I think that capitalism has been better for social mobility and economic growth than any other manmade system in the history of the world. I believe that the pie of wealth and opportunity can get bigger, that it’s better to incentivize people to produce more than to take from one slice and reallocate to another. I think it’s bad policy to tax income and capital like they’re the same thing. I think the government makes it way too difficult for entrepreneurs to be successful; I think the way the government treats employers often makes them wish they weren’t employers anymore. I believe in free markets and pluralism and equality of opportunity.
I believe in human dignity. I know that all men and women are created equal. I value humility in leadership. I value healthy political discourse. I believe that compromise, reconciliation, and good answers only ever follow mutual respect. I think the importance of mutual respect is magnified when it comes to sexuality. I think women should rightfully expect the men they interact with to have integrity. I think men who objectify women or verbally threaten sexual assault should be admonished, and considered ineligible for influence or leadership, effective immediately.
These sets of beliefs and priorities have never been mutually exclusive. I still don’t think they are. But, which holds the Trump card when the party who endorses the former nominates a man who rejects the latter?
Fellow conservatives, this isn’t a case of micro-aggression or an invasion of a predetermined safe space. I’m not offering you a trigger warning, because if you’ve been inaudibly apologizing for the Republican nominee for 16 months or vociferously defending him for the past three, you need to be offended by the things that he’s said.
The candidate offends often when he knows he’s live. I thought we had heard it all. Now we’re learning how far he goes when he’s oblivious to a microphone or a recording device. I had a vivid memory today of a bulletin board in an old grade school classroom that read, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”
[I’m only censoring for profanity because this blog post is going on the same page as a bunch of stuff I wrote about Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address.]
“I did try and f*** her. I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’ I moved on her like a b****, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.” –Donald J. Trump, Republican Nominee for President of the United States
“I’ve gotta use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful. I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.” –Donald J. Trump, Republican Nominee for President of the United States
“And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” –Donald J. Trump, Republican Nominee for President of the United States
What concerns me most this evening is that voters, Americans, people on the internet, Christians reading his illogic, insensitivity, and outright implications of sexual assault are reasoning away the comments, making it seem as if other candidates are guilty of things worst than disdaining human dignity.
Christians. If you feel that another Democrat in the White House—albeit one who must work with a Congress not controlled by her party or her ideology—is a greater threat to the future of this country than a man who thinks name recognition is a pass to grope your wives, your sisters, your daughters, women, then I question your motives, your morality, and your faith in earthly leaders.
Tonight I made this case on the internet. I was told to take a logic class once and to calm down twice, on a purportedly Evangelical social media thread riddled with individuals grasping at straws to understate the appalling comments made by the right’s so-called standard-bearer.
So here, I’ll try to say it better. A political proclivity that endorses capitalism and a worldview that elevates human dignity are not mutually exclusive. I should not have to, I do not have to ignore the latter to righteously guarantee the perpetuity of the former. It confounds me that this is exactly what Trump apologists are doing, whether they are explicit about it or not. I believe in the history the Republican Party is made of, the ideas about liberty and equality that fused the cornerstone of its beginning. I’ll bet I believe in it all more than most do.
Free markets are good. I don’t like the current tax code or our health care system either. But the intrinsic value of human life pre-dated the federal government’s authority to levy an income tax. Without this—“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”—what does the rest of it matter?
And so, Donald Trump’s supporters need to understand the upshot of their priorities and what it actually means for their political worldview and their party. It’s not simply that the perseverance of conservatism and the elevation of human dignity can coexist—it’s that conservatism cannot persevere unless we elevate human dignity.