Latest news uncovering yet more of Donald Trump’s foolish and adulterous behavior has more than doubled the number of Republican members of congress who have refused to endorse their own party’s nominee, as of October 10th. But as principled Christians and conservatives who are concerned about the ever-compromising Republican Party over the past decade or more — this should be the most encouraging news of a lifetime.
Never before has there been a better time to finally return the backsliding Republican party of compromise back to actually following its principles. And never has there been such momentum behind a movement to do so. What it will take is a small group of 5-10 percent of Republican voters putting their foot down and saying “NO.” No to compromised and corrupt nominees, even if they might be a shred better than their opponent. That’s the only way the continual trend toward compromise will change — when politicians, leaders, and voters see that compromised candidates can’t win.
Think about it, many conservatives and Christians held their nose and voted “YES” for McCain in 2008, hoping for someone better in four years. But in 2012 they were faced with an even more liberal nominee, yet still voted for him because “at least Romney was better than Obama.” Now in 2016, we’re faced with Donald Trump — things aren’t getting better, because we keep voting for whoever the nominee is. However, while there was always a feeling of discouragement at the party picks, there was no #NeverMcCain hashtag, nor a popular “Never Romney” movement — instead, party leaders, and virtually every GOP elected official endorsed the Republican nominee. Loyalty to the party was the top virtue.
But in 2016, a new phenomena has arrived: the Never Trump movement. Finally, a group of voters (and notable leaders) are willing to say NO — and base their vote on principle, not party loyalty or fear. The NeverTrumpers were largely expected to disappear after the primary was over and Trump won the party nomination, but the movement continued and is growing.
Why is that so encouraging? Because principled voters are the only way to bring back principled candidates — and it only takes 5-10 percent of voters to do it. How so? Because most elections are won by less than 5 percent of the vote. That means if just 5-10% of voters said “you know what, here’s our minimum character standards for leaders we’ll vote for — If they don’t meet these bare minimum’s, we won’t vote for them — ever.” Guess what would happen? Party leaders — and those considering running for office — would know what they’d have to live up to in order to be vote worthy and win an election.
But there’s a problem with the Never Trump movement. Its group of malcontents only agrees on who they’re against. Never Trumpers have not united around and articulated a simple-to-understand set of principles as to WHY Trump is disqualified and unworthy of their vote. That means the only lesson to be learned from the election will be: Don’t nominate Donald Trump in the future. Instead, we should be seeking a general lesson for voters and the Republican Party to learn from, like: “Don’t even try to elect ANYONE who doesn’t meet these minimum standards — it won’t work. We won’t vote for them.”
But look at the current problem within the Never Trump movement. Just ask a NeverTrumper why they don’t support Donald and you’re almost guaranteed to hear a different reason every time. There is no united voice as to WHY Never Trump. Some call him “a liberal,” others say he’s “not a true conservative,” others say they can’t support him after he attacked Ted Cruz’s wife or said something else over-the-top, and others say he’s a liar who can’t be trusted.
But what is a “true conservative”? How far can a Republican leader compromise before he is labeled “a liberal” and not worthy of a vote? These are vague reasons and don’t serve as objective criteria that tell party leaders and politicians what the people actually demand of a leader both now, and in future elections. If we ever hope to get “someone better” in four years, we have to articulate what that person needs to look like — and most importantly — what our minimum standards are for who we’ll tolerate with our vote.
So what should our minimum standards be?
There’s some good news. A set of minimum standards are finally being articulated by the latest batch of leaders joining the Never Trump movement, and the focus is on character as the nonnegotiable standard.
The latest wave of high-profile leaders retracting their endorsement of Trump — including theologian Wayne Grudem — shows a return to character being the MINIMUM standard that absolutely, non-negotiably must be met in order for a candidate to receive a vote. Notice that these leaders had all previously endorsed Trump because of his policies or promises — but in the end, they had to drop their support because Donald Trump’s character could not be overlooked.
Character matters. Character should minimally qualify or disqualify a candidate before we even look at their policies. We can always add policy qualifications after minimum character standards are met, but the bare minimum has to be a focus on character.
Interestingly, putting character first as a standard for leaders is what we find in the Bible as well. In Exodus 18:21, Moses was given four simple — but absolutely crucial — qualifications for choosing leaders, and all of them deal with character instead of policy: “You shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders…” (Ex. 18:21)
The four qualification there are all simple enough that they don’t need any commentary to understand: Able men. Who fear God. Are men of truth. And who hate dishonest gain.
If you don’t like those minimum qualifications, it shouldn’t surprise you that we have incapable leaders who fear men, don’t keep their word, and who love bribes and backroom deals. These minimum standards are key, critical standards we need to look at before we even look at a candidate’s policy positions. The standards also aren’t too high that no one can meet — and they’re definitely much lower than the 17 qualifications the Bible lists for someone to be an elder or pastor (see Titus 1).
The qualities listed in Ex. 18:21 are all reflective of the top complaints everyone has heard about politicians: they’re just a bunch of lying, greedy, incompetent people, who will say anything to win an election.
How do you tell if a politician in lying? Sadly, the joke goes: “If their lips are moving.” Bribes and special interest money buying votes? Read about it daily. Incompetent leaders? We’ve all wondered how some people have made it into elected office. Pandering to get votes or engaging in backroom deals where “no one is looking”? Happens daily.
The four character standards in Exodus 18:21 get at the root of all those issues: we need leaders who are truthful, capable, and God-fearing — and they must show a hatred of bribes and dishonest gain. Don’t think they need to fear God? Think of all the shady backroom deals. It’s a good thing to know where a person’s convictions and values come from, and it’s good to know they realize they’ll be held accountable for what they do even when no one else is in the room.
Just in case you think Donald Trump might meet those four character qualifications, watch this 10-minute compilation of statements from Trump and then review the four qualifications again. (Click here for video)
So what do we do? Just let Hillary win??
No. We can remain principled in our votes and still keep Hillary in check.
Returning to a focus on character is the first step to returning to a party of principle and electing men of good character. This election, we can look at 3rd party candidates like Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party (who Glen Beck just endorsed), but more importantly, we need to focus on the nine US. senate seats in danger of being lost.
Did you know Democrats could very well take the Senate this year? If you’re wondering if anything could be worse than a Hillary Clinton presidency, it would be a Hillary presidency along with a Democrat-controlled Senate. The Senate is the only check on Hillary’s judicial appointments, since they have the power to confirm or reject the president’s supreme court nominations.
This is huge. If you’re in a moral dilemma about the presidential election but you’re concerned about the supreme court — don’t follow the liberal media focus on the white house. instead, focus on the Senate. Look up the nine toss-up Senate seats and find one or two that at least meet minimum character standards and support them with votes and prayer — or if you don’t live there, you can always donate to their campaign.
Your donation will also do MUCH more at the senate level, since the average senate seat costs about $10 million to win in 2012, while over $1 billion was spent to put Obama in the whitehouse. Arguably, that makes your donation to a US Senate race about 100x more effective.
So rather than torturing your conscience and throwing your vote away on a presidential candidate you don’t even like, recognize this election as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually “Make America Great Again.” A chance to return the Republican Party to its principles. A chance to finally turn the trend away from compromise and corruption.
Join the movement and take the opportunity this election presents to dump men of debased moral character and fully get behind electing men of good character. Pray that Trump will lose the white house by a landslide and serve as an example for future elections that men of dismal moral character have no place in office.
Answering 6 Objections
1. “You’ll never find a perfect candidate until Jesus returns.”
Agreed. But four basic qualifications are far from requiring perfection — in fact, they’re a quite low, bare minimum standard. Something a bit closer to perfection might be the significantly higher bar of 17 qualifications listed for a church elder in Titus 1. So unless you’re willing to claim that all pulpits are filled with unqualified, lying, money-grubbers who don’t fear God, you’ll have to agree there’s plenty of men today who meet (and exceed) the four basic qualifications to govern a nation.
But what happens when Christians lower the bar and vote for leaders who don’t even meet the bare minimum standard? Such corrupt leaders then become viable candidates and win elections. But the evangelical vote determines who will be viable. Every Republican politician and GOP strategist knows that in order to win an election, they MUST GET the evangelical vote. That means, we get the leaders we’re willing to tolerate with our vote. It also means, we’re responsible for the leaders we get, because our voting track record has proven to Republican leaders that evangelicals will vote for ANYONE — an adulterer, a Mormon, and now a professing Christian strip club owner whose third wife posed nude for a magazine. Clearly our vote is shouting loudly: character doesn’t matter.
What Exodus 18:21 means is that policy decisions about education and the economy can be disagreed on by well-meaning Christians. We can add policy criteria during a primary and select the best choice of qualified candidates. But we can’t compromise on critical character issues. We’ve got to return to a focus on character.
2. “But that command is in the Old Testament; it was just for Israel.”
While it’s true Old Testament dietary codes and Sabbath regulations are only seen being applied to Israel, when it comes to standards for civil rulers, we see God applying the same criteria to kings of ANY nation. Also, on the practical side, doesn’t it just makes sense that we’d like to see capable rulers that fear God rather than men, keep their word, and won’t be swayed by bribes? But a reasonable person might still ask: did God intend for those qualifications to be applied to all nations, or only to Israel?
Fearing God: “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.” (Psalms 2:10-11) All kings and judges of the earth are commanded to fear and serve God — not just those in Israel.
Hating dishonest gain: “A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding, But he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.“ – Proverbs 28:16 (also, Prov. 29:4). Again, hatred of unjust or dishonest gain is seen as applying to all leaders, not just those in Israel.
For the sake of brevity, we’ll skip the standards of selecting “able men of truth,” since no one would argue in favor of electing incapable liars to office. In other words, they’re standards that everyone accepts. We’re just arguing for two other standards to be added as a bare minimum: hating bribes and fearing God rather than man.
3. “There’s only two options for president, so we have to vote for the lesser evil.”
This just simply isn’t true. There’s at least five candidates running: Gary Johnson is running as a Libertarian, Darrell Castle is the Constitution Party nominee, and Jill Stein is the Green Party’s candidate.
4. “Not voting for Trump is the same as voting for Hillary.”
See article: No, Failing To Vote Trump Isn’t A Vote For Hillary
5. “Voting third party or not voting is just throwing away your vote.”
Throwing a vote away would be voting for a candidate who you can hardly stand, while living in a state where that candidate has literally zero chance of winning. In California, for example, Romney barely squeaked out a third of the vote: 37%. The pragmatist voter knows that all of California’s electoral votes will go to Hillary. Being that a Republican president won’t be winning California — it’s truly throwing your vote and your principles away to vote for Trump in California (and many other states.)
More importantly, history proves that while third parties don’t typically win, they DO swing elections, and they DO guide the major parties’ policies. See article for more: No, it’s not throwing your vote away to vote 3rd party; here’s proof
6. “This election is too critical to vote third party”
We do live in dangerous times. But fear-based voting for biblically unqualified candidates doesn’t help. Here’s an actual quote from a conservative email blast in 2012: “One presidential choice could plunge us quickly into a socialistic dictatorship…” And here’s another: “America is like a train going rapidly toward a cliff. The election of 2012 may determine if we fly off the precipice, or slow down enough to get the train turned around.” Sound familiar?
Pastor Voddie Baucham has addressed this quite well: “The past few elections, we’ve been told to swallow hard and accept a horrible candidate, or else the end would come…. Two things: first, we lost anyway. Second, the world didn’t end.”
If the goal is to turn the train around, we have to stop with failed rhetoric and start voting differently. This election is too critical to try more of the same failed tactics of compromise and fear.
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