Move Over David Barton, Make Room for Eric Mataxas

Donald Trump has struck a nerve. Why even I had a hard time not thinking of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee when last week reviewing a book about nineteenth-century Protestantism in the U.S.

Trump is the nearest reason I can fathom for the pronounced attention Eric Mataxas has received from two prominent evangelical historians. Because Metaxas endorsed Trump, because evangelicals seem to be moving their support increasingly to Trump, and because evangelical historians identify with evangelicalism but evangelicals not as much, some professors may feel the need to create distance between their public persona and the larger evangelical feng shui.

Now it turns out that one of those historians has joined other historians in signing a letter opposing Trump’s candidacy. That same historian, John Fea (don’t mean to pick on you today, big fella), wonders about the intellectual chops of Metaxas when he writes that Metaxas’ book is “an intellectual mess” that demonstrates the ongoing validity of Mark Noll’s lament about the scandal of the evangelical mind.

What about the intellectual coherence of the historians who oppose Trump? They start this way:

Today, we are faced with a moral test. As historians, we recognize both the ominous precedents for Donald J. Trump’s candidacy and the exceptional challenge it poses to civil society. Historians of different specialties, eras and regions understand the enduring appeal of demagogues, the promise and peril of populism, and the political uses of bigotry and scapegoating. Historians understand the impact these phenomena have upon society’s most vulnerable and upon a nation’s conscience. The lessons of history compel us to speak out against a movement rooted in fear and authoritarianism. The lessons of history compel us to speak out against Trump.

Do these historians really want to invoke morality when it is evangelicals and the social conservatives who regularly complain about America’s moral decline? Invoke morality selectively? Like when it’s about professional duties but not about what happens sex happens. And is the work of historical understanding really a moral enterprise? Did we somehow go back to the days of the academic Protestant establishment when Jews and people of color were scarce on university and college campuses? Those were times when professors sometimes talked about morality.

But let morality go. What about the intellectual prowess that historians bring to assess Trump? What part of the past do these historians draw upon to show the dangers of populism (or even fascism)? I read the letter and I don’t see any — ANY!!! — historical references. Believe it or not, it’s all about Trump:

Donald Trump’s record of speeches, policies and social media is an archive of know-nothingism and blinding self-regard. Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is a campaign of violence: violence against individuals and groups; against memory and accountability; against historical analysis and fact.

The Trump candidacy is an attack on our profession, our values, and the communities we serve. No less than his sham “Trump University,” Donald Trump’s contempt for constructive, evidence-based argumentation mocks the ideals of the academy, whether in the sciences or the liberal arts. Academia is far from the only profession endangered by Trumpism. Donald Trump bullies and suppresses the press, and seeks to weaken First Amendment protections as President. Trump singles out journalists for attack and mocks physical disabilities. Both the judiciary and individualjudges face public threats from Trump. Non-white, non-male professionals and civil servants are irredeemably compromised in Donald Trump’s eyes.Judges are disqualified from service because of their ethnicity; women Presidential candidates succeed only because of their gender; the President of the United States is under suspicion as illegitimate and alien because of his skin color and heritage.

Those are all fair points. But it doesn’t take a Ph.D. or tenured job in history to notice those defects in Trump’s candidacy. So what gives? Why is Trump so much inside so many’s heads?

To John Fea’s credit, he tries to explain why he signed:

I signed this document because I believe that historians, as historical thinkers, have a LOT to offer when it comes to critiquing political candidates. The emphasis in the letter on evidence-based arguments, the respect for the dignity of all humanity, the importance of context, the uses of the past in political discourse, the commitment to a civil society (rooted, presumably, in the kind of empathy that historical thinking brings), and the very fact that making America great AGAIN is ultimately a statement about the past. Trump runs roughshod over all these things.

But all the letter says about context and evidence is to say that historians affirm that stuff and they do so in a not so self-deprecating way:

We interrogate and take responsibility for our sources and ground our arguments in context and evidence.

And if historians are so good at context, where have they been on the context for relations between blacks and police? It’s not like cop shootings and cops being shot has not been in the news.

Like I say, Trump changes everything (and I’m still not voting for him).


49 thoughts on “Move Over David Barton, Make Room for Eric Mataxas

  1. dgh—“Because evangelical historians identify with evangelicalism but evangelicals not as much, I read the letter and I don’t see any — ANY!!! — historical references.”

    mark—If there is a subset of “evangelical historians” who actually DO love Paula White and Billy and Franklin Graham, Don Dayton and D G Hart would not be in that subset. Hart is too sectarian and adventist (come Lord Jesus) to “identify with” evangelicalism.

    Oliver O Donovan —”If there is no religious test on the right to vote, or to have access to education or medical care, why should there be one on attending Mass and receiving communion, which is, after all, a source of satisfaction to religious temperaments and an important means of social participation? This conclusion, that the church should not be defined by belief, seems to me to follow rather obviously from the general refusal of ideology, though I do not know of anyone who has yet drawn it, except for the incomparable Simone Weil, who proposed, in her wartime tract The Need for Roots, that it should be prohibited to PUBLISH ANY OPINION ON ANY SUBJECT IN THE NAME OF A COLLECTIVE BODY. Any society defined by its belief was to be banned.”


  2. DGH, your point about Trump winding normally level headed people up is the most interesting part of the whole Trump phenomena. My contemporaries– who also came of age in the late 60’s– don’t seem to be immune. Even the most politically sophisticated among them– who have never had a particularly high opinion of the candidates our system tends to produce — are in utter despair.

    Like most anti-Trump pieces I see, the one produced by your colleagues is full of drive by comments and devoid of any sustained argument. Disappointing. How are we to distinguish between the perils and promises of populism? I would love to know. Back in the early 70’s, the chattering classes were fawning affectionately over the likes of Senators Fred Harris and Harold Hughes, who were said to be populists. They were Democrats. Any other distinguishing features (other than hair style)?

    It’s just an election.


  3. Trump’s rhetoric assaults folks who like to view themselves as intellectuals or even just thoughtful. But when you think about governing a country as large and diverse and globally entangled as ours and the personalities and various competencies and incompetencies of the people who came before him, outside of him turning into a true WWII era styled fascist(ideologue) which isn’t very likely, I’m not sure the current clown prince of politics would actually do more harm than a thoughtful, committed ideologue who was just wrong and dangerously committed to failed policies. Telling me a politician is a narcissist and dangerous is to indict the whole group.


  4. Dan, can’t remember the scholars I’ve heard on NPR, but even some are acknowledging that our political loyalties are much more tribal (people we know) than rational. Cannibals all.


  5. Like I say, Trump changes everything (and I’m still not voting for him).

    Where’s your sense of adventure? Given that my vote doesn’t count in my state, I’ll probably vote for him just to tweak my colleagues.


  6. Fish (as usual) is spot on. His take on academics and political activism is like an ivory tower version of 2k. Just as it is fine for a believer to opine on political issues (even while churches should avoid taking such stances), it is fine for academics to speak publicly on politics even while we should avoid doing so in the name of our expertise.


  7. dgh–Let selective morality go. Let morality go.

    God maybe might one day cover over Hilary’s sins but we are not God.

    Just because God has been gracious to us, does that mean we have to be gracious to public people? If we have to be gracious even to politicians, then that’s not grace to us but denies our religious freedom.

    “It is always the case that when the Christian looks back, he is looking at the forgiveness of sins.” – Karl Barth

    “The past is not dead. It is not even past.”–William Faulkner

    Job 14:13 If only You would hide me in Sheol
    and conceal me until Your anger passes.
    If only You would appoint a time for me
    and then REMEMBER ME

    14 When a man dies, will he come back to life?
    If so, I would wait all the days of my struggle
    until my relief comes.
    15 You would call, and I would answer You.
    You would long for the work of Your hands.
    16 For then You would count my steps

    17 My rebellion would be sealed up in a bag,
    and You would COVER OVER my iniquity.


  8. Where were all you people who won’t vote for Trump during the primary season? Did you put forth similar effort for any other candidate? Any round-robin letters? Any working for the candidate? Make no mistake, not voiting for Trump is voting for Hilary Clinton. Among other things, it means putting an “extraordinarily careless” (per the FBI) finger on the nuclear trigger. We are, as Calvin noted, being punished for our sins by getting a terrible president. It’s not all that obvious that Trump is the worse.


  9. “The best case for Christianity, then, is not the coherence and comprehensiveness of its worldview. Jesus Himself is the most persuasive case for Christianity.” –Gregory A. Clark, “The Nature of Conversion: How the Rhetoric of Worldview Philosophy Can Betray Evangelicals,” in The Nature of Confession: Evangelicals & Postliberals in Conversation, eds. George A. Lindbeck, Timothy R. Phillips, and Dennis L. Okholm (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 218.

    Rodney Clapp—The postliberal critique does not challenge only mainline churches . U.S. evangelicalism, as post-9/11 and Iraq 2003-to-present events have all too painfully confirmed, has been deeply captive to its American cultural identity… Consider the dangers of subordinating Christian to national allegiance.

    John Howard Yoder, “Religious Liberty and the Prior Loyalty of the People of God”

    Tony Jones–Hauerwas thinks that the church should be a counter-polis, a self-enclosed system that can serve as a model to secular systems (governments, corporations, etc.).”

    no. Hauerwas would NEVER use “self-enclosed” . There is no place to retreat to..


  10. DGH, tribal applies to me, and as you know I freely acknowledge that in religion and politics. But I learned in a junior year class in political behavior back around 1970 that it applied to enough voters that you could pretty much make book on it. Are your colleagues so unhinged that they think they are somehow exempt?


  11. Dan Reuter: “Make no mistake, not voiting for Trump is voting for Hilary Clinton. ”

    No, it isn’t. If I write in a candidate, that is who I’m voting for.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A side point is that I think I knew David Barton when he was in college. A main point is that critiques of Trump by historians just might motivated by self interests/preservation whereas there is no such need to offer analysis on the issues mentioned above


  13. 1) ‘evangelicals’ foremost job at this time : A Call to Prayer: First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority 1 Tim 2:1-2

    2) The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes. Prov 21:1

    3) “The president of the United States, thankfully*, is not the king of the United States.” (*to the Lord)


  14. “We are living in the Truman Show.”
    – Andrew Klavan

    My theory is that we have a mostly elitist, socialist woman running against an elitist liberal Democrat. Fun times. What does populist even mean anymore?


  15. Dan Reuter says:
    July 18, 2016 at 7:31 pm
    Make no mistake, not voiting for Trump is voting for Hilary Clinton. >>>>

    Exactly! Those are the only two choices. So, Trump it is.


  16. So, Dan, punishment for sin really isn’t fulfilled in Jesus? His fingers were crossed when he said those words? There’s more to be hashed out in this provisional life? And it’s politically based? You’re watching too much 700 Club.



  17. Ariel, have you forgotten the legitimacy of abstention, as in call me fussy, but you all need to go back to square one and return to me better options? But I do wonder if the default Trump-a-teers realize that virtually every criticism they have about Clinton could be laid against Trump? For example, “She’s a liar!” Um, hello.


  18. I think a reasonable and moral case can be made for Hillary, which makes the case for Trump irrational and immoral in light of it; you only need to appeal to common knowledge and bring up DT’s torture support, interest in the murder of the families of terrorists, military control, the decision making on weapons, etc. Unfortunately, many Christians are blind to things beyond abortion and gay marriage and just rubber stamp things at times (two issues their guy probably doesn’t care about like them). I’m sure I’ll hear he doesn’t mean it and can’t really do much harm, but Hillary Clinton should be believed and will do much harm; they’ll say she is a committed ideologue, while liberals will be complaining of Hillary’s lack of commitment to liberal values.

    And let’s be honest, the unhinged thinking of the common Republican voter is worse when compared to academics. They are the ones with guns and the willingness to use them against the gov’t, and I’m sure on some of us as well. Academics tend not to have guns, unless they are at a conservative school or seminary.


  19. MWF:
    “Make no mistake, not voiting for Trump is voting for Hilary Clinton. >>>>

    Exactly! Those are the only two choices. So, Trump it is.”

    In 1980, pundits predicted that Ronald Reagan’s failure to unite the Republican party would, due to thet 3July 18, 2016 at 7:31 pm
    Make no mistake, not voiting for Trump is voting for Hilary Clinton. >>>>

    Exactly! Those are the only two choices. So, Trump it is.”

    Well, no. Jill Stein is running on the Green Party ticket, the same party label that Ralph Nader ran on and likely cost Al Gore the Presidency. Gary Johnson and Bill Weld are running on the Libertarian ticket, and while it is early days, some analysis of polling data shows HRC runs worse when they are included.

    Not sure what the history department would say, but the political science department says that recent 3rd party candidates have had an impact on Presidential elections in ways that are counterintuitive I think the consensus would be:.
    (1) George Wallace took more votes away from Humphrey than Nixon in 1968, but Nixon and the insiders in his campaign were scared to death that Wallace would cost them the election:

    (2) in 1980, John Anderson hurt Jimmy Carter more than he did Reagan, actual!Y by a lot, even though all the pundits said that Reagan’s failure to unite the GOP would be fatal;

    (3) Ross Perot took about the same number of votes from Clinton as he did Bush in 1992, though to this day Bush is convinced Perot cost him re-election.

    As someone who will likely, but not certainly, vote for Trump, I would encourage everyone to vote for whoever they want to without worrying about it too much, though vigorous, peaceful, debate is fine.


  20. “I think a reasonable and moral case can be made for Hillary”
    Reasonable perhaps, but probably not moral. Amoral, definitely.

    “which makes the case for Trump irrational and immoral in light of it”
    Why would a reasonable case for Clinton entail that the case for Trump is irrational and immoral? Is she just that good?

    “you only need to appeal to common knowledge and bring up DT’s torture support, interest in the murder of the families of terrorists, military control, the decision making on weapons, etc.”
    Has Clinton definitively ruled out these things? I suspect not given her past record as a hawk. Perhaps framing things a bit more carefully, but we are likely to see more of this kind of thing regardless of who is president, SECURITY!!!!

    “Unfortunately, many Christians are blind to things beyond abortion and gay marriage and just rubber stamp things at times (two issues their guy probably doesn’t care about like them).”
    And others just like to stereotype people they disagree with.

    “I’m sure I’ll hear he doesn’t mean it and can’t really do much harm, but Hillary Clinton should be believed and will do much harm; they’ll say she is a committed ideologue, while liberals will be complaining of Hillary’s lack of commitment to liberal values.”
    No chance they can both be right can they? Maybe on economic issues she really is in the pocket of Wall Street and we’ll see more abuse of the H1B visa program as we have seen at Disney and in Silicon Valley? Meanwhile, on the sexual revolution front, she is a committed ideologue?

    “And let’s be honest, the unhinged thinking of the common Republican voter is worse when compared to academics.”
    You know that how? My academic colleagues are not exactly paragons of temperance and balance when it comes to politics. I mean, they were ready to compromise and pull the lever for Bernie, but now it is all Jill all the time.

    “They are the ones with guns and the willingness to use them against the gov’t, and I’m sure on some of us as well.”
    Speaking of unhinged…. you really believe “the common Republican voter” is ready to use their guns against the gov’t? Really?

    “Academics tend not to have guns, unless they are at a conservative school or seminary.”
    When did UCLA and Northwestern become conservative schools?


  21. Zrim, yes, but I’m aware of a history of her lying while in public office. IOW, she’s already broken through those thresholds and gotten away with it(emboldened not chastised, she actually criticized the FBI’s findings even though they failed to find ground to prosecute). This other self-serving liar(The Donald) has a higher threshold level that I can rely on(theoretically). Of course he’s so narcissistic as to possibly not have a baseline threshold level worth taking into account. Of course that possibility would seem to be just as readily applied to Hillary AND it comes buttressed with concrete examples of her misdeeds as Secretary of State. This is certainly a magical time.


  22. In all fairness, I don’t think a moral case can be made for either major party candidate in this election. The evidence for personal integrity on either part isn’t glowing. Say what you want about Obama, Bush, Romney, McCain, Gore, at least you don’t get the sense that any of them were lying with a straight face to you even when they might have been guilty of bending the truth.

    I’m pretty sure a reasonable case doesn’t exist for either of them, either. If you are a conservative, you might pick Trump on the off chance that he’d pick some good judges, but that’s a big bet given the history of his positions and how he doesn’t really care all that much about push back. Not a safe bet in any case. If you are a liberal, you might pick Hillary because you know that she’s not as conservative as the right, but if you care about any liberal causes besides the sexual revolution, you are going to be out of luck.

    So you have any number of third-party candidates you could vote for. Or you could not vote for president at all. We might have a much healthier body politic if we could get past this notion that you must vote for someone who has a “chance” or your vote is being thrown away.


  23. Sdb,
    I say that because my vote is primarily motivated by how bad DT is, which is followed by a comparison of the main two candidates; it’s relative to the time and people involved. So I think DT is incredibly bad, but then I proceed to think of how each compares in certain areas. I’m sort of like P.J. O’Rourke; he endorsed Hillary and all her lies. I don’t pretend she is wonderful, nor say that her past behavior is honorable. But I’m not a Clinton hater like many Republicans that are just absolutely against anything with the name Clinton. I’m attempting to reasonably deal with what is presented to me.

    Not saying Hillary hasn’t ruled out things DT has advocated is like asking me if I have ruled out perhaps committing adultery if I ever marry. Sure she may engage bad acts, but she has not advocated for it like DT, nor does she have the kinds of supporters and party that have defended such behavior. As Paul quoted from one pagan, “bad company corrupts good customs.” I think DT and his white nationalists supporters corrupt good customs among Republicans when it comes to the treatment of innocent Muslims in general, the families of terrorists, etc. Aside from that, his praises of dictatorial leaders has not really given me comfort. Nor is it pleasant to see antisemites retweeted by a presidential candidate, nor be around them when they go after people like Ben Shapiro and other Jews.

    I don’t think the issues of abortion and marriage having the greatest influence over Christians is an inaccurate generalization; it doesn’t fit everyone, but it’s so prevalent from experience as to be unreasonable to ignore.

    Another morally based reason based reason for opposition comes from experience. I know that the mentality of soldiers can range from the downright disgusting and horrific to the honorable. For the horrific, they would not think twice of committing immoral acts if their commanders gave the explicit or implicit command/approval of such behavior. For the honorable, being in a position of committing an atrocity tortures the mind and moves you to leave. If you want to help create an environment where the honorable see it as necessary to leave because DT thinking prevails, and they will be possibly put in situations where they may be asked/commanded to do evil, then vote for DT like thinking. Put them in a position where they will be forced to disobey. My experiences left me feeling sick, and I would want someone helping to resist that bad mentality that leads to evil behavior if I were in uniform.

    Okay, let me alter that statement about the common Republican voter. The common Republican voter that owns guns and has stated their defense of the 2nd ammendment in part by relying on using arms to resist the gov’t is a cause for concern. If they see their gov’t as a threat (Obama adm.), they view it as reasonable and honorable to resist the gov’t by force if necessary (Cliven Bundy et al.). That will involve bearing arms against police and soldiers.

    I actually don’t want to vote, and I tried to take time and give some thought in my reply. I spent too much time on this, but I didn’t want to come across like a drive-by. I would prefer to stay home in Nov., which I plan to do if there is no DT on the ballot.


  24. “If you don’t vote for the Trump, you are voting for the WoMan.”
    Bad pool, old chap. If you vote for x, and x ruins Everyrhing, you are partly culpable. If you vote for x and y gets elected and ruins Everything, you get to buy the ‘ don’t blame me, I voted for x’ bumper sticker.


  25. Your point about the dilemma DT could cause for military morale is well taken. An acquaintance from the health club I frequent is a recently retired Army Colonel, and he vehemently believes Trump is a threat to the core values that the American military is, on its beat days, committed to. He is by no means a liberal, and for most of his life has not voted, but he will vote for HRC. If I did not think there were ample institutional safeguards in place, including impeachment, to keep him from giving blatantly unconstitutional orders, he would have convinced me.


  26. Regarding the original topic of this post:

    “At the outset, let me say that I shall offer here no policy recommendations. Unlike the 400 historians who signed a recent statement in The New York Times and which we have heard about today, I recognize that historians have no more qualifications for advising statesmen on current issues than do, say, plumbers or radiologists. Our province is the past, not the present, and the past is what I, for one, am qualified to talk about.” (Forest McDonald, Hearing of the Subcommittee on the Constitution—‘‘Background and History of Impeachment’,” November 9, 1998)


  27. @Carey Roberts, good catch That Forrest McDonald was outnumbered 400-1 leads me to believe that DGH’s tribal explanation is utterly comprehensive.


  28. ” Cliven Bundy” yeah, as representative of typical 2a-centric voters as the Dallas sniper is of blm. If you want to vote with a clear conscience go Gary or Jill. But perhaps in the interest of peace with your fellow countrymen, consider the possibility that rational and moral people may have sound reasons for voting Trump even if you ultimately disagree with their judgment.


  29. Dan, and the tribal angle makes evangelical historians an arresting curiosity. If you ever get a chance to listen to Glenn Loury’s podcast with Steven Teles about Glenn’s evolution (January 2016 at Bloggingheads), you’ll hear Glenn reflect on the lack of reinforcement he received as an AME Christian from the academy. If he had had more Christian colleagues in professional life, he might have continued to find Christianity plausible.

    So evangelical historians do have tribal ties — to people in the pews (supposedly) and to professional colleagues. Then why do they sound more like historians in the American Historical Association?


  30. Should people who won’t vote be fined or put in jail? Should people who claim loyalty and citizenship to only one kingdom be forced to participate in a “creation not redemption” kingdom?

    When somebody murders another person, it’s not the pacifist’s fault but the one who murdered. We should not assume that the pacifist was so sovereign that the pacifist “could have” prevented it. Nor should we assume that the only thing we can do to prevent murder is to have a gun.

    God is not a pacifist. God has not been a pacifist, and God will not be a pacifist. God is sovereign. God can and does prevent anything God wants to prevent. God now prevents what God has always planned to prevent. But God does not “allow” things. God does not “permit” things.

    God did not “permit” all of us to murder His Son. God did not even “allow” those specific Jews and Romans who did murder Jesus Christ to do so. God ordained it. God planned it.

    Acts 2:21 Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

    Romans 12: 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

    I Thessalonians 1: 3 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. 14 For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles in order that they be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath HAS come upon them at last!


  31. sdb,

    Cliven Bundy and his band of supporters were exalted among conservatives (like Sean Hannity), until he mentioned that perhaps black people would have been better off under slavery and picking cotton; in his mind, they had a better family life in the antebellum South. My point is not Bundy, but the thinking that goes on among like minded people that gives them reason to bear arms and unite against the gov’t. Entities in cable news, radio, and social media help spread this kind of thinking.

    I would still possibly consider others, but I don’t see a realistic chance at the moment for anyone else. I can see why people can come to different conclusions, but when they come together to discuss point by point, there isn’t likely to be an equal result. I am convinced someone will have the superior case, whether that is for a candidate or abstention.

    When engaging ideas within the secular realm, I’m not aware of the need to be merciful in substance. I can state the following calmly and honestly: I will not relent with a man that can refer to his genitals in formal debate, speak of his adultery with pride, claim to be some successful and upright businessman when he is not, dismisses the suffering of POWs with ease (while his Vietnam was avoiding STDs), passes on false crime stat’s of black on white crime, uses foolish ministers and prosperity preachers (e.g. Paula White) to present himself as a good Christian (it’s so fake it’s not funny), can’t convincingly, quickly, clearly reject white supremacists, gives hope to white nationalist/supremacists for the kind of America they want (they are a part of the grassroots support), can easily change from one position to another if it benefits him (like abortion or gun control), helps give anstisemites confidence to express their vile views of Jews, speaks carelessly and praises oppressive dictators, attacks an American judge of Mexican descent, questions the evangelical religion of one candidate based on his Cuban background, helps put out the idea that Rafael Cruz was involved in the JFK assassination, has no governing experience that can be evaluated, etc. My conscience will be clear when I vote for HRC.

    I think Charles Cooke of National Review said it well; a collective insanity has taken hold of the conservative movement.

    I just noticed this as I finished; it’s from a writer at the Weekly Standard. As I said, DT and many within his company (I mean supporters) are bad, and they corrupt good customs among people like gov. Walker. DT makes people like Walker worse. He made Rubio worse as well (at least in terms or speech and behavior), which Rubio later admitted and regretted.

    I think I’m wasting my time, because I have become convinced that a large number of DT supporters are almost incapable of rethinking their decision. It’s almost like being set in stone. DT was right; he can shoot someone in a crowded street, and he will not lose voters.


  32. Aberto: ” DT was right; he can shoot someone in a crowded street, and he will not lose supporters.”

    That is the absolute truth. If historians have any inkling of what in our past has brought us to the point of one of our two major parties having nominated a member of the pro wrestling hall of fame as a candidate for the highest office in the land, I wish they would enlighten the rest of us.


  33. Alberto, very good summary of reasons DT shouldn’t (and won’t) get my vote. Where I’m a little perplexed is how you get to “My conscience will be clear when I vote for HRC.” Won’t you be holding your nose at least a little bit?

    I’m not sure what to do as I can’t bring myself to vote for either. Maybe Gary, maybe a write in.


  34. @alberto
    “Cliven Bundy and his band of supporters were exalted among conservatives”
    It seems to me that most of the attention came from left of center news sources who found them to be a useful wedge. Whatever support they did receive from conservatives early on in their protest, they hardly represent the mainstream. It seems that that recent news events belie the myth that anti-govt violence is primarily coming from the right side of the aisle.

    “When engaging ideas within the secular realm, I’m not aware of the need to be merciful in substance.”
    Pretty sure that ongoing conflict may sell news magazines and help ideological outfits raise funds, but I’m very sure it is not at all helpful for civil society (secular or religious). Trump may have all the flaws you mention, but I see no reason to stop there. Perhaps there are valid reasons a moral person could come to the conclusion that Trump is a better choice than Clinton? I think so even if I ultimately disagree. I see no reason to create 2D caricatures of people I disagree with – perhaps the cathartic release of hating on the right people is better than the damage it does to relationships with folks who disagree? By all means vote HRC, I’ll probably go with Johnson (though my vote doesn’t count where I live – though I did vote in the primary…yay me). But I think the case against Trump is more than a bit overblown.


  35. Reading through some of the comments here is another indicator that we both believe we have a democracy and while knowing that we are at the mercy of the Republican and Democratic parties. And that is all because we have preferred to vote against or for the not them candidate than to vote for third party candidates that best represent us.


  36. The Responses I am reading regarding
    “If You Can Keep It” deepened my desire to buy more copies, and to send them to everyone I know.


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