I have spent the last week or so trying to communicate the hypocrisy of the GOP establishment’s arguments against the dreaded specter of a Trump nomination. Today the opinion of neocon icon Victor Davis Hanson admits that the ultimate hypocrisy may be yet to come.
It is my opinion that Trump has truly hacked the political process. In politics, perception is reality. No one can know for sure whether Trump actually believes anything he says, especially anything conservative. But it doesn’t matter in politics. What matters is if voters believe what he says. And they apparently do.
Obama did it first: an entire primary floated on nothing but rhetoric and unsubstantiated promises. There was nothing specific. People from all quarters kept criticizing him for this, and it did not matter one bit. Obama never revealed specifics until his nomination acceptance speech. And the crowd went wild.
I don’t need to make the case that Trump is the Republican masses’ Obama in this regard. This gentleman already did it wonderfully.
That article is an acknowledgement of hypocrisy in the GOP, but it was focused on the voter more than the machine. It’s the machine that bears a huge amount of the responsibility for fostering a culture of hypocrisy among conservative voters. After all, we’re supposed to be the party of Christian integrity and principle, right?
But several things have stood out recently. Why is it that so many of the people who have been blasting Trump for his vulgarity and insults all this time are now praising Rubio for acting just like him? Insults have become expected on Rubio’s campaign trail. The old line about wrestling with pigs comes to mind. Apparently pigs are bad unless they’re YOUR pigs.
This just shows what so many have been saying for a while: Trump is the party’s own deserved creation. This is true in several ways, but the lack of class and integrity is the core of it. Under the frat-boy, religious, and business-like facades, ruthlessness is the rule. When in a pinch, lies, compromise, and yes, insult and vulgarity will be the product. Trump wears his on his sleeve, and the others pretend to despise it until they are desperate. But it was there all along.
Of course, those who watched how Ron Paul was repeatedly trashed, lied about, defrauded, cheated, and run down at all levels across the country already knew all of this. They warned of a Trump coming from a mile away. It was inevitable.
The pundits, especially the Christian ones, want to pretend Trump is so much worse than others. Perhaps in some ways he is. They continually portray Trump’s many sins in the media. We hear about how Trump is a philanderer, con artist, liar, and covetous soul, and these are the moral reasons to oppose him. The reader should not have trouble recognizing several of the Ten Commandments involved here.
But compare this to how these pundits have treated their own polished sinners in the recent past. These are the same souls who last time tried to convince us it was an absolute necessity to vote for an idolatrous cult member who believes he’ll be a god some day, and in the meantime has a denominationally-imposed underwear fetish.
Apparently, the second half of the Ten Commandments is all that matters, as long as you have outward “decency.”
This hypocrisy exposes a great fault at the heart of American Christianity. For many decades, pulpits have been drilling it into congregations that politics and government are outside the realm of Christian life. There is this rigid divide between private Christian life and the public square. The Bible does not speak to policy. When we vote, we need not necessarily vote for devout Christians who have a developed Christian worldview and policy consistent with it. Politics is dirty, and we can’t expect that a fine Christian man with biblical convictions will make it that far, so we are told to vote for whoever is not as bad as the other gal.
As a result of this mentality—reinforced every election cycle by pulpits and Christian pundits alike—Christians have been trained to leave their Christianity at home while they go to the voting booth. There is no rigorous demand or vetting done. There is only an expectation of certain outward protocol of decency. The machine capitalizes on this. Remember how we were so often reminded what a “fine man” and “nice guy” that cult member was?
But even this expectation has faded now. It used to be, the only way a Republican candidate could totally discredit themselves was with an open scandal. Democrats were somewhat immune to this. But now, the decades of refusal to demand thorough Christian worldview from our candidates has evolved further. Now, Republicans voters are telling the machine they don’t even need the outward decency anymore. As long as he’ll promise to uphold one or two of their values—guns and border walls, for example—they would rather have a more ruthless bully than a polished smile.
This is no surprise at all to those of us who understand God’s law. A person who’s willing set aside the First of the Ten Commandments will logically set them all aside eventually. By refusing to drill this into the congregations, the pulpits have created a public square full of conservatives and Christians that could embrace a Trump.
The final façade of decency has now fallen, and Evangelical titans are startled. Leaders like Max Lucado have now taken the unheard-of step of writing about political candidates in the public square. And after all these decades of silence on politics, government, and politicians, what was the final straw that moved Lucado? His title tells all: “Trump doesn’t pass the decency test.”
Decency. That is all. Any candidate can hold any position on any issue and Lucado stays silent. But let a candidate call someone a “bimbo,” and the Lucados of the world speak out.
That’s sad enough, but the ultimate commentary on Lucado’s article is one of utter shame. He literally says that the policies are of secondary concern, if at all: “Could concerns be raised about other Christian candidates? Absolutely. But the concern of this article is not policy but tone and decorum.”
Folks, this is the confession of the great evangelical capitulation in this nation. The most murderous and thieving policies will pass silently under the radar as long as the candidate smiles and shows some restraint of tongue. And this is no hypothetical. This is what has happened. This is what the American pulpit has produced in the American public square.
When Evangelical leaders criticize Trump’s moral failures, they are doing nothing but confessing their own worse failure. They’ve had the chance to build decorum and tone on substance for a hundred years now, and have refused. Now the crumbling foundations are bringing down the edifice of decorum along with them, and the Evangelicals are exposed to the elements.
In all of this comes an admission from the neocon Hanson of what to expect if Trump gets the nomination. The GOP machine that currently abhors Trump and is trying to insult him out of the spotlight will at that time turn to his aid. Hanson writes,
But if Trump can snag the nomination in March or early April, and with it the machinery of the Republican establishment, then he will get airbrushed with endorsements and big money, as he turns his invective toward Hillary Clinton. An array of friendly party experts will comb his past to provide the usual contextualizations, half-truth defenses, and excuses of the sort Hillary has mastered in the last 20 years to explain away her serial lying and hypocrisies. In other words, get Trump through March with a hold on the nomination, and then his glaring flaws and abysmal record are reduced to “He may be a bastard but he’s our bastard,” or “Hillary does even worse stuff.”
In the meantime, all of the insults only lower the “decency” corps to Trump’s level, and as such, give him even more legitimacy. These are Hanson’s words, not mine, but I believe he’s right:
When Vicente Fox cusses at Trump, when the Pope slyly questions his Christianity, when Megyn Kelly flirtatiously winks to her audience, when New York Times columnist Ross Douthat jokes about a possible Trump assassination, when the Chinese say they don’t welcome the idea of a Trump presidency, when a few screwball British members of Parliament dream of denying Trump entry into Britain — all of them only win Trump even more acclaim from hoi polloi.
In short, Trump is the creation of the GOP’s perennial hypocrisies. Those hypocrisies are now exposed, as the raw voters have seen through the decency façade. Corruption, lies, and facades have become widely acknowledged enough that the voter no longer cares. Indecency is a fact, as a rule, and so let’s set aside the pretenses and start the rumble. If you can only succeed in politics with corruption, then we want our guy to be more successful at corruption than the next guy. This development is an embarrassment to the establishment and their fronts in the pulpits, but this development is their creation, and they will own it in the long run.