I’ve been doing some “housecleaning” on my phone and found today’s post, which I had written to post around before Donald Trump’s election in November 2016, then an addendum to go with his January 2017 inauguration. It is a topic I explored in a book review last year, but I figured as Trump enters the final year of his first term I might as well let you see this.
Every so often I see a headline announcing that the latest polling data shows American evangelical Christians will vote for Donald Trump by a huge majority next month. They have rejected Hillary Clinton and her policies en masse.
If you are like me, those numbers lead immediately to two unanswerable questions: have they all checked their brains at the door? Or, have American evangelicals had a collective frontal lobotomy? Certainly their brains aren’t functioning properly.
I understand that, in what is basically a two-party system, there is a perceived need to vote for one or the other. What I don’t see is why you would choose to support a candidate who is so unsuited for the office, something that has been said about both Clinton and Trump.
There is an option, a third way could be created. But apparently no-one has the vision for that.
I am probably more politically active than you are. After all, I have an office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. I interact with politicians on a daily basis. When I was younger I thought a lot of society’s problems could be solved through political action. I’ve changed that view.
Once I thought what Canada needed was a Christian political party that could form government and make Biblically-based laws to benefit everyone. It’s a nice theory. I’m not sure it would work in practice.
I have realized that such an imposition of a theological agenda is fraught with difficulties, not the least one being that it is probably un-biblical. I don’t read anywhere that Christians are supposed to be the government. We are supposed to proclaim the truth and witness to changed lives. In theory that will also lead to better legislation, but it might not. And it would certainly should not be a minority attempting to impose its values on a majority through political action.
I don’t think American evangelicals as a group have reached that conclusion. I sympathize with them. The idea of personal responsibility and promoting a Biblical lifestyle resonates with me. A lot of the social change of the past 70 years is just wrong. However, I don’t see political action reversing that. There is a long history of legislating morality – and trying to do so seems to create as many problems as it solves.
In the USA, those who espouse “family values” have thrown their support behind a candidate who is thrice married. Certainly he believes in family; he’s in favor of serial monogamy. I’m not sure that would be considered Biblical. (How’s that for weaseling on my part? Of course it isn’t Biblical.)
So here was are, three months after I wrote this post. Donald Trump will be sworn in Friday as the 45th president of the USA. He identified concerns and rode a wave to victory. He received a lot of support from Christians.
I may be splitting hairs, but I hope that support didn’t constitute endorsement. In a two party system, if you feel you must vote, there are times when you support the least odious candidate. It appears that was Trump.
In 2020, it appears to me that Trump will cruise to re-election in November. America is still divided, and the Democrats seem eager to re-fight the last election rather than trying to offer a solution to Americans’ feelings of alienation from their government.Elections should be about policy – but rarely are.
Will Christians continue to support Trump this year? It appears they will – because Americans are so stuck on the concept of a two-party system that they won’t take a chance on something that might give them better government.