To Trump, or Not…

324px-Thurgoodmarshall1967Do you recognize this man?  Yes?  No?  Give up?  For those of you who are stumped, that is Thurgood Marshall.  For those of you now asking, “Thur-what, who?” His Honor, Justice Marshall, was the 96th justice appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States.  More notably, he was the first African-American, or black man, if you prefer, to hold said position.  He was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in June 1967, and on August 30 of that year, he was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate.

So, I’m relatively certain many, if not most of you, are now muttering, “I thought I was going to be reading about presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump.”  Trust me, I will afford Mr. Trump plenty of space in this post.  That said, this post really isn’t about Donald Trump, nor Justice Marshall for that matter.  This post is about me, Kevin B. Thiele – nobody special, not Hon. Thiele, not The Thiele… just plain ol’ Kevin… and a “monkey on my back” called principle.

My purpose here, in joining the debate on whether or not to cast a vote for Trump, is to state my personal position and the rationale behind it.  First, for those of you who don’t, you need to know a few things about me.

As soon as I reached the legal age to vote, I registered, and I registered Republican.  I did so because I was proud and grateful to live in a nation where I was free to do so.  I felt it was not only a duty and honor, but a tremendous responsibility.  I chose to register Republican because I more closely identified with the GOP platform.  That same year, I enlisted in The United States Marine Corps. [Semper-freakin’-Fi!  Ooh-Rah!  Corps to my core!  Like that last one?  I just made it up!]  I  must apologize for the intrusion by my “alter-ego.”  He gets a little wound up sometimes.  Shortly thereafter, at the age of 19, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior while attending a bible study in college.

You are probably starting to get the picture.  Yes, I am a Christ-following Constitutional Conservative who cries just about every time our National Anthem is played.  One of my proudest, most patriotic experiences was having an opportunity to present a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery.  I recall being so moved and honored to be a part of that ceremony.  Thank Heaven I was able to maintain my bearing on that occasion.

I went on to serve 8 years in The Corps, was called to active duty in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and later served 13 years in law enforcement.  I served in both capacities with honor and distinction.  But, then again, according to Susan Rice, so did Bowe Bergdahl.

I say all that not to boast, but to illustrate just how much the “Patriotic American” I consider myself to be.  And I do so, not to insult anyone who is not “the way I am,” aka leans left, as somehow “Un-Patriot American,” but to squelch those of you on the right who may later attack me as liberal, leftist, ‘commie’, democrat, GOPe, progressive, or whatever other colorful label you might have in store.  No, I am about as far right of center as one can be – probably just a tad left of “loony.”

So, with that, let me tell you my position on Trump, and explain what Marshall has to do with this.  [Drum roll please…]

At present, I vehemently oppose a Trump presidency!  I currently identify in social media circles as #NeverTrump.  How many of you just flipped your lid?  Okay, if you will indulge me – and, many of you won’t – I will explain.

The man pictured above, Justice Marshall, was a man of principle.  And while he and I would likely have disagreed on virtually every matter of consequence, I have no doubt we could have had a civil, even cordial discussion, respectfully and attentively listened to one another’s arguments and, at the end of the day, shaken hands, exchanged pleasantries, and departed with our honor and principles intact.  While I would have been displeased with the positions he chose to take, I would have admired him and respected him greatly.

That, my friends, is who we used to be.  Who are we today, and what are we to become?

In all of this that has become a media-frenzied circus of an election process, I have sought even the remotest of silver linings.  I may have found one.  If nothing else, Trump’s run at the nomination has prompted many of us to do some serious soul searching.  I, for one, have not taken this lightly.  I have long dwelled upon the seemingly inevitable prospect of being left with little choice but to vote for one who is the antithesis of everything I seek in a leader.  I have asked myself, time and again, “Can I do that?”  Up till now, the answer has been, unequivocally, “No.”

So, if the answer is no, how then do I reconcile not voting for the presumptive republican nominee, when the other option – whomever the democrats nominate – will be no more principled and will push a party platform that turns my stomach like buttermilk?  Well even my alter ego didn’t have the answer for that.  So, I went to the Only One Who could help – I went to The Lord in prayer.  Not once.  Not twice.  Every single day.  I have talked to family members, friends, my pastor, and I have prayed incessantly.  The result?  I have arrived at the following – for now.

I cannot bring myself to support, nor cast a vote for Trump.  How many of you are now seething with anger, wanting to call me all the aforementioned “names” and many more we can’t print here?  I get it.  I really do.  And, honestly, I don’t begrudge any of you.  But my vote is mine.  How I vote, or do not, is between me and God.  I answer to Him, not you, not Trump, nor anyone else.  There is simply no way I can justify, in good moral conscience, voting for a man who has given no indication he is a principled Constitutional Conservative of sound moral character.  No, not even to block a Hillary Clinton presidency, as disastrous as that would inevitably be.  “But why!” you beseech me to make sense of this.  I am “wasting my vote,” or worse, “voting for Hillary by default.”  Nonsense.

Many of you who disagree with me on this, would agree with me, I believe, that God is ultimately in control.  Hence, Trump’s election does not hinge on my vote.  I know that God has allowed for men of poor or, at least, questionable character to rule, and that He has done so in order to carry out His plan.  That said, after thoughtful prayer, I, personally, do not believe God has ordained The Donald to be Leader of the Free World.  Rather, I believe we are at a tipping point in history, where a majority of citizens has turned its respective backs on God and placed their faith in man – a man, a ruler – rather than The One Who breathes life into us, sustains us, loves us, forgives us.

Earlier, I indicated I currently identify as #NeverTrump.  The truth is – and, no, I’m not hedging here – it would probably be more accurate to describe myself as #VeryHighlyUnlikelyEverTrump.  Reason being, it is a long way to November, and there is still time for Trump to “change my mind.”  That said, it may take nothing short of a miracle.

Consequently, and henceforth, I will stand to be counted among those, however few, who refused to compromise principles for the sake of winning.  I will stand for my Father, and all of His Goodness.  And I believe I will one day be able to look my grandchildren in the eyes and say I was on the right side of history – I was on God’s side.