On Friday afternoon, I walked into my local polling place and cast my first vote for President of the United States of America. It’s a moment I have waited for since my early teens when I first started following politics.
But instead of voting for the Republican nominee, I wrote in someone I deeply admire and respect. Who that was is irrelevant, but my vote certainly did not go to Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
I’ve never liked Trump, but for me, the final line was when Trump attacked Senator John McCain on July 18 of last year, saying that he “liked people who weren’t captured.”
That afternoon, I posted on Facebook: “If you still support Donald Trump after today, I am going to have a a very hard time respecting you.”
Over the past few months, I’ve been challenged by friends and family members, called a “Hillary-lover,” “cuck,” and various other things that I won’t repeat here, and told I was a bad Christian because I refused to vote for Trump. But I’ve never looked back or questioned that decision.
Personally, my opposition to Trump is based far more on his personal character (or lack thereof) than any policy difference. There are many politicians with which I disagree on almost everything, yet still respect because of their personal moral character.
Certainly, Trump’s support for single-payer healthcare, higher taxes, and Planned Parenthood all go against my conservative beliefs. Voting for him would also go against my personal conviction to never vote for a pro-choice candidate.
However, policy differences are not the be all end all. I would have disagreed to a degree with any of the Republican candidates on certain policy issues. All of the other Republican candidates, however, were more or less decent human beings. Trump, on the other hand, is a narcissistic, bigoted egomaniac.
At the end of the day, I did not vote for Donald Trump because I firmly believe that character, morals, and integrity still matter.
You can argue, as many Christian leaders have, that “we are not electing a pastor-in-chief.” This is true. The government and church are separate entities, and by nature all men are fallen creatures. None of us are perfect.
But is it asking too much to demand that our leaders show basic decency, honor, and respect? Is is unreasonable to hold our leaders to the same moral standard to which we hold those around us? I think not.
“Americans as a whole seem to forget the gravitas of this decision. Choosing a leader is more than the filling of a circle or touch of a screen. The choice each voter makes may be personal and secret, but is a direct reflection of the principles he or she stands for. To cast a vote for one candidate is to endorse the principles of that candidate, for better or worse.”
The principles that you consider when you make that choice extend far beyond the voting booth. They are the same principles that you treat others by. They are the principles you bring to your workplace, your family, and your church. They are the principles you may one day impart to your children. When faced with a choice of principle, Christians should consider that they must one day defend that choice before God.”
I simply could not vote for Donald Trump with a clear conscience. To cast my ballot for Donald Trump would be to put my approval on his racist attacks on Hispanics, his vulgar comments about women, and his general disrespect for anyone who crossed his path.
I cannot proclaim that all people are made in the image of God and should be treated as such, and then vote for man who treats Hispanics like lesser human beings.
I cannot say that all lives matter to God, and then vote for a man who treats entire races of people with contempt.
I cannot insist that the sanctity of marriage matters, and then vote for a serial adulterer.
I cannot look at my mother, sister, and future wife, and tell them that I respect them while voting for a man who sees them as objects.
You simply cannot claim to hold certain moral principles and then vote for a man who violates every single one of those principles on a regular basis.
My dad did his best to raise me as a man of integrity. He taught me to live with honor, and to treat women with the utmost respect. I fall short many times, but his words of advice and wisdom will always be with me.
And one day if I have a son, I will do my best to teach him the same lessons my dad taught me. And one day, that son may ask me if I voted for Donald Trump back in 2016. How could I look my son in the eye and tell him that I voted for a man who violated every moral principle I am now teaching him to live by?
I don’t know what the next four years will hold. But I know that my trust is in God, and my conscience is clear.