For those About to Vote: Please, for the love of God (and neighbor) …

First, if you have already voted, or if you are going to vote on November 3, thank you. Thank you for using your hard-won right to vote and power of the ballot to steer the United States in the direction you feel it should go.

Here is my sincere and urgent request, as one of your neighbors and fellow citizens: please, for the love of God and neighbor, please do not vote for Donald Trump. 

If you are already planning to vote for Biden/Harris or Charles/Wallace or another candidate, no need to read farther. But if you are leaning toward voting Donald Trump, and especially if you consider yourself a Christian, I speak as a former pastor and committed Christian myself, please reconsider for these three reasons.

First, for the love of God. If you love God, then you are supposed to love truth. Donald Trump lies and distorts the truth like no president in history.

Just take COVID-19. In private, as early as February 7, Trump said that COVID-19 was “deadly stuff,” but in public on February 10, he said that it was “going to be fine” and would go away in April. On February 24 he said it was under control and on February 27 said in a few days we would be close to zero. On March 7, he said, “I’m not concerned at all,” and on March 13, “I don’t take responsibility at all.” May 9, he was still saying it would go away, even without a vaccine. On June 17, it was “fading away.” July 7, “we’re in a good place.” August 3, “It’s under control.” September 10 and 23, “we’re rounding the corner.” October 10 and 22, “we’re rounding the corner.” In March, he said he “liked to downplay it,” but you understand what that means: he hasn’t told us the truth about it.

This is not a man who listens to people who know more than he does. This is not a man who cares about reality. This is a man who will say anything you want to hear so he can sell you something and use you in some way. That is not the kind of leader you can trust with your nation’s health or well-being.

Of course, I haven’t even mentioned his thousand of other lies on other subjects, from crowd size to porn stars to taxes. Nor have I mentioned how constant distortion of the truth is a time-tested method of autocrats and demagogues. Hannah Arendt put it most powerfully in her analysis of the Nazi regime:

“In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. … Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.”

If you have already decided to let Trump (and Fox News and other “alternative facts” media) do your thinking for you, then of course, you’ll vote for Trump. But if you love the truth because of your love for God, you cannot support this man or his administration.

Second, if you love God, you should love your neighbor, whatever his or her race, religion, national origin. I speak as someone who marched with clergy in Charlottesville and who has been heckled and insulted by a large group of Proud Boys: Donald Trump courts white supremacists, because he is a white supremacist. Just consider what he has recently been saying about Ilhan Omar: “She’s telling us how to run our country. How did you do where you came from? How is your country doing?” Never mind that Representative Omar is a U.S. citizen and a duly elected Congresswoman, and that as a Congresswoman, it is her job to play a role in running the country, because it is her country too! The pattern is crystal clear: Donald Trump doesn’t see people of color as actual Americans, as his equals. So, if you love your neighbor, you simply can’t support that.

Third, if you say, “Yes, I don’t like these things, but I’m pro-life and so I support Trump because of abortion,” please, do not be misled. If you are Catholic, it is not Catholic teaching that you must be a single issue voter. In fact, it is your moral duty to vote based on a thoughtful integration of issues. And if you are Evangelical, I hope you at least will consider my personal story, as a former pastor involved in the Pro-Life movement from the very beginning. It is irresponsible and dangerous to let yourself be manipulated by someone like Donald Trump and his religious allies over the issue of abortion.

The fact is, in this election, there are so many urgent matters on the ballot. Character. The climate. The growing consolidation of wealth and power among a tiny minority of the super-rich and super-powerful, leaving the rest of us farther and farther behind. Global alliances. Public schools. Fiscal responsibility. Equality for all races and religions. The safety and equality of LGBTQ persons. The planet, national parks, and wild spaces. Democracy itself, and impartial courts, and the Constitution, and the balance of powers.

That’s why I’m enthusiastically voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. My first choice, early in the primary process, was Kamala Harris, and I was glad to see Joe Biden agree that she was an excellent candidate. My respect for Joe Biden has only grown as the campaign has continued. He is a good man, and he has what is best for the nation at heart. His whole life has been dedicated to public service, as has Kamala Harris’s. They are both people of deep and sincere faith. They provide a stark contrast to Donald Trump, whose life has been devoted to pleasure, pride, power, privilege, and profit.

If you want to learn more about Trump, I highly recommend this book by Sarah Kendzior, Hiding in Plain Sight. And here’s what you need to know between now and Election Day: Donald Trump is a dangerous candidate. He is dividing America. He tells people what they want to hear, not what is true or what they need to hear, so he can recruit them into his base. Please, don’t let yourself be deceived. Please don’t vote for Donald Trump, for the love of God, the love of your neighbor, and the love of our beloved country.

If this heartfelt plea makes sense to you, I hope you will share it with someone you know who is leaning toward rewarding Donald Trump with a vote that he simply doesn’t deserve.