Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with local residents, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, in Emmetsburg, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Earlier this week, there was some controversy over Christianity Today coming out in support of the removal of Donald Trump from office. I’m not going to re-litigate that, as RedState has already put up an article on the matter, but reading the publication’s critique, it prompted some thoughts on “morality” that I want to analyze.
If you just listen to the beltway establishment, Donald Trump is a supremely immoral person, completely unworthy of support. This largely goes back to his decades old sins before taking office, which are widely documented, while some cite his tweeting and current penchant for lobbing insults. And sure, there’s no doubt that the President is not a person who’s shown much high character. But the real question is what we are comparing him to and what is most relevant when talking about a political figure.
I know, some are getting ready to click off and go rage that I’m willing to look at this issue with nuance instead of just denouncing Trump wholesale, but the purpose of this piece isn’t even really to discuss Trump, as that’s been done to death. Rather, it’s to talk about the blind spots the beltway establishment have when it comes to their own expansive immorality.
For example, what’s actually “immoral” when talking about political figures and policies, with a realization that many things can be immoral to varying degrees? This is not a Biblical matter of all sin being equal because Politics is not religion (or at least it shouldn’t be). The relevance and extent of harm of each individual issue matters. If someone is willing to think critically about that, they may come to realize why so much of the moral preening from the beltway falls on deaf ears.
Let me give you some simple examples. Take this ridiculous tweet from Tom Nichols, who has proclaimed that anyone who votes for Trump is morally reprehensible.
Toobin on @CNN : The evangelicals are political hacks who don’t care what Donald Trump does as long as they get judges who promise to ban abortion.
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) December 19, 2019
Who’s Nichols citing there? Jeffrey Toobin, who got a college student pregnant, tried to force her to have an abortion, and then had to have a court rule to make him pay child support. In the mind of beltway flacks like Nichols, Toobin is perfectly moral though. He rants on CNN after all and has the right thoughts on “norms and decorum” when discussing Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, normal people look at these “elites” (in their own minds at least) and see them for what they are. Immoral, progressive hacks who support abortion on demand and have no actual boundaries in their lives outside of yelling about how bad the orange man is. And these are the people giving lectures on morality?
But it’s not just the media. Let’s take the Democrat candidates as well, which people like Jennifer Rubin have assured us are morally superior choices to Donald Trump.
What makes the @CTmagazine editorial odd (if not preposterous) is that it implies those like Biden or Pelosi, who use the power of their offices to promote the murder of the unborn & the demonization of a biblical sexual ethic, less "morally troubling" than Trump & his tweets.
— Eric Metaxas (@ericmetaxas) December 20, 2019
I’ll even give a more mundane example. Yesterday at the debate, Joe Biden endorsed the destroying of hundreds of thousands of jobs in order to push a “greener economy.” My response was this.
Last night you saw why beltway pronouncements of morality fall on so many deaf ears. When shown Trump making an ill-advised joke vs. Joe Biden saying he'll destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs to appease the left-wing base, which do you think most find more immoral and relevant?
— Bonchie (@bonchieredstate) December 20, 2019
This is what the beltway doesn’t get about morality. It goes far beyond superficial ideas of decorum and “character.” For years, these people have tried to pretend that nothing matters except what they say matters. Many people will hear Biden’s partisan, pandering pronouncement to destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and and find that much more immoral than Trump making a joke. And they’d be correct.
Let’s also take foreign policy, as that’s another good comparison. There’s a massive blind spot among the D.C. prognosticators on morality when it comes to foreign policy. What’s more immoral? Joe Biden’s pursuit of a war in Syria (led by Barack Obama) that led to over half a million people dead? Or Trump making a mean tweet about Justin Trudeau? Is it more immoral to empower the Iranian regime to further fund terrorism and oppress their people? Or for Trump to rant about NATO members not paying their fair share? I’d posit that the former of each of those contrasts is far more immoral than Trump’s inability to control his mouth at times.
Further, the myriad of Never Trumpers such as Bill Kristol and the rest, who’ve helped stoke war after war that have killed multitudes of innocent people for little gain, are not more moral than Donald Trump. Not in the slightest. They’ve helped bring about much more immoral outcomes in the past few decades than anything Trump has done.
This is why almost no one takes the “morality” arguments from the beltway seriously. They hand wave away their vast history of immorality, including things that have cost hundreds of thousands of lives, and then proclaim it immoral if you don’t work against your own interests. Worse, they demand you support candidates who have done far more immoral things as long as those candidates put on a good show of decorum in the process. It’s logically idiotic and ignores the realities at play.
The fact that most normal Americans have an ability to reason out the variations of morality they are faced with is not a negative indictment on them. Rather, it’s an indictment on the beltway that they can’t do the same. Joe Biden is not more moral than Donald Trump, nor are any of the other Democrat candidates. Politics is a game of choice and the choices are rarely great. Yes, Donald Trump had affairs over a decade ago, but he hasn’t had any while in office and you will strain yourself to convince many voters why they should care about eleven year old romps that didn’t affect their lives.
No one is trying to make an argument that Trump himself is an overly moral person. But that’s not the question most will be asking when deciding who to vote for in 2020. The question remains ones of Trump’s policies compared to who he’s running against. While the D.C. establishment ask us to ignore their own immorality, the rest of us will weigh, compare, and make a decision that’s in our own interests. That’s the entire purpose of electing a secular political leader. It’s not to signal one’s virtue or bestow aspects of quazi-salvation via voting.
If some beltway pontificater still can’t grasp that most voters see 2020 as a transactional affair, that’s their own problem. Either that or they are just being willfully ignorant.