I recently had a very long conversation with a current pastor about the issues of the day which included politics. From education to youth crime to the death penalty; the topics ranged from A to Z. Though he was clearly a conservative it was not until his admitting to having cast a vote for Donald Trump that my face must have shown for the first time in that long discussion true befuddlement. Though I differed on his point of view about education, taxes, and even how reporters should be viewed as a profession it was not until he noted how he cast his ballot for president did I wince.
I live in a very liberal and blue city–in fact my ward on the Madison ithmus is noted for being one of the bluest in the entire state of Wisconsin. So it is not natural to hear someone admit they voted for Trump. While some friends have stated such a vote on Facebook, or I have inferred that a vote was cast for Trump from those I know based on past history, the pastor admitting it was the first time anyone has said it to my face. As I said red type voters are not a part of my neighborhood.
But it was not that he voted Republican that surely made me very quickly blink twice. After all, I could see many reasons to support the likes of Jeb Bush, John Kasich, or Lindsay Graham or a host of others. But for a current pastor to tell me that Trump was the proper person to support in 2016 was hard to hear, even though I am very aware of the voting statistics of evangelicals in 2016. I just had never heard one tell it to me directly.
After all Donald Trump’s name adorned the first casino in America to have an in-house strip club. He is the first American president to have made a cameo appearance in a soft-core pornography film, and he has called his struggle to avoid sexually transmitted diseases while sleeping around his “personal Vietnam.” When Trump the candidate was asked last year whether any of his paramours had had an abortion, he refused to answer.
So one has to ask what one, such as myself, who follows this political climate, should make of any person of the cloth making an admission of voting for Trump?
As noted on this blog many times over the past year I find it necessary to separate myself for a chunk of the day from the never-ending crazy antics and words from Donald Trump. Reading history books provide the perfect antidote to Trump. As such I came upon the perfect response to this question raised above from the life of Abraham Lincoln.
In 1860, according to Lincoln’s law partner in Springfield, William Herndon, upon hearing that most of the clergy in the city opposed him for president, “He commented bitterly on the attitude of the preachers and many of their followers, who, pretending to be believers in the Bible and God-fearing Christians, yet by their votes demonstrated that they cared not whether slavery was voted up or down.”
The do-as-I-say crowd have long had a checkered past, and Lincoln makes the point with his complaint about churches and the morality of ending slavery.
It might be nice for those who cast such a vote for Trump in 2016 to think that trimming, splicing, and dicing this way or that allows some rationale for casting a vote for Trump who admitted to being a sexual predator. But at the end of the day one votes in totality for a candidate. Or they reject that candidate.
I simply can not fathom how self-identified Christians could have cast such a vote. So when it comes to purity from the pulpit among evangelicals it does need to be taken with a very strong dose of cynicism.