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COLUMN: A tale of two candidates: both Biden & Trump are flawed
voters can make a moral, rational case for either one

COLUMN: A tale of two candidates: both Biden & Trump are flawed

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I REFUSE to argue politics on social media. There’s no point. Minds will not be changed and it just pollutes what should be a friendly public sphere.

I did laugh out loud recently, though, when reading a post that was a rant against Trump supporters. “I have yet to see a rational explanation of how anyone could support that man,” the writer said.

Comment after comment repeated that refrain, until one person very tentatively wrote, “Some people tend to vote based on the person’s policies, not personality.”

That poor woman got pounded. “I take it you’re voting for Trump!” “How could you?” “He’s arrogant! A misogynist!” and on and on it went.

And I thought, no wonder these people haven’t read a rational explanation for supporting Trump: Anyone brave enough to stick his or her head out of the foxhole gets it blown off immediately.

It’s ugly out there in social medialand.

I don’t care who you vote for. I really don’t. What bothers me is our refusal to try to understand other points of view.

Instead, we launch RPGs at anyone who doesn’t agree with us. We pile on as a mob until we make the French Revolution look rational. (If you don’t get that reference, look it up. Or read “The Tale of Two Cities.”)

A couple of weeks ago at the Democratic National Convention, candidate Joe Biden called Trump “a threat to democracy.” Meanwhile, a Florida Republican said that Democrats want to “disarm you, empty prisons, lock you in your home, and invite MS–13 to live next door.” Hyperbole is the new national sport.

Let’s see if we can be rational about this.

Joe Biden has some things working against him and some things working for him. He is past his prime. He loses his train of thought and mixes up words. He has misjudged foreign policy for decades, according to former Obama Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and has spent his entire adult life in Washington working in the government he now says he’ll fix.

He’s also got a sexual misconduct allegation lingering and a reputation as “creepy Uncle Joe.” He’s moved far to the left on abortion and immigration as he tries to adapt to his party’s slide in that direction. He has promised huge tax increases. A lot of people think he’s a Trojan horse for the radical left who will attempt to significantly change the fabric of the nation.

So why do people support Biden? He’s “normal.” He’s not erratic. He doesn’t offend people every time he opens his mouth. He’s charming, compassionate and kind. He looks and acts like a statesman. A lot of people think he could bring healing to the nation.

In short, he’s “not Trump.”

And then there’s the man who “is Trump.” Donald Trump is lewd, crude, bombastic, and egotistical. His mouth has no filter. He has mistreated associates, used women, and he stirs up anger and hatred, especially on Twitter. He is racially insensitive and he lacks some important leadership qualities, including the ability to unite the nation.

Important Republican leaders are repelled by his vulgarity. So why would anyone vote for Trump? Especially any Christian?

Hardly a day goes by without someone in the national media slamming Trump-supporting Christians for their “hypocrisy.” And I see it all the time on social media.

Andrew Walker does a good job writing about this in National Review. He says that in between the “Never Trump” and the “Always Trump” factions there’s a large group of “Reluctant Trump” supporters. These are folks who agree that the president is boorish and crude, and that his lifestyle and personal choices are often abhorrent. “I don’t know a single religious conservative who isn’t embarrassed by Trump’s tirades,” Walker writes.

But Reluctant Trumpers look at the Democrats’ agenda: unlimited abortion, threats against religious liberty (see: Beto O’Rourke), disregard for the rule of law and privacy concerns (see: Kamala Harris), and lack of support for the police and military. These “planks” look like a rotten party platform, and the out-of-control demonstrations in cities allowed by Democrats only add to the bad look.

In contrast, Reluctant Trumpers look past Trump’s personality and find they like the president’s policies and achievements: tax cuts, conservative judges, scaling back government regulations, forging a major peace deal in the Middle East, standing up to China, standing up to Iran, his pro-life agenda, and a booming economy pre-COVID.

Weighing these two choices, Reluctant Trumpers have decided that voting for Trump is “a pragmatic concession to living in a fallen world.”

To be sure, other conservative Christians have come to different conclusions, as David French and Michael Gerson have written. And that’s my point: There is no perfect candidate this year. (Where are you, Gen X-ers? How’d we end up with a choice between two 70-something Baby Boomers again?)

A person can make a rational, moral decision to vote for either candidate, or choose a third way, based on how much weight he or she puts on various factors.

So why do we condemn each other? Have we forgotten that there are shades of gray outside of racy novels?

Lay down your dueling pistols, Americans, and give your fellows the freedom to follow their consciences.

Linda J. White, a former assistant editorial page editor, lives in Fauquier County. She can be reached through her website, lindajwhite.net.

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