Column: Why Eric Metaxas is Absolutely Wrong About Donald Trump
On Wednesday, Eric Metaxas, a conservative Christian, writer on politics and virtue, and a Senior Fellow at The King’s College, wrote an op-ed on why Christians should vote for Donald Trump despite his bragging about sexual assault. Metaxas is one-hundred percent wrong.
I do not believe he realizes the depravity of Trump’s recent remarks. Trump was not just obscene; he was bragging about being able to sexually assault women. That should be considered an affront to faith, laws and human dignity. If he made those remarks in a job interview, he would be disqualified immediately. Yet Metaxas believes Trump should be elected to our nation’s highest office. With a president who thinks sexual assault is worth bragging about,how could we tell people on college campuses to stand up to sexual assault?All the work of raising awareness on sexual assault will be dashed if America simply decides it’s “locker room talk.” Perhaps so long as he’s a King’s Senior Fellow, Metaxas would be served by attending our mandatory Title IX meetings so he can become more aware on the gravity of sexual assault.
To be fair, Metaxas has been very critical of Trump, calling him odious, but the better choice in the election. He suggests that Christians, like Wilberforce, have to work with evil people. However, working with and voting for are two different things. There is a difference between a congressman being willing to work with Trump and a heavyweight Evangelical radio host endorsing him. It is the difference between giving unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and handing Caesar the sword to seize the throne.
For Christian conservatives, the same ones who lambast Hollywood’s lack of moral values, Trump bragging about sexual assault should be a deal-breaker. There is no “he brags about sexual assault, but…”, and no, “however…” This is not politics as usual. Bragging about sexual assault is a moral repugnance that should disqualify any candidate from office. That fact does not change just because Hillary Clinton’s husband had an affair, as Mr. Metaxas and Mr. Trump both seem to suggest.
Metaxas justifies his Faustian bargain by repeating Trump’s charges against Clinton’s corruption. However, there is no parallel between the Clinton Foundation, which has not been proven of any wrongdoing and has saved millions of lives, and Trump’s Foundation, which he used to pay legal fees to defend himself from lawsuits over his fraudulent university. Using a private email server, just like the previous administration, surely isn’t on the same level as the daily lies from Trump, or his calls for Russia to sabotage the election and release the same classified information he accused Clinton of putting at risk. Clinton and Trump are not remotely equivalent: imagine what Metaxas would write if Clinton bragged about not paying taxes, said our military was a disaster, denigrated POWs, and encouraged Russia to sabotage our election. And recall how the GOP praised Clinton as a Secretary of State before she ran for President--she was the most popular politician in the country. The facts haven’t changed. What is politically expedient has.
I have made a robust case against Trump before, but I’ll make it succinctly here. Trump is not a conservative nor a liberal. He is something wholly other. He is a right-wing populist nationalist, whose flirtations with fascism present a unique threat to American democracy. Metaxas should know that there is nothing small government about mass deportations, that there is nothing conservative about censoring reporters, violating the constitution by using torture or banning Muslims from entering the country. He should recognize that there is nothing free-enterprise about restricting trade, nothing republican about locking up political opponents, and nothing patriotic about trashing families of fallen soldiers and POWs, praising dictators, forsaking alliances, and denigrating Americans who aren’t like him as those who aren’t the “real Americans.” Trump, with his proclamations that, “I alone can fix this,” is not a humble leader of a republic but is rather a brutish strongman with thin skin, thick ego and an insatiable belief that others should bend to his wants, whether they be reporters, GOP congressmen, the military, the Mexican government or women he desires. The trouble with Trump is not his ignorance on issues or rudeness. This is not locker room talk. This is America flirting with fascism.
Do not let Metaxas’ talk about the courts fool you. Trump, with his ignorance and disregard for the rule of law and the constitution, is not a man suited to pick justices, nor, with his belief that Hispanic heritage could disqualify a judge, does he practice the best litmus tests.
If you are still convinced that Clinton is, in Trump’s words, “the devil,” then do not vote for her. But that does not mean you have to be complicit with electing Trump. At best, all Metaxas proves is that you should elect a GOP Senate, not that you should elect Trump. You can destroy the party of Lincoln and then tell your children one day you voted for a man who bragged that he can grab a woman by her genitals and get away with it. But at least a Republican won in 2016. That is Metaxas’ Faustian bargain.
It is a bargain many are willing to make. More than 70 percent of GOP voters are sticking with Trump and Republican leaders like Rubio and Cruz still support him. We should not be surprised. While they may have all posted their requisite statements about how they are offended by Trump and that they have daughters, they, and Metaxas, are missing the point: the immigrant Trump wants to deport is a daughter too. The family of Muslims he wishes to ban has daughters. The refugees he wishes to send back will die before having the chance to see their daughter grow up. The family of enemy combatants he wishes to target has daughters. The people he proposes we torture is a daughter’s father. The disabled man he mocked is a father’s son. The Gold Star family he denigrated had a son, and the next sexual assault victim, whose story is brushed off as locker room talk, she is a daughter too.
It is not shocking that Trump showed such disrespect on that tape. Since the moment he ran, he has disrespected, denigrated and other-ized anyone who disagreed with him or who wasn’t like him. And that hasn’t stopped Metaxas or the Republican Party from supporting him and looking away from the people he denigrates. Trump has trampled every other aspect of conservativism, liberalism, and Christian notions of justice, and Metaxas stuck with him: standing by a boastful sexual predator was all that was left.
There’s a word to describe Metaxas’ actions. They are deplorable.