Over the weekend, my Facebook and Twitter timelines lit up with references to this article, by Phoenix Seminary professor Wayne Grudem, that purports to make the Christian case for voting for Donald Trump. I’ve met Dr. Grudem and like him a great deal, but I must confess that I’m mystified by his piece. Rather than make the case for the actual Donald Trump, he invents an entirely new person, projects the best possible positions for this fictional candidate, and then indicts Christians who refuse to vote for a man who doesn’t exist.
Oh, he starts honestly enough — outlining a few of Trump’s character flaws:
He is egotistical, bombastic, and brash. He often lacks nuance in his statements. Sometimes he blurts out mistaken ideas (such as bombing the families of terrorists) that he later must abandon. He insults people. He can be vindictive when people attack him. He has been slow to disown and rebuke the wrongful words and actions of some angry fringe supporters. He has been married three times and claims to have been unfaithful in his marriages.
But then we move into fantasy-land. The Trump that Grudem describes is a Trump that I could support. He’ll succeed where every single Republican president has failed and appoint the judges who will overturn Roe. He’ll cut taxes, ease racial tensions, rebuild the military, secure our borders, stand up to Russia, and repeal ObamaCare – all while replacing it with a superior free-market alternative. Grudem’s Trump makes Ronald Reagan look like a loser.
And what of Trump’s honesty problem? Grudem waves it away by declaring that “The most likely result of voting for Trump is that he will govern the way he promises to do, bringing much good to the nation.”
But wait one moment. What exactly has he promised to do? If I go by Trump’s words and actions, he’ll raise taxes, implement touchback amnesty, support government-run health care, appoint pro-abortion judges, fund Planned Parenthood, order troops to commit war crimes, try to defeat ISIS with Exxon, destroy American credit, radically increase the deficit, cede NATO countries to Russia, abuse eminent domain, restrict First Amendment rights, start trade wars, retweet white nationalists, support gender-neutral bathrooms, inflame racial tensions, and traffic in absurd conspiracy theories. Trump himself has made the case that he’d be a disastrous president.
Rather than truly grapple with Trump’s wild, leftist, and inconsistent policy statements, Grudem simply pretends most of them don’t exist. But the problem with Trump isn’t just that he lies habitually (though that is a big problem), it’s also that he’s been all over the place on policy. In other words, he’s not just a known liar who sometimes tells me what I want to hear, he’s a known liar who also tells me reprehensible things. Who can know where he really stands? Indeed, if one just examines the Republican Convention, it’s clear that his main policy proposal is simply to apply a magical dose of “Trump” to every domestic and international problem.
I understand the impulse behind Grudem’s piece. I really do. It is hard to face the fact that — on balance — Trump is no better than Hillary Clinton. Hillary is a dreadful politician, and Republicans have waited for years for a great candidate to take her on. They’re still waiting. It’s Democrat versus Democrat for president, and no amount of wishful thinking can change that sad reality.