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Clarifying the Message of #NeverTrump

no_trump_button-rea154d61de824c65a97ac0a0589807c1_x7j3i_8byvr_324Tomorrow is Super Tuesday. It is not the day the nomination will be decided. But the time is rapidly approaching where delegates will begin to be awarded on a winner take all basis, and support for more of the candidates will begin to dwindle. It is a day that has an impact on the days that lie ahead of it. There were several thoughts I had in mind tonight to write about but this seemed the most fitting as my fellow Americans in 14 states will go to a caucus or primary to make their preference for the 2016 GOP nominee. I have watched these past few days as several people like Erick Erickson and Steven Deace and Senator Ben Sasse have come out to publicly to state they will not ever pull the lever for Trump. This sentiment has not been just seen from prominent names either. The hashtag created began trending across platforms. And the sentiment was already rolling across my Facebook feed and solidifying in my own heart well before anyone added a # before a mashed up word.

So this message is for all the fans of Donald Trump, who seem to have misunderstood the message. I want to clarify a few points that you may want to keep in mind before you head out to the polls over these next couple of weeks.

  1. We’re just mad and gonna throw our vote away because our candidate didn’t win

What I have not seen is a consensus from people on who they are supporting. Or any indication that they will refuse to vote for anyone other than their own candidate. What I have seen is people from across the spectrum, many not typically involved in political discourse, express the conviction that they will not ever vote for Mr. Trump. Not in a primary, not in a general. It isn’t about our candidate losing. I will tell you right now, I support Ted Cruz. I am deeply conservative and Christian in my values. And if Ben Carson, Marco Rubio or even John Kasich gets the nomination (and that by the way is my order of preference at this point) I will go to the polls in November and vote for the Republican nominee for President. The only way I will not do so is if Mr. Trump is the nominee. I am not the only one who feels that. It is not about my candidate winning or losing. It is about my country losing if I vote for either Mr. Trump or the Democrat nominee.

2. You may not believe we’ll do it

You probably think in your heart of hearts that this is simply the heat of battle talking. That when it all shakes out, and your guy wins, everyone else will come around because we all know Mrs. Clinton or Senator Sanders would be a disaster for this nation. On that, we do indeed all agree. The trouble is, most of us who have come to the conclusion that we cannot ever, under any circumstance, in good conscience, vote for Mr. Trump are the same people you stood side by side with back in mid-November of 2008. You remember, after we held our nose and voted for John McCain because the GOP told us we had to to stop President Obama and the demise of Western Civilization as we know it? Many of us promised ourselves never again would we hold our nose and vote for the lesser of two evils. Many of us joined some form of grass roots Tea Party or 9/12 Movement. We marched. We rallied. We fought tooth and nail. And we delivered a wave victory that shifted Congress and the Senate to Republican control two years later.

The Gadsden flag

The Gadsden flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We were the same people who stood beside you in 2012, where the Republicans still managed to keep the Senate and House, and the conservative movement still managed to elect more grass roots conservatives. But, where we lost the White House once again. Because a lot of those people you stood beside in 2008 could not bring themselves to see Mitt Romney as anything but a lesser evil. Some of us could at least look at him, and look at President Obama, and recognize not a conservative in Romney but a man who at least held to some faith that was similar to our own. Held to some value system in his personal life that was similar to our own. And held to some political ideals that were not as conservative as we might have liked, but were consistent. An estimated 3.5 million “evangelical” voters stuck by their convictions of 2008, and stayed home. And once again, in an election that should have been a slam dunk after the first four years of the Obama Administration, was lost.

Those of us who will never vote for Mr. Trump are faced with a far worse choice than in 2012 where we could at least see something redeeming in Mr. Romney. And much like many in 2008, that sense of never again voting to satisfy the GOP solidified within many more of our hearts. The trouble with 2008 and 2012 is that those of us who felt that way about the front runners at the time did not make our voices heard until it was too late. All we, and our fellow Republicans, were left with was the defeat that followed because there was no other recourse. You, my dear friends and fellow Republicans are being given the opportunity to avoid that fate. Because here is the truth, not once in all of the conversations I have been in and observed, not once in all of the articles I have read, has the case been made by you, the Trump supporters, why it would not be a violation of our conscience to vote for this man. The only argument has been the same as the GOP has always made. You have to vote for him because otherwise Hillary (or Bernie for the idealistically optimistic) will win. I’m sorry. Do you really think we’ll be swayed by you with the reasoning we will no longer accept from the GOP?

3. You can’t make your case to Conservative/Constitutional voters

I get that you’re on fire for Donald Trump. I get that to you, your reasoning is sound. And honestly, I won’t try to dissuade you of your opinion. We are all entitled to our opinions. But what I have seen from those supporting Trump is a different set of priorities than most conservative/constitutional voters have. Your priorities are focused on kicking ass and taking names. They are focused on his success as a businessman. They are focused on his promises of forcing other countries to respect us, or at least fear us again. They are focused on his willingness to be crass and in your face. They are focused on winning (we’ll come back to that). I get the appeal.

Conservative/Constitutional voters are focused on other things. They are focused on limited government. They are focused on restoring integrity to the system. The are focused on restoring the Constitutional limitations on power and protecting the rights of the people equally, rather than based on which special class you fall into. They are focused on decreasing government spending and cleaning up or cleaning out the tax code. Yes, immigration is important to them. But as part of a larger picture. Yes, the economy is important to them. But as part of a larger picture. In other words, they’re looking at the whole forest, and Mr. Trump seems to be focused on chainsawing a few of the trees.

With his inconsistency on positions, and his role in getting several prominent Democrat politicians elected over the years that have been a thorn in the side of the conservative movement for decades, you will never make the case to conservative voters that they can cast a vote for Mr. Trump with any confidence that he will not demolish the movement they have painstakingly worked to nurture and grow these past seven years or more with his candidacy in the general.

4. You cannot make the case to Christian voters

And I am not talking about “evangelicals.” I am talking about the 65% of American Christian that consider religion to be “very important.” I know that number is down a lot from past years, but it’s still a pretty big chunk of the country. When you throw in some of the other people of face, outside mainline denominations and non-denoms, that number goes up. These people, at least to some extent take their Bible seriously. And while not all of them are Bible scholars, some of the are liberal in their worldview, and a whole host of other things, when it comes right down to it. Mr. Trump’s public demeanor, while proclaiming himself to be Christian, does not sit well with most of us.

This is a man who’s name is still associated with casinos and strip clubs. Two things frowned upon in most denominations. His past is filled with rude comments about all manner of people, often to their face, and as often behind their back. And nothing in his present indicates that’s changed. He has lied outright about his opponents in this race, and has threatened them with court action on a regular basis. Nothing in his demeanor indicates that would not become more than threats given more power. He has boasted of his conquests both physically and financially often. And he has recently, and publicly, rejected the notion that he needs forgiveness from God, instead claiming all he needs to do is live a good life and that he has. That is just a small sampling. And hear me, I am not trying to convince you that Mr. Trump is the devil incarnate. I am not trying to convince you that he is not a Christian. I am not even trying to convince you that he is a bad man.

What I am saying is that by proclaiming himself to be a Christian and behaving in such a fashion in his public life, he has made it impossible for many Christians to vote for him in good conscience. Because they would be lending their approval to a man they do not see as humbly seeking God’s mercy and grace as a very public face of Christianity. While it is entirely true that we are not electing a “pastor in chief,” it is nevertheless incumbent on Christians to only appoint leaders, when they are claiming to be Christian, who are not actively and publicly pursuing and promoting sinful behavior. What I am saying is that while I am not trying to convince you that he is not whatever it is you believe him to be, you will NEVER be able to convince those Christians like myself and so many others that he sets an example we want to world, and our children, to look to when they think of Christians. You will never convince us that he is a Christian who values his faith and his God above the world.

5. You’re focused on winning

So back to your reasons for supporting Mr. Trump in the primaries this season. You’re tired of losing. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico. We lose to ISIS. We lose. You want to win again. So you want to vote for the guy who says he can make America win again. Again, I get the appeal.

Here’s the problem. In 2012 3.5 million people stayed home because they would not vote for a man of stable convictions (if not conservative convictions) and a man who did not share their faith. Here in 2016, we are faced with a choice in the Democrat primary of Bernie Sanders, a very old, militant, avowed socialist and Hillary Clinton, a very old, cheated on spouse who is under investigation for the email thing, presided over the death of one of our Ambassadors and whose policies as Secretary of State set our relations with Russia, China and the Middle East back almost to the Cold War Era. That’s not even touching on her philandering husband, and all the scandals that she played a significant role in all the way back to their time in Arkansas.

You have a field of five remaining candidates. One of them a complete political outsider. One of them a radical conservative who has only been in DC since 2012 and has spent the entire time pissing off the Republican establishment and the Democrats you’re are so angry at by vocally fighting for the principles and the policies you say you want. I get your disenchantment with Rubio, and honestly I’d rather not vote for him either. But the only area of disagreement I really have with him is immigration, and when it comes right down to it, it’s the Congress and Senate that are gonna have to clean up that mess, not the President.

I, and most of my fellow Conservatives and Christians, can vote for any of the other four, even Kasich if we really had to. Yet you insist on supporting the one candidate that many of the people you have fought beside for all these years cannot vote for. You have selected the one candidate that has more skeletons in his closet than Mrs. Clinton does just waiting for the media to pull them out and parade them before all those voters you rail about every election season that only get their news from MSNBC and CNN.

It’ll be more than 3.5 million who stay home this year if this man is the nominee. You want to win. You want America to win again. I really support you in that desire. How about you don’t pick the one guy sure to make us and America lose. I like Cruz, I’ll be voting for him tomorrow. I’ll keep supporting him for as long as I can. But, my Trump supporting friend, I don’t care who you vote for, and I will vote for anyone else who wins the GOP nomination primary. Just #NeverTrump. If he’s still your guy, the next four to eight years of Hillary or Bernie will be on your own head.

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