Jim Bennett: Trump’s policies are neither moral nor conservative

(Evan Vucci | AP file photo) In this Sept. 1, 2017, photo, religious leaders pray with President Donald Trump after he signed a proclamation for a national day of prayer to occur on Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. White evangelical Protestants stand noticeably apart from other religious people on how the government should act on two of the most politically divisive issues at play in the 2020 presidential election, according to an early December 2019 poll of Americans from various faith backgrounds.

Christianity Today’s bold and brilliant editorial calling for the removal of Donald Trump prompted a response from Dennis Prager, a conservative pundit who frames political issues through a moral perspective that is often missing from the public conversation.

In his response, Prager insists that the policies Trump has advanced have a far greater moral impact than his lack of personal integrity, and that those policies are worth, “Mr. Trump’s occasional crude language and intemperate tweets.”

What Prager never mentions, however, is that Trump was not impeached for crude language and intemperate tweets. He was impeached for using nearly half a billion dollars of taxpayer money as leverage to get a foreign government to dig up dirt on a political opponent. If President Obama had withheld similar financial aid from a foreign government until they agreed to investigate Mitt Romney, would Dennis Prager fail to take notice?

Yet none of this troubles a majority of my fellow Latter-day Saints, as they argue that Trump’s supposed policy triumphs outweigh even these egregious violations of legal and ethical norms. But Trump’s policies are neither moral nor conservative.

Republicans seem unconcerned that Trump is the most profligate spender we’ve ever had in the Oval Office. He is running higher deficits and adding more to the national debt than any president in history. His trade policies show a contempt for free markets that would have Ronald Reagan rolling over in his grave. And his immigration policies bear no resemblance to those of any prior Republican president, and they should be especially repugnant to Latter-day Saints.

Consider that the state of Utah was settled by Latter-day Saint refugees who were driven from their homes because of what they believed. So how can Latter-day Saints now stand idly by as this president turns his back on those facing similar circumstances in the 21st Century?

The answer, it seems, is that it all boils down to the single issue of abortion.

It seems there is no limit to the sins that the pro-life movement is willing to overlook in exchange for a judiciary that might finally overturn Roe v. Wade. What they fail to recognize is that overturning Roe and all subsequent precedents would likely be devastating to the pro-life movement.

Abortion rates have been plummeting for years, but that free-fall would likely stop if Roe were overturned and abortion advocates were newly galvanized into action. After all, overturning Roe v. Wade wouldn’t make abortion illegal; it would return the issue to the states, many of which have already codified protections for abortion far beyond what is provided for in Roe.

Yes, some states would make abortion illegal, and, as we learned from the boycotts in the wake of North Carolina’s disastrous “Bathroom Bill,” they would quickly become economic pariahs from the nation at large. The cultural fissures between red and blue states would deepen into chasms, and it would all be for nothing. Abortion rates would likely remain unchanged, as those seeking abortion would merely have to cross state lines in order to get one.

Latter-day Saints are also in a unique position here, as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches that abortion can be morally justified in cases of rape and incest or when the life or health of the mother is threatened by the pregnancy. But Trump is listening to the extremists currently driving the abortion debate who are clamoring for laws that would not allow for these exceptions. Is that the moral stance Latter-day Saints ought to be taking?

It is undeniable that immoral men have served as presidents of the United States. What is unique about our current circumstance is that Trump isn’t simply an immoral man. He is presiding over an immoral administration. His public actions are largely at odds with the Christian principles that ought to animate the faith of believers of every stripe. That is why the Senate should do their constitutional duty and remove Donald Trump from office.

With all due respect to Dennis Prager, Christianity Today had it right. It’s time that Latter-day Saints took notice.

(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

Jim Bennett ran for Congress as the first candidate for the United Utah Party in 2017. He is currently a founding partner of Canonizer.com and a freelance writer in Sandy.