Election Day 2016 Live Blogging and Open Forum

Fellow Grove City College professor Michael Coulter (Political Science) and I will be blogging through the day and evening regarding the election. Feel free to comment via the Live Blog feature and/or here on this post. In the comments section, please include links, news, etc, which interest you about the most bizarre election season in my lifetime.
Live Blog

Live Blogging Election 2016

Bookmark this page and come back for election night when we’ll be live!
Join Grove City College professors Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter for observations and discussion of election night 2016.
As of Monday morning (11/7/16), Nate Silver’s group has Clinton with a strong probability to win.

Eric Metaxas Illustrates What Evangelicals Need to Correct

As the Donald Trump saga nears the end, it will be good to reflect on what can be learned. One thing I hope for is a backlash against false or misleading information being used by evangelicals to make their political points.
Case in point:

Of course, this kind of thing has been going on for years. However, after so many people have been repeatedly misled by so called thought leaders, I hope more evangelicals wake up to the need for simple fact checking.
On this story, Michelle Goldberg contacted the source.

So I called him. Masada told me that on Nov. 11, he got a call from a man named John—he doesn’t remember the last name—who sounded “distinguished, like an attorney.” John said he represented the Clinton campaign. He asked Masada “who had put him up” to posting the video. In a menacing voice, he told Masada, “This is not good for your business.” John then asked for the email or phone numbers of the five comedians who were featured in the video. “I told him, ‘Eff you,’ and I hung up,” says Masada.

That’s it. That’s all I could find to support the story. Even if this “John” had some connection to the Clinton campaign, it doesn’t mean Mrs. Clinton put him up to it. In any case, this hearsay is not sufficient evidence to go with a news report or even an advocacy piece (as Judicial Watch did).
Metaxas should be ashamed to spread around unsubstantiated reports in this manner and then indict the media over it. We do have a free press and Michelle Goldberg did her job. Apparently, Metaxas didn’t check it out or only believes those who report what he already believes.
To be taken seriously, evangelical leaders must become more skeptical and better fact checkers.
Update: Let’s not forget that Donald Trump doesn’t appear to have a sense of humor.

Open Forum: Eric Metaxas Sticks with Trump

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed out today, Eric Metaxas continues to confuse his audience by his support for Donald Trump.
His op-ed reminded me of this observation by Mark Noll:

The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.

As a serious defense of a vote for Trump, Metaxas fails on nearly every front. He isn’t entirely factual, he inflates the flaws of Clinton and minimizes and avoids the flaws of Trump, his reasoning is flawed, and he continues to paraphrase a quote he incorrectly attributes to Bonhoeffer as his final justification.
While I don’t know all of the facts surrounding Metaxas’ claims about Clinton, I don’t think he does either. Do we know that Hillary Clinton “actively enabled sexual predation in her husband before—and while—he was president?” My impression is that there are two sides to this claim and my informal investigations into this lead me to think the situation is more complex. In any case, is Metaxas unaware that Trump has been accused of the same thing and will have to participate in a status conference hearing on the matter in December? To my knowledge, outside of the Lewinsky case, Bill Clinton has not been convicted of anything else.
My point is not to defend Clinton on her relationship with her husband or her foreign policy mistakes. I do have problems with her actions on several fronts and her extreme positions on abortion. My point is that Metaxas asserts that his accusations are true but it is not at all clear that all of them are accurate or fair. Without evidence, this is not a Christian way to argue.
(UPDATE: Metaxas appears to be following an internet meme and not the facts on the story that Hillary Clinton laughed about getting a rapist set free. The facts contradict Metaxas’ accusations.)
Metaxas then writes:

Children in the Middle East are forced to watch their fathers drowned in cages by ISIS. Kids in inner-city America are condemned to lives of poverty, hopelessness and increasing violence. Shall we sit on our hands and simply trust “the least of these” to God, as though that were our only option? Don’t we have an obligation to them?

I have no idea what this has to do with his case. He seems to assume that helping children in the Middle East and inner city will be accomplished by a vote for Trump. I think a pretty good case can be made that Clinton is also opposed to drowning fathers and inner city poverty, hopelessness and violence.
Metaxas infuriatingly brings up Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer as if invoking them somehow strengthens his case. He seems oblivious to the fact that both men could be invoked to oppose his position. Furthermore, he seems to assume Christians opposed to Trump take their position because they are concerned with their own moral purity. Although his 2005 tape has deepened the divisions among Christians, for me, Trump’s personal morality is just one problem.
Metaxas closes with this mind bending paragraph:

A vote for Donald Trump is not necessarily a vote for Donald Trump himself. It is a vote for those who will be affected by the results of this election. Not to vote is to vote. God will not hold us guiltless.

I can’t get my head around this. A vote for Trump isn’t a vote for Trump but not to vote is to vote. And if I don’t vote for Trump then God will hold me accountable? Maybe if I don’t vote for Hillary, it will be like a vote for Trump but not really since I can vote for Trump without voting for him. Somehow I think in Metaxas’ world, I am still going to get zapped from above.
Faced with unacceptable options, not voting is a reasonable choice. Voting third party is a serious option. No evangelical Trump supporter has yet to produce a biblical mandate that I must vote for one of the two representatives in a two party system. Voting is a precious right in this republic but there is no religious mandate to vote for an unacceptable candidate.
Metaxas pretends to have omniscience to know that a vote for Trump will benefit all the right people. This is presumptuous and insults the intelligence of those who have analyzed Trump’s positions and statements and legitimately fear that his character and policies will negatively affect the greater good. Instead of actually making a case that Trump is better, he simply name drops historical heroes. Metaxas hints that he knows what Bonhoeffer would do. Since Hillary is evil incarnate, Bonhoeffer, as in like manner as he planned to kill Hitler, would vote against Hillary and for Trump. Want to be like Wilberforce and his opposition to slavery? Vote Trump!
Social media reactions to Metaxas’ op-ed:

Eric Metaxas: Donald Trump Speaks Hyperbolically and Shouldn't Be Taken Literally

According to Eric Metaxas, people who oppose Trump have taken him at his word and that is a mistake.
Read what he told Justin Brierley with Premier Christianity (UK).

Brierley: I think they would also point to some of his polices, like banning Muslims from entering the US
Metaxas: What fascinates me is how everyone takes him literally, and they don’t seem to understand that he has always spoken hyperbolically and impressionistically. That’s what he does. The idea that he is a racist or a xenophobe, I think that’s simply not true, but if you say something enough people believe it.
What about Trump’s rhetoric on Muslims and Mexicans?
If people think that he could bring xenophobic legislation into the United States of America, I just don’t believe that we would stand for it. I think what he is really talking about, which ought to be common sense, is that we’ve got to protect our borders.

The contortions of Trump’s Christian supporters are painful to watch. How else are we supposed to take the policy pronouncements of the GOP candidate for president? If we can’t take him literally, then how can anyone take him at all? Once upon a time words mattered, but in the post-modern evangelical space, a leading evangelical figure is fascinated that his fellows take the words of a presidential candidate seriously.
We are to assume Trump speaks nonsense impressionistically, but we are cautioned with the straightest of faces to take each word from Hillary as a dark prescription for the end of everything good. Furthermore, Metaxas is convinced that the American people will reject Trump’s impressions should they turn out to be literal but will be powerless to withstand Hillary’s evil mind tricks.
Every time I read Mr. Metaxas, I think of the warnings from William Buckley about hyperbolic demagoguery. Buckley knew Trump and warned about him. He also had something more general to say about how America should respond to a demagogue:

In other ages, one paid court to the king. Now we pay court to the people. In the final analysis, just as the king might look down with terminal disdain upon a courtier whose hypocrisy repelled him, so we have no substitute for relying on the voter to exercise a quiet veto when it becomes more necessary to discourage cynical demagogy, than to advance free health for the kids. That can come later, in another venue; the resistance to a corrupting demagogy should take first priority.

Ironically, Buckley’s reference to “free health for the kids” is something Mrs. Clinton championed. In so many words, Metaxas admits that Trump is spoofing us, just talking smack with the details to be named later. What should we do with such a pretender to the throne? According to Buckley, the voter’s first priority should be to reject such “cynical demagogy.” I concur.
For those who believe both Trump and Clinton are corrupted demagogues, there is potential to move the election into the House if only a certain voting bloc would follow Mr. Buckley’s advice.