The majority of Trump supporters I’ve come across are angry. They’re fed up with the so-called GOP establishment, with Washington insiders. They feel betrayed by the corruption and cronyism of career politicians. They think that Washington is broken.
And I agree with them.
Washington is a mess of partisan politics that result in gridlock. Washington is full of people who have made government a career, who exist to get re-elected, who pander and sell out to lobbyists offering big bucks. It’s not a Republican vs. Democrat issue. Both sides of the political aisle are tainted.
So I get the anger and frustration. I get the urge to run from all things politics and elect an “outsider,” someone without even a scent of Washington, D.C. attached to them. After all, wasn’t that how the system was originally set up, with doctors and lawyers and businessmen and everyday Americans serving—actually serving the people—by representing them in government?
Given the angst, it only seems natural that Trump would garner the favor of so many right-leaning Americans who are fit to be tied with the current state of affairs in Washington. But if we step back for just a moment, strip away the emotion, and carefully and thoughtfully analyze Donald Trump, we’ll see why supporting him isn’t the best option.
For starters, Trump isn’t actually an outsider. He has spent years supporting the quote-unquote establishment. In addition to making donations to liberal politicians like Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and—ahem—Barack Obama,[i],[ii],[iii] Donald Trump has repeatedly pledged his support for Secretary Clinton.[iv],[v],[vi] Contrast that with Ted Cruz (the only other realistic Republican/conservative candidate left), often labeled a “career politician” or an “insider” by Trump supporters: In his one partial term in the U.S. Senate, Cruz has repeatedly stood up to and fought against the GOP establishment. Trump likes to claim that Cruz has no friends in the Senate. Why is that? Because Cruz didn’t “go along to get along.” Because Cruz pushes back. As Winston Churchill once said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.” It is astonishing to me that people who are frustrated with the so-called establishment are flocking to a man who has spent a life supporting it instead of a man who has spent his career fighting against it.
What is more astonishing to me is that so-called conservatives (and indeed, people who—by all other accounts—seem to be genuine conservatives) are so appalled at the establishment that they are setting aside their conservative values to vote for an outsider (who is actually less of an outsider than the much more conservative “insider” they pass over). Now, to be fair, Trump has repeatedly stated conservative positions on issues ranging from abortion to gun control to immigration. But anyone can say they are conservative and can espouse conservative positions. When has Donald Trump shown that he is conservative? The fact is, he’s done just the opposite. For the majority of his life, he has advocated liberal positions and polices (one might call them “New York values”), and backed them with his substantial checkbook (Scripture tells us, “where your money is, there your heart will be also”[vii]). Trump claims that he has converted, so to speak, from a Democrat to a Republican, from liberal to conservative. Fair enough. People change. Ronald Reagan, most notably. But we have to ask, when has Trump shown fruits of that conversion? When has he done anything but say that he is conservative? And what caused that transformation? In his speech after the March 5 primaries, Trump admitted, “Seven months ago, before I decided to run, I was part of the establishment.”[viii] In other words, he changed his positions because doing so would be politically expedient. Even so, he hasn’t changed them all. He has multiple times stood on the debate stage and applauded Planned Parenthood for the good they do. He has come out in favor of government-funded healthcare.[ix] And he has repeatedly morally equated one of our staunchest allies (Israel) with those nations and organizations that wish to see her destroyed and who engage in behavior toward that end. In many cases, Trump’s words aren’t even conservative, never mind his actions.
Contrast that again with Ted Cruz, who, as Texas Solicitor General, argued before the Supreme Court to defend the 2nd Amendment,[x],[xi] the Ten Commandments,[xii] the Pledge of Allegiance,[xiii] U.S. sovereignty,[xiv] and religious liberty.[xv],[xvi] And he won every time. As a U.S. Senator, Ted Cruz was essential in stopping the Gang of Eight immigration bill that would have granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. Don’t take my word for that. Take that of recent Trump convert, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.[xvii] Cruz has sponsored numerous conservative bills such as the Expatriate Terrorist Act[xviii] or “Kate’s Law.”[xix] (Check out www.tedcruz.org/issues for a host of examples of Cruz putting his words into action.) He has been unequivocal in his support for Israel, his opposition to taxpayer funding of and potential criminal activity by Planned Parenthood, our sacred 1st Amendment rights, repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and the revocation of the Iran nuclear deal (whereas Trump supported negotiations[xx] with Iran and policing the current deal[xxi]). Yes, Cruz is technically a politician, but he’s one who is fighting against everything Trump supporters hate about Washington. He’s a politician who has stood against a tidal wave of opposition (the establishment) because he gave his word to his constituents in Texas.[xxii] He’s a politician whose word is his bond. Trump, meanwhile has been called malleable by President Jimmy Carter,[xxiii] has switched positions and parties numerous times over his life, and has even admitted that he would be flexible on immigration,[xxiv],[xxv] the key plank in his presidential platform. And when asked (by Washington Times reporter Stephen Dinan at a recent GOP debate) on what other issues he was willing to be flexible, Trump said, “You never know.”[xxvi]
Another argument made by Trump and his followers is that Ted Cruz can’t possibly win a general election against Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. He’s too conservative, they argue. He can’t appeal to more moderate voters, they allege. Discounting for the moment the preponderance of polls[xxvii] that show Trump losing to Clinton head-to-head, let’s look back at history. In 1996, 2008, and 2012, Republicans nominated more moderate candidates, ones who could appeal to the independent and moderate voters. They failed miserably. But in 1980, when the too-conservative Ronald Reagan ran against incumbent Jimmy Carter, he annihilated him, winning over 90% of the electoral votes. If conservatives unite around a true conservative, giving moderates a clear choice between someone like Ted Cruz and a federal indictment waiting to happen in Hillary Clinton or an admitted socialist in Bernie Sanders, it would be hard to lose. But if they present a candidate like Donald Trump—who has financially supported Hillary Clinton, mirrored her policies for much of his life, and stated on multiple occasions (cited above) what a great job she was doing and what a good president she would make—her path to the White House begins to unfold. Should Bernie Sanders win the nomination, voters will have to choose between two outsiders, angry at the system, their policies vacuous. It becomes a coin flip. And that is truly scary.
There is a lot more that could be said for Cruz or against Trump. We could talk about civility, faith, morality and ethics—all issues that used to matter to conservatives. But for the sake of brevity, I ask Trump supporters—particularly those who support him because they are angry at the establishment and view him, as TheBlaze TV host and author Dana Loesch so accurately drew the comparison, as a sledgehammer—to spend a few moments contemplating the facts above. The truth of the matter is, Trump is not the anti-establishment savior. He’s another version of Barack Obama, tapping into frustration and making grandiose promises. (As an aside, listen to Trump speak of Obama. He doesn’t complain about what Obama does but how poorly he does it. “We don’t win anymore,” instead of “We’re playing the wrong game.” Contrast that one more time with Ted Cruz who lays out faulty Obama policy after faulty Obama policy.) Obama offered “hope and change.” Eight years later, Trump promises to “make America great again.” I pray and I plead that my fellow Americans will not fall for it again. There’s too much at stake to vote out of anger or with an intent to punish. There’s too much at stake to be carried away by hype and rhetoric without making sure there’s substance behind it. There’s too much at stake to vote for words instead of actions.
I get the anger. I get the frustration. But Trump is not the answer; he’s part of the problem.
[vii] Matthew 6:21, NIV