Baptist pastor in Washington D.C., Thabiti Anyabwile, argues in a piece on The Gospel Coalition blog that it is apparently better to vote for predictable evil than unpredictable evil, the two evils represented by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump respectively. In the current presidential election, that means since only two viable candidates exist, the defacto choice is between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.1 And, for Anyabwile, it comes down to him voting for Hillary Clinton. "At this point, assuming Trump and Clinton are my only options, I'd vote for Clinton."
Anyabwile anticipates even his own community made up of mostly young, restless, and reformed Christians will hear his words as the teacher's fingernails scratching on a chalkboard. Besides warning commenters he'll not hesitate to delete comments posing passionate challenges to his notion, he quickly addresses those readers cringing at his fingernails scratching conclusion: "Okay… take a deep breath. Count to ten. Pray."
I'm glad Anyabwile does not leave the readers wondering concerning the reasoning which led him to conclude Clinton a more soothing choice to his honed Christian conscience. Anyabwile begins by offering an analogy between two elections, the first a hypothetical and the second the real probability of November 2016's ballot to consider.
First, the hypothetical election between voting for Stalin and voting for Hitler. Anyabwile suggests that since we truly believe ours is a choice tantamount in our context to Stalin or Hitler, then the question is how to defeat them both. "Both. Neither should rule. Either is bad for everyone" (italics original). So the conclusion as to whom we should vote between Stalin and Hitler. Neither.
In way of response, it's difficult to discern how Anyabwile's analogy connects at all since neither candidate in the first election should rule, but in the second election, between Trump and Clinton, one of them does get Anyabwile's vote. Clearly one is better than the other, and she should rule. But that flat contradicts Anyabwile's analogy right at the start.
What is more, it seems prima facie absurd to analogize Hitler and Stalin as morally comparable to either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Neither Democratic nor Republican candidate even comes close to such reckless moral abandon of either mass murderer in the former Soviet Union or Germany. Personally I find both Clinton and Trump morally suspect, at least so far as I can reasonably judge as a citizen from a distance. But absolutely nothing about which I am aware casts either of them into the devilish mode of mass murderers like Hitler and Stalin. The analogy is absurd.
And for my money, it's not only fundamentally insulting to Jewish people, coming close, in effect, to denying the Holocaust either happened or was exceptionally gross immoral acts against humanity generally and Jewish people particularly, Anyabwile's analogy reduces the horrifying war crimes of these murdering tyrants to everyday politics. To Trump's cussing and former womanizing or Clinton's email cover-up and botching Benghazi. But to morally flat-line the unmitigated evil of Adolph Hitler to Hillary Clinton's political views cannot reasonably be argued from a biblically informed ethical theory.
"Here's why: I prefer the predictable over the unpredictable. Whatever we might call Clinton, however we might evaluate her as a leader or her platform as a vision for America, we could say more or less the exact same things about Trump–with one glaring exception. We have no way of predicting Trump's behavior from one hour to the next. None. Except to predict that the behavior will be vile and repulsive for any person who cares about civility, truth, and the dignity of the office."
In response, it's simply not the case, as Anyabwile suggests, that "Whatever we might call Clinton, however we may evaluate her… we could say more or less the exact same things about Trump–with one glaring exception." And what evidence does Anyabwile offer for this assertion? Nothing. Not a single piece of evidence suggesting that either Trump's vision for America is "more or less the exact same things"; Trump's Immigration Reform is "more or less the exact same things"; Trump's view of Obamacare is "more or less the exact same things"; Trade-reform is "more or less the exact same things"; Trump's views on Veterans-reform are "more or less the exact same things"; IRS-reform is "more or less the exact same things"; Second Amendment rights are "more or less the exact same things"; Trump's stated view on pro-life issues is "more or less the exact same things"; Trump's view on the Supreme Court is "more or less the exact same things"; Trump's view on the Military is "more or less the exact same things," or any number of other policy-driven positions we could list. Only the most unthinking, jaded position could reasonably conclude Trump and Clinton are "more or less" advocating "the exact same things" for America.
Now, does that mean it remains impossible to reason one's way to a principled position that Hillary Clinton, in the best interests of the United States, is a better candidate to choose, however small, than Donald Trump? It does not. Perhaps someone is out there who can reasonably put forth a persuasive argument making Clinton a better choice for Americans. I've not personally seen it but that doesn't mean a persuasive argument for Conservatives to elect Hillary Clinton doesn't exist.2
Rather, what it does mean, is that it's unmitigated nonsense to suggest that because Clinton and Trump advocate "more or less the exact same things" one should vote for Clinton. Consider. Why Clinton if both her and Trump advocate more or less the exact same things? Why not flip a coin and avoid the needless wrangling over the candidates to begin with? I cannot believe The Gospel Coalition allowed such a woefully reasoned piece to be posted on their site. While I'm not necessarily a fan of The Gospel Coalition, they normally have well-written, well-argued pieces on their site. Anyabwile's present piece remains the quintessential exception to the rule.
Finally, Anyabwile suggests the "one glaring exception" between Clinton and Trump is Trump's unpredictability juxtapositioned over against Clinton's predictability, an exception Anyabwile indicates fits nicely within his preferred candidate's appeal— "I prefer the predictable over the unpredictable." Hence, the D.C. pastor prefers Clinton over Trump because she's predictable while he's unpredictable: "We have no way of predicting Trump's behavior from one hour to the next. None. Except to predict that the behavior will be vile and repulsive for any person who cares about civility, truth, and the dignity of the office."
In response, first Anyabwile again overstates what we know about Trump like he overstates not only that Clinton and Trump are analogous to Hitler and Stalin, but Clinton and Trump are saying "more or less the exact same things." It's neither true that we can't, at least in some meaningful sense, predict what Trump's behavior will be "from one hour to the next" nor that Trump's behavior will always be "vile and repulsive for any person who cares about civility, truth, and dignity of office." I'm personally not a fan of Donald Trump. I think he's made serious gaffes—both verbal and behavioral—which can only be judged unbecoming of an elected official (and certainly not becoming of a professing Christian). Even so, to suggest his manners are so unpredictable as to not know what he will do "from one hour to the next" reflects no reasonable analysis whatsoever and borders on crass, knee-jerk reaction rather than sober reflection. It also puts Trump into the category of an actual mentally-disturbed, unstable person that belongs in a hospital somewhere rather than on the campaign trail. And this is either helpful political commentary or sober Christian analysis in what way exactly?
The truth is, descriptions like Anyabwile has offered only cloud the real issues involved and are spawned more by emotion than what actually is the case. Indeed for me, arguments like Anyabwile's boils down to simplistic reasons which easily rationalize simplistic decisions:
"Trump is a very mean person. He says rude things. He offends people with his language. Plus, he's had two divorces. Therefore, I refuse to vote for him as President. Instead I'll vote for Hillary Clinton who is neither vile nor repulsive when people talk to her. And Hillary and Bill have never been divorced."
While the reader may judge such as unfair to Anyabwile's reasoning, I honestly don't know how it to be unfair given Anyabwile's premises. We'll let the reader be the judge.
Whatever the case, Anyabwile's stated premise cries for response; namely, "I prefer the predictable over the unpredictable." That is, Anyabwile prefers a predictable administration (Clinton) over an unpredictable administration (Trump).
We wish Anyabwile would have teased out a bit his reasoning for preferring "predictable" over "unpredictable." If he had, perhaps we could better understand how being fairly well certain (i.e. predictable) of Hillary Clinton's views on second amendment rights, Supreme Court justices, abortion-on-demand, education, Military action, Obamacare, IRS and Immigration Reform to name but a few issues, becomes a blinding but nonetheless captivating light in leading conservatives to vote for her and against Trump. We know what Hillary Clinton will do if she becomes president. We know from her public record, her clear and discernible platform,and from an examinable history that all in unity scream the answer loud and clear.
Like Clinton, Donald Trump has moral baggage but unlike her he possesses no real discernible record of public policy decisions effecting the entire country since he's never been elected to public office. Arguably, Trump's business experience may or may not assist him as president.3 However, since he's been vague on many issues and, at least from my perspective, been absolutely wrong on others, not to mention Trump seems to waffle on yet other issues, voters cannot absolutely rely on Trump to follow through on any number of issues, including even those issues many of us hold so dear (SCOTUS, strongly pro-life, 2nd amendment rights among others).
Make no mistake, therefore. The hand we've been dealt by American voters for our 2016 presidential election is not to be taken lightly. Risk is involved voting for Trump given the problems listed above. Though in fairness, there seems to be no more risk involved in voting for Donald Trump than voting for any number of other candidates--both Republican and Democrats--who failed to follow-through on their elect-me-and-I'll-do rhetoric they gave during their campaigns.
Many, many voters who are staunchly evangelical and hopelessly conservative will step into the booth in November and vote for Donald Trump not because of Donald Trump's character, Donald Trump's promises, or Donald Trump's undeniable Conservativism. Nor will they, in voting for him, approve of either his rudeness, his incivility, his arrogance, or his divorce status (any more than conservatives approved of Ronald Reagan's divorced status by the way).
Rather unlike Pastor Anyabwile, countless conscientious conservatives will vote for Donald Trump because Hillary Clinton will become president of the United States if they don't. That includes all those who either look to a supposed third-party or those who write-in a preferred candidate. Either alternative we hear being pushed today by even some Southern Baptists reduces to a White-house win for Hillary Clinton. While voting third party or write-in might sooth the personal consciences of some who refuse to vote for a political candidate who does not reflect his or her personal convictions, and, as free Americans, they surely have the right to do so, the defacto result remains the same. Come January 2017, dissing Donald Trump all but guarantees Hillary Clinton will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.
That means the Supreme Court will definitively be stacked with activist judges supporting the far Left for a generation to come. That means an aggressive anti-life culture will continue well into the 21st century at least. That means that our children will serve a Military the Commander-in-Chief of which will not support them and frankly has a record of hating them. That means that Obamacare will thrive and perhaps even extend to include many of Clinton's failed policies she proposed as First Lady when Bill Clinton was president. That means our 2nd amendment rights will suffer assault after assault over the next four years. That means our US borders will remain dangerous to our citizenry and Immigration Reform will continue to hopelessly hobble along without redress since established Washington bureaucrats—both Democrat and Republican—won't do anything that either "offends" their political constituents or abrupts their special interest deals.
Thus, knowing how predictable Hillary Clinton and her administration will undoubtedly be, for the life of me, I cannot understand how Anyabwile believes his stated premise to be sound—"I prefer the predictable over the unpredictable." For me, that's like saying I'd rather drive my truck to New Orleans from Fort Smith than I would a loaner from the repair garage because my truck is so bad it's bound to break down.
Whatever the merits of voting for Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump, supposing merits exist, I'm afraid Thabiti Anyabwile offers us really nothing to consider. In fact, if this position is the position of The Gospel Coalition, then the young, restless and reformed as a whole have a lot of catching up to do so far as addressing political issues is concerned.
1Anyabwile addresses the "third party" candidate in his piece but that's mostly irrelevant for purposes here.
2I must concede I remain entirely skeptical of sufficient reasons actually existing which could make Clinton more politically palatable than Trump in line with Conservatism principles. Nonetheless, I invite someone--anyone--to state their case and offer evidence to substantiate their claim.
3I think Trump's excessive Corporate experience might assist him as president since he's personally created thousands of jobs and run billion dollar businesses. But "cons" could also be considered here.