Answering Trump Supporters

Wayne Grudem, a Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona, writes at the conservative website Townhall.com about why he supports Donald Trump. His article, "Why Voting for Donald Trump Is a Morally Good Choice," acknowledges several of Trump's character and behavioral flaws and then says it doesn't matter if the alternative is worse. He goes into a long list of issues on which he claims that Trump is better than Hillary Clinton.

I could not disagree more with Professor Grudem, so here I will respond to several of them. Given the enormous gulf between the candidates with regard to experience and qualifications, this election should not be close. The fact that the race is close should be a stark reminder not to treat the frightening prospect of a Trump presidency as something to dismiss lightly. Perhaps you may find some of my arguments useful in making the case to friends and family members who are sticking with Trump despite his almost daily barrage of appalling statements. Here goes, for what it's worth.

Abortion. I am sick of the religious bullying on this issue. The utter contempt for people making different choices in this area is very disturbing. I am personally troubled by abortion, and think that the ideal situation is for unwanted pregnancies to be prevented through contraception. But the question of whether to continue or end a pregnancy is not my decision. It is up to the woman. You can say a thousand times that this makes me pro-abortion, but that is not true. Respecting people's right to make a different choice than mine does not mean I agree with that choice. The point is that IT IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS.

As for contraception, the Catholic Church, in which I was raised, is stoutly opposed to it. A leading anti-choicer, former senator Rick Santorum, has made it clear that he does not just want to overturn Roe v. Wade, but also Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized contraception for married couples, and Eisenstadt v. Baird, which did the same for single women. I find it stunning that people in this day and age are willing, much less determined, to mind their neighbors' business in such an intrusive way. The constitutional separation of church and state protects everyone by prohibiting us from imposing our religious dictates on one another.

Religious freedom. We live in a religiously diverse society. This key point is routinely ignored by the religious bullies, who see it as their divine mandate to force their views on everyone else using the power of the state. When they talk about "religious freedom," they mean there should be no church-state separation, and that they must be able to discriminate in commerce against people of whom they disapprove. I am a gay rights activist, and I routinely say that any minister of any congregation must have the right to do three things: bar me from their sanctuary, deny me their sacraments, and denounce me from their pulpit. This would cease to be America in a fundamental way otherwise. But they are not entitled to use my taxes to do it.

People running for-profit business should not be able to cite their personal beliefs to justify discriminating against customers. What if everyone started doing that? How would our (again, highly diverse) society cohere? Some people even think that a pharmacist should have the right to refuse to fill a prescription (say, for contraceptives) by citing his moral opposition. How in the world is this reasonable? How is it a pharmacist's job to put his moral judgment in place of a customer's and her doctor's decision? This intrusiveness is revolting and obnoxious.

Military. The notion that America's military is in decline is gaspingly absurd. The United States spends more on defense than the next ten countries combined, according to data published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. We have the strongest military force in the world. But Republicans insist on acting as if we are a helpless weakling the moment anyone opposes their latest orgy of unnecessary spending, even when the Pentagon brass say a particular weapons system is not needed.

Alleged bullying by Russia. Overreach is not just a sin of the West. President Obama said last year, "A military solution alone, an attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad and try to pacify the population, is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire, and it won't work and they will be there for a while if they don't take a different course." Obama also notes how much stronger our economy is than Russia's, and how much stronger our dollar is. We have an awful lot of military resources in the Mideast, from Turkey to the Persian Gulf. But reckless interventionism by the Bush administration only destabilized the region further and helped the rise of ISIL. Hillary Clinton is known to be relatively hawkish; but she also has shown a respect for the tools of diplomacy.

We must use all the tools at our disposal to advance our interests in the world -- economic and diplomatic as well as military. Meanwhile, Trump has caused an uproar among our allies by calling our NATO defense alliance into question. He talks as if it is a protection racket. He also openly admires Putin, while depending on Russian oligarchs for business capital. Do not talk to me about Russian bullying when the Republican nominee appears to be in the tank for Russia.

Iran and Israel. America gives a great deal of military aid and intelligence coordination to Israel. Hillary Clinton gave a saber-rattling speech to AIPAC making it clear that her commitment to that alliance is strong. The fact that Netanyahu made a disgraceful effort to interfere with America's decision on the nuclear accord does not erase the clear evidence of Obama's support for Israel. Netanyahu is utterly reckless. Our long term policy, through Democratic and Republican administrations for decades, has been support for a two-state solution. Netanyahu is openly contemptuous of this, continuing his slow de facto annexation of the occupied territory despite demographic trends that will ultimately force Israel to choose between being a democracy and being a Jewish state.

The Iran nuclear accord is a multilateral accord that has extensive verification provisions. Nonetheless, we have non-nuclear-related sanctions against Iran that remain in place. The insistence by Republicans that we are abandoning Israel and handing nuclear weapons to Iran is outrageously, absurdly, insultingly false.

Securing our borders. Obama has increased border patrols and increased deportations. The charge that he has left us unprotected is just not true. Nor is it true that refugees are not screened, as Trump claims. There is a rigorous screening process in place. You do not convey strength when your position is based on ignorance and falsehoods.

Bathrooms. There is no more evidence of assaults by transgender persons in bathrooms than there is of voter fraud, which is used by Republicans to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters. If you want to protect your children, keep them away from right-wing politicians and priests. Trump has been accused of raping an underage girl, incidentally. I do not assume his guilt. Charges need to be proven. As it is, trans people are slandered as child-molesters with zero evidence. They just want to use the bathroom appropriate to their gender identity. There is nothing responsible, safe, or Christian about stirring up gender panic. It only endangers trans people. Trying to erase them legally does not change reality, which again is that we are a diverse society and we are best served by respecting and tolerating one another.

Healthcare. It is not true that our healthcare has been harmed by the Affordable Care Act, which was originally proposed by the conservative Heritage Foundation and was first enacted in Massachusetts under Gov. Romney. Liberals wanted Single Payer and a public option. We accepted ACA because that was the best we could get, given Republican resistance which was based not on the merits but a determination to obstruct every single thing Obama tried to do. Still, millions more have health insurance. If you want to improve it, fine. Work with Democrats to make it better, instead of posturing by passing repeal legislation in the House sixty times.

That's more than enough for one sitting. Overall point to conservatives: stop the demonizing and caricatures, and focus on cleaning your own house. Trump repeatedly shows himself to be grossly uninformed, selfish, cruel, and reckless. The evidence for this is overwhelming and comes out of his own mouth, in contrast to the endless politically motivated investigations of Hillary Clinton, which have turned up nothing, though gullible people assume that she must be awfully crooked with so many investigations against her. Conservatives themselves are increasingly balking at Trump, as seen with Bill Kristol and George F. Will. All recent Republican presidential nominees stayed away from Trump's convention, as did the governor of the host state, because they were so disgusted. If you loved your country more than you hated Hillary, you would vote for her over Trump.

Copyright © 2016 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.