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Opinion | The Contagious Corruption of Ken Paxton

Let me use an analogy I’ve used before: Think of a leader as setting the course of a river. It’s always easier to swim with the current. Yes, you can swim against the current for a while, but eventually you’ll exhaust yourself, and you’ll either yield to the current or leave the stream altogether.

And what is the moral current of Trumpism? For Donald Trump’s supporters, tactics that would normally be utterly unacceptable on moral grounds instead become urgent priorities. In this moral calculus, Paxton’s absurd lawsuit against Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin isn’t a mark of shame, but rather a badge of honor.

Paxton’s aggressive loyalty to Trump, in other words, acts as a form of indulgence that grants him license in his personal and professional life. Paxton’s acknowledged sins, including his affair, are cheap and tawdry. Yet a constellation of Republican stars are rallying to his side, led by Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ted Cruz and Steve Bannon. Because he’s a fighter. He goes to war against the left, and if the age of Trump teaches us anything, it’s that the current of his leadership flows eternally toward conflict and self-interest, consequences be damned.

It’s hard to overstate how much this ethos contradicts the Christianity that Paxton purports to proclaim. In fact, scriptures teach that the role of the godly man or woman isn’t to yield to power, but to confront power when that power is corrupt. The mission is to swim against the cultural current. That brings me to one of the most grievous abuses of scripture during the Trump presidency — the constant comparison of Trump to King David.

Trump is flawed, his supporters acknowledge. But so was David, they argue, and God blessed David. Scripture calls him a man after God’s own heart. But David’s virtues did not excuse his vices. In one of scripture’s most memorable passages, the prophet Nathan not only directly confronted the king but also declared a harsh judgment for David’s sins. And what was David’s response? Repentance. “I have sinned against the Lord,” he said. He then penned a poignant, penitent psalm. “God, create a clean heart for me,” he begs. “Do not banish me from your presence,” he pleads.

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