I’ve come full circle on Trump. In 2016 I keyboard warrior-ed against Trump in the comments section of many Christian Post articles. If elected, I was skeptical that he would govern like a conservative. He certainly proved me wrong and so he won me over. By July 2020, I appealed in The Christian Post for all Christians to give him their vote. I had grown from a Never Trumper to a Trump supporter. Now I’m back where I started but wiser for the journey.
There are four reasons I believe we should not support Trump again.
First, Donald Trump lied to us. He didn’t win the 2020 election by “a landslide.” Some say it’s not a lie if you sincerely believe what you’re saying, you just don’t know it’s false. That’s not always true. In the law, there is the category of “should know.” If I accuse you of being a drug dealer and you sue me for defamation, I can’t say that I didn’t know you were a sober, law-abiding, Christian citizen. I should know that what I said was false before I said it.
Sure, there were weird signs and circumstances about the 2020 election, but as the evidence of widespread, massive fraud failed to materialize, Trump should have known that he hadn’t really won by a “landslide.” Even if it’s true that fraud robbed him of a victory, it would take massive, inconcealable fraud to cover up a landslide. He should have known that. Proverbs 12:22 says “The Lord hates lying lips…”. We should too.
Second, a good leader doesn’t lead his troops into a losing battle. He first counts the costs and if there’s no chance of a victory, then the troops won't be sent into wage war. A good leader doesn’t make his soldiers sacrifice for naught. George Washington was famous during much of the Revolutionary War for retreating when he knew he couldn’t win. He was a responsible leader. Even if Trump clung to the claim of winning, he had to know that by the time the electoral college votes were counted on December 14, 2020, he had no chance of changing the result. The idea that Congress or Vice President Pence could refuse to certify the result was ridiculous.
Even if Congress or Pence had returned the electoral college votes to the states, the states would have merely sent them back. Trump’s gambit of being “strong,” and fighting “like hell” was always a no-win proposition. But he led his troops into that losing battle and Ashli Babbit was literally killed.
Third, President Trump was unfaithful. In a September 10 CP article, I appealed to Christians to forgive his past unfaithfulness to his mates. But on January 6, Trump was unfaithful to his running mate. Mike Pence served Trump well. In the last few weeks of the 2016 campaign, the horrible “Access Hollywood” tape came out with Trump blathering lewdly. If Pence had abandoned ship and said that he was unable to support such a man, Trump likely would have been sunk. Trump owed Pence a great debt. Throughout Trump’s term, Pence was loyal. Trump repaid that loyalty by publicly betraying Pence, attacking him as lacking “courage.” In Exodus 34:6, the Lord describes Himself as “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness”. How can we Christians support a candidate who is the opposite?
Fourth, Trump doesn’t deserve our future support because of his infantile ego. Even if he were convinced there was enough evidence to show that the election was stolen, by the time the electoral college met and numerous legal challenges had failed, he had to know that he had no chance of changing the outcome. At that point, I was still a Trump supporter. However, I wanted him to find a gracious way to transition to Biden and return to private life. I also hoped he would use his huge social media presence to challenge the Biden administration, lead a political revolution in Congress in 2022, win again in 2024 and come back to his second term with a supportive Congress.
His business life had been full of strategic retreats and legal bankruptcies in order to consolidate and regroup. He could have applied the same “Art of the Comeback” to his political career. But his megalomania made it impossible for him to admit even a temporary, apparent defeat and so he rushed headlong into a disastrous strategy of trying somehow, by some demented magical thinking, to overturn the results. Psychologists say that by age seven, most children start to grow out of magical thinking. But Trump thought that by sheer force of will, he could keep himself in the White House. Even if he can’t be held directly responsible for the riot through the Capital on January 6, 2021, his gambit of “stopping the steal” reveals a psyche akin to a spoiled kid who can’t understand that since it’s not his birthday, he doesn’t get gifts.
Finally, he can’t win. Trump always had a way of enflaming opposition. In 2016, few thought he could win and so some of the Trump-deranged sat out the election. They didn’t make that mistake in 2020, so even when he increased his votes, so many turned out against him and he lost. They’ll turn out against him again in 2024. The January 6, 2021 rampage turned even more moderates, who otherwise might be won by him, permanently against him. The result of his maniacal strategy is an increase in the ranks of the Never Trumpers. These last mid-term elections proved that. Conservative candidates who were not tied to Trump generally did well. Those joined at the hip to him, went down. So, nominating Trump in 2024 in hopes of furthering Christian values is as delusional as Trump’s plan to return the electoral votes to the senders.
Trump ends as a tragedy because he could have achieved so much more. Now, as we look to the future, we need to look for candidates who will learn from his successes but have looked beyond Trump.
John B. Carpenter (M.Div. Fuller Theological Seminary, Th.M., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Ph.D. Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago) is pastor of Covenant Reformed Baptist Church in Danville, VA. www.covenantcaswell.org.