Our Better Angels: The Case For Saving the GOP

At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, delegates booed God, and it took a supreme moment of parliamentary trickery to include both God and a nod to Israel’s capital being Jerusalem in their platform.

The Democrats, for all their mentions of fairness, compassion and justice (those are liberal dog whistles) are clearly not interested in our better angels as human beings. For all of its history, the Republican Party clearly is.

Born in the crucible of abolition, the GOP has always advocated for our better angels. Opposing global Communism became the boogeyman in the 20th century, leading to plenty of excesses. But Communism (with a capital “C” as a movement and a small “c” as a political system) is a godless, soulless, crushing menace.

The Republican Party freed hundreds of millions of people from Communism. Democrats would return us to its open arms bit by bit, by sliding into socialism–a gateway drug to the big “C”.

The party is worth saving.

St. Paul wrote in his closing in his epistle to the church at Phillipi:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

(Philippians 4:8-9)

The biggest issue I have with the current schism in the GOP is the level of unlovely, bad reports, disrespect, and just plain meanness I’ve seen, mostly emanating from Trump supporters.

By all accounts, in person, Donald Trump is a nice guy. A gracious host, a detail man with his employees and a charmer when he sees them. And that’s terrific. Just because someone isn’t a Bible scholar or a repentant man (notwithstanding orthodox definitions of “Christian” and “repentance”) isn’t a reason to demonize them.

I’ve also heard reports of certain high profile Christians who are demeaning and uncharitable to staffers, employees, and service workers. John Kasich called a police officer “an idiot” for ticketing him in 2011–and he characterizes himself as the “prince of light and hope” (that’s pretty close to blasphemy by orthodox Christian definitions). I had a chance meeting with Mike Huckabee on the campaign trail last summer, who was carrying his own bags and freshly pressed suit through a hotel lobby, not an aide in sight. He stopped for anyone who asked to take a selfie or have a chat, though he was clearly road worn and in a hurry.

People are people, with their rough spots and abrasiveness.

But in this campaign, if I criticize Trump, I am (at best) accused of siding with Soros and BLM activists. Really? I see memes going around the Internet that Bill Bennett predicted someone would try to assassinate Trump (it’s false). A Trump supporter–a school teacher in New York City, tweeted a death wish for Cruz’s former communications director, Amanda Carpenter, using with the most vile language possible.

Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal compared Trump’s followers to FDR’s supporters nearly a century ago.

Mr. Trump acts surprised and wounded when people suggest he is bigoted. But anyone on social media can see that there is a portion, a quadrant, of his supporters who are rough and wild—anti-Semitic, racist. Maybe, to be charitable, a lot of them are 14-year-old boys acting out on Mom’s computer while she works her second shift. But plenty are actual adults.

Someone once said of Franklin D. Roosevelt that he’s like the Staten Island Ferry, pulling all the garbage in his wake. FDR’s Democratic coalition did contain some garbage, from KKK-supporting Southern Democrats to New York communists. That was some wake! It was also 80 years ago.

America is an imperfect country populated by imperfect people, but there would be a reason Mr. Trump draws the particular kind of garbage he draws. What is it?

Her piece was headlined “will the GOP break apart or evolve?” I submit that it should do neither.

The GOP should rally around its better angels and restore itself to the principles upon which it was founded. We expect the Democrats to engage in the politics of division, tribalism, race and identity. But Trump has made those very points the center of his campaign. He is pulling all the garbage in his wake.

Mexico is bad (that means Mexicans are bad?). China is bad (that means Chinese are bad?). Illegal immigration is bad (that means illegal immigrants are bad–except when they’re good). Putin is a leader (is that good? Or is Putin bad?). The positions raise more questions than they answer. People provide their own answers based on their worldview.

The worldview I see coming from Trump supporters is that all politicians are crooked, so we might as well use that to fix the country (which is patently false); that most other countries, including our allies, are plotting to take America down and make us their toy, or pet, or slave (which is patently false); and that asking for a man or woman of Godly character to lead America, politically is a fool’s errand (which is a terrible lie).

A worldview built on such lies yields a poisonous inhumanity: a meanness that hangs like an ill-fitting suit on the party of Lincoln. There’s a difference between toughness and meanness. There’s a difference between sharp-edged and invidiousness.

Ted Cruz is sharp-edged. Trump called him “a bad talker, pretty good debater, bad talker, can’t talk.” But Cruz is not mean, and he doesn’t pull a raft of mean supporters in his wake.

Donald Trump would take the GOP and turn it into the Democratic Party seen in a mirror. Instead of social justice, there would be economic justice. Instead of minority victimization, there would be white male victimization. Instead of kowtowing to international pressures, there would be hegemony. But where would God be?

Trumpism’s supporters harbor a worldview that God is for America, so who can be against America? Paraphrasing Romans 8:31, but replacing “us” (meaning Christians) with America. It’s a worldview that leads to a hubris about America-first, American-born, American-made being automatically God-blessed. But God is not American; Jesus is not American.

If America is not on God’s side, then God will not bless America.

The Democrats are not on God’s side. The only hope for the GOP is to be on God’s side. Allowing the GOP to move into Trumpism will lead away from that hope, not toward it.

I harbor no ill will toward Trump supporters. Many of them are fine people. I won’t stop listening to Rush Limbaugh, or Sean Hannity, or Herman Cain because they like Trump. They are entitled to their opinions, and it doesn’t change their character because they believe in Trump.

But I will never vote for a man who leads people away from their better angels, and from the Godly principles which have upheld the Republican Party for 160 years. I will side with our better angels. It’s the only hope to save the GOP, and the GOP is worth saving.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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