Thanks to Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review for asking Eric Metaxas how he reconciles his call for public virtue with his support for Donald Trump. It still doesn’t make sense to me but at least the contradiction is exposed and obvious.
I addressed Metaxas’ alarmism in a post earlier today. In today’s NR post, Lopez asked Metaxas if leaders need to display virtue. Metaxas said “generally, yes.” Then Lopez brings the money to the table:
KJL: Does that automatically suggest one cannot vote for one Donald J. Trump?
METAXAS: Not only can we vote for Trump, we must vote for Trump, because with all of his foibles, peccadilloes, and metaphorical warts, he is nonetheless the last best hope of keeping America from sliding into oblivion, the tank, the abyss, the dustbin of history, if you will. If you want to know how bad things are in America, and how far we have gone, read the previous sentence aloud over and over.
Donald Trump is our “last best hope?!” He will keep us from the abyss? These sentences don’t tell me how bad things are in America but they do indicate the seriousness of Metaxas’ apocalyptic fever.
If the answer to America’s problems is in his new book, where in his book does he recommend anti-virtue? He argues against himself. He says we are at the abyss and to fix this, we must recapture faith which leads to virtue which leads to freedom. However, he then argues Republicans should acquiesce to Donald Trump’s nomination which brings us someone who:
- praises Putin and thinks a friendly meeting with Kim Jong-un is a good idea
- advocates torture for combatants and death to civilian families
- declares a judge to be unfair because of his heritage
- wants to deport 11 million people
- limits the freedom of the press
- singles out an entire religion for discrimination
- rationalizes Trump University, other business misadventures too numerous to mention, and his obvious lack of preparation to be president
In the interview, Metaxas claims that Hillary is so bad that the nation will not survive her. To me, this shows a stunning lack of historical perspective. Hillary is not blameless by any means but there is no comparison which places Trump in the category of America’s last best hope.
If Trump is America’s last best hope, then Metaxas needs to withdraw his book because there is absolutely nothing in it we need.
Instead, we need GOP delegates to have a Bonhoeffer moment at the convention. They are not bound to vote for the worst choice. I recently saw Thomas Jefferson quoted in a Weekly Standard article on this very point. In 1810, Jefferson answered a question posed by John Colvin about deviating from observance of the law:
A strict observance of the written law is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to the written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the ends to the means.
Sure, it would be a long shot to contest the primary results, but it would not be impossible. In this case, doesn’t virtue demand it? Trump is not now the nominee. What would Bonhoeffer do? Give up? Give in?