There’s a concerning reality that was recently highlighted by Kevin Williamson: many Republicans have seemingly made their peace with Trump’s self-evident dishonesty. Whenever it comes up, this conversation has largely focused on Christians and the 80% of them that reportedly voted for the serial adulterer and posturing populist when he ran against Hillary in 2016.
But that’s a different issue, of course. While I was not among their number, I can certainly understand the thinking of fellow Bible believers who saw Trump as a flawed, even dreadful choice, but pragmatically a better bet for the future of our civilization than the other major party candidate on the ballot.
While I’ve grown concerned at the seeming unwillingness of some of those Christians to hold Trump morally accountable since attaining the office, many of them have – praising the president for doing good things, criticizing him when doing bad things. That’s how it should be.
But what Williamson is getting at is something different. He’s remarking on the unfortunate transition of MAGA Republicans into the spitting image of 1990s Democrats:
Republicans here find themselves playing the role of Clinton-era Democrats. Democrats knew what Bill Clinton was, and rather than recoil from his dishonesty, they relished his slickness and exulted in his talent for besting his political adversaries. They were correct in insisting that there wasn’t any crime in the Clinton–Lewinsky affair per se (there was a crime in Clinton’s perjury related to it) just as there isn’t any obviously criminal aspect to what President Trump is known to have done so far — in spite of Democrats’ increasingly hilarious attempts to stretch the definition of “obstruction of justice” to cover things such as criticizing federal agencies for official actions.
I worried about this when the selling point for many Republicans during the 2016 campaign became Trump’s willingness to “fight.” Having grown disgusted with the Democrat Party’s history of incessantly holding Republicans to double standards of decency and morality, it seemed that many on the right were excited by the prospect of having someone on our side who would behave like a leftist.
This never made sense to me given that so much of what I thought had frustrated conservatives was the way leftists behaved. For years the right complained about the mentality among liberals that “the ends justify the means.” When “the means” included the abandonment of personal character, moral integrity, private virtue, and basic human decency, we said that wasn’t acceptable.
But now seemingly, Donald Trump’s “habitual and reflexive dishonesty” has become an acceptable means to the ends we want? As a Christian and a conservative, I remain firmly opposed to where that is going to lead us.