Who Should Christians Vote For? A 3 Part Series

To be honest, before this election cycle I hadn’t really looked very hard at what the Bible says about voting. I can defend positions on various political issues based on scripture, but I hadn’t searched the text on voting and qualifications for candidates. But with prominent theologians and average Christians alike weighing on on why we should or shouldn’t vote for particular candidates, I was finally motivated to see what the Bible says.

Before I begin, know that I am looking for the truth. Like many, I’m wrestling through a horrible choice in the 2016 election. I have been a follower of Jesus Christ since 1982. I graduated from a conservative Baptist seminary. I know the difference between eisegesis  and exegesis. The last thing I want to do it “proof text” my way through this. Let me be the first to tell you, I could be wrong. I have friends that I respect who will disagree with me. Obviously, I believe I’m right, but I could be wrong. Instead of just accepting or rejecting my opinions, I encourage you to do your own study on the biblical passages I have discussed in this series of posts.

Christians find ourselves once again faced with voting for the lesser of two evils in the presidential election. I won’t go through each candidate’s litany of faults and reasons they are not fit to be president. Others have done that thoroughly. Suffice it to say that I approach these two candidates with the understanding that both lack the character I want in a leader. I disagree with many positions held by both candidates. I believe the character of both candidates disqualify them from leading our nation. I know that both will definitely implement policies I think are very wrong for our nation. Just like every previous presidential election, the GOP hopeful/faithful say I must support their candidate because the Democrat might get elected. She would ruin the Supreme Court, the 1st and 2nd Amendments, and basically destroy the nation. Hillary Clinton will be a disaster for conservative ideals.

I don’t dispute that Clinton would be a terrible president. Therefore, should I vote for the slightly better of the two very bad choices?

I freely admit that in previous elections I did just that. I pulled the lever for whoever the Right said I should. I ignored the primaries and assumed that the Republicans would always nominate someone that was decent. I don’t think anyone, Republican or Democrat, was fully prepared for just how bad both nominees would be this year. Faced with these two choices I have to look deeper. Must I vote for one of them to stop the greater evil? Is there a line that can be crossed where neither candidate should get my vote?

I believe that voting for the lesser of two evils is a pragmatic approach to the situation. Faced with hard circumstances, we make the best of them to keep something worse from happening. I get that approach. I also understand that since people are flawed, no candidate will be perfect. I see that in a sense, every election is a choice between two bad people, because we are all sinners.

But is there a line that Christians should not cross? What if neither candidate meets even the minimal biblical standard for a civil authority? It’s not a high bar. Based on what I’ve found a candidate should generally be God-fearing, trustworthy, respected, honest, wise and competent (see Part 1). This is certainly not a list “only Jesus” could equal.

So, approaching the Bible for help, I looked for incidents of civil authority being selected from between two “evils”  (Part 2) and I looked at incidents of pragmatism. (Part 3) Understand that looking at history, these stories are not prescriptive, but descriptive. I want to see what lessons we can learn from biblical examples.

The posts below are not exhaustive, but are representative. They reflect what I believe scripture teaches about these things. I would love to see other passages that support or refute my understanding.

The biblical standard for civil authority that I can find is not very high. Many candidates for office have exceeded it. Some of the people running for President right now exceed it. But not the two main party candidates.

The examples of choosing between two evils in the Bible did not end well. I’ve had conversations with people who acknowledge that choosing an evil isn’t ideal, but fall back on issues. They are afraid of whatever horrible end the Right has said will come if we don’t support their candidate. Have you ever noticed that every single election the fate of the free world hangs in the balance?  We are always told that we just have to choose the lesser evil one more time, next time we can find someone who we actually support.

It’s the pragmatic thing to do. I see that. Yet, every single example of someone being pragmatic from biblical history ends badly. Every example of someone doing what they believe God wants instead of the pragmatic choice ends up glorifying God.

Again, these are descriptive passages, not prescriptive. This is not what you are commanded to do, but you can learn from these examples. Pragmatism itself isn’t bad. Violating God’s principles is.

So, who should you and I vote for?

This election is heated. People who don’t fall right in line on the Right, and agree to vote for Donald Trump, agree to vote for the lesser of two evils, have been called un American, holier-than-thou, and pharisaical. I’ve been told I’m asking too much of a candidate. I’ve been told I am going to elect Clinton. I’ve been asked how I can face my children knowing I didn’t do everything I could to stop Clinton.

I have friends who love Trump. They have been big supporters since the primary. They have looked at his record and character, and decided that he represents their values. He is who they want to lead our country. I disagree with their decision, but applaud them for finding a candidate they can support.

I have friends who have chosen the lesser of two evils approach, they hate to vote for Trump, but hate to vote for Clinton even more. They are essentially voting out of fear. I understand this decision. But that’s not something I can do.

I also have friends who believe that, while they greatly dislike the Republican nominee, they must support a Republican platform that more closely matches what they value than the Democrat platform. So they will vote for the GOP while wishing the nominee was someone else. A minor distinction, but one that’s important to them.

I have friends who are voting for Clinton for many of the same kinds of reasons people are choosing Trump.

If you ask me who to vote for, I will tell you this: Pray. Find candidates that meet the minimum standard. Then evaluate their values and positions on issues that are important to you. And vote for the one that best fits your values. If that’s Trump, great. Hillary? Good for you. Someone else, go for it! That’s the beauty of our system. We each decide how to use our own vote.

What I will not do is take seriously any suggestion that it is my duty as a Christian to vote for the lesser of two evils. I can find no scriptural backing for this position. I understand why people make this decision, but it is not a something I have done. Nor is it a biblical imperative for me to do so. In fact, the evidence I have found suggests that a pragmatic decision that goes against your values is not what you should do. I would welcome biblical examples I have missed that show the lesser of two evils or pragmatic choices in a positive light.

What if the worse evil gets elected because you or I voted for a 3rd party? What if it’s Nader/2000 in Florida all over again? Do you believe that God is sovereign? If you really believe that, then you know that He has a plan. I don’t know what that plan is, but I can promise you it isn’t for you to violate your values with a pragmatic choice.

What if now, in this horrible election, believers in American said they wouldn’t listen to the narratives from the Right or the Left. Starting right now they would find candidates who reflect what they value. And only vote for those people. They refused to be bullied into voting for a lesser of two evils. What if on the local, state and federal level we all voted for people, and didn’t choose the lesser evil? What would our country look like in a few years?

What are Biblical Examples of Being Pragmatic? Part 3 of Who Should Christians Vote For?

Part 3 of Who Should Christians Vote For?

Voting for the lesser of two evils is a very pragmatic approach to an election. Basically, you evaluate the situation based on circumstances and make a decision. At this point a 3rd party candidate is a long shot to win anything. So, if you don’t want the worse evil candidate to win, vote for the slightly less evil candidate.

Pragmatism is something we use every day. Where will you eat? What will you wear? Tons of mundane decisions are made all the time based on pragmatic choices. There are times when a pragmatic choice is good. In fact, the only time a pragmatic choice wouldn’t be a good choice is if it violates what you know to be true, what you know God wants from you.

I went searching for examples of pragmatism in the Bible. Positive or negative. People that were pragmatic, and people who weren’t. I’m sure I missed some, but here’s a list of what I found:

Old Testament:

  • Abraham had his wife pose as his sister: Genesis 20. It was pragmatic for Abraham (who feared for his life) to say Sarah was his sister, but God had other plans.
  • Israel spying out the Promised Land: Numbers 13,14. It was pragmatic to refuse to enter the Promised Land. God kept Israel in the wilderness until an entire generation died.
  • Israel defeats Jericho: Joshua 6. A pragmatic person would say marching around a city would have little effect on defeating it.
  • Moses’ mom did not kill him: Exodus 2. It wasn’t pragmatic to hide a male infant. But Israel was ultimately freed because of her actions.
  • Hosea didn’t divorce Gomer: Hosea 3. A pragmatic Hosea would divorce a woman who returned to prostitution. But God used his love as a symbol for his relationship with Israel.
  • Jeremiah kept preaching: Jeremiah 25. A pragmatic prophet would stop preaching after a few years with no results, but Jeremiah kept at it for 23 years.
  • Daniel in the lion’s den. Daniel 6. A pragmatic Daniel wouldn’t have ended up in the Lion’s Den.
  • Fiery Furnace: Daniel 3. A pragmatic Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego wouldn’t have ended up in the fiery furnace.
  • Solomon Takes wives: 1 Kings 11. The wisest man on earth decided it was pragmatic to marry and take concubines from other nations, and he ended up worshipping false gods

New Testament

  • Ananias and Saul: Acts 9. It would have been pragmatic for Ananias to stay away from a renowned killer of Christians. But then he wouldn’t have been there to begin discipling a man who would write half the New Testament.
  • Jerusalem Council: Acts 15. It would have been pragmatic to give in to the Jewish believers and make Gentile believers follow Jewish customs.
  • Timothy: 1 Timothy 4:12. Pragmatism says that older people know more than younger ones.
  • Gamaliel: Acts 5. Gamaliel gave some very bad pragmatic advice.

The only positive reference to anything pragmatic comes in 1 Corinthians 8. Although believers might have the freedom to do something, we should pragmatically choose not to do it if we might cause others to stumble, and sin.

Generally, pragmatism is not a good thing in the Bible. Many, many times God asks us to do things that just don’t make sense based on circumstances. I’ve seen it in my life. I’ve seen it in other’s lives. I’ve seen it time and again in the Bible.

Some of the examples above are specific to a particular command from God. Normally you wouldn’t expect walls to fall down by marching around them. It normally isn’t smart to present yourself to someone who kills people who follow Christ.

But other instances are just followers of God honoring God in every circumstance, even if it doesn’t make sense. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn’t know they would survive. (Daniel 3:16-18) They knew God could save them if he so chose, but regardless of circumstances, they were going to choose to honor God.

Luckily no one is asking us to bow to an idol. And they aren’t threatening to kill us if we don’t. We’re just trying to figure out how to vote.

Pragmatism is the foundation of situational ethics and the heart of post modernism. Valuing pragmatism more than the things God values is what has led us into this political wilderness. Making a pragmatic choice between two evils will always end with choosing an evil.

When presented with a choice where the pragmatic answer is different than the answer you know lines up with what the Bible teaches, what will you do? If you believe that there is a minimum standard for civil leaders, and the candidate you’re considering voting for does not meet it, will you make a pragmatic choice or keep looking?

What is the Biblical Standard for Choosing Civil Authority? Part 1 of Who Should Christians Vote For?

[I’ve gone out of my way to not talk in specifics about this election season, but instead look at principles that should frame our votes in every election, for every office.]

Part 1 of a 3 part series: Who Should Christians Vote For?

Americans have the great privilege of choosing their own civil authorities. Christians in American still have to submit to those in authority over us (Romans 13:1), but every so often we get to choose who those people are. The first Justice of the Supreme Court, Honorable John Jay said, “God is the One who has given us the privilege in this Christian nation of selecting our leaders.”

Since we have such an honor and privilege, how then should we choose our leaders? By what standard should they be held? How should we decide who to vote for?

In a time when there are many conflicting messages, I turned to the Bible. What does it say about rulers and civil authorities? Voting for a civil authority is not like voting for a pastor. It has often been said that the US President is not the Pastor-in-Chief. What does the Bible say about selecting civil authorities? How should we expect them to lead?

There are two significant examples of civil leaders being selected from the among Israelites. Before we examine them, let’s agree that these are descriptive passages about what happened, and not prescriptive passages about what we must do. Let’s also agree that if we hold the Bible to be true, then these passages contain lessons that can be applied to our own modern selection of leaders.

Exodus 18:21a “ But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain”

Deuteronomy 1:13 “Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.”

In the Exodus passage, Moses needed help dealing with civil matters, with disagreements among the people. Jethro, his father-in-law, suggested looking for these qualities in the people selected to help;

  • God Fearing– They needed a healthy respect for God and the things of God.
  • Trustworthy– They were faithful, honest, and could be relied upon.
  • Hating dishonest gain– People of integrity.

Similar situation in Deuteronomy, when God told Moses what sort of people to choose:

  • Wise– People who were not just knowledgable, but wise.
  • Understanding– People who could understand the situation they were presiding over.
  • Respected– People who have earned the respect of the community.

That seems like a pretty smart list of qualities to look for in a candidate for any office. Based on those passages my personal list looks something like this:

I will vote for candidates that respect religion and religious freedom. They will be honest, and people I can believe will do what they say they will do. They will be people of integrity. I will look for people who are wise, and competent to fill the office they are running for. I will vote for people who I believe are capable of earning and keeping my respect.

For me, this is the minimum standard for my vote. Notice I didn’t mention specific social or economic issues, no foreign policy or immigration or any other political issue. That’s not because I don’t care about them, I very much do. But issues change as society changes. The bedrock of biblical truth upon which we build our worldview does not.

The 6 qualities of a civil authority listed here are immutable and timeless. You and I may disagree on nuances of issues, but we can agree on this short list. Plus, people who respect religion, and who I consider wise and competent will, in my view, hold positions on issues similar to my own. But if they don’t meet the standard of this list, I should keep searching no matter how much they might share my views on issues.

The book of Proverbs is also full of wisdom about civil authorities:

  • A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor. Pr 28:16a
  • When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan. Pr 29:2
  • If a ruler listens to falsehood, all his officials will be wicked. Pr 29:12
  • Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Pr 11:14
  • Wicked behavior is detestable to kings, since a throne is established through righteousness. Pr 16:12 (HCSB)
  • When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue. Pr 28:2

This isn’t an exhaustive list of verses, but you can get a biblical picture of the person we should be looking to vote for. It can be hard to hold to this sort of standard in our current political climate, especially on the national level. It’s very easy to allow fear to color your decision.

What if none of the candidates can live up to this standard? What if that horrible candidate wins? I point you to Romans 8:28, and encourage you to remember God is sovereign. While he cares about everything, God’s primary purpose is not to fix earthly governments. The Kingdom of Heaven is not about one nation, it’s about something far more important.

Dr. Russell Moore from the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission was talking about the 2016 Presidential election and he said, “If you lose an election you can live to fight another day and move on, but if you lose an election while giving up your very soul then you have really lost it all, and so I think the stakes are really high.”

Who should you vote for? It may be that you have several choices that biblically qualify for an office, or you may feel you have none. I think the process starts with prayer. Ask God to lead you to the candidate for each office. No one will be perfect, but it’s doubtful God will lead you to a candidate that is completely contrary to this simple biblical standard. He won’t lead you to a candidate who is not wise, not trustworthy, does not have integrity, is not respectable, who does not respect religion. But you may have to look beyond candidates who get the most media attention.

I encourage you to stick to what you value and vote for someone you can support. Much more important than which party holds what offices is your own relationship with God. Don’t betray your values over an election. You have the privilege and the responsibility to participate in choosing your own civil authorities; do it well.

 

Trump Cannot Save SCOTUS, the Court is Already Lost

“If you don’t vote for Trump, you are handing the court to Clinton! She will appoint so many liberal judges that we will never get it back!”

I don’t think anyone can argue the fact that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has become politicized. It’s possible the next President of the United States  will appoint 3 to 4 judges to the court. It has become a lighting rod in the election. On both the right and the left, people proclaim that unless we want to see the court destroyed (and America with it) we must vote for their candidate!

Conservatives are told that unless we want to see the court swing far left we must vote for Trump. We have to stop Clinton at all costs. For some, this is the only reason they are voting for Trump. They hope that he will appoint conservative justices, while they know Clinton will appoint progressive ones.

Let’s forget about the fact that there were far better qualified conservatives in the primary that would have absolutely have appointed conservatives. Candidates about which there wouldn’t be any doubt, as opposed to a candidate who says “Everything’s negotiable.” Forget that the 40% of GOP primary voters who selected Trump did not care about the SCOTUS. This is where we are now:

We are faced once again with the fear that SCOTUS will slide to the left if we don’t get in line and vote for the GOP candidate.

Unfortunately, it’s too late. SCOTUS is lost. Our supposedly conservative court is the same one that upheld the Affordable Care Act twice and gave us same-sex marriage.

Conservatives try to appoint justices that will interpret the Constitution as originally written. Progressives appoint justices that will interpret it in light of current views and circumstances.

So, in our “conservative” court we see progressive appointees always render opinions that line up with progressive positions, and those appointed by conservatives sometimes break ranks and join the progressives. The only way to fight this sort of thing in the current climate is to appoint conservatives that will always render opinions along the lines of conservative positions. Just as progressive justices adhere to their progressive values, we must appoint justices that will adhere to conservative principles even if they feel they violate the Constitution.

This is not what the Court is supposed to be.

This one branch of government is not supposed to have this much power. They are definitely not supposed to legislate. Aside from hearing cases from lower courts, one of their main roles is Judicial Review. Since 1803, Marbury vs Madison, SCOTUS has passed judgment on the actions of the Executive and Legislative branches of government. Here’s a quote about the case from USCourts.gov: 

“In this case, the Court had to decide whether an Act of Congress or the Constitution was the supreme law of the land. The Judiciary Act of 1789 gave the Supreme Court original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus (legal orders compelling government officials to act in accordance with the law). A suit was brought under this Act, but the Supreme Court noted that the Constitution did not permit the Court to have original jurisdiction in this matter. Since Article VI of the Constitution establishes the Constitution as the Supreme Law of the Land, the Court held that an Act of Congress that is contrary to the Constitution could not stand. In subsequent cases, the Court also established its authority to strike down state laws found to be in violation of the Constitution.”

I believe that SCOTUS has moved too far away from what it was. Justice is no longer blind, but instead the view of the court is slanted to the right or left. We should not fear our own Supreme Court, no matter what party holds the Presidency. Pandora’s box is open. There is no way to return to the Court of before. We have to find a way to fix the Court as it is now.

Currently the only way to reverse a SCOTUS ruling is with another SCOTUS ruling or a Constitutional amendment. That worked well when the Court wasn’t legislating from the bench. Imagine Congress with such limited checks and balances that every law they ever passed was virtually immune to being overturned. That is SCOTUS today, When they make such broad rulings that, in effect, force new laws on the people, they have overstepped their role and need to be put in check.

The power to appoint Justices to the Court has become a political tool that is more effective then electing actual legislators. We have allowed this to happen, and we can stop it. The solution is not to appoint justices that reflect our views, so we can get rulings we like. That is a temporary solution to a long term problem. That solution ensures that we will always be in a fight for the Court.

The long term solution is found in Article V of the Constitution.

“Article V: The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress”

This solution doesn’t just have the potential to fix SCOTUS, but to limit the power and jurisdiction of the Executive and Legislative branches as well. 34 states must petition for a Convention and submit amendments. We can fix our government. But repeating the same cycle of elections over and over is not the way. A Convention of States could be.

Regarding the Court; I believe the current system has been corrupted to the point that it must have outside reform. We cannot appoint our way out of this mess. We need measures to limit terms of Justices and ways to more easily overturn a ruling.

That is what we should be fighting for. The current Presidential election matters, because the President does (among other things) appoint Justices. But the only way to actually, truly fix SCOTUS is to limit its power. No President can do that.

Quick Review of the RNC in CLE: Trump Can’t Deescalate.

It’s been a few days since the Republican National Convention. One glaring fact shined through the rest: Donald Trump cannot deescalate anything. Ever.

Plagiarism: Melania Trump made headlines when several parts of her speech were found to be very similar to Michelle Obama’s speech from earlier campaigns. The issue here isn’t the plagiarism. That’s a minor blip. She isn’t running for office. It should have been caught, but… meh. The bigger story is once again, the Trump camp’s inability to let embarrassing things die off quickly. If they had simply acknowledged what they eventually had to admit from the beginning, this would not have dominated the news cycle for a full day. Instead they denied and lied about the speech. Then they finally offered an apology letter from a speech writer about the lifted bits.

Time and time again, we can see evidence of how a Trump administration will handle criticism. And how they will conduct themselves when they are embarrassed or found to be in the wrong.

Heavy Handed Tactics: A campaign that once proclaimed they were not part of the GOP establishment use the GOPe to crush all opposition at the convention. From the Rules Committee to the Roll Call vote, the RNC pressured and strong armed it’s way to a “unified” convention. Some delegates did in fact attempt to revolt. They were stopped cold. Regarding the Roll Call vote, if the RNC had not hidden from the petitions and then pressured states to withdraw them, if they had just let the roll call happen the party would have been stronger for it. There is no chance that Trump would not have been the nominee. There was no one else nominated. There was no one waiting in the wings. They could have let the roll call happen, nominated Trump, and then moved forward.

Instead of allowing delegates their voice, they crushed all opposition. They alienated delegates, who are in fact voters who care enough to volunteer for the GOP. Not the people you want angry going into the general election.

The Cruz Setup: The controversy surrounding Senator Ted Cruz had nothing to do with what he said, but only what he did not say. Cruz delivered a powerful, solid speech about America and freedom. He reiterated the values that conservatives espouse. Although he congratulated Trump by name, outlined why we cannot vote for Clinton, and encouraged everyone to get out an vote in November, he did not say the magic words, “I endorse…”

The speech, taken by itself, is not controversial. But when Cruz said that Republicans should “vote their conscience” up and down the ticket, right on cue, people in yellow hats began chanting for Trump, and they whipped the crowd into a frenzy of booing as the Senator finished his speech. As Cruz was wrapping up his prepared remarks, Trump entered the crowd. Immediately following the speech Trump surrogates were describing Cruz’s speech as political suicide. Many saying he should have stayed away, and some saying he broke his pledge to support the GOP nominee. Trump himself criticized Cruz and threatened to form a super PAC to run someone against Cruz when he is up for reelection.

This is the sort of reaction you would expect if Cruz had deviated from his prepared marks, and said something unexpected. Cruz told Trump he would not endorse him when he was asked to speak. Cruz submitted his speech long before the event, and the text was given to press 2 hours before he took the stage. He did not say anything that was unexpected. In fact, the Trump campaign and the RNC planned the booing and chanting based off of Cruz’s remarks.

In an alternate reality, let’s imagine Trump did not set up Cruz like this. He lets him speak. He doesn’t incite booing. When it’s over Newt Gingrich does just what he did and says that Republicans who want to vote their conscience have to vote for Trump. This would be a minor blip on the news, and the convention rolls on. But again, Trump cannot bear any slight. He will brook no opposition. He must break Cruz because Cruz will not bend. So he tries to embarrass him, and then releases his talking heads to attack Cruz. Trump even brought up the stupid Kennedy assassination stuff again.

Will this hurt Cruz? I doubt it. Ben Shapiro claims that Cruz was invited to speak during Prime Time at the convention as a result of a deal Trump made with him. Trump asked Cruz not to encourage his delegates to revolt. Cruz agreed, on the condition he could speak, and not explicitly endorse the nominee. Make no mistake, this was a political gamble by Cruz. He probably never expected Trump to conspire with the RNC to embarrass him on the platform. But was it really political suicide? Will voters remember this?

Probably not. Take the pledge; people have already forgotten that all 3 of the last GOP primary candidates backed off the pledge last March. Trump himself said that he didn’t need Cruz’s support. And that Cruz shouldn’t do anything that made him uncomfortable. For anyone to expect the average voter to remember this in 2018 or 2020… I don’t know. On the plus side, if Trump loses- or if he wins and is terrible- Cruz will be the guy that didn’t endorse him.

With Cruz, like so many things, all Trump had to do was let things play out and move on. Instead he turned the whole thing into a showcase of a party division.

This convention shows again that Trump does not have the temperament to be president. He’s petty and vindictive. He will put his own desires over the greater good. Unfortunately, Clinton isn’t a better alternative. And there’s no viable 3rd party candidate running.

#NeverTrump vs #Trumpertantrum: 2016 General Election Concerns and Math

This weekend Ted Cruz swept all of the delegates in Colorado. This led to Donald Trump complaining that voters were being cheated, and that the whole system is corrupt, and rigged. He’s right. It is actually rigged, to favor the frontrunner. Even though Trump has won just 37% of the vote, he has claimed 45% of the delegates awarded, so far. That’s after Cruz swept Colorado. I find it odd that Trump’s campaign didn’t care about the delegate process in Colorado, which has been planned this way for a long time, until after he lost all delegates there. To be clear, Colorado Republicans did vote, just not the way the rest of America did. Frankly, this faux outrage is just sour grapes after Trump’s campaign made some major mistakes in the process there.

There are 16 states left in the GOP primary. Trump has secured 37% of the vote in the previous primaries. In order to win the nomination airtight, he must win 1237 delegates. There are 854 delegates remaining. Trump must win 494 to secure the nomination before the convention. Otherwise it’s a contested convention and many think Trump will not emerge the nominee.

But as we continue through this contentious primary, more and more people seem to be hinting that if Trump is not the nominee at the convention, they will walk from the GOP. That’s very similar to the #NeverTrump movement, who say that if Trump is the nominee, they will not vote for him. It looks like no matter what happens some group won’t support the GOP nominee. Whether it’s caused by a massive #trumpertantrum or people who are #nevertrump, it’s becoming clear that the eventual nominee won’t have the support of the entire GOP primary voting body.

That sounds bad. I’ve been #NeverTrump since before there was a hashtag. But this doesn’t look good for the general election: Either Trump’s gonna take his millions of voters and go home if the nomination is stolen from him or millions of #NeverTrump-ers will never vote for Trump if he is the nominee. How can we hope to win the general election.

Let’s look at the math.

#Trumpertantrum:

To date, Trump, who has earned just over 8 million votes so far, has just 13.3% of the number of votes that Romney earned in his failed bid, in the 2012 general election. 13.5% of what McCain received in 2008. Only 12.9% of what Bush received in 2004, where he won. 16% of Bush’s 2000 presidential win. (Where he lost the popular vote, but won the electoral college)

8 million votes is a big number, more than any other 2016 GOP primary candidate, so far. But that is a small percentage of the overall general election votes. And, if the GOP turnout continues to be as large as it has been in the primaries, we should see more GOP voters than the last several elections have seen. Frankly, most of them won’t care about the primary. I used to be one of those voters, I rarely voted in the primary, but always voted in the general. This primary has brought more people into the action, but there are tens of millions more GOP voters who have not participated.

If all of Trump’s voters walked, it would be a blow, but one that could be overcome in the general election. But according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, Only 35% of his voters would walk. 2/3 would still vote for a brokered candidate. Based on current numbers, a non-Trump GOP candidate would lose 2.8 million votes in the general election. Not all 8 million. Obviously these numbers will change as the rest of the primaries are held, but the percentages will likely stay the same. A Trump campaign that is defeated at a brokered convention will take about 1/3 of his votes with him. Votes that probably won’t switch over to the Democrat candidate.

Losing a third of Trump’s voters in the general election will hurt, but it doesn’t have to be a death blow to the general election chances of the GOP. If the Democrats field an unpopular candidate like Hillary Clinton, GOP voter turnout should outpace Democrat turnout. Unless the GOP also fields an unpopular candidate. More on that later.

#NeverTrump

Compare Trump’s 1/3 walk away votes with polls showing that a full 35% of Republican primary voters won’t vote for Trump in the general. That isn’t 35% of Cruz supporters, that’s 35% of all Republican voters. #NeverTrump isn’t just Cruz supporters. Members of #NeverTrump come from the 63% of primary voters who did not vote for Trump. If that percentage holds, half of Republican voters in the GOP primary who didn’t vote Trump won’t support Trump as the eventual nominee.

There have been 22 million votes cast in Republican primaries this year, so far. More will follow as the rest of the Primaries happen. If 35% of those Republicans follow through with their claim of #Nevertrump, that is a much bigger number that the third of Trump’s 8 million voters. At this point, it’s more than 7.7 million GOP voters that will not vote for Trump. If the percentage of #NeverTrump holds, that number will grow.

Is that the death knell for a Trump presidential bid? Not necessarily, but with Trump’s growing unfavorable ratings it doesn’t look good. If 35% of your base will not vote for you, and your unfavorable numbers are far below your opponent’s (10 point difference), it becomes very hard to get out enough votes to win in the general election.

Nominating Donald Trump almost certainly hands the general election to Hillary Clinton. And, if the #NeverTrump people choose to not vote at all, it harms other GOP candidates down the ballot.

Nominating Ted Cruz will alienate some Trump supporters, but in the end, the deficit is much smaller. Plus, Cruz has actually beaten Clinton in some polls about the General election. Cruz currently trails by 2.5 in this Real Clear politics average, while Trump trails by over 10 points. Obviously, things will change during the general election cycle, but a Cruz nomination has much less to overcome than a Trump nomination going into the general election.

A #trumpertantrum walkout of Trump supporters is much better than a #NeverTrump revolt against the GOP nominee.

Anatomy of a Lie: What Trump’s Defense of Lewandowski Tells Us.

On March 8, 2016 Corey Lewandowski grabbed the arm of Michelle Fields, a reporter who was walking beside Donald Trump.

That is a fact, and at this point, no one disputes it. Here’s a timeline of the events. Why is this a big deal?

It didn’t have to be. If you look at the timeline, Fields was grabbed, and her boyfriend complains on twitter. The Trump campaign becomes aware of the complaint. This is the critical moment in this controversy. The Trump campaign has the choice in how to respond. The simplest thing would be for Lewandowski to call up Fields, and say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I grabbed you that hard. I certainly didn’t intend to hurt you. Please accept my apology.” If this happened, none of us would ever know about the incident.

But that is not what happened. Instead, they deny it. And they start to insinuate that she has been known to make up stuff, and she is just someone seeking attention.

Lewandowski claims he never touched her, and has never met her.
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In her defense, Fields tweets out pictures of her bruises. An eye witness steps forward- another reporter confirms Fields account.

Twitter gets involved. People say that if the incident was so bad, why didn’t she file a police report? There were tons of cameras, if the event happened, why didn’t anyone get video of it? Then audio of the incident comes out. Trump campaign is still denying everything. Then a few videos come out, none clearly show what happened, but you can see that Lewandowski was there. The Trump campaign story starts to change. Suddenly it might have been a Secret Service agent who grabbed Fields.

Eventually Fields does file a police report, and on March 19, 2016 the Jupiter PD serves a warrant for Lewandowski. They also release a security camera video that shows the incident. For the first time, we can all see what happened. We can’t feel what she felt, but we can see that Fields was walking beside Trump. Lewandowski approaches from behind and grabs her arm, hard enough to stop forward motion.

In an unsurprising move, the Trump campaign’s story changes again. They throw out all sorts of things, and Trump himself gets involved. He suggests that nothing really happened. He suggests that Lewandowski was trying to protect him, because she was holding something in her hand. He suggests that she was touching him, and maybe he should “sue” her for that. They suggest that Fields changed her story because the video didn’t show her falling to the ground. (She only claims that she almost lost her balance and fell to the ground, not that she actually fell.) And mostly he repeats that he is loyal to his people, so he won’t fire Lewandowski over this.

Let’s say that Fields has totally overblown this. Even that she created those bruises herself. There are still huge issues with how the Trump campaign handled this incident, ones which give you glimpse of what a Trump Presidential Administration would be like.

1. Trump doesn’t de-escalate. He blows stuff up. In this entire campaign, has there ever been a time when Trump reacted in a calm manner to any adversity? Recently his wife described his temperment:
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If Trump perceives an offense, he acts like a child. When an anti Trump PAC, which was not associated with Ted Cruz, published a tasteless ad with pictures of his wife, Trump threatened to “spill the beans” about Cruz’s wife, retweeted a demeaning photo of her, and generally made a jerk of himself for a couple of weeks about it. What happens when President Trump is offended? Presidents cannot be so thin skinned.

2. Trump is not a good judge of character. Lewandowski is not nice guy, he is a liar and a jerk. The Secret Service seemingly had no issues with Fields talking to Trump. There was no security threat. The only reason to grab her was to stop her from asking questions. But you can stop reporters without grabbing them. Then, he lied about the incident.

It might be understandable for Trump to not have realized what had happened. Even to have believed his campaign manger at first. But once that tape comes out, it is crystal clear that his manager lied about the event. He said he had never touched or or even met her. He personally tried to destroy her credibility. Now that there is video evidence that shows not only has Lewandowski met Fields, but he did in fact grab her… Trump should have admitted his campaign manger was less than truthful about the incident. Instead, he changed the story once again to help provide cover for his employee.

3. Trump will work to protect his people, even if they have done things that are wrong. Trump values loyalty over right and wrong. It is the changing story from the Trump campaign that is the most telling about his possible administration. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to change your story. What happens when a member of the Trump administration is accused of wrong doing? Will we see Trump using his bully pulpit to silence critics? Will he cover up and deflect facts so that his employees are protected? If allegations are proved to be true, will he continue to try to protect them, or will he do the right thing? His behavior in this incident indicates he will be more concerned with protecting his people than seeing truth come out and right be done.

This whole event could have been handled with an apology, they didn’t give one. Once it became clear that his employee had lied, Trump could have walked back his position, he didn’t. Trump and his campaign have bent over backwards to protect their employee. While loyalty is admirable, being loyal at the expense of truth and what is right is not.

UPDATE: Two reports have surfaced. 1. The DA has declined to prosecute Lewandowski. Already Trumpkins are touting this as proof that nothing happened. Even though video shows that something did, in fact, happen. In reality, it just means that the DA has decided not to prosecute. We don’t know what was said and done behind closed doors intros process. Which brings us to the 2nd rumor, one with Fields herself indicated was true… 2. Fields was asked if an apology from Lewandowski would suffice. Fields tweeted: “For those asking, office of prosecutor asked 2 weeks ago if I’d be ok with an apology from Corey. I said ya but haven’t heard back about it” If you remember, it was the insistence of trump supporters to either put up or shut up, referring to filing a police report, that pushed Fields to file a report. And the Police thought there was enough evidence to warrant an warrant, so to speak. Something happened.

All of this actually amplifies my point. Even after the arrest, Fields indicates she is willing to accept an apology to let it all go away. Short of an apology, she is now hinting at a civil suit for the smear Lewandowski did to her reputation. Let’s be clear, she’s not suing because he grabbed her, she would be suing because he publicly lied about what happened and tried to harm her reputation. All of this could have gone away if the Trump campaign would have simply apologized. Even if it was nothing, even if they were totally in the right. Be the bigger man, apologize. Simply say, “Hey, I didn’t realize you felt hurt by that. I am sorry. It was not my intention to harm you.” But no, and here we are weeks later still talking about what I’m sure Trump thinks is nothing. Poorly handled, on all levels, by his campaign.