On January 22, 2016 the National Review issued a blistering editorial that labeled presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump as a threat to conservatism. The issue contained essays by 22 prominent conservative thinkers from various ideological factions who registered their vehement opposition of Trump’s candidacy.
Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, was one of those conservative thinkers who contributed an article to the special National Review edition and stated that the three primary goals of religious conservatives would be in jeopardy under a Trump presidency.
Moore indicated that the three goals are (1) protecting all human life, including that of the unborn, (2) reinforcing the sanctity of marriage and the family, and (3) conserving the religious freedom of all persons.
Moore added, “Trump can win only in the sort of celebrity-focused mobocracy that Neil Postman warned us about years ago, in which sound moral judgments are displaced by a narcissistic pursuit of power combined with promises of ‘winning’ for the masses. Social and religious conservatives have always seen this tendency as decadent and deviant. For them to view it any other way now would be for them to lose their soul.”
Then last weekend on CBS’s Face the Nation Moore referred to Trump as “reality television moral sewage.” He added, “What we have in the Donald Trump phenomenon as well as in the Hillary Clinton phenomenon is an embrace of the very kind of moral and cultural decadence that conservatives have been saying for a long time is the problem.”
Donald Trump is indeed a wild card, a maverick, a non-establishment politician and it is difficult to know where he will land on many of the issues that concern conservative voters. However, his unconventional, unpredictable style is the very thing that has attracted so much attention and catapulted him to the top of the seventeen GOP contenders for the White House.
Trump’s life has not been a picture of moral rectitude or exemplary deportment. He has also been known to change his position on important ethical, moral, and political issues in recent years. He is the personification of narcissism, and some even wonder if he would listen to wise counsel.
However, Hillary Clinton is not necessarily a picture of moral purity and prototypical honesty. The degree of her culpability in using a personal email server for classified information and her inexcusable absence in the midst of the Benghazi fiasco have not been explained to the satisfaction of millions of Americans. She has been labeled as the quintessential prevaricator. The reports that she and/or the Clinton Foundation has accepted millions of dollars from foreign governments, some of which have funded Hamas, harbor terrorists, suppress women, and regularly execute gays and lesbians are troubling beyond description.
Through the years the ERLC has typically encouraged Southern Baptists and others to register to vote and vote their values. On multiple occasions I have voted for candidates who were the lesser of two evils, but I voted because I thought it was a moral and civic obligation to do so. So, what now, Dr. Moore?
Moore has recently suggested that perhaps we should not vote at all, vote for a third party candidate or write in the name of someone not on the ballot. He explained, “There is something more important than politics; a good conscience.”
Perhaps there was some merit in Moore’s admonition not to vote for Trump in the primaries. In fact, I heeded that admonition, but the general election presents an entirely different scenario. To become derelict in one’s duty to vote is unacceptable. Writing in someone’s name may serve as a sign of protest that the options are piteously paltry, but it would not be the first time I have had to hold my nose to vote.
Let me make a suggestion. Study the issues of the candidates on their webpages. Wait to see which party’s platform upholds the values you are more likely to embrace. Pray for God to prepare the candidates to provide wise, honest, and noble leadership, but vote. Failing to vote is to surrender the future of our country to the bane and brutish by default.