the drop in the number of naval ships, that number is not significantly less than what was seen during part of George W. Bush's presidency and the Navy is developing and building new classes of warships including a newer class of aircraft carriers as well as at least one new class of destroyers.

Many other things could be said about Grudem's views. And it seems that the real issues with Grudem comes from his limited perspective on politics. And that limited perspective suggests that Grudem is not well read in politics. He seems to adhere to the conservative stereotypes made about liberals, and I am saying that as one who is very critical of liberals. His mentioning of liberals and leftists together indicates that he really does not know the difference between them. That much of his political thinking is based on a very limited exposure to different political ideas. And he is not alone here and that is the problem. Conservatives need to break out of their ideological ghettos to read liberal and leftist influences so they can merge their conservative thinking with what is helpful from liberals and those from the left. And liberals and those on the left need to return the favor. Without a breaking out of our favorite ideologies, we will become more and more divided and will look on others with more and more disdain as Grudem does on the thinking of political liberals.





 



References
  1. http://townhall.com/columnists/waynegrudem/2016/07/28/why-voting-for-donald-trump-is-a-morally-good-choice-n2199564
  2. http://www.waynegrudem.com/about/

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