I am asked my view on President Donald Trump a lot. If you take my published articles and interviews on him and his policies as a whole, you get a pretty good picture of what I think. I also did this interview with CNN in 2012 and it gives you a glimpse of how I view politics in general. Even so, I shall try to put down a few thoughts here to complete that picture and, I hope, to give you some food for thought.
Let me begin by saying that I do not think that Trump is a man of deep ideological conviction. I think he is a firm believer in America, free market capitalism, and is, at heart, a pragmatist. As a typical American businessman, he is a deal maker, and he made a deal with social conservatives and evangelicals that if they elected him, then he would champion their agenda. They elected him and he has championed their agenda. He knows that is how business is done.
I suspect my audience falls into two categories: the “Never Trump” crowd and the people who are all-in on Trump and will defend anything he does. I don’t fit either category. I think of politicians the way my father viewed the soldiers under his command. Simply put, he was not going to replace a good soldier because he objected to his politics or to the women with whom he slept. Some of you are very idealistic and will not vote for a politician who does not reflect your views on God and government in toto. Are you that way with your plumber? Your accountant? Your surgeon? Or do you look for someone who is good in those fields?
Here are a few principles that guide me in how I think that I, as a Christian, should approach politics:
- My ultimate hope is in Jesus Christ
I do not put my ultimate hope in who governs us or what laws are passed. This does not mean that I am indifferent to politics. Not at all. But my ultimate hope is in Jesus Christ for the simple fact that no politician can forgive my sins or give me eternal life.
- Politics is not a replacement for my duties as a Christian
A generation ago, many Christians abandoned their personal responsibility to engage their neighbors and to share their faith in Christ and adopted instead a top-down approach to cultural change. But winning an election or passing a law does nothing to change hearts or get people closer to eternity. That this strategy has failed miserably needs no commentary from me. Too often Christians see faith and politics as mutually exclusive endeavors. They aren’t. As the great theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper once observed, “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’” That includes politics.
- I live in a free country where I can, and should, participate in the political process
I have encountered many Christians (and others) who don’t vote. If you are uninformed, then, yes, please don’t vote. But we enjoy a form of government that is the envy of most of the world and it is foolish to forsake that right. Regardless, you have no right to complain if you can’t be bothered to make your views known via the lawful means that are available to us as citizens of this country.
- I should not expect my politicians to be Christians
This is where I will lose some of my readers. Some Christians rage about how this or that politician is immoral or doesn’t recognize God. But our God respects personal decisions regarding himself and I do, too. Whatever my personal hope about what anyone else believes on the God Question, I have no right to demand that the views of my politicians reflect my own convictions. I do, however, have a right to expect them to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, to govern justly and wisely, and to put the people of this country before all other considerations.
- I should support good policies
I generally view politicians like musical groups: I like select songs, but seldom the whole album, and almost never the band. Similarly, in politics I feel no obligation to like or dislike a policy on the basis of who proposes it.
- Substance over style
It is easy to be distracted by things that don’t matter: the glitz, glamour, and celebrity of public office; the endless scandals (or manufactured scandals); and the personalities of the politicians themselves. But don’t be distracted by the shiny objects. Look at policies and governance.
- Policy not personality
My friends and acquaintances on the Left in America and Europe often say things like “Obama is such a gentleman” and “Trump is so boorish.” Both may be true, and both are utterly irrelevant. I don’t care if Trump is a gentleman or a Neanderthal. I don’t care if he is liked by the Europeans (indeed, I prefer that he isn’t). I don’t care if he had an affair with Stormy Daniels. I don’t care if his tweets annoy people. And I don’t care if he hangs with Jay-Z and Beyoncé or not. I don’t care about any of that because it has nothing whatsoever to do with the governance of this country. Churchill, according to biographer William Manchester, had an affair, was reputed to be a bully at times, drank too much, and he was not a Christian. Even so, I would take him over the chaste Christian teetotaler Jimmy Carter any day.
With these things in mind, let’s consider Trump’s policies and what he advocates.
About Trump …
- He believes in America’s uniqueness and is determined that he will not surrender our sovereignty to foreign entities.
- Though demonized for it, he wants a sensible immigration policy and wants to maintain our borders.
- He is deeply suspicious of environmentalists, their agenda, and is determined to maintain America’s independence of action in addressing it.
- He is deeply suspicious of Islam and its global objectives.
- His policies are friendly to business and industry. Look at the economy!
- His policies are friendly to churches as well as to Christian belief.
- He is appointing conservative federal judges.
- And his policies are hostile to abortion and Planned Parenthood. This issue matters to me a lot. Some say Trump is personally pro-choice. Again, this is immaterial. If he is against it but enables it, what good is that? His policies are unquestionably hostile to abortionists and so are his judicial appointees.
As for the hysteria surrounding Trump, I am not making headlines when I say that the Left hates him. Moreover, they hate the people who elected him, and that point should not be lost on you. They will do anything — anything at all — to remove him from office. For the Left, the end justifies the means. The whole Russia collusion narrative was exposed as a great fiction. Democrats just moved on to the next accusation. They have no shame.
Why so much venom for Trump? Because he stands between Democrats and their progressive agenda. These are not people who respect the electoral process. On the contrary, they are contemptuous of it. In the last few years there have been two major elections that American and European progressives have lost: the 2016 presidential election and Brexit. They are trying, via judicial fiat, slander, and dubious legal means to overturn the will of the people in both.
As I traveled around the world, I discovered that Trump was hated by the champagne-sipping types in London, Paris, and New York; he was loved by the poor and middle class, especially by Christians in Third World countries. That made an impression on me. I view Trump the way the Jews in Esther and Daniel viewed Xerxes and Darius – as secular authorities who were more than a little sympathetic to those who loved God.
In the end, each of us should vote his own conscience. I hope my views help you as you make these important decisions.