You shouldn’t vote for Trump!
That’s not a controversial statement. But I don’t usually categorically oppose a political candidate. But I am so confident that Trump is a bad candidate that I’ll do that for him.
I’ve chosen to single out Trump, not because I favor the Democratic candidates, but because I think conservatives have a problem: Trump is now the presumptive nominee for the Republicans in the race for the presidency. Within the last few days, Trump’s remaining opponents, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, dropped out of race. So Trump will be the default candidate for many conservatives.
But you still shouldn’t vote for him. Why?
I can find few, if any, positive aspects of Trump. He isn’t a conservative. His comments on religion are ludicrous, so he doesn’t represent Christianity. His comments on foreign policy indicate that he’s dangerous, perhaps making an already unstable world even more unstable. His character is lacking: he is childish and petty, insults women, mocked a disabled reporter, and attacks his opponents rather than their views.
But I haven’t heard anyone argue for Donald Trump by saying that he’s trustworthy or of high character, or that he holds to a conservative position on the economy or on social issues, or even that his foreign policy shows a good grasp of the problems and offers creative solutions to them.
No. The arguments for Trump that I’ve read and heard cover none of that. But I would like to respond to these few arguments.
Responses to Pro-Trump Arguments
So, as briefly as I can, what follows are my responses to the pro-Trump arguments I most commonly hear and read.
Trump best known policy is a plan to build a border wall across the U.S.-Mexico border, and, supposedly, Mexico will pay for it.
The wall is very unlikely. It would be expensive. The legal and environmental issues are serious in such a construction, and a lot of private landowners would have to permit its construction. And a wall isn’t as effective as you might imagine, as is shown by the tunnels under current border fences that have been built by smugglers.
So you have an expensive, unlikely project that won’t be that effective. That’s not a promising cornerpiece of his campaign’s policy.
He Says What He Thinks
Saying what you think isn’t always a virtue. Time at a family reunion should show that. If saying what you think qualifies you to be president, then most of us have drunk relatives who are as qualified as Trump.
No. Saying what you think is only a virtue if what you think is worth speaking. But much of what Trump has said should’ve been kept in his head.
Any humor you might find in his blunt and often hateful comments should be reduced by the effect they would have if he were president. When thousands of journalists and diplomats across the world analyze what world leaders say, and when businesses and governments make important plans as a result, then Trump’s unfiltered and unrestrained comments might have disastrous effects.
Furthermore, the president is a role model. For conservatives to no longer care about that is worse than hypocritical, it’s evil. It shows that the moral standards were used as political expedients against Bill Clinton, not as the expressions of morality we take seriously. To blast Clinton for his infidelities and shady business dealings but quietly put aside our moral demands to support Trump is deplorable.
He’s Rich, And So Independent
Trump is so rich that he doesn’t need the lobbyists and wealthy donors for his campaigns. This supposedly gives him independence. But why does this qualifies Trump for the presidency more than any other wealthy person? Plus, the pressures of money extend beyond the individual candidate’s need for campaign money. It includes the pressure of looking after your associates’ business interests. It also includes ensuring that your party’s donors continue to donate to the party and Congressional races. On these two points, Trump’s wealth wouldn’t make him independent of the lobbyists.
Even more, momentarily conceding that Trump’s wealth actually does keep him independent of the influence of money, that would only be a reason to vote for him if it resulted in better policy decisions. But, so far, Trump’s policy positions don’t seem to be a lot better than, say, his less wealthy (former) competitors for the Republican nomination.
So I don’t see how this argument supports Trump.
His Business Skills Will Be Good For the Economy
Some people think that Trump is a good businessperson and so would make good economic policy. I don’t find this convincing. There is little evidence that Trump is a good businessperson. As several journalists have pointed out, he hasn’t drastically increased the inheritance that his father left him: his wealth basically kept pace with the growth of the S&P 500. There’s no area of business that he dominates; he’s not included in the best Manhattan real estate developers. His biggest financial success has come from marketing his own name through various ventures.
I don’t see why good business skills implies that a person will be good at the type of work a president does. It’s not clear what skills would greatly overlap.
Voting For Trump Is Voting For the Lesser of Two Evils
I need to address this argument. A lot of people have opposed Trump’s candidacy until he has become the presumptive nominee. Now that he is, some are switching to support Trump because “at least he isn’t Hillary!”
I find this a terrible argument, but many find it influential. In fact, I bet some conservatives will use this argument to shame other conservatives who don’t support Trump, a candidate with no conservative credentials! What is happening!
But notice that, as the philosopher Tim McGrew pointed out in a recent Facebook post, not voting for Trump is clearly not the same as voting for Hillary: they are distinct. A vote for Hillary would break a tie and give Hillary a victory, but a vote for a third-party (i.e. not voting for Trump) would not break a tie. So it’s not true to say that voting for a third-party (or just not voting) is the same as voting for Hillary.
Not only that, but I don’t think the “lesser of two evils” strategy works. What reason is there to think that Trump is less evil than Hillary? What is the evidence that she is more liberal than he? Or that he has more integrity than she? A President Trump could effectively be the most liberal president we’ve seen in a long time.
Furthermore, a moderate or liberal Republican as president could be worse (from a conservative standpoint) than a liberal Democrat. The Republicans in Congress would be pressured to vote along party lines if the resident were Republican, meaning that some less-than-conservative policies could get passed. But those same policies could come from a Democratic president, and the conservatives in Congress would receive pressure to oppose it.
So, no, I don’t think a vote of Trump is a vote for the lesser of two evils; and, even if it were, I don’t see any evidence that it would be a good strategy for conservatives. (Besides, when has the “lesser of two evils” strategy worked well in politics?)
Don’t Vote for Trump
Let me be clear: I don’t think political conservatives or Christians should vote for Trump. It’s quite simple: he’s not politically conservative. He very recently said he was in favor of universal healthcare. He was in favor of appointing a very liberal judge to the Supreme Court. He’s not pro-life. And so on.
And his attitude and utterances are far removed from what a Christian should support. I don’t think Christians should only support active Christians for political offices. But I do think some candidates are so vile, abusive, and immature that a Christian shouldn’t participate in their winning a political office and influencing others. Trump is that type of person.
Even though he’s the Republican presidential candidate, and even though you might be a Republican, don’t vote for him.
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Micah, apply your same questions, logic and evaluation to Hillary Clinton.
I’m not voting for Hillary or promoting her, and I didn’t write in my article that I thought Hillary would be a good candidate. So I’m confused about the point of this comment.
Thanks for a thoughtfully written blog.