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The Big Bet

October 4, 2016

I saw this article on the satirical website The Onion the other day citing fictitious polling data that tells us that “Hopeless Resignation Receives Massive Post-Debate Bump” following the first Presidential debate. Like all good satire it has a ring of truth to it.  I particularly like the mocking closing statement that “if current trends continue, hopeless resignation is likely to reach a historic high in the polls by Election Day.”

Yep.  One of those two debaters is going to be our next President and it seems as if most people are trying to decide which of them is least likely to be a total disaster.  Most of my fellow Christians are basing their support for Trump almost solely on the ABC rationale; “Anybody But Clinton.”

Just this week Phillip Yancey lent his voice to the (small) chorus of prominent Christians mystified by Christian support for Trump when he said “I am staggered that so many conservative or evangelical Christians would see a man who is a bully, who made his money by casinos, who has had several wives and several affairs, that they would somehow paint him as a hero, as someone that we could stand behind. … To choose a person who stands against everything that Christianity believes as the hero, the representative, one that we get behind enthusiastically is not something I understand at all.”

Yancey was in Spain at the time and perhaps that leads him to not understanding why so many back home feel that way.  The reality is that most of my conservative Christian friends know very well what Trump is like.  We know that he pairs vague ideas with an alarming temperament; that he’s a racist, a sexist, a demagogue, and a bully.  That he lies so constantly and so fluently that it’s hard to know if he even realizes he’s lying.  We see his complete lack of a sense of shame in anything he says or does.  But polls show that nearly 80% of us plan to vote for him anyway.  Why?

It seems to boil down to a big bet many of us are making.  They don’t like the direction our country is going on moral and social issues.  They are acutely aware of the diminished influence the principles of our faith has on national laws and opinions.  They see Clinton as certain to continue to not only allow but support this trend.  In this, while I don’t share the opinion that she is a ruthless agent of some nefarious agenda, I do believe that their concern is real.  She will not be an advocate for “our side” in the roiling culture wars.

And so many Christians have decided to place their bets on Trump.  They see it is a long shot.  They recognize the irony of trusting a man who has only recently, and only vaguely, supported the social issues that are important to conservative Christians to vouch for them.  I suppose that, if you are willing to place a long shot bet that this guy is the one who is going to stem the social tide that you see as flowing against our faith, you can.

I don’t think that most of my fellow Christians believe Trump’s many promises.  They have no hope he is going to make store clerks say Merry Christmas and little hope he will get us justices that support traditional values.

Rather I think many conservative Christians see Trump as something like a human hand grenade that they want to toss into a Washington that has let them down.  They have little or no hope that the aftermath of that explosion will produce a return to the good old days.  But they pray that the carnage will produce something, anything, that is better than what we have.  That is truly a big bet; a bet that believes hopeless resignation is the only alternative.

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From → Christianity

One Comment
  1. David permalink

    As an alternative perspective on looking towards supporting Trump for president: I am counting on the fact that no one really likes Trump. For some reason it seems that many people believe that the president can do just about anything. In reality the president can try to do just about anything but congress has to let the president do the things he proposes. We have been on a trend, regardless of party, where the president seems to be gaining more and more power and authority. A Clinton presidency will continue that trend. But a Trump presidency will likely be the one thing that brings congress together, to do what they have been tasked with, to challenge and limit the vagaries of the president, whomever it is. And for an additional upside, the words that come out of a Trump presidency will yield unlimited fodder for comedians and cartoonist world wide. Laughter is something we all need.

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