MINOT, N.D. — Over the holidays The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead published an editorial asking how Christians can be supporters of President Donald Trump.
It's a provocative question, especially coming as it did during the heights of the Christian holy season.
Christian voting blocs and their various leaders have condemned the untoward moral behaviors of past Presidents. Yet Trump is a serial adulterer prone to crude and often cruel conduct. One can also argue that he's been something less than ethically scrupulous in his pursuit, and use, of the most powerful political office in the world.
Still it's more than a little arrogant to dictate for others the conclusions of conscience they, by dint of their professed spiritual inclinations, must reach.
Former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp is a Democrat who is, for example, a staunch proponent of abortion. She is also a professed Catholic. This has led many of her critics over the years to question her commitment to her faith, given Catholicism's position on abortion.
I have never thought this line of criticism of Heitkamp was all that persuasive. Spirituality is a deeply personal thing. How Heitkamp reconciles her political position on abortion with her faith is up to her.
The same goes for Christians and their support for a President who once joked about grabbing women by the genitalia.
Each voter (hopefully) goes through a complex process of justifying their support for any given candidate.
If the folks on the Forum's editorial board are truly interested in understanding this phenomenon, as opposed to merely lashing out at a conclusion they don't understand, they should ask a different question.
Such as why alternatives to Trump — both Democratic and Republican — aren't appealing for his supporters?
There aren't any uniform answers to the question.
Part of it is cultural. Our media culture is dominated by left-wing celebrities who seem to hate anyone with politics to the right of Che Guevara, not to mention journalists and pundits who live in places like New York City and think they understand Trump country because they once listened to a podcast interview with the guy who wrote Hillbilly Elegy.
Rightly or wrongly, conservatives feel they've been losing the culture war for decades now. Trump (a celebrity in his own right before his political career) makes them feel like they're winning it.
Part of it, too, is pragmatic.
Trump may be a human toothache, but every single Democratic candidate to replace him in the White House has either come out in favor of banning fracking or all but regulating it out of existence.
If any of those candidates won and made good on their campaign promise, it would be like someone hit the off switch for North Dakota's oil and gas industry.
An industry employing, both directly and indirectly, tens of thousands of men and women in our state.
An industry directly responsible, from 2014 to 2018, for half of all taxes paid to the State of North Dakota (and that's not even counting the indirect income and sales tax revenues the industry drives).
From that perspective, the choice for North Dakotans in 2020 is between Trump, with all his unsavory bluster and bombast, and a Democratic alternative who has casually pledged to devastate our region's economy.
Is it any wonder many Christians are willing to rationalize support for a political leader with decidedly un-Christian tendencies?
I'm not saying that's the right calculation for voters to make, but it is a calculation and one which is perfectly understandable for those willing to understand.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Listen to his Plain Talk Podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RobPort.