“I may not deserve it,” said Donald Trump, speaking of Evangelical Christians supporting him for President. I agree with Trump on this.
But, I’m trying to understand why so many of my Christian friends are considering voting for him. Not most, but many. I’m talking about strong believers – who love God, read the Bible, pray and attend church. Here, I address the most common reason given by Evangelical Christians who are supporting Trump: He’s not Hillary Clinton.
If we don’t elect Trump, Hillary Clinton will be president.
And Bill Clinton will be “First Lady.”
Yes, we have a race between two undesirables. Both candidates have the highest “unfavorable” ratings in polls of any candidate for president in recent history.
But, while both candidates are deeply flawed, they are not equally flawed. Fact checkers have demonstrated that while both candidates exaggerate the truth and tell tall tales, Trump lies with far greater frequency than Hillary Clinton. Many of Trump’s statements are so ridiculous, it’s not even worth fact-checking them. Recently, he said in a debate/town hall that Hillary Clinton is “the devil.” During one week alone, September 15-21, Trump told so many lies, the New York Times gave up trying to fact check each one and settled for just the most outrageous: 31 Whoppers, including, Trump’s claim that he was against the Iraq invasion before it began and the double-whopper: “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it.”
Hillary Clinton has her own problems with the truth. She lied about ducking sniper fire after landing in Bosnia, her email server containing classified documents, and famously claimed the attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi was motivated by an anti-Muslim video. Polls consistently show she is considered dishonest by most Americans: 67% say she is not honest compared with Trump’s 62% in a July poll.
There are many charges leveled against Hillary Clinton. The following are some of my considerations about the moral fitness of Hillary Clinton. I’m not looking at policies and positions on issues foreign or domestic. Just character issues.
She was accused and has admitted to improperly setting up her own email server in violation of government policy (not law), destroying 3,000 emails. These are serious charges. She (or her staff) covered up evidence and she lied and claimed not to remember much of anything about whether any emails were classified (not a novel defense). Maybe the Justice Department should have appointed a special prosecutor but they did not. After a thorough investigation by the FBI, Director James Comey recommended that no criminal charges be filed. The Justice Department still could have filed criminal charges, but decided the evidence did not warrant that. So, Hillary Clinton may be responsible for destroying 3,000 emails that were under subpoena. For perspective, the George W. Bush White House “lost” 22 million emails that were subpoenaed by Congress between 2003 and 2009.
Critics charge Hillary Clinton of failing to protect an ambassador and three other American workers in Benghazi, Libya. This may be a failure of her department’s competence and judgment, but it would not be a violation of law. This failure has been under closer inspection by congressional committees than the invasion of Iraq based on false evidence of weapons of mass destruction, which led to thousands of U.S. deaths and tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths, including innocent citizens. But, the Secretary of State was not found guilty of anything more than failure to adequately protect the lives of those four Americans.
There is the appearance of impropriety with the Clinton Foundation perhaps providing access to foreign leaders that otherwise might not have the same access, but no evidence of violating the law.
There are other conspiracies that are unproven. Some, if they could be proven, would be ridiculous. For example, she is accused of defending a rapist early in her law career when she could not legally do otherwise. She did her job and her client pled guilty to a lesser charge. She was recorded, in a later interview, laughing about certain matters related to the case. Her accusers say she was laughing about the twelve year old victim of the crime. The context shows that is not true, but even if it was, it’s a giggle! One conspiracy suggests that Chelsea Clinton’s biological father is not Bill Clinton. No proof. If true, it would not a disqualification for office, at least not when judged next to a man who has children with at least three mothers and has boasted of cheating on his wives.
Other conspiracies are more serious and, if proven true, would be disqualifying. For example, there is the theory that Hillary Clinton was involved in the death of Vincent Foster, a friend whose death was ruled a suicide based on the evidence. Since our country is a nation of laws and we entrust criminal proof with the courts, there is nothing Hillary Clinton’s accusers can do but gossip.
She may feel entitled. She may not know what it’s like to be poor, black or middle class. She may feel that some groups of people are less worthy of her attention – a “basket of deplorables,” but we’re talking about how she might feel and the attitudes of her heart based on some unwise statements she has made. She has an “appetite for power,” an inordinate desire to be president. It’s hard for her to see her faults and apologize. She has flaws, but she is not as deeply impaired as her opponent.
The most vicious attacks condemn Hillary Clinton for failing to divorce or denounce her philandering husband (and this is often from traditional values voters who otherwise stand for traditional marriage!). She is accused of staying married to a cheater, but there is no evidence that she is a cheater. Again, she has not acted in violation of law.
There are no skeletons in the closet for Hillary Clinton. Her failures are well-known. Yes, she prefers privacy in family and personal matters. Nevertheless, her public service is public record. She has voluntarily released her taxes (where are Trump’s taxes?) She has been opposition-researched, investigated and interviewed more than any previous candidate. She has been found wanting, but not criminal. She has been found to be a sinner, but not unworthy of office.
No one doubts Hillary Clinton’s knowledge and experience in government. Trump has shown himself to be astoundingly illiterate in foreign affairs and is inexperienced in dealing with matters of government.
Hillary Clinton’s judgment and temperament have been tested and tried and she has, with few exceptions, shown grace and courage.
You wonder if all the vitriol directed at Hillary Clinton has something to do with the fact that she is a woman.
There is a whole genre of media talk shows dedicated to bringing the Clintons down (Limbaugh and Hannity are examples). Yet, she has not been found guilty of violating the law.
Donald Trump has demonstrated an astounding lack of knowledge, judgment and temperament required of an effective president. Trump’s supporters hope against all evidence that he will surround himself with knowledgeable and experienced advisors. If he has competent advisors, he is not listening to them. He boasts that he “knows more about ISIS than all the generals” and that he, himself, is his best advisor. He considers Russia’s murderous dictator, Vladimir Putin, an ally simply because Putin says nice things about him.
Trump is psychologically unstable and dangerous. He has an abnormal need to put his name on huge building projects and to see his image in newspapers, TV shows and Playboy videos. He judges women and girls by their appearance and men by their money. He seems incapable of showing humility or compassion.
Trump easily loses focus on the big picture in favor of viciously attacking his perceived enemies, like Rosie O’Donnell (in a debate!), journalists, newspapers and a judge of Mexican heritage. He has used the power of his wealth to harass people he doesn’t like. He threatens to shut down news outlets that he doesn’t like.
He has threatened to put his opponent in jail once he is president. He admires ruthless, murderous dictators like Vladimir Putin more than he admires the current president of the U.S. His disrespect for women and girls is documented in his own books as well as recordings from the Howard Stern show and the recently released 2005 recording of his conversation with Billy Bush on a bus in which he brags that he kisses and gropes women without their consent. Women are coming forward insisting that what Trump dismisses as “locker room talk” is also his practice.
Yes, both candidates for president are flawed, perhaps deeply flawed. But, they are not equally flawed. Hillary Clinton’s sins are minor league compared to Trump’s Big League flaws, failures and sins.
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Note: The opinions expressed on this website are mine, informed by Scripture, reflection, discussion and prayer.
They may not be the views held by my church, which welcomes all, no matter how they vote, and takes no position on candidates or election issues.