Another day, another outrageous thing done by Donald Trump come to light. Off the top of my head: He said Mexican immigrants are criminals, drug dealers, and rapists; he tried to delegitimize the first black president of the United States by questioning where he was born (even after Barack Obama produced his birth certificate); he wanted to use eminent domain to bulldoze a woman’s house so that he could build a parking lot; he is a serial adulterer who has boasted about his adultery; he pressured his second wife to pose nude for Playboy; he makes sex jokes about his daughter; he is a “billionaire” who donates almost no money to charity; he started a fake university that left students with worthless degrees and Trump with their money; when the Florida attorney general started sniffing out this controversy, Trump paid her $25,000 from his charitable foundation to get her to back off (sadly, it worked); he lies like other people breathe oxygen; he lost nearly $1 billion in 1995 and his hotels and casinos way underperformed the rest of the stock market throughout the 1990s (spare me the “at least he is a good businessman” nonsense); he was sued by the government for refusing to rent his houses to black people; there are many, many other scandals and I just cannot list all of them.
And now: A tape has shown Donald Trump telling Billy Bush that he tried to [extremely vulgar word that means to have sex] another married woman, and said, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Obviously, as the candidate for president from the Republican Party, many people support Donald Trump for president, many people I know — many good people. For a lot of these folks, Trump is not their ideal candidate. They wanted someone else. But, as Republicans who dislike Hillary Clinton, they feel obliged to vote for the GOP ticket. We know what Clinton will do as president, they argue, and it is nothing good. We don’t know what Trump will do — maybe he will appoint good judges to the Supreme Court, maybe he will surround himself with good people who can tell him what to do, maybe with his decisive leadership style from a lifetime spent in the world of business he will actually get things done in Washington.
I am utterly unconvinced by all of these arguments: he has no idea what a good judge to the Court would look like, he hasn’t surrounded his own campaign for president with good people, and he is not that good of a businessman. But these are the arguments people have made to me. Fine. We can disagree.
But one thing we should all keep in mind as we vote is that character matters.
My church-going brothers and sisters who support Trump may say, “We aren’t electing a pastor-in-chief,” and they are right, as far as that goes. Our president need not have the ability to preach the gospel with great clarity, he or she need not pass every qualification for elder in Titus 1, he or she need not subscribe to the Apostle’s Creed and have strong, orthodox theological convictions.
However, every president must swear an oath onto the Bible before he or she is inaugurated: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
We must, at the very least, hold our candidates to this character standard. Too many men and women, living and dead, have sacrificed far too much to shirk this responsibility. There is a basic character standard by which all of our presidents and presidential candidates should be judged, a standard which lays out a man or woman’s basic fitness for the most powerful office in the world. We must, at the very least, vote for candidates who can solemnly swear; who have the ability to execute the many important duties of the Office of President of the United States; who aspire to do their best, not for themselves, but for “we the people”; who will preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. When we do not trust that person, whether in office or out, to do these things, it is incumbent on us as free citizens in this constitutional republic to relinquish our support and oppose him or her. We can only trust that person if they have the character required to fulfill the solemn duty of such a high office.
Many of you, my friends and family, already believe that Hillary Clinton fails this basic test. You do not trust her to fulfill this duty. Neither do I.
Donald Trump does not pass this basic test of character. Donald Trump is unfit for the Office of President of the United States. Donald Trump, who to this point in his life has shirked nearly every oath or contractual obligation he has taken, be it his marriage vow(s) or contracts to pay his employees and others who have worked for him, cannot be trusted to solemnly swear to this oath. Donald Trump, whose ignorance of the Constitution and its provisions extends so far that he told Republican congressmen that he would protect constitutional articles that do not exist, cannot be trusted to preserve, protect, and defend it.
Donald Trump need not meet the requirements to be our “pastor-in-chief” — which he certainly does not. But he must meet the requirements to be our commander-in-chief. And he very plainly does not.