I have been asked whether there was a divide between the Touchstone senior editors on the 2016 presidential election–not, of course, whether any of us would endorse Hillary Clinton, but on whether to vote for Donald Trump, given the clear and public criticisms of his fitness for the presidency voiced by our colleagues Robert George and Russell Moore. My answer has been no, I detect no significant division among us because the real divide in view here is not between “church-going conservatives,” as we are being called, who voted for Mr. Trump and those who did not, but between those for whom his moral flaws were a pressing, critical issue and those for whom they were not. I have not polled my fellow senior editors on this because I don’t have to. I cannot conceive of any of us disagreeing with Robby or Russell on the fundamental issue.
Rush Limbaugh tells a story about when he was first becoming nationally known as a conservative talk show host. He was at an informal gathering of what are now called establishment conservatives when one of them took him aside and asked, “What are you going to do about the Christians?”–who were clearly, to him, a big problem. Rush learned early on that he was going to have to make a choice here, and to his everlasting credit he decided to stay with the Christians and take whatever the dislike of left or right might come to mean for us. God bless him for it.
The point here is that anyone who gets mere conservatism, much less mere liberalism, mixed up with mere Christianity has made a profound mistake–Christians have gone to the stake at the point of both “liberal” and “conservative” spears, and we oppose what is wrong in either of these chthonic impulses. The Faith is something else entirely, not of this world. And to be frank, Rush, to whom I have been listening for more than twenty years, looks less and less to me like a “conservative,” but a Christian identified with the Right by the Left, who also looks, from the higher regions of the Right, like a troubler of its own Israel. Although I am sure this observation would make him uncomfortable, much of the hatred heaped upon Rush is actually hatred of Christ transferred.