I've previously written that evangelicals could not rationalize a vote for Trump from a Biblical or witness perspective (even before Trump bragged about sexual assault). I argued that while Trump was anathema, a Christian could justify a vote for a third party, not voting, or voting for Hillary Clinton.
I'm voting for Hillary. And according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos polling, evangelicals are split between Trump and Clinton.
I'm voting for Hillary because I've witnessed her faith in action first hand, because of her life of service dedicated to those Christ focused his attention on, and because — not in spite — of her emails. (And I think she'll do more to reduce abortion, which I've addressed at length already.)
I'll start with my personal experience with Hillary — then Sen. Clinton. My first job after divinity school was on the Senate Health Committee, and one of the two Senators I worked most closely with was Senator Clinton. She was kind and considerate to staff, cared deeply about getting the policy right, and was willing to work with Republicans to get things done.
I saw how often she'd turn to prayer and heard personal staff discuss with her on how key theologians might approach a decision … and how she wrestled with (and demanded her staff also ask) the difficult moral question of how to do the most good and serve God best in our deeply flawed political system.
And while Trump needs a teleprompter to correctly pronounce books of the Bible, Hillary is at her best when she is talking about her faith, God, and redemption off-the-cuff and without notes … because she's been doing it her whole life.
There are good and kind Christians on all sides of politics, but I truly became a Democrat after participating in behind-closed-doors committee negotiations with Hillary. Because to succeed in a negotiation, you need to know the lines you won't cross and what matters most to the guys on the other side of the table.
Democrats based our negotiating strategy on the knowledge that Republicans cared most about protecting the business's profits and corporate tax breaks. And everyone knew that Hillary's top priority was protecting and helping kids, and she'd never trade their well-being for something else.
That was the strategic truth both sides operated under as we negotiated bills, and it's what convinced me of the side I wanted to be on.
Now Hillary's far from perfect (and Democrats sure aren't!). Hillary is human and flawed. But while Trump claims he doesn't need God's forgiveness, Hillary has spoken often about seeking forgiveness from God and the importance of giving it to others.
Nevertheless, Hillary's painful experiences with how her words have been spun by opponents over the years often leaves her sounding cold, overly-cautious, and unrelatable. She has a blind spot to how her desire for privacy will be perceived by a media and public that demand complete access to her life as a candidate. And her drive to do the most good has made her a political pragmatist in an age where the media and voters increasingly demand ideological purity.
Which leads us to her emails. I've worked with heavily classified material at the Pentagon and Homeland Security, so I know how important it is to handle classified documents carefully. Hillary should have been more careful, and the private server was a mistake — one Hillary has apologized for (if not as soon as she should have).
But while not excusing that mistake, I'd ask we honestly assess the relative severity of Hillary's "server sin." The few classified documents on her server were the lowest level of classification, not properly marked as classified.
That doesn't make what she did right. But the calls to "lock her up" can't exist outside of the context of the admission by the Bush White House that it outed an active CIA operative as part of a political vendetta, and deleted 22 million emails relating to its political considerations involved in the lead up to the Iraq War. And during their relentless tax-payer funded effort to dig up dirt on Sec. Clinton, Republican House Members accidently disclosed the top secret location of an active CIA base in the Middle East and a CIA anti-terror source.
Hillary stored a handful of confidential documents (like call sheets to foreign diplomats and travel schedules) on a private server. That was careless and broke the rules. To many voters, the server embodies the secretive part of Hillary and willingness to bend the rules they don't trust. But we can't simply gather with stones around this woman without considering her sins in the context of those committed by past presidents (and her GOP prosecutors).
But most importantly, we shouldn't let the server distract us from one of the best reasons to vote for Hillary — her actual emails. Despite every conservative research and media group combing through their every word, hardly any of the news has been about what she actually wrote. Think about it. How many of us could have so many of our personal and professional conversations so scrutinized?
But the truly remarkable part of Hillary's emails wasn't the lack of a smoking gun. It was what we learned about the woman when we glimpsed behind the curtain to see how she treats others and what she prioritizes when she thought no one was watching. Remember the stuff Jesus said about praying in closed rooms and giving in secret — as opposed to on street corners? That private server is our modern equivalent of the secret, closed room where God says we'll be judged.
In that private room, Hillary engaged in daily devotions and scripture reading. She repeatedly showed deep personal concern for others and treated the powerful and the powerless with the same respect. There is a great summary of her private emails here, which speak volumes when compared to what Trump says and does when he thinks no one is watching.
What you read in Hillary's private emails is what I saw from the woman I knew as Senator Clinton. I believe it is what we will see from President Hillary Clinton. And it's why I'll be joining tens of millions of other evangelicals in voting for Hillary.