Some Trumpvangelicals have dabbled in this honesty. “If that were the only thing the electorate cared about — which one’s more moral? — I’d go with Ted [Cruz]. But Donald has the skill set we’re looking for,” said one evangelical in 2016. “So yeah, we’ll put our blinders on.” Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. has similarly expressed literally unshakeable loyalty to Trump on grounds of policy, questions of principle and personal behavior be damned.
But too often this honesty only goes so far. Moments before declaring “you don’t choose a president based on how [personally] good they are,” for example, Falwell announced Jesus’ supposed endorsement of his candidate selection metric. Moments after, he declared it “may be immoral … not to support” Trump because of what he “did for the poor.”
Backing Trump on political grounds with total disregard for moral character is not, to my mind, defensible, yet it at least has a certain internal coherence. But backing him (or any politician) with total disregard for moral character while minimizing his immorality per a partisan double standard — well, that’s a step far beyond utilitarian politicking. It’s hypocrisy, and everyone can see it.