Barber, McKissic discuss presidential election
September 23rd, 2020 / By: Rob Collingsworth / comments
For SBTC pastors Bart Barber of Farmersville and Dwight McKissic of Arlington, next month’s presidential election is an opportunity to exercise not only their right to vote, but also to disagree with civility. While the two men both affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, matters of conscience and priority have brought them to different decisions regarding how they will cast their ballot come Election Day.
“So much of this election is a referendum on President Trump,” Barber, who voted third party in 2016, said. “For a lot of [my friends], they would point out critiques of President Trump and his performance and his persona and his agenda. And almost all of those critiques I agree with.
“The president does not seem to be a man who exhibits—at least in his public persona, I don’t know him privately—but in his public persona, he doesn’t seem to extend common courtesy, doesn’t seem to abide by some common tenets of Christian ethics and morality, and that’s concerning,” he said.
Yet despite his critiques of Trump, Barber said that if the election were being held today he would be voting for the president.
“And it bewilders some of those people who are my friends,” he said. “The interesting thing has been trying to find a way to explain to people who are voting differently this time through, but with whom we share the same critiques that we make of the administration, how do I wind up at a different conclusion?”
For Barber, he said his decision largely comes down to “an accident of history.” He said that, as a 50-year-old, his earliest memories of politics are from Jimmy Carter’s presidency, which he described as somewhat of a foil to the Trump administration.
“We may have had men who were as nice and as moral and as kind as Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office, but I don’t know that we’ve had any who were more kind, compassionate, respectful, nice, than Jimmy Carter. I still think he’s a great man. I don’t agree with his theology on a lot of things, but he’s just a good man,” Barber said.
“But it was a horrible four years for our country. People suffered under the Carter administration in every possible way. As a child, the first things I knew about economics were the new terms that were being added. The word ‘malaise’ came to be popular in the American lexicon as a description of the state of the country under President Carter.
“The major economic term that I heard on the news when I was eight and nine years old was the ‘misery index,’” he added. "The economy was terrible, and everybody suffered under that. Black people, white people, Hispanic people, old people, young people. Everybody was hurting, a lot, under the economic policy of the Carter administration.
“But President Trump’s policy toward the poor has been the opposite of the effect of the Carter administration. Instead of the misery index, everybody’s done a little better. It’s been the lowest unemployment I’ve seen in my lifetime. Even during this pandemic, when you would think it would just be economic calamity and doom and gloom, it hasn’t been. It hasn’t been great, but it could have been a lot worse. So I think in general, people of all demographics are doing better under the Trump administration,” Barber added.
“The fact is, these economic factors, there’s a character aspect to them too that makes people’s lives better or worse. I think that’s why I look and I say, we have a man who would not be qualified for membership in my church by a long stretch, but the policies of a Biden/Harris administration, so radically in the pocket of Planned Parenthood, concern me greatly.
“Because I’m 50 and because the very first presidency I ever knew about was this presidency where we had a wonderful, wonderful man leading the country to ruin, the effect of that on me has been that, although personal character matters to me for electing someone into office, I also believe policy is an extension of character as well. And not that one has to be disregarded and the other has to be everything, but I think both have to be considered,” he said.
“And so because of that—and because my confidence in third party voting, although not gone, has changed somewhat from the last time around—I expect I’ll cast my ballot for President Trump.”
McKissic, on the other hand, said that he has different priorities motivating his decision.
“I would think most Americans would say the most immediate, pressing national and international issue that’s a threat to our country at the moment that has still not been resolved, and we don’t know when it will be, would be the pandemic. It’s the number one issue for me because it impacts education, the church, the economy, everything,” McKissic said.
“Secondly, with thirteen grandchildren and with police brutality being an issue—it’s been an issue, really, throughout the history of America—but because of cellphones now, smart phones, we see it often,” he said. “That’s a very critical issue for me.”
He said he views both of these to be issues regarding the sanctity of life and that in his opinion, the president’s response to both of them has been lacking.
“I thought [President Trump] handled the pandemic horribly, which he more or less admits now,” McKissic said. “He dismissed the pandemic council that was in place when he got there to be on top of these things, which has proved to be one of the worst situations you can make.”
McKissic also pointed out Trump’s critique of how Obama handled the H1N1 flu outbreak, which resulted in the deaths of some 15,000 Americans, and compared those numbers vs. the current U.S. death total from COVID-19.
“Now we’re moving toward 200,000 people,” he said. “He graded Obama with an F for that, but what does he say about 200,000 in America if the grade is going to be based on the number of deaths due to governmental management of a virus? So for those reasons and more, I definitely will not cast a vote for Donald J. Trump.
“I believe whoever occupies the White House sets a tone and a tenor for communities and police departments. And to some degree, the temperatures they set, the policies they enact, and their willingness to bring federal oversight investigations and accountability to cases of police brutality somewhat has an impact on how widespread that practice might be,” he added. “I want somebody who will have a zero-tolerance policy for something like that, and I want somebody who will enact federal policies designed to prevent it, or hold people accountable when it happens.”
McKissic made clear that he is fully supportive of the police, referring to himself as a “back-the-blue man all the way.” But qualified immunity for policemen “contributes to this problem because that sort of protects them from being held accountable, to a great degree,” he said.
“George H.W. Bush, during the Rodney King situation, he just called a spade a spade, called it police brutality. He was appalled at the beating of Rodney King and was shocked at the policemen responsible being let go,” McKissic said.
“I’ve yet to hear President Trump say anything about the man shot in the back seven times, unarmed,” he added. “He may have deserved to be arrested, he may not have. I don’t know the facts, but I do know there was no justification for shooting that man in the back one time, let alone seven times. I need a president who will address an issue like that. He tends to not be objective, in my opinion, on police brutality issues but will side with the police, regardless. That is not somebody I’m comfortable casting a vote for.”
According to McKissic, he isn’t trying to sway anyone one way or the other when it comes to how they decide to vote in November.
“I’m not a partisan in the sense that I want to persuade somebody—definitely not for, but not even against Trump. I’m just speaking, as Joshua said, as for me and my house. My conscience, my convictions, will not allow me to cast a ballot for a man that I believe has made some racial remarks that I find extremely offensive, and I think it would be an exercise of self-hatred if I voted for him.”
While McKissic says he does know for certain that he won’t be voting to reelect the president, he also said that his mind wasn’t yet made up on how he will vote.
“After watching the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, I concluded that the Democrats sincerely despise racism and the Republicans sincerely despise abortion,” McKissic said. “I despise both, with a passion. That’s what makes voting for either major party candidate difficult for me, particularly this year.”