Over 10.9 million Americans have already cast a ballot for Donald Trump. That’s his count of popular votes as of the West Virginia primary (May 10) and it sets a record for any modern Republican nominee. Nonetheless, 10.9 million is still a small percentage of the American electorate (0.05% of all eligible voters and 0.07% of all registered voters.) Neither is it the majority of Republican votes cast during the primaries. In other words, more Republicans voted for Trump’s opponents than they did for him. Cruz, Kasich and Rubio—the only other state winners—amassed 14.6 million votes.
Now we are told that Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, which means that many more million Americans will end up casting a vote for Trump come November. Some of these will be like the 10.9 million who’ve already voiced their approval: they are some shade of true believer. There is something they genuinely like about the Trump brand. Like the rest of us, they cannot accurately describe what Trump means by a restored American greatness, nor how exactly he will accomplish this, mainly because Trump himself either doesn’t know or is craftily withholding policy details. Such is the power of a brandmaster: you can slap a Nike swoosh™ on two plastic grocery bags and some people will hand over their money for the privilege of wearing them on their feet. If we are honest, what some of these true believers unashamedly like about the Trump brand is what Scripture would identify as racism, sexism, bigotry, xenophobia, greed, violence and narcissism. As M. Scott Peck famously taught us, we are naïve if we think there are not The People of the Lie living among us.
Not all Trump true believers are fascists, and not all potential Trump voters will be true believers. In the months leading up to the election, The Liberator Today wants to respectfully address just one type of potential Trump voter, one that we might call Honest Republicans with a Significant Dilemma. As in elections past, they genuinely desire to participate in our democratic process by voting, and they hope to uphold cherished Republican values as they understand them. Those who are additionally followers of Christ Jesus hope to cast a vote which will somehow honor Him. The primary season allowed them to cast just such a vote, but now the general election ballot seems to have cut off all options.
Option #1: Vote for Trump? (No thanks, go to Option #2).
Option #2: Vote for Hillary? (No way, go to Option #3).
Option #3: A second look at Trump as possibly the lesser of two evils? (Hmm. Go back to Option #1).
To understand what’s at stake in this dilemma, it’s helpful to try another possible label. Some of these voters could be called Not Trump, but Trump Voters. This is from a particular rationalized formula which I’ve already heard some Honest Republicans try on for size even this week in response to Bust the Ballot. For example, I have heard:
“I’m not really voting for Trump, I’m just voting for the person that the Republican Party decides to nominate.” (The voting machine can’t compute such nuance on the Presidential ballot. You voted for Donald J. Trump.)
“I’m not really voting for Trump, I’m voting against Hillary.” (I understand what you are trying to say, but, nope, you voted for Donald J. Trump.)
“I’m not really voting for Trump, I’m voting for the appointment of conservative Supreme Court justices over the next four years. (The Constitution doesn’t make provision for a SCOTUS election; you too voted for Donald J. Trump.)
In other words, the ballot of a Not Trump, but Trump Voter will look exactly the same as that of a true believer no matter how much an individual might protest otherwise. If these potential Trump voters go ahead and vote for Trump in November, they will pick up the label Republicans Who Rationalized. They will have found a way to medicate their conscience long enough to pull the lever for someone of Trump's character and competence. They will have good company, Chris Christie for example, but they will also share Christie’s shame. For now though, these potential Trump Voters are Honest Republicans with a Significant Dilemma, or possibly Republicans Who are Tempted to Rationalize. In the next weeks and months, The Liberator Today hopes to look at each of these rationalizations, including the Supreme Court nominations one which seems to weigh heavily on Democrats and Republicans alike. (In a personal note, I also hope to speak to my youngest daughter who last Sunday came home from Middle School Youth Group and announced, “I don’t want to go to church anymore.” Why? her mother asked. Because the other kids told her, “But you HAVE to vote for Trump; he’s a Christian.”)
The prevailing proverb, the word to the wise, will be: “If you pick up one end of the stick, you pick up the other end too.” Last week, I gained some understanding of where this proverb came from. I was working in the garden over at our old house and stooped down and picked up a small branch that had fallen off the crab apple tree. The one end of the stick was innocuous enough, but the other end was buried under some dirt and straw and was teeming with red ants. I threw the branch on the brush pile, tore off my gloves, and frantically brushed the ants off my bare arms. They left their sickly sweet pheromone smell all over my forearm.
If you pick up the end of the Trump stick labeled “Republican nominee,” that end of the stick will seem familiar and reassuring to you, I’m sure. It will feel like Reagan, and a pro-life platform, and small government—but the other end of the stick will be racist, sexist, bigoted, xenophobic, greedy, violent and narcissistic.
If you pick up the end of the Trump stick labeled “Anti-Hillary,” that end of the stick will likely make sense to you. It will feel like the mid-1990’s again. It might even be calculable in terms of the Electoral College, particularly if you live in a swing state. But the other end of the stick is a rejection of what is comparably honorable in a Hillary Clinton, including having a President in office who has some experience in the White House Situation room. All questions of experience aside, the other end of the Trump stick will still be racist, sexist, bigoted, xenophobic, greedy, violent and narcissistic.
If you pick up the end of the Trump stick labeled “He calls himself a Christian” or “He calls himself Pro-Life,” you pick up the other end of the stick which contains his understanding of what it means to be Christian or Pro-Life. If you pick up the end of the Trump stick labeled Supreme Court nominator, you must come to grips with history’s track record that fascist leaders choose fascist justices.
Leave the Trump stick on the ground, O honest voter. You are free NOT to vote for him.
Update on Bust the Ballot:
· It is good to vote.
· You are NOT bound to vote for whom the Democrats and the Republicans tell you.
· It is an evil to have to vote for the lesser of two evils.
· Register to vote (perhaps as unaffiliated)
· When you vote for President, WRITE IN the name of a candidate of your choice—but with this twist: write in whom you want to see run and win in 2020.
· Recruit ten other people to participate in Bust the Ballot.
For more information, read the blog (May 9) immediately below.
One complicating factor to investigate: apparently six states—Hawaii, Nevada, South Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Louisiana—do not allow any Presidential write-ins. A reader wrote in and notified us that in Kansas, the home state of many The Liberator Today readers, "A write-in candidate for the presidency must file an affidavit of candidacy in order to have his or her votes counted. This form must be filed with the secretary of state by 12:00 p.m. on the second Monday preceding the general election." (Kansas Statues, Section 25-305b.) The editor had actually written the Kansas Secretary of State’s office back in January requesting information about whether there is even space on the ballot for write-ins, regardless of whether they are publicly tabulated, but received no reply. State by state investigations seem required, and may lead to action on this reader’s added suggestion: “What about a committee effort to make sure such a line exists on the ballot this fall?”
One story of an Honest Republican with a Significant Dilemma:
A friend was approached by his father, “I don’t know what to do. I can’t vote for Trump or Hillary.” The friend suggested his dad read the Bust the Ballot explanation. “Okay, I know who I’m going to write in,” he said after reading it, “Charles Beasley.” Beasley was the 113th Governor of South Carolina, a Republican who was voted out of office, it was reported, because he was the first to remove the Confederate battle flag from off the capitol dome. It is unfortunate, as mentioned above, that South Carolina is one of the states that doesn’t currently allow Presidential write-ins, because this father might also want to consider Bob Inglis, the South Carolinian Congressman, also a Republican, who lost his seat to a Tea Party candidate who denied climate change. Both Beasley and Inglis subsequently received the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage award. That’s one of the joys of Bust the Ballot: I look forward to hearing the stories of honorable and courageous men and women, many of them unknown or beaten down, who truly deserve to hold public office. Thank you for the positive, hopeful responses.