Editor’s note: Dana Hall McCain writes about faith, culture, and politics for AL.com.. She is a member of the 2020 Leadership Council for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. I do not know her, but find her thoughts grounded in common sense, a too unusual happening these days.
I share a recent piece she wrote. She hit the nail on the head regarding what happened on Nov. 3. The sooner more people come to their senses and understand this, the better we will all be:
“There’s only one person to blame for the GOP’s loss of the White House, and it’s the guy living in it. Voters sent a message to Washington last week that they are warm to conservative policies but couldn’t stomach another four years of Donald J. Trump.
How do we know? Because Republican candidates performed well above expectations down-ballot. Americans overall rejected a wholesale move toward more progressive policies, even flipping unexpected House seats to red.
So why the different outcomes for the President and congressional Republicans?
I’ve had countless conversations with fellow conservatives about Trump’s policies versus Trump’s personality in the last four years. Often, others would encourage me to set aside my concerns regarding the President’s arrogance and dishonesty, arguing that his policies made up for it.
While there were elements of his policy agenda I supported (and some that I didn’t because they were not conservative in theory or practice), I didn’t buy that argument. Character is destiny. A lack of character will eventually catch up with you, extracting a toll from you and those who depend upon you.
In the run-up to the election, focus groups and polls showed places where Trump was bleeding support. One notable weak spot was in the active-duty military. An August 2020 Military Times poll showed that Joe Biden was improving upon Hillary Clinton’s 2016 performance with military voters by roughly 20 points.
While not a monolith, military voters are a crucial portion of the Republican base. But you can’t — especially as a person who has never served — denigrate the service of revered POWs and insult Gold Star families. You can’t bring top brass into your administration in an attempt to ride the coattails of their hard-earn credibility, only to publicly fire and insult them when they won’t do your bidding.
Not if you want to retain the loyalty of people who know what it costs to wear that uniform and earn those ranks.
Other data discovered a small but significant slice of 2016 Trump voters who didn’t plan to vote for him again, with many citing his character flaws and divisive nature more than any particular policy failure as the reason why. They weren’t mad about the massive influx of conservative judges into the federal judiciary and SCOTUS (easily Trump’s most significant achievement). They didn’t hate the tax cut. They weren’t angry about pro-Isreal foreign policy.
His policies didn’t cost him this election. His mouth and that infernal Twitter account did.
He’s like a quarterback who loses his composure and gets personal fouls all night, killing drive after drive and costing his team the game. You can have all the right answers and talent in the world, but if you lack self-discipline, you are a liability to your team in crucial moments.
Even some Christians found a way to soften the way they talked about the President’s failures of character in the last four years. Some used terms like “style” or “personality” to describe his flaws. As if those worst behaviors were neutral and simply a matter of taste.
In the church I grew up in, we called those things sin: arrogance, pride, a lack of self-control. And sin bears fruit.
So if your conservative heart is, like mine, concerned about the prospect of a Biden-Harris administration and what that might mean for religious liberty, or unborn children, or the economy, know this: it is Donald Trump’s fault that we now face those risks.
All he had to do was govern with the self-control of a mature adolescent. All he had to do was care more for the greater goals than for indulging his ego. But he didn’t.
And I can’t even blame him or be mad at him about it because he showed America who he was every day of his life leading up to 2016. Some of you thought electing such a man would be cute. (He’s an outsider! He’s so real! He’s a businessman! I love it when he owns the libs!) You voted in the 2016 Republican primaries with all the wisdom and seriousness of people participating in a reality show poll.
So you got a President who is a reality show personality when what America — and conservatism — needed was a statesman.
And now the show is canceled after one season.
Will we learn anything from this experience? Or will we continue in future election cycles to indulge our desire to be entertained over our need for wise, sober, humble leadership?
I genuinely don’t know. But it sure would be a shame to have endured this fiasco and to have learned nothing from it.”