An Evangelical Republican's Open Letter To America
RNC & DNC Convention
Since the recent completion of the RNC & DNC conventions, I am beginning to compose a better understanding of another political cycle within our country. It seems to me, it has become essential for a reasoned response from an evangelical Republican’s perspective. I have withheld a formal response out of respect for the entire process to unfold, so that I could gain the best possible perspective entering the last stage of campaigning by the candidates and their respective parties. Having been an evangelical Christian for over 30 years, serving in a pastoral role for 15 of those years and with 10 plus years in business leadership, I perhaps approach this decision from a unique perspective.
Limits To An Opinion
I would like to mention that I am unable to cover the opinions of other evangelical Republicans, so by default what you read will be from the mind of one and only one such self-identified person. I mention this to be clear in my objective and potential of complete irrelevance. However, if my opinion holds value to many who hold similar views, then we can affirm the merits of the letter to speak in broader terms.
How would you identify your religious views
Foundations To This Letter
I would like to lay a foundation as to why I feel the need for such a letter. As social media has increased in both size and scope since the last two Presidential cycles the medium has provided a growing and unique opportunity for individuals to confidently express their opinions across a much broader audience. This has, in effect, brought about a significant change to our society.
To begin, it has removed the face to face conversations from past election cycles which served as a natural barrier to potentially crude or negative viewpoints but now creates a more emboldened electorate that does not shy away from freely sharing most any thought or viewpoint that had previously been held in check. One could argue, from this aforementioned element of the effect we may be better off as a society because we are freely sharing and finally expressing true thoughts. However, this concern weighs heavy on account of the cost of such autonomy. As a supporter of freedom of speech it would be a contradiction for me to not agree with this premise. Nonetheless agreement with a premise does not force one to agree with the process in the ultimate fulfillment of that premise. Perhaps better put, the freedom to swing your fist ends when your fist hits my face. Our freedom to express thoughts and opinions, especially those less substantiated, perhaps are better served kept within the confines of our own minds or shared mostly within the circle of our closest of friends.
It also follows, through the rapid expansion of social media platforms, a ‘cut and paste’ mentality exists with the minds of would be posters. This in turn allows for the credibility of most claims to go unchecked with little or no primary source material backing the opinion. I guess one could hold that opinions do not necessarily need to be supported; yet I feel as though most reasonable individuals would appreciate some type of credible support for claims that can actually be substantiated. What I mean by this is that some opinions are not necessarily asking to be verified. For instance if you were to ask me who has the greatest kids in the world? I would not hesitate to chose my own, as would you chose yours. This type of claim would not need to be validated, however, the types of claims that seem to find a way to my dashboard, are claims that call out for reasonable validation.
A Reverse Open Letter
I would say the most important reason for my letter, is to properly rebut the popular claim of those who wish to write “open letters” to a person, like myself, who identifies as an evangelical Republican. There seems to be a few such letters circulating the social media circuit these days. I simply find such attempts to fall short of any type of real influence toward the supposed audience, but do have the potential to linger and create a false narrative regarding what I really think, which in turn can create a negative view from others toward my perspective. It can be a frustrating experience to find yourself in agreement with a particular set of words, (a creditable label), and then find others, who are not in agreement with those words, (or that label), but yet feel the freedom to describe what it is that you believe.
Imagine if I was to share a viewpoint of what working class women in India feel about the best way to raise their children. It would be nonsensical for me to make such a claim. I am missing much of the foundational understanding to make any such credible remarks. Well, you might say that’s because you’re not a woman or you have never lived in India.
Let’s take the illustration a step further then, suppose for a moment, as a Dallas Cowboys fan you have entered a room of lifetime Chicago Bears fans. You feel as though you can relate to these Bears fans because you used to be such a fan a few years back. Yet due to other circumstances you find that you no longer view the world of football through the same lens. Any attempt by you to make recommendations to these Bears fans would most certainly not carry the same passion, scope, or comprehensive understanding as those you now share the room with. But you protest loudly, “I used to be a Bears fan. I understand how you think and feel.” You then promptly leave the room of the Bears Fans and broadcast to the world the recommendations you made and represent that you possess the knowledge and agreement of those fans. Sorry to say, but that is disingenuous to say the least and outright deceptive at most.
The difficulty of any such recommendation falls into two specific categories: (A) a lack of personal connection regarding your current view, (B) a false equivocation between past and current loyalties. The same type of problems follows for those who attempt to correct the path of those who identify as evangelical Republicans. The fundamental difficulty for any such “open letter” to the evangelical conservative community is a complete lack of understanding of my view.
Five Reasons For Trump
One common theme I read is that a true evangelical Christian cannot possibly vote for Donald Trump. In lieu of defending all possible reasons as to why I could not possibly vote for Mr. Trump because of my religious views and conservative values, I will instead take the time to share why, as an evangelical, I feel more than comfortable casting my vote in this direction. Allow me the opportunity to share the top five reasons, listed in a matter of weight, for supporting a Trump presidency.
1. Security - The first reason I feel confident casting my vote for Mr. Trump is what I believe to be his personal conviction in putting the safety and security of our nation first. I sense that Mr. Trump’s personal view regarding the dangers facing our country are more realistic then that of Mrs. Clinton. Without safety and security the very fabric of a society will unravel. Imagine living a thousand years ago on the cold shores of the British Isles. It would be impossible for your village, city, or nation to grow and flourish without first keeping at bay the threat of Viking marauders completely destroying your settlements. It seems to me, that we take for granted the safety and security afforded to our people over the past 150+ years. I understand that we have fought in numerous battles and wars within that time frame, however, what I am pointing out is that since our own civil war, there have been only two cities fiercely attacked and noticeably effected, that being Honolulu in 1941 and New York in 2001.
I am not attempting to minimize the awful effects of those two attacks from foreign enemies, but I feel it would easy for us to agree that we have lived in a continual state of relative security, from foreign enemies on American soil, for the greater part of our nation’s history. I believe Mr. Trump better understands this view than his opponent. I believe Mr. Trump better understands that a strong and stable society cannot be compromised and does not come easy. There is a marked difference between the two major candidates in this election; some examples of this would include the reckless and recent nuclear agreement with Iran, the instability of numerous countries in the middle east, the continual rise of ISIS across that region, the recent killing of law enforcement officers in our own nation, a depletion of and need for the modernization of our military, border security, immigration reform, and properly understanding the enemy of radical Islamic terrorism. Let me be perfectly clear in what I am saying, although Mrs. Clinton understands these same issues, I believe Mr. Trump has solutions or will address these issues in a way that better match what I feel is in the best interest of our entire country and it’s safety. I trust he would better serve as our Commander in Chief for the next 4 years.
2. Supreme Court - The second reason I feel comfortable in supporting Mr. Trump is in direct connection to the upcoming Supreme Court nomination(s). Currently the court is divided 4 to 4 with Justice Kennedy, in many cases, tilting the balance 5 to 3 leaning liberal. From a conservative Christian viewpoint, we cannot afford to have the vacancy of Justice Scalia replaced with a long-term liberal leaning Justice. We would be looking at a 5-4 liberal court at best and in many cases 6-3. I strongly believe this would be a negative step backwards for many issues that are important to the conservative Christian point of view. I cannot in good conscience vote for any presidential candidate that would not nominate a conservative justice to the bench. Mr. Trump has been very clear on what type of justice he would nominate and those nominees would serve to keep the current court balanced and in some cases lean conservative. The topic deepens based on the fact the next president could be faced with nominating two or three additional new justices due to the current age of those now serving. If Mrs. Clinton has the opportunity to replace two or three liberal leaning justices and replace justice Scalia’s vacancy with a young liberal leaning justice we can very well be looking at a generational shift in the Supreme Court that our country has never seen before. Bar the security issues mentioned above this is the most important issue this election cycle.
3. Economy - The third reason Mr. Trump has my vote is a concern over the national debt and poor economy. This issue is directly connected to a current lack of governmental fiscal responsibility. Understanding that it takes two to tango, I am fully aware that both sides of the political landscape are culpable for the current 19 trillion dollar debt and I do not believe Mrs. Clinton will do anything meaningful to reduce the rate of growth over the last fifteen plus years. At least I have not heard from her what type of plan she wants to put in place to begin a correction of the current path. To this point, under Obama’s administration the national debt has skyrocketed from nine trillion to nineteen trillion, which is more debt than all other previous presidents combined. This is a grave concern to me and should be for all conservative and fiscally mindful individuals. This will have a continual anchoring effect on our economy in the years to come. The more debt we hold the more limited we are as a nation. We cannot borrow our way to a strong economy. I believe Mr. Trump understands the idea of profit and loss to a greater degree and he at least has addressed the issue and is calling for lower corporate tax rates, better trade deals, and decreasing the national debt. I have stronger faith in Mr. Trump in being able to build a stronger economic future for our country and it’s people. A strong economy helps create a strong nation and a nation with more choices.
4. Welfare Reform - The fourth reason I can fully support Mr. Trump over Mrs. Clinton is his view on reforming social programs. This may seem like a conflicting issue for an evangelical because of the specific call for humanitarian help embedded within the gospel message. Upon closer inspection of the issue however, one will find the responsibility for social welfare, according to the Christian perspective, resides within the local church. That is not to say that a government does not or should not provide social support for the needy, but rather to say that it is not the role of government to mandate social welfare by means of continual tax increases. In other words, a growing government does not necessarily equate to better help for the hurting. Additionally, the current state of welfare programs are seemingly utilized by Democrats to provide a more stable voting base for both now and the future. This approach amounts to buying votes from the less fortunate by taxing the more fortunate. Additionally, this systematic approach to raise taxes, which in turn lowers the readily available amount of funds for the local church, is not a healthy exchange of responsibly in my mind. It is reprehensible for a government to have in place a social welfare program that does not create the initiative for the recipient to move off of the program. Our current welfare rolls, food stamp recipients, and other social programs need to be reformed, updated, and more efficiently run.
5. Outsider - The fifth reason I can cast my vote for Mr. Trump is his status as an outsider. What I mean by an outsider is one who has not made politics a personal career choice. I am of the opinion that having term limits on our politicians would be in the best interest of our country. I believe we are all in agreement with the limit of a President serving two terms. I am in favor of Senators serving a limit of two terms and House of Representatives serving a limit of four terms. This creates an advantage for our nation in limiting the current abuse of power, political insider benefits, the temptation of putting self-interests in front of the nation’s interests, and a myriad of other such political shortcomings we continually see. I believe our nation is best served with a reinvestment of political power from among the political elite, or ruling class, and back to the people. Don’t misunderstand me in thinking that I believe Mr. Trump to be an angel of some sort or some type of knight in shinning armor set to save the day, which I most certainly do not. However, I do strongly feel that it is an advantage for our country to have as a President someone who has come from the business world. The Presidential office is grounded within the Executive Branch of our nation’s governing principles. I believe we are best served with a person who holds executive leadership from a successful business perspective. Simply put, our nation is a three trillion dollar a year business and I am of the perspective it’s time for an outsider to look at this office with a different set of eyes. I believe Mr. Trump holds a better quality of executive experience than Mrs. Clinton. In this election cycle political experience is not a plus, but business experience is.
My Evangelical Views
Another problem I would like to clear up is what I hear and read as a complete misunderstanding of my actual views, yet being promoted as those views are mine. For the record as an evangelical Republican; I am not anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-gun control, anti-welfare, anti-immigration, anti-NATO, anti-trade, or any other negative anti-label someone, with a personal agenda that differs from mine, wishes to espouse. If you wish to quote what I, as an evangelical Republican, believe or think about an issue, then ask. You do not have the authority to speak for my views or to conveniently misinterpret my views for political expediency, to do so is both dishonest and lacks courage on your part. Allow me then to further define what I believe.
I am for marriage between one man and one woman. That does not equate to being against individuals who are homosexual or people who hold to polygamy. Each person has a line regarding this issue and to what they believe actually constitutes the word marriage. For me, that line is one man and one woman. It’s a traditional norm that I feel still holds great value for society. I do believe ministers, churches, and other institutions or professionals should have the right to follow their religions convictions on this issue. I do believe civil unions are the answer to this contentious debate.
I am not anti-choice but rather I believe all human beings have the right to choose regardless of gender or age. I believe we become human at the point of conception in the womb. At that moment it is incumbent for the rest of human society to protect this new human life. With that human life comes the right to live and the right to choose as well. I fully understand this is a volatile and emotionally charged issue and there are times for the health of the mother certain options need to be considered. However, we all know those are cursory elements to this debate and reasonable people can come to a reasonable solution for those situations. Additionally, I understand currently the courts hold human rights do not begin until a human being exits the womb, however, that does not mean I am forced to agree with that judicial opinion. I am not advocating illegal actions to protest that viewpoint, but rather I do support nominating justices who uphold the sanctity of human life at all stages and at all ages. To those who demand that I am wrong on this issue and that I should simply fall in line with the current legal ruling, what is your response prior to the passage of the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, in that certain human beings were only three fifths of a person? My point is simple; a currently accepted law does not necessarily make that law right or untouchable. It is the role of democracy to fine-tune and adjust laws accordingly as those laws are found to be unconstitutional. I happen to believe the right to life is constitutional for all human life at all stages and at all ages.
I am not anti-gun control. I am for common sense reform of weapons control that promotes the safety of society, including law enforcement officials, yet does not restrict the second amendment. I am not for politicizing horrendous events attached to some type of gun violence. Let’s be clear, guns or weapons do not kill people. People kill people and use guns, knives, bombs, or bare hands to do so. Killing is an issue of the heart not of the weapon. That also does not mean I support “tanks in every garage” or the purchase of bazooka’s and rocket launchers.
As far at the other issues I hear and read evangelical Republicans are against: anti-welfare, anti-immigration, anti-NATO, and anti-trade. Let me be very clear and say; I am for welfare, but believe we need welfare reform as discussed already above. I am for legal immigration. I am pro-NATO. I am for positive trade deals for our country. If you find yourself labeling evangelical Republicans with any of these negative anti-issue labels, understand that you are improperly labeling someone who does not believe what you are claiming.
"The tunnel under the wall of intellectual snobbery is the only way back to common sense reality, but most won't find it because it is beneath them."— D.E. Navarro
Another issue I would like to cover is this issue of supposed intellectual superiority from those who espouse liberal ideology. I have read & heard some with a patronizing view as if I, as an evangelical Republican clinging to guns & God, don’t understand, and now as a seemingly enlightened or more educated person than I, they wish to educate me as to why my views are wrong. This is intellectual snobbery in its purest form. Please do not humiliate yourself any further by promoting this view to me or any other evangelical Republicans.
Education comes in many, many forms. There is nothing inherently wrong with degreed education. It is a strong source of good education and I strongly support the graduate and postgraduate educational system in our society. However, the lack of a post secondary degree does not necessarily equate to being less intelligent. Some the brightest individuals in the world have obtained no further than a high school diploma. As one who supports and is involved in the postgraduate system, you will not find a greater advocate for the structure and positive contribution to society of this current system. However, I’ve also come to find that political, religious, and other facets of the human experience cannot be regulated to simply how many degrees one has to their name. In many cases, street smarts out lives book smarts every time. It would be wise for all of use to curb our enthusiasm regarding post secondary and postgraduate successes and simply stick to the basic logic most political discussions is founded upon.
An Imperfect Candidate
As a citizen of this country I do not have the luxury of picking who the final candidate of each party will be. I did not vote for Trump in the primary, I supported Kasich. But Trump is the duly elected Republican candidate and I must look at him verses the duly elected Democrat candidate. That is my only choice.
I would be remiss not to mention that it is very disappointing and I believe juvenile for major Republican party leaders to not fully back Mr. Trump when they pledged they would. Mr. Cruz, Mr. Kasich, Mr. Bush, and others should be ashamed of not sticking to their word. My view of them has diminished over the past few weeks. However, I cannot control their decisions and they will have to live with the choices they made. I am not bound by their lack of commitment to their own words.
I’ve heard it said that Mr. Trump is a candidate that is brazen, says crazy things, comes across rude, or in other ways would not necessarily be a good display of Christian character. I cannot argue against those findings. Mr. Trump does come across very different than any other political candidate that I’ve ever seen, but it appears to be whom he really is. He appears to say things that later he may wish to back down on. He tends to use sarcasm and humor with his answers. I believe he is finding out that sarcasm does not always translate well with a liberal biased media seeking to pounce on his every word. He may be a bit too east coast for some of us with a Midwest family values foundation. He may say things that make you cringe, but what I have found in watching and listening to him, is that he is truly passionate about America and that he really will speak his mind even when he knows it's not politically correct.
I have not found any proof or merit to the claims of racism, misogyny, bigotry, and the like. When looking into to articles and claims I simply cannot find any substance to back the claims. However, I have noticed a biased against Mr. Trump. The media and many in the social media world have a double standard when it comes to Mr. Trump. I’ve learned to comb through the white noise and do my own discovery about the person and what he believes.
In the final analysis, this election will be a binary choice between Mr. Trump & Mrs. Clinton. Unfortunately, because of the close nature of this election, a vote for an independent, a write-in candidate, or a no vote, essentially is a vote for Mrs. Clinton. It essentially becomes one less vote for Mr. Trump, which ultimately tilts the scales to Mrs. Clinton. Due to the five reasons above, the only choice for me this election cycle is Mr. Trump.
There is nothing in my evangelical worldview that compels me to only vote for a perfect candidate. There is nothing that compels me to stay at home and not vote if I don’t happen to like either candidate. What I do find is a biblical mandate to look after the wellbeing of the governmental structure I am apart of and to pray for the peace of my city/state. We are, as Christians, to be politically involved in our free society. It is incumbent upon the Christian community, to the best of its ability, to elect the best possible candidates to govern the nation. A throwaway vote or refusal to vote cannot be substantiated in a correct biblical worldview.
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