It’s pretty well-known to those around me that I am part of the #NeverTrump movement. In a passing conversation the other day, it was suggested that I should reconsider that position. And that got me thinking. Maybe I should reconsider. In fact, I think we all should reconsider. Whether you’re an ardent member of #TrumpTrain, a vehement anti-Trumper, “with her,” or a scorned socialist still longing to #FeelTheBern, you should reconsider.
It may be hyperbole to state that this is the biggest election in the history of elections and that the future of the free world hangs on the decision we’ll make this November. But it would also be foolish to deny the importance of the choice before us. Sunday was a painful reminder that we live in a hostile world, under the very real threat of terrorism. Racial tension is higher than it has been in a generation. The majority of Americans don’t trust their elected officials. Obamacare is either the best thing since sliced bread or the death knell of quality healthcare in America, depending on who you talk to. We’re spitting mad about everything from gay marriage to posture during the national anthem. It is not hyperbole, I don’t think, to suggest that America is at a crossroads. Maybe one of those confusing five- or six-way uncontrolled intersections. Given the significance of this election, we cannot afford to choose hastily, ignorantly, or emotionally. And since we still have the better part of two months, I suggest we all take a step back, take a deep breath, and carefully consider the choice before us.
Maybe you’ve already done that. Maybe you’ve painstakingly weighed the options and chosen a candidate based on your personal convictions. I would hope you have. If that’s the case, it won’t hurt to reconsider, will it? But maybe you’re one of many people—on every side of this election—who has rushed into a stance for or against this or that candidate based largely on emotion and rhetoric, based on a few soundbites or slogans. That doesn’t mean you’re wrong, but I would suggest it does mean you should take a little time to re-examine your position and make sure it is the right one. After all, it would be better for you or me to admit we were wrong than continue down a wrong path, especially with so much at stake.
The majority of people seem to agree that we don’t have an idyllic field of candidates. So much negativity surrounds Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and for good reason. I can’t imagine anyone—particularly Christians, who I consider my primary audience—who would look at either of these two (or Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Partier Jill Stein) and say they are the ideal choice for president. There is no clear, obvious “right” choice. Whichever decision you make (Trump, Clinton, third-party, abstain), there will be repercussions for that. So please, before you darken the oval or pull the lever or connect the lines in the privacy of your voting booth on November 8th . . .
Consider how Supreme Court justices appointed by Hillary Clinton are likely to rule, particularly on cases of religious liberty, abortion, and the second amendment.
Consider the effect of your Christian witness if you endorse and excuse a man with the personal indiscretions of Donald Trump.
Consider the essential waste of a vote on a non-competitive third-party candidate in what amounts to a binary election.
Consider how we ever get out of a two-party system of undesirables if we always give in to the notion of a “binary election.”
Consider the importance of standing on principle, even if it means losing an election, because it is the right thing to do.
Consider the perils of standing on principle to the point of impracticality, of doing so for the sake of doing so and not for the sake of the principle.
Consider the potential down-ballot and long-term effects on Republicans who will be tainted by the stigma (legitimate or perceived) of association with Donald Trump.
Consider all the lost races if we only vote for or endorse a perfect, “pure” candidate who we agree with 100% and who checks all our boxes.
Consider the effects of liberalism run amok if Hillary Clinton is elected and wields the power of the executive office.
Consider the danger of clamoring for a savior—a single man who will fix everything by force—and what happens if that savior turns out to be a false messiah.
Consider the potential danger of being caught up in a cult-like (at times) movement, be it the #TrumpTrain or #NeverTrump.
Consider how either Trump or Clinton serving as President might impact the upcoming elections (including the 2018 midterms) and who would be likely to replace either candidate in 2020.
Consider where to draw the line between the arguments that “the lesser of two evils is still evil” and “we’re all sinners”/“nobody’s perfect” so we cannot but choose the lesser of two “evils.”
Consider the best- and worst-case scenario of both your choice and the alternative.
Consider the “other guy’s” argument instead of dismissing it right away because you disagree with it (gulp).
Lastly, consider what will happen if we can’t be civil. I dare say most of us—myself included—haven’t always argued and debated with the utmost kindness. There has been too much name-calling, assassinating of character, questioning one’s patriotism, etcetera. To be sure, there are some among us—wolves in sheep’s clothing—who don’t cherish life and liberty and the idea of America. But most of us, #NeverTrumpers and #TrumpTrain and even—gasp!—some Democrats, love America and want her to be prosperous and free. We just disagree, often vehemently, on the best way to accomplish that end. But come November 9, whether our president-elect is “the Donald” or a “third term for Obama,” we the people will have to unite if we don’t want our country to be torn apart. We are not each other’s enemies, as the 15th anniversary of 9/11 so poignantly reminded us, and we can’t treat each other as if so. That doesn’t mean we all need to hold hands and sing “Kum-ba-ya.” We can still disagree and debate, state our case and argue our side. But we all need to tamp down the rhetoric and hostility toward one another.
We have eight weeks. Take that time to reconsider. Don’t close your mind until you cast your vote, even if you are aboard—heck, even if you’re driving—the #TrumpTrain or even if you’re an outspoken voice for #NeverTrump, as I have been. If you’re a Christian, be careful to weigh your decision against Scripture. Use it as the basis for your values and to influence your decision process. And don’t just consider; pray. Pray daily that God would give you wisdom and humility to make a wise choice and civility toward those who make what you consider an unwise choice. That is my challenge to myself these next two months.
I honestly doubt that I will cease to be #NeverTrump. I honestly doubt that many of you who are pro-Trump or pro-Hillary will change your views either. But we should at least be open to changing our position if careful and prayerful consideration leads us to a change.
We need to be sure of our convictions. They should be deeply held, but first should be wisely formed. Then, we need to stand firm in them, even if they are unpopular and bring ridicule. And lastly, we need to respect the wisely formed, deeply held convictions of others. If you, in your love for America, having done your homework and made an informed decision, come to a different conclusion about what to do with your vote than I do, fine. I’ll respect that, just I as hope you’ll respect my choice as well. I think it’s imperative that we do so, because at the end of the day, we’re not Republicans and Democrats, not Trumpkins or RINOs or ex-GOP; we’re Americans. And regardless of who we vote for or who becomes our 45th President, we the people need to rally around the values and ideas of America. If we do, the heartbeat of our nation will continue beating loud and strong.