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Op-Ed: Why I voted for TrumpPatricia Tice explains how she became a Donald Trump supporter after her personal Republican favorite dropped out of the GOP primary race. As the eventful race between Trump and Hillary Clinton progressed, it was more and more obvious to Tice that she would vote Republican.
After the recent US election, I see both sides completely confused by the choices the other side made. I see horror and elation and frankly, I don’t recognize anybody anymore on either side though I am trying.
I am a middle-aged white woman with a master’s degree and plenty of letters after my name. I live in a middle-class suburb and work hard to encourage urban function and form. I read. My kindle has nearly 15,000 books and I’ve at least skimmed through most of them. My personal library is even larger and threatens to take over my home. I am proficient in engineering, urban planning, neurobiology, exceptional student education, abuse recovery, disability and a huge chunk of medicine. I substitute teach so I can spy on my kids. My house is a wreck most of the time but my teenagers are sane and my husband hasn’t gotten fed up with me yet. We have experienced trauma, loss, pain and disappointment—just like you have.
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The truth is that 81% of evangelicals voted for Trump and though I am not an uneducated white male, I did too. I’ve heard many say that the evangelicals “gave away the farm,” and have lost their moral compass for supporting him. I see us being true to who we are. This is what I saw:
I was initially very distrusting of Trump. I didn’t watch the Apprentice. It’s not my kind of show. I knew of him as a caricature and a liberal one at that. I assumed he was running so that Hillary Clinton couldn’t lose either way. My personal favorite was Ben Carson. He is nuanced, soft-spoken, self-controlled, and inspiring—all things I long to be myself. When he dropped out of the race and threw his support behind Trump, I was confused. How could someone I admire so deeply support someone so brash and crazy? Still, I do my best to never mistake anyone’s persona for their heart so I cautiously watched.
Carson said he had known the man for many years and that he was far different than what his bluster portrayed, so for his sake, I chose to reserve judgment. What I came to see was that Trump had a huge life-change about a decade ago and had become a very different person. There had been plenty of time for us to see that the change was not window dressing. He’s not just stopped chasing skirts. Even the kids from his former marriages honor and respect him. He takes his wife’s advice, honoring her not just as an equal but as wiser than himself. This is not the behavior of an egotistic, self-centered, misogynist pig. Repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation are core Christian values. We may not trust a change right away, but we will act on genuine long-term change when we recognize it because we all know we have been changed too.
Those who met with him privately noted that he was far more reserved and was genuinely insightful with a keen ability to see through posturing. Others quoted him talking about how every other group in the US could get away with speaking out but the press had been rough on Christians. He gently accused our Christian leadership of not standing up for ourselves. He gave us a safe space and encouraged us to stay at the table. I remembered all the times that my own boldness and candor had been squashed. I missed my braver, younger self. Trump may be 70 but he pulls off the passion of 23 pretty well.
Then I began to look closer at Clinton. I had admired her in the past. She always seemed articulate and poised but this time, the shine felt fake and tenuous. I was in a focus group she held early in the campaign and I liked the whole “Stronger Together” theme. I just wasn’t sure her “together” included me. Americans have always been a pretty tolerant lot. The stories of our founding create a social contract that places the highest value on the freedom to follow your own conscience. We even protect Satanists and atheists as long as they’re not torturing animals or killing people. When she came out and said that people who believe abortion is wrong just need to change their beliefs, that was an ideological deal-breaker for me. But then it got worse.
The Wikileaks dumps showed her and her staff as negligent at best and intentionally deceitful on a regular basis. She knew, as did everyone, that all emails maintained by the government are kept for posterity so that historians can eventually go back and reconstruct the era. “Pay for play” would not make for the glowing posterity she saw for herself so she chose to hide those discussions on private servers. How ironic that the very systems she intended to use to hide her less flattering choices became the very avenue that those choices became broadcast to the world (Luke 12:3 comes to mind).
I could have rationalized her “pay for play” practices if the parties were reasonable people. Had we found Australia paying for access to the State Department, it would be troubling because they should have it anyway, but it wouldn’t be surprising. I’ve seen it happen at the local level. It’s an unfortunate part of political life—crooked but shrewd. Pay to play with those who are bankrolling our enemies is suicidal. I’m not a fan of Obama’s Islamophilia but Clinton’s financial connections to those governments that she knew were behind funding ISIS and al-Qaeda amounts to treason. Never mind that it is horribly hypocritical in the face of all her bluster about women’s rights and the humanitarian protection of children. All the while, ISIS was publicly beheading, raping and butchering my Christian brothers and sisters just for being Christians.
And then, when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. For some reason, the “Spirit Cooking” thing wasn’t a surprise. I counted it up as the craziness of bored New Yorkers—and assumed that the enemy of our souls had found another curious cat to devour. However, the Wikileaks release over the weekend before the election took a genuinely frightening turn when language started showing up in the Podesta emails including trigger words for child trafficking and sexual abuse. Seriously, not ok. Then, the eerie familiarity of the police sketches for the kidnappers of a Portuguese girl was enough to make my skin crawl.
So I did what evangelicals do. I prayed. I prayed by myself, with others, both day and night. I prayed for mercy we don’t deserve. I prayed for innocents to be rescued. I prayed for corruption to be exposed. By the morning of Election Day, I had peace. It may be trendy to talk about “Mother Earth,” spirit guides and trusting that the “universe” will work it all out. Evangelicals have understood that the unseen world has more power than what is seen long before the Burning Man was even imagined. We’re also willing to believe that our limited point of view necessitates insight from Someone who has a higher vantage point. Humility is rational when you understand the scale of the players. This is not narrow-minded any more than it is narrow-minded to insist that fireplaces are appropriate inside a place for a bonfire.
I continue to pray. I pray for unity, though I understand that will take a miracle. I pray for the peace of Jerusalem though I understand peace is a process and Jerusalem has many enemies and makes more every day. I read widely, praying as I go. I don’t pray because I can’t do anything else. I pray because nothing else I do provides the same insight, authority and power. I am very pragmatic about this. You don’t bring mere words to a gun battle unless those words have more eternal power than the gun.
Is Trump the Christian leader of my dreams? Hardly. Neither was Lincoln, Churchill, or Cyrus the Mede. I still have mixed feelings about Jefferson, Washington and Ben Franklin though their work has turned out reasonably well. I don’t need my airline pilot to be a Christian either. I need him to fly a plane. Trump is an expert at managing large organizations efficiently. He’s good at picking good people, regardless of their race, color or even sexual preference. He has offered us a seat at the table that is neither marginalized nor center stage, as it should be. He is privately generous and personally astute. He has really great kids who still show up even when their father is publicly embarrassing to them. I’ll take that any day over a self-centered organization that looks competent, accepting and respectable but has shown itself to be consistently negligent, lewd and intolerant.
Actions speak far louder than words.