So Anthony Kennedy is retiring from the Supreme Court at the end of July. This news was received with something like melting-face-consternation by the denizens of the Left, who have been pretty unhappy with Trump so far as it is. And by “pretty unhappy” I mean levels of anguish usually reserved for those highly refined musical aesthetes who, in a firm disciplinary measure, are put into a room full of enthusiastic musical hacks with badly tuned banjos, just hammering away.
For any “principled” conservatives left who object to the whole show on “principle”—and I mean all three of you—we do need to review what the heck has been happening
I want to make a basic distinction that we must hang on to here, which is that there is a profound difference between being invested in Trump’s character, personality, outlook, philosophy, and so on, and enjoying Trump’s character, personality, outlook, philosophy, and so on. Those in the former category have boarded—some early and some late—the Trump train. He’s their man. They believe in him. For all kinds of reasons, many of which I have explained a number of times, this represents a genuine spiritual hazard. Trust not in princes
But those in the latter category have decided that—at least with regard to His providential and inscrutable decrees—God’s commitment to #NeverTrump has been inadequate, and so it is perfectly all right to review everything that is happening, and to take it all into account. Not only so, but if we take it all into account, we will find ourselves enjoying the spectacle. I can’t tell you when I have enjoyed a spectacle more.
A commonplace on the soft evangelical left has been that evangelicals have discredited themselves, turning young people away from the evangelical movement forever. After all, they voted overwhelmingly for Trump, and even if they had much preferred someone else in the primaries, and were only doing it while holding their nose in a last desperate move to stop Hillary, even so, the argument goes, they nevertheless compromised the gospel.
Part of the freak out with regard to Kennedy’s resignation is that this appointment appears to shifting the general perception, turning people from the narrative of evangelical compromise to that of an evangelical gamble. What’s more, it appears to have been a gamble that might succeed. It is now a real possibility that Roe may be struck down. It hasn’t happened yet, and nobody should be doing a touchdown dance on their own thirty-yard-line, but the prospect is a real possibility. If that happens, and the gamble paid off, the likelihood is very strong that it will then be seen and understood as a high risk gamble, and not as a fatal compromise.
I did not vote for Trump because of character issues, and because I did not believe him. I did not believe he would do what he was promising—because character affects a man’s ability to keep his promises. But I do have eyes in my head, and he has actually been doing a number of things that should delight every mother’s son of us. Not everything, obviously, but far more than we had any right to expect. Not only so, but he is doing far more than we had any right to expect from any of his primary rivals. And we kind of have to deal with the fact of that.
The complaint from the soft evangelical left—that “this is mere pragmatic consequentialism”—is a complaint that was voided for them by their recent celebration of the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death—a man whose personal morals were in (Trump-level) tatters.
So as I have written before, we should not so much be enjoying what Trump is doing, as we should be enjoying what God is giving us through what Trump is doing. The way this is happening reveals that we do not deserve the deliverance (and/or reprieve) we appear to be getting. But it is happening nonetheless.
This is not to say that I am reducing what we should do down to us making two columns labeled “policy agreements” and “policy disagreements,” and making the whole thing an abstraction, and with all agreements and disagreements registered with our indoor voice. “Court appointments. Agree.” “Trade wars and tariffs. Disagree.”
No, something much more rambunctious than that is going on. This is a regular rannygazoo.
We are not talking about an ungodly president who sometimes does things we like and who sometimes does not. We are talking about an ungodly man who, for some reason, has decided to attack, criticize and insult virtually every sacred cow on the left side of America’s political pasture. In other words, we are not talking about the mixed bag that was Rehoboam; we are talking about the mixed bag that was Jehu.
Now someone is going to say—and the point is well-taken and worth considering—that consequentialism is still bad, even if the soft evangelical left does it too. Once you start judging the morality of an action by the purported consequences, once you start saying that the end justifies the means, that’s how you wind up with a Holocaust.
Right. But we were already in the middle of an American Holocaust—60 million babies slaughtered to date, ten times the number of Jews that Hitler killed, and just like the concentration camp doctors, we have done unconscionable things with the pieces afterward. And we are now looking at the prospect of that ending.
I said earlier that Trump has been insulting all of the sacred cows of the left. That entire sacred hierarchy has consequently been thrown into upheaval—and their unhinged behavior shows that they are much more aware of the threat to them than we believers appear to be. Whether we are talking about the preachers of the “fake news” media, the high priests of the Court, the bloody sacrament of abortion, the entire edifice is shaking.
Trump is a wrecking ball. I do not say this as an endorsement of whatever inchoate conservative philosophy he might have. Neither do I endorse any of his feuds, or adulteries, or tweetstorms. I don’t have a MAGA hat. But whatever hat I do have, as we view this coming confirmation battle, I am sure I will want to take it off as I watch.
We do not deserve what we may be getting. But if we receive it, God is giving it to us through Trump, lest any man should boast.