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NOTE: The opposing viewpoint “Why All Progressives Must Vote for Hillary” is posted under “Background” below the questions
(by Wayne Grudem, Townhall) – After I saw the shocking 2005 video with Trump talking about his sexual aggression against women, I wrote, “There is no morally good presidential candidate in this election.” I condemned Trump’s immoral conduct and said I did not know how I would vote. I asked Townhall to remove my earlier article, “Why Voting for Donald Trump Is a Morally Good Choice.” I urged Trump to withdraw, hoping we could get a better candidate.
The liberal media loved this. “Evangelical theologian calls on Trump to withdraw.” I suddenly had more requests for interviews from mainstream news organizations than ever in my lifetime. I turned them all down.
And Trump did not withdraw.
Now, how should I vote?
Voting for Clinton and her ultraliberal policies is not an option for me as an evangelical Christian. Therefore I am left with two options: (1) vote for Trump, or (2) vote for a third-party candidate whose hopes of winning belong to fantasy, not reality.
And if these are my only two options, then voting for a third-party candidate has the clear effect of helping to elect Clinton, because it is taking my vote away from Trump. That is why the liberal media loved it when I said I was finding it hard to decide.
It also means that my two options are actually this:
(1) vote for Trump, or
(2) help Hillary Clinton get elected
Once I put the choice in those stark terms, there is a good way to make a decision. Since I find both candidates morally objectionable, I am back to the old-fashioned basis on which I have usually decided how to vote for my entire life: Whose policies are better? Do I agree more with Trump’s policies or with Clinton’s?
It isn’t even close. I overwhelmingly support Trump’s policies and believe that Clinton’s policies will seriously damage the nation, perhaps forever. On the Supreme Court, abortion, religious liberty, sexual orientation regulations, taxes, economic growth, the minimum wage, school choice, Obamacare, protection from terrorists, immigration, the military, energy, and safety in our cities, I think Trump is far better than Clinton (see below for details). Again and again, Trump supports the policies I advocated in my 2010 book Politics According to the Bible.
A caution: There are still three weeks until the election. Given the questionable backgrounds of both candidates, there may still be another major “October surprise” about either Trump or Clinton – or both.
But there is also a positive possibility, because Trump claims he is a changed person from who he was in 2005 and he has apologized for how he acted back then. There is a possibility he has really changed, and I hope it is true. I don’t know. Therefore what I write here is my best judgment as of October 18, 2016, given the information we know now.
Moral objections to voting for Trump
Several Christian friends tell me they still have some moral objections to voting for Trump. They say evangelicals should vote for a third-party candidate. Here is why I am not persuaded by their objections:
(1) “My conscience won’t let me vote for Trump.”
Answer: I fail to see how your conscience lets you help Hillary Clinton get elected, for that is the result of withholding your vote from Trump. Does it not trouble your conscience to help advance the terrible harm that she will bring to the nation? (See details below.)
(2) “Voting for Trump means you approve of his immoral treatment of women.”
Answer: No, it absolutely does not. In my Oct. 9 opinion piece, I proclaimed to all the world that his treatment of women was morally wrong. And so did every other evangelical leader who is supporting him.
(3) “When faced with the lesser of two evils, choose neither one.”
Answer: I agree with this principle when facing a choice between doing two evil actions. For example, when faced with a choice between stealing and telling a lie, I should choose neither one. But this is not that kind of situation. We are not talking about doing something evil. We are talking about voting.
Yes, it is morally evil to commit adultery. It is also morally wrong to approve of committing adultery. But that does not mean it is morally evil to vote for someone who has committed adultery. In a world affected by sin, voting for morally flawed people is unavoidable. Voting for the candidate you think will be best for the country (or do the least harm to the country) is not a morally evil action, so this objection does not apply.
(4) “If you vote for Trump you’ll never have credibility in the future when you say that character matters.”
Answer: I disagree. The current chaos over Trump’s candidacy (and Clinton’s) is mostly because of character issues, and character will continue to matter in future elections, perhaps even more so because of this election.
On the other hand, if you refuse to vote for Trump, how can you ever have credibility in the future when you say that the policy differences between candidates and between political parties matter?
I have read the Republican platform and the Democratic platform for this year. In my opinion, the Republican platform is more consistent with biblical moral principles than any platform I have ever read. And the Democratic platform is more antithetical to Christian principles than any platform I have read. This is important, because most elected officials vote consistently with their party’s platform most of the time. Policy differences do ultimately determine the future of the nation.
(5) “We have to send the Republican party a message that a candidate like Trump is unacceptable.”
Answer: You don’t have to. You want to, perhaps thinking that it will demonstrate moral courage and heroism. But the leadership of the Republican party already knew that Trump was the most unacceptable of all the choices we had. They fought tooth and nail against Trump in the primaries, and he won anyway.
Is it worth turning the country over to a corrupt Clinton political machine that is hostile to Christian values, just to “send a message” that the party leaders already agree with? That’s a steep price to pay.
And why not vote to help defeat Clinton and send the entire nation the message that a candidate like Clinton is even more unacceptable?
(6) “It is wrong for Christians to place their trust in a morally compromised man.”
Answer: Our ultimate trust of course should be in God alone. But the question in this election is not whether we trust Trump or God. The question is whether we trust Trump or Clinton.
When the apostle Paul was on trial before the Roman governor Festus, he saw that things were going badly, so he said, “I appeal to Caesar” (Acts 25:11). But “Caesar” was the emperor Nero, an immoral and corrupt person. This doesn’t mean that Paul was trusting in Nero instead of in God, but it means he wisely decided that he would have a better chance for a fair trial under Nero than under Festus.
Similarly, I think we have a much better chance for good government under Trump than under Clinton.
(7) “I could never tell my friends that I voted for Trump.”
Answer: Why not? Are you acting out of a misplaced fear of what your friends will think? The future of the country is at stake. Is it worth it for you to pay the price of disapproval from your friends?
(8) “We should vote for neither one and trust a sovereign God to bring about his good purposes for the nation.”
Answer: Every time I hear this objection, I think of the story of a man who climbed up to the roof of his house in a flood and prayed for God to save him. A man with a boat came along and urged him to get in, but he refused, saying, “God will save me.” Another boat came and he gave the same response. Finally, as the waters were lapping at his feet, a helicopter came and dropped a rescue harness to him. He waved it away, yelling out, “God will save me!”
Then he drowned in the flood, and when he got to heaven, he asked God, “Why didn’t you save me when I prayed to you?” God replied, “I sent two boats and a helicopter.”
The moral of the story is that God often works through human means to answer our prayers. And I think that the ballot box in this election is still the human means that God has given in answer to our prayers that he would deliver us from the increasing opposition to Christian values brought on by the Democratic Party and the Obama administration. Why not vote for the candidate whose policies are best, and also trust God for the future of the nation? Please don’t wave away the helicopter – even a faulty helicopter – and later say to God, “Why didn’t you save us?”
(9) “Are there no limits to what you will tolerate in a candidate?”
Answer: This is the question that set me back on my heels and threw me into a few days of uncertainty after the release of the Trump video.
In the end, I decided it is useless at this point to speculate about all possible future elections. The question facing us is how we should vote in this election, given what we know now. The question is whether Clinton or Trump would be a better president. My conclusion is that, because I agree with his policies, Trump is the far better choice.
(10) “My vote doesn’t really matter. I don’t even live in a battleground state.”
Answer: This election is unlike any other in our lifetimes, and it is possible that the polls are more wrong than they have ever been. Individual votes matter. George W. Bush became president because of only 537 votes in Florida in 2000.
In addition, your vote sends a signal. Every vote in every state affects the margin of victory for the winning candidate. A large nationwide victory gives a strong political mandate and a lot of political clout going forward. A small victory gives a weak mandate and less political clout going forward.
In future years, people will ask, “In 2016, did you do what you could to stop Hillary Clinton or did you vote in a way that helped and encouraged her?” If we fail to vote to stop Clinton and her support for abortion rights, government imposition of gender confusion on our children, hate speech laws used to silence Christians, and government-sanctioned exclusion of thousands of Christians from their lifelong occupations because they won’t bow to the homosexual agenda — will our failure to oppose these evils destroy our Christian witness for the future? Will our grandchildren ask us why we failed to at least vote to try to stop the imminent triumph of anti-Christian liberal tyranny when we had the ability to do so?
(11) “I can’t trust Trump to do what he promises.”
Answer: This objection carries no weight with me. It asks me to believe that Clinton will be a better president than Trump even though Clinton promises to do what I consider bad things for the country while Trump promises to do good things. This objection says I should vote third-party and help the person who promises to do bad things rather than vote for the person who promises to do good things. This is nonsense.
Of course we cannot know Trump or Clinton’s future conduct with 100% certainty, but we should decide based on the most likely results. And the most likely result is that both Trump and Clinton will do most or all of what they have promised. That’s what elected officials always do, or they lose the support of their own party and become totally ineffective. Their policy differences matter a lot.
Yes, Trump has changed his mind, but notice how he has changed his mind. His policy statements continue to move in a more conservative direction, and he has chosen a very conservative vice president and list of judicial appointments. His transition team includes many solid conservatives, and they will determine many of his appointments and much of what his administration will do. Just as he succeeded in business by listening to the best experts to solve each problem, I suspect that he has been learning from the best experts in conservative political thought and has increasingly found that conservative solutions really work. We should applaud these changes.
His choice of Indiana governor Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate is an especially significant indication that he will govern as a conservative. Pence was outstanding when he debated Tim Kaine in the vice presidential debate. Trump could have picked a moderate but instead picked a lifelong solid conservative who is a thoughtful, gracious policy wizard. Pence is a lawyer and former talk radio host who served 12 years in Congress and had significant congressional leadership positions, so he will be immensely helpful in working with Congress. He is a committed evangelical Christian. He is a former board member of the Indiana Family Institute, a conservative Christian lobbying group in Indiana.
(12) Conclusion on moral objections
Trump has a morally tainted past. I will be voting for him, not with joy but reluctantly because of his deplorable past mistreatment of women. I wish the Republican candidate were someone with a spotless moral reputation (such as Mike Pence). But because anything I do will help elect either Trump or Clinton, these moral objections raised against voting for Trump are not finally persuasive to me. Most of them become even stronger arguments for voting to stop Clinton.
Two different futures for the nation
In the rest of this article, I will compare the results we could expect from a Clinton presidency with what we could expect from a Trump presidency. (The remainder of this article is an updated form of the political policy sections of my earlier article, “Why Voting for Donald Trump Is a Morally Good Choice.”)
The Supreme Court with Clinton as president
Hillary Clinton would quickly replace Justice Scalia with another liberal like Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan. This would give liberals a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court even without Justice Kennedy, and 6-3 when he votes with them.
But that is not all. Justice Ginsburg is 83, and she has had colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and has a heart stent. Justice Kennedy is 80. Justice Breyer is 78. A President Clinton could possibly nominate three or four justices to the Supreme Court, locking in a far left activist judiciary for perhaps 30 or more years. She could also add dozens of activist judges to federal district courts and courts of appeals, the courts where 99% of federal lawsuits are decided. Judicial tyranny of the type we have seen when abortion rights and same-sex marriage were forced on the nation would gain a permanent triumph.
The nation would no longer be ruled by the people and their elected representatives, but by unelected, unaccountable, activist judges who would dictate from the bench about whatever they were pleased to decree. And there would be nothing in our system of government that anyone could do to stop them.
That is why this election is not just about Hillary Clinton. It is about defeating the far left liberal agenda that any Democratic nominee would champion. Liberal Democrats are now within one Supreme Court justice of their highest goal: gaining permanent control of the nation with a five vote majority on the Supreme Court, and then systematically imposing every liberal policy on the nation not through winning elections but through a relentless parade of one Supreme Court decision after another.
Even if Clinton were to drop out of the race (perhaps due to additional shocking email disclosures, for example), our choice in the election would be just the same, because any other Democratic nominee would appoint the same kind of liberal justices to the Court. (See “Background” below for the remaineder of issues/explanations Mr. Grudem has included in this article.)
Christians should seek what is best for the nation
Some people urge me not to be so concerned about politics. I admit it would be easy just to teach my seminary classes and write academic articles and books.
But the apostle Peter says Christians are “exiles” on this earth (1 Peter 1:1). Therefore I take seriously the prophet Jeremiah’s exhortation to the Jewish people living in exile in Babylon:
“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7).
By way of modern application, I think Christians today have a similar obligation to vote in such a way that will “seek the welfare” of the United States. The overriding question in deciding how to vote is, Which vote is most likely to bring the best results for the nation?
In addition, I seek to obey Jesus’ command, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). This means that I have a moral obligation to seek a good government for my neighbor, and to prevent an anti-Christian liberal tyranny from taking power. If I love my neighbor as myself, then it does matter whether unborn babies are killed or not, whether Christians are forced out of their lifelong occupations are not, whether impressionable children are subjected to gender-reeducation propaganda in their schools or not, whether Christian schools and colleges can continue to operate freely or not, whether my neighbors are protected from terrorists or not, whether poor children are able to go to good schools or not, and whether my neighbor is are able to find a good job or not. If I didn’t care about these things at all, I don’t think I would be loving my neighbor as myself.
My conclusion is that the most likely result of voting for Trump is that he will govern for the most part in the way he promises to do, bringing good to the nation in many areas.
But the most likely result of not voting for Trump is that we will be abandoning thousands of unborn babies who will be put to death under Hillary Clinton’s Supreme Court, thousands of Christians who will be excluded from their lifelong occupations because they won’t affirm same-sex marriage, thousands of the poor who will never again be able to find high-paying jobs in an economy crushed by government hostility toward business, thousands of inner-city children who will never be able to get a good education, thousands of the sick and elderly who will never get adequate medical treatment when the government is the nation’s only healthcare provider, thousands of people who will be killed by an unchecked ISIS, and millions of Jews in Israel who will find themselves alone and surrounded by hostile enemies. And we will be contributing to a permanent loss of the American system of government due to a final victory of unaccountable judicial tyranny.
Wayne Grudem is a Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary in Phoenix, Arizona. This article represents the opinion of the author and should not be understood to represent the opinion of Phoenix Seminary. Visit Mr. Grudem’s website at waynegrudem.com and his webpage at Phoenix Seminary.
1. Read both commentaries: Wayne Grudem’s from a conservative Christian point of view and Robert Reich’s from a progressive liberal point of view. What is the main idea of both commentaries?
2. The purpose of an editorial/commentary is to explain, persuade, warn, criticize, entertain, praise or answer. What do you think is the purpose of each commentator’s editorial? Explain your answer.
3. For each commentary, do you think the writer made a persuasive argument? Explain your answers.
a) Wayne Grudem “If You Don’t Like Either Candidate, Then Vote for Trump’s Policies”
b) Robert Reich “Why All Progressives Must Vote For Hillary”
THE OPPOSING VIEW:
Why All Progressives Must Vote For Hillary
(by Robert Reich, Huffington Post) – I continue to hear from many people who call themselves progressives or liberals, but tell me they won’t vote for Hillary Clinton in the upcoming election.
With due respect, I believe they’re wrong.
Herewith, their three major arguments and my responses.
Some claim she’s no better than Donald Trump. “He’s bad, but she’s just as bad,” they say.
I’m sorry, but anyone who equates Trump with Clinton hasn’t been paying attention.
Donald Trump is a dangerous, bigoted, misogynistic, narcissistic megalomaniac with fascist tendencies. If elected president he could wreak irreparable damage on America and the world.
Hillary isn’t perfect but she’s able and experienced. I’ve known her for almost fifty years and worked with her closely in her husband’s administration. She will make a good president.
There is simply no comparison.
Others claim that even if she’s better than Trump, she’s still corrupt, and they won’t vote for the “lesser of two evils.”
But even if you see Hillary Clinton as the “lesser of two evils,” the greater of two evils in this case is seriously evil.
It’s frequently the case in a democracy that one votes for someone who’s less than perfect when the alternative is someone who’s far worse. That’s the way our “winner-take-all” democracy is organized. It’s why we end up with two parties.
It’s also why voting for a third-party candidate typically harms the candidate closest in values or ideology to that third-party candidate (remember the election of 2000?).
Voting for someone who doesn’t meet your ideals when the alternative is someone who falls much further from those ideals doesn’t mean you’ve sold out or compromised your principles. You’re just being realistic and practical.
Realism and practicality are critically important now.
The third argument I’m getting is from people who are angry with the Democratic Party for tilting the primaries against Bernie Sanders.
They cite the superdelegates, the primaries closed to independents, and the well-documented biases of Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz in favor of Hillary and against Bernie (memorialized in leaked memos).
“Why should I reward the Democratic Party for its corruption?” they ask.
I supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries and share people’s frustration with the Democratic Party. I also sympathize with their feeling that a vote for Hillary Clinton would somehow exonerate the Party for the perceived unfairness of its primaries.
But anything disgruntled Democrats may do that increases the odds of a Trump presidency – say, making a “protest” vote for a third-party candidate, or not voting at all – doesn’t just penalize the Democratic Party. It also jeopardizes our future, and that of our children and their children.
All of us must continue to work hard for a political system and an economy responsive to the needs of ordinary Americans. The movement Bernie Sanders energized must not and will not end.
But Donald Trump, were he to become president, would set back that cause for decades.
There are only a few weeks until Election Day. My request to those of you who still don’t want to vote for Hillary Clinton: Please reconsider. It is no exaggeration to say the fate of the nation and the world are at stake.
Robert Reich is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley. He was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997. Visit his webpage at Berkeley or his website at robertreich.org.
Published October 14, 2016 at Huffington Post. Reprinted here on October 20 for educational purposes only.