October 17, 2017
If there's one thing the Left can't stand more than a conservative -- it's 2,000 of them. Over the last eight years, we've grown accustomed to the liberal media either being dismissive or outright mocking those Americans who are motivated by moral values. But this year, there was something different about the Left's reaction to the biggest gathering of pro-family voters in D.C.: fear. For the first time since FRC launched this event 12 years ago, they understand what the men and women crowded in the Omni Shoreham ballroom do: conservatives finally have a president who doesn't just make them political promises, he acts on their policy priorities. And liberals are terrified.
Before the motorcade even arrived at the venue, liberals had fired their first shots. First, they took aim at Donald Trump for speaking to a "hate group." When that didn't work, they started in on Christians, shaming them for supporting a man they claim "contradict[s] Jesus directly." Conveniently (and selectively), they quote Scripture to make their point, desperate to prove that conservatives are betraying their faith by sharing an agenda with the president. "We have to stop pretending that these men and women are leaders in the Christian church," Rev. William Barber argued. Why? Because they appreciate a leader who will finally go to bat for that church? Say what you will about Trump's past or his fiery personality, he's done more for Christian conservatives than any president since Ronald Reagan -- and this is only his first year!
This isn't blind allegiance on the part of evangelicals. This is the earned respect of a man who's kept his promises. We wanted to move public policy, and this president has. Look at what he's done since taking office: defunding global abortion, protecting religious liberty, rolling back President Obama's social experimentation in the military, appointing originalist judges, overturning the HHS mandate, and fighting for mothers and their unborn children. As I've said before, our support isn't unconditional. But Donald Trump has done more to restore a pro-family, pro-faith culture in eight months than George W. Bush did in eight years! Were Christians foolish for supporting him?
Yet still, people like Rev. Barber fumed, "Last week, the men and women who crowded into that D.C. ballroom claimed to be attending a values conference. But instead, they proved yet again how morally bankrupt a vocal segment of Christians has become." Morally bankrupt for advocating for the unborn? Morally bankrupt for advocating for the freedom to live according to stated biblical values? Rev. Barber, who was a part of the Democratic National Convention, which called for forcing taxpayers to fund abortion and pushed religious freedom to the back of the bus so that sexual libertines could impose their values on the nation, is looking in the mirror of moral bankruptcy.
Of course, we expect this hypocrisy from the Left, but from the moderate Right? A Washington Post column from Jennifer Rubin yesterday dripped with contempt, insisting that values voters are "misnamed." The idea that "they and their candidates operate from some high, moral plane and are the true repositories of American values should end with this president. They are nothing more and nothing less than an anti-abortion, anti-gay lobby group that seeks to enlist government to impose their ideological positions on others. In short, they are what their critics have always claimed."
Like a lot of so-called Never Trumpers, her opposition isn't based in fact or reality. From the beginning, I said that the general election was not about personalities -- but about policies. And the president has spent the better part of 2017 rewarding the trust of millions of voters who felt likewise. Does that mean Donald Trump is suddenly the moral standard bearer of the conservative movement? No. But it does mean that he's succeeded where some of the Right's conventional leaders have failed: keeping his promises. If these naysayers were as schooled in the faith as they claimed, they would understand that God has been using imperfect people to accomplish His purposes since Genesis.
After eight months of progress on the conservative agenda, what do Never Trumpers want? What would make them supportive of Donald Trump -- or anyone, for that matter? The president has had the courage to tackle issues that other Republicans wouldn't even talk about publicly. That doesn't mean conservatives should give him a pass -- but it does mean he warrants the appreciation he's getting from evangelicals. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough meant to criticize the White House when he said, "They will know them by their fruits." In the case of the Trump administration, he's exactly right.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.