Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Sacred Goods and Protective Force: A Christian Defense of Donald Trump

by Dr. David Pence

Conservative Christian leaders George Weigel, Russell Moore, R.R. Reno, Robert George, and Mark Tooley have been unusually harsh and specific in their opposition to Donald Trump as a man "unfit" to serve as U.S. president. They were joined by over a hundred "members of the Republican national security community" committing themselves to "working energetically to prevent the election of one utterly unfitted for the office." Not since Andrew Jackson has a political candidate for president evoked such scorn from both the keepers of morality and the ruling elite. The Catholic anti-Trump statement depicted him as a demagogue (appealing to the peoples’ desires, not reason); vulgar (vulgus: Latin for common people); and oafish (a derogatory term for Irish country people). Come, let us reason together.

In his 1978 Harvard address, Alexander Solzhenitsyn said:
"Without any censorship, in the West fashionable trends of thought and ideas are carefully separated from those which are not fashionable; nothing is forbidden, but what is not fashionable will hardly ever find its way into periodicals or books or be heard in colleges... [A] selection dictated by fashion...prevents independent-minded people from giving their contribution to public life."
Mr. Trump is not presenting himself as a philosophical Christian. He is not a lifelong Republican. He is against abortion, not birth control. He is not running as a movement conservative. He is running for office as an American. For many of the oafish vulgar men of our land, he speaks for their public identity. They share with that very rich man a form of fraternity -- indeed, brotherly love. It is not defined by color, but by a shared duty to protect a common land. Like Catholics who argue that their communion table should be closed, these men argue that our borders should be closed except to those we open our doors to. "If you have no borders, you have no nation," said Trump. And for a certain kind of man, having a nation is a life-and-death identity with a family history. He is the kind of man whose father and sons defend the nation in all our wars. He is more likely to protect that sacred flag with his fists than campaigning for a constitutional amendment. He defends the right to free assembly in the same way.

Donald Trump is running as a protector of Christianity, not a model Christian. It doesn’t make him sad when he sees Christians beheaded -- it makes him angry. He will never riff on how Christian martyrs are the seed of the faith. He sees their deaths as a shame and rebuke to the rest of us Christian men.

"We are going to protect Christianity. I don’t have to be politically correct... We are going to protect Christianity, and if you look at what is going on around the world; you look at Syria ,where if you are a Christian, they are chopping off heads. You look at the different places and Christianity is under siege. I’m a Protestant, Presbyterian to be exact and very proud of it, and we have to protect because bad things are happening. Very bad things are happening and I don’t know what it is."

Mr. Trump is not a model Christian. He is a tribal Christian. He would never sign the unending statements of  principles that come from the "public intellectuals." But when push comes to shove, he will call Christians together as a fighting force. Or as he put it:

"We don’t band together, maybe. And frankly other religions are banding together and using it… here we have, if you look at this country it's gotta be 70 percent, 75 percent, some people say even more. The power we have to band together, we have to unify."

As for the national security experts, Mr. Trump feels no deference to those who cannot sort out friends and foes in the Mideast or the world at large. A Jacksonian foreign policy will define our enemies and build alliances to crush them. Mr. Trump is ready to seize the lost historical opportunity that followed the Reagan-Gorbachev accord. The baby boomer presidents and their foreign policy experts could not figure out how to welcome Russia back into the fraternity of nations after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Mr. Trump will propose treating the second strongest nuclear power in Christendom -- Russia -- as an ally. Pope Francis has responded to  the crisis of Christian persecution by meeting with the Russian Patriarch after 1000 years of division. When he met the Patriarch, he called himself not the Patriarch of the West but the Bishop of Rome. President Trump will meet Russian president Putin, not as the leader of a western coalition but as a fellow nation-man. He will ally with a fighting masculine Christian nation to defeat our enemies. He will feel little loyalty to an effete West emasculated by gender ideology and open borders.

Trump speaks well of Russia and poorly of the royal Saudis. The foreign policy think tanks (like the Clinton Foundation) -- flush with Saudi contributions -- will shriek. They will recall that when Donald Trump explained his going after "the families of terrorists," he mentioned the Saudi relatives of hijackers who flew out of the United States just before and after 9-11. Trump knows, as we all know, that the great majority of the 9-11 hijackers were Saudi. Everyone knows the Wahhabi form of  Salafist Islam is centered in Saudi Arabia. They are the ideological epicenter of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab, and Boko Haram. What would Andrew Jackson do?

Those who behead our Mideast Christian brothers may soon wish America's intellectuals had been more successful in stopping the Christian nationalist Trump. Let that holy Russian believer, Solzhenitsyn, have the last word:
"A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course, there are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life. 
"Should one point out that, from ancient times, declining courage has been considered the beginning of the end?"

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