Christianity in Politics, Current Events

Policy, or, Why I’m not voting for Donald Trump

white-houseI try to avoid straight-up politics on this blog, but I think it is important to discuss the election this year. Too often, as I’ve voiced my intention to not vote for Donald Trump, I’ve been told that we aren’t voting for a moral leader, but a President or something of the sort (a President, not a pastor… however you want to put it). But apart from the fact that separating morals from policy is impossible, the fact is that the reason I’m anti-Trump was, from the beginning, a matter of policy. Here are just a few of the policy-oriented reasons I’m not voting for Trump. Period. And they’re based, in part, on conservative values.

Religious Liberty

What is one of the most important thing for most conservatives? Freedom of religion. I find this a paramount part of our country’s greatness, myself. The fact that you may freely believe and practice your faith, whether it be Pentecostal, Calvinist, Lutheran, Hindu, or Buddhism is an ideal that is beautiful and necessary. Conservatives across the board point to the importance of religious freedom. Thus, with conservatives telling people they ought to vote for Trump based on policy, it is worth asking: do Trump’s policies support religious liberty?

The plain and clear answer is: no, obviously.

Think about it. Suppose Donald Trump had come out saying “We need a total and complete ban of all Christians entering the United States.” How do you think conservatives would have reacted? As they should have: by exploding. Such a statement would be a direct violation of religious freedom. It would be seeing someone’s faith as the sole reason for denying them entry into our country. But because he said it about Muslims, suddenly it’s seen as okay. Here’s the thing: religious liberty is, and always has been, religious liberty for all religions. Yes, if someone decides that their religion is to kill everybody, that would be a religion that could not be allowed liberty, but Islam is demonstrably diverse, with several distinct factions and offshoots, many of which denounce violence in the name of their faith. It’d be like banning all Christians because of the Branch Davidians or banning all Lutherans because the BTK killer happened to be, ostensibly, Lutheran.

But the point of this is not to debate whether Islam is violent or not (it’s not, inherently; with 1 billion Muslims in the world, if Islam was automatically violent, why are not all of these 1 billion Muslims killing people?). The point is that Trump explicitly made a statement in which religion was the single reason for exclusion from our country. That is a terrifying reality to think about, because as many conservative beliefs begin to be seen as oppressive, it is not very hard to see how conservatives could be next on the list of those banished from the country.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
-Pastor Martin Niemöller speaking of the Nazis

*Note: I realize Trump has somewhat scaled back this talk to having “extreme vetting,” but it is important to take into account the fact that his initial position of simply banning people based on religion.

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech and the freedom of the press stand alongside religious freedom as some of the most important parts of our constitution and, frankly, our country. Yet, once again, we find that Donald Trump is no defender of such a freedom–a freedom that is put forward by conservatives as vastly important.

Donald Trump, frustrated with the media coming after him, Tweeted his frustration suggesting that “It is not ‘freedom of the press’ when newspapers and others are allowed to write whatever they want even if it is completely false!”

Um, yes it is, actually. That’s one of the things freedom of the press explicitly permits. Moreover, Trump has suggested libel and slander laws ought to be opened up to allow him to more easily sue and defeat others who speak badly of him. This is a terrifying reality in which we have a candidate who doesn’t respect freedom of speech because he doesn’t like what others say about him.

So here we have a Presidential candidate who believes it is acceptable to suggest changing the Constitution because he doesn’t like when people speak ill of him. I think that’s a real problem, and would suggest freedom of speech is yet another policy that should have conservatives fleeing from Trump, not flocking to him. For more on this topic, see this article from Red State, a conservative web publication.

Fiscal Policy

“The free market works–it just needs leadership, not dictatorship… We need legislation that gives American companies the tax priorities and financial support to create more of their technology and redirect more of their manufacturing here at home.” –Donald Trump, “Crippled America,” 81, 86-87.

“Nobody can build a wall like me. I will build a great wall on our southern border… Construction of the wall needs to start as soon as possible. And Mexico has to pay for it… Mexico will pay for it. How? We could increase the fees on temporary visas. We could even impound remittance payments derived from illegal wages. Foreign governments could tell their embassies to start helping, otherwise they risk troubled relations with America. If necessary we could pay for the wall through a tariff or cut foreign aid to Mexico…” – Donald Trump, “Crippled America,” 23-25.

Each of these quotes demonstrates that Trump is by no means a conservative when it comes to fiscal policy. One of the cornerstones of conservative fiscal policy is free trade. Yet in the first quote, Trump encourages protectionism in economics, which is the opposite of free trade. In the second quote, he supports tariffs as a possibility for paying for his projects. Again, raised tariffs are the opposite of free trade. Moreover, Trump has been vocal in opposition to NAFTA and other free trade agreements. Each of these shows beyond any question that Trump is not a conservative when it comes to fiscal policy.

Foreign Policy

“If we’re going to continue to be the policemen of the world, we ought to be paid for it. …There is another way to pay to modernize our military forces. If other countries are depending on us to protect them, shouldn’t they be willing… To pay for the servicemen and servicewomen and the equipment we’re providing? …We defend Germany. We defend Japan. We defend South Korea. These are powerful and wealthy countries. We get nothing from them.” –Donald Trump, “Crippled America,” 32, 34.

Whatever Trump has said about nuclear missiles and the like aside, this quote shows that Trump has very little grasp of foreign policy. He sees the United States as a mercenary that hasn’t been paid. He sees our military forces as dollars and cents. More astonishingly, he sees American lives lost defending allies as price tags. How much is the life of one soldier worth? Trump would put a price on it, and then sell that to the highest bidder. I’m not making that up: just read what he himself wrote in his election book!

Later in the same chapter he asks rhetorically why we didn’t make a deal with the leaders of Kuwait “that outlined how they would pay for us to get their country back for them…” (35) before Desert Storm.

Effectively, Trump here suggested we should have extorted money from the leaders of another sovereign nation before we went into military action. Thank goodness he wasn’t in charge of our country during World War 2! We would have had to negotiate with the Allies on the price of our help before we sent our brave soldiers to the shores of Normandy!

Trump has also been vocal about his opposition to NATO, an immensely important military alliance. The dismissal of many of our closest allies by Trump, often accompanied by accusations that the United States must pay too much money, once again shows that Trump’s foreign policy is based upon nothing but the bottom line. But of course foreign policy based purely on flawed economic theory (see “Fiscal Policy,” above) is not the best way to practice foreign policy. Neither is dismissing allies as though they have done “nothing” for us (see his quoted comments above on Germany, South Korea, and Japan).

Time and again, we see Trump’s foreign policy largely can be summed up by dollars and cents. When those dollar signs are set alongside the lives of Americans, as they clearly are in Trump’s mind, there’s a huge problem with his foreign policy.

SCOTUS

Look, simply appealing to the Supreme Court as the reason to select a President shows already how broken the system is. First of all, one’s alleged Supreme Court nominee list is not a “policy,” per se, so I’m confused by my conservative friends continuing to say that policy is the reason, and then citing SCOTUS as the only reason. That said, I don’t for a minute believe that we, conservatives or not, want Donald Trump selecting SCOTUS nominees. For one thing, as already mentioned, Trump believes the constitution should serve his whims when it comes to freedom of speech. Think he doesn’t know that the Supreme Court could help him achieve that if he can appoint judges he wants? Think again.

Of course, Trump has also said his pro-choice sister would make a great Supreme Court justice. He may have changed his mind about that–and it seems some are very willing to believe anything that Trump has changed his mind on–but for conservatives, that should have warning sirens blaring at full.

This article explores this difficulty further.

Abortion

It’s no secret that Trump is repeatedly on record voicing pro-choice ideals throughout his life. Only once he began to run for President–ostensibly as a conservative Republican–did Trump begin to say he was pro-life. But time and again, Trump has been blindsided by pro-life basics. When asked about what should happen if abortion were made illegal, he waffled his answer, saying there should be “some kind” of punishment for women who have abortions. More recently, in the third Presidential debate, he botched an explanation of partial birth abortion and failed to nail Clinton to the wall for her radically pro-choice perspectives that go against both science and logic.

Let’s be honest here, anyone who is truly convinced of the pro-life position ought to be able to articulate it, right? But Trump has demonstrated time and again that he cannot do exactly that. It should be extremely easy to expose Clinton’s talk about abortion for what it is: euphemism. But Trump could just repeat what seemed a memorized piece of rhetoric.

So we have an allegedly conservative Presidential candidate who can’t even articulate and defend the pro-life view beyond some catch phrases, and who fails to press the attack against what should be a fairly easy target.

Conclusion

There are many other reasons I would refuse to vote for Donald Trump, but I hope this post makes it clear that policy is one of those reasons. If my conservative friends and family and acquaintances–and I love you all, don’t let this sound any different–really, truly are conservative, they need to provide for me answers to all of the above. How is it that any of the above policies are conservative?

Grace and peace.

SDG.

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

8 thoughts on “Policy, or, Why I’m not voting for Donald Trump

  1. When it comes to policy, Trump has been in a total fog. He makes wild statements, but fails to look into the details and implications of actual policy. It’s like deciding to sail to London from Manhattan, but setting forth without charts or compass. Or trying to sail the other way, denying the existence of icebergs.

    Posted by Jnana Hodson | October 22, 2016, 7:38 AM
    • I agree that many times Trump’s “policy” statements are difficult to pinpoint. That’s another problem worth noting. As he has outlined some of his policies, however, it becomes clear they are not conservative.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | October 22, 2016, 4:39 PM
  2. JW: I know what Christians as a whole seem to be saying about Trump, but what are apologists and scholars saying? I’m sure you come across a lot of them. Where are the critical thinking skills of Christian intellectuals leading them politically compared to the Christian mainstream?

    Posted by Timothy Henderson | October 22, 2016, 2:18 PM
    • I have seen a major division when it comes to this election among Christian thinkers. There are some who are somewhat predictably aligning along party lines (Christians with more liberal tendencies going Democrat, and more conservative Christians going Republican), but there are others who have crossed party lines (almost exclusively Republican => Democrat in my observation) and others who have decided to either not vote or vote third party. I’ve seen a number of people aligning with a somewhat recent article that encourages a no-vote as a moral choice. That article is from Alasdair McIntyre, don’t have the time to look it back up but I think a quick Google search would find it. I’ve also seen several going Libertarian or for the emerging Evan McMullin.

      I think overall, it is clear that the Trump candidacy has done great damage to the Republican party as far as appealing to Christian intellectuals. Yes, some are sticking to it and saying they’ll vote (or have voted) Donald Trump, but I haven’t seen any enthused about that prospect. It tends to come from a wagon-circling mentality, so far as I can tell. The fact that so many have denounced Trump and said they’re exploring other voting options (or a no vote) is notable. I can’t speak as one who’s done any kind of scientific survey. This is purely based on what I’ve seen on Facebook from published Christian philosophers and theologians.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | October 22, 2016, 4:44 PM
  3. Wonderfully put. I am curious as to who you are voting for though.

    Posted by xmydearambellina | October 22, 2016, 2:20 PM
  4. Regarding Religious liberty…1) Trump has walked back/clarified his Muslim ban statement, 2) under a Clinton Presidency my tax dollars will pay for abortions (she openly says this), very likely my church and others who will not perform a homosexual marriage will be forced to or lose there tax exempt status, and the tolerance for evangelical, conservative Christians will go down while liberal Christians will walk in step with the government and culture (thus us not religious freedom.

    Regarding freedom of the press…The first amendment protects the news organizations because their job is to stand up for the people and keep the people informed. Our current news outlets are obviously representing only some of the people and have joined forces with one candidate against another. This is acceptable for the opinion section, not the front page. Also, President Obama has sought ways to punish or limit conservative talk radio. Trump may be talking about suing, but liberals are actively seeking to censor free speech.

    Regarding Fiscal policy…our economy is limping along with minuscule growth, stagnant wages, false unemployment numbers, money printing, very little interest rate increase (good for buying property and stock market investment but not for saving money), heavy regulation, and oppressive taxes on corporations (reason they leave the US). Over all this economy is good for people who are already rich but not for the middle class. They don’t have excess money to put in the stock market or real estate and they can’t make any money by putting dollars in a savings account. How do we fix it? Donald knows…lower corporate taxes (so the business stay and return), make better trade deals (current ones favor other countries), lower taxes, and all this means…creating jobs. Americans want to work. And let’s not forget the wall…go live in So Cal where a native English speaker takes a back seat to the 2nd language speakers in school, where jobs are taken by illegals, where hospital ER rooms are filled with illegals, where illegals are sucking the CA budget dry! I love latinos and spent many years as a teacher working with them but this business of allowing non-citizens to get ahead of citizens, to spend our tax dollars on those who broke the law is upsetting to say the least!

    Regarding foreign policy…I’m going to keep this one brief. The situation in the Middle East is the result of Clinton’s work as a Secretary of State and a weak president Obama. I can’t even fathom why I’d trust her to fix the problem.

    SCOTUS…for this one I will refer back to my answer on religious liberty. The Supreme Court will be instrumental in implementing laws friendly or unfriendly to Christians. Trump has produced a list of potential appointments. I don’t think Hilary has. We just can surmise that the 2nd amendment and respect for life will be under attack.

    Regarding abortion…I watched a partial birth abortion video yesterday. That alone talks me out of voting for Clinton. She lied in the 3rd debate. Abortions are not considered in the last 16 weeks (fetus is viable) of a pregnancy. Several nurses have confirmed this. She said that she has spoken to women who had to have an abortion during this time for their own health/safety…lie…a woman could have the baby taken by c-section during this time thus saving both of their lives and this would normally be the case. Trump’s careless words…a woman should be punished don’t carry much weight with me. He isn’t a polished public speaker and has a tendency to speak his mind before really considering the best way to approach things. Yeah, I wish he thought things through first.

    Hilary is all words and empty promises. Trump has the business sense to fix this mess…not by himself…he knows how to use good, talented people, in important positions.

    Posted by Renee | October 22, 2016, 2:53 PM
    • This post is about why I will not vote for Donald Trump. It is not about what I think about any other candidate. Therefore, any statement that isn’t specifically about Donald Trump’s policy will be ignored for what it is–an obvious red herring and a logical fallacy.

      Religious Liberty- I noted that Trump has stepped back. But of course that doesn’t dismiss the genuine concern over his statement, and the frankly terrifying observance that many Christians supported that radically anti-religious-freedom statement.

      Freedom of the press- I’m going by what the Constitution says, not by what anyone would like to make it say. To whit, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” That seems quite clear to me. It isn’t “shall make no law… unless there is a perceived bias.” It is simply “shall make no law.” You can advocate for other positions, but don’t pretend they’re constitutional.

      Fiscal policy- I noted that Donald Trump is for raising tariffs and against free trade agreements. Free trade is the cornerstone of conservative fiscal policy. Therefore, Trump is not a conservative on fiscal policy. You may support Trump’s fiscal plan and his policy, that’s your right to do. But please admit that you are not a conservative when you do so, because you are standing against free trade and for protectionism.

      Foreign policy- my concerns were not addressed. A red herring fallacy was put forward. I have no need to engage it.

      SCOTUS- my concerns were not addressed. A red herring fallacy was put forward. I have no need to engage it.

      Abortion- my concerns were not addressed. A red herring fallacy was put forward. I have no need to engage it.

      To sum up, my concerns about fiscal policy, religious liberty, freedom of the press, and the like all stand up.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | October 22, 2016, 4:53 PM

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