The One About Donald Trump
The world lost its mind while I was on vacation. I don’t believe this is my fault. However, I fully acknowledge this is not a very good excuse. If push comes to shove, I will take the blame—if for no other reason than to avoid the inevitable avalanche of tiresome op-eds about who is to blame for the world’s mind and the losing thereof. This will save time and, presumably, money for the publications who would otherwise have to pay writers.
The reader may have difficulty parsing which brand of madness I’m referencing, the world being so prone to insanity as it is. For instance, I am not referring to the unfortunate incident with Harambe the gorilla, who was shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo to protect a young boy who fell into the exhibit. Many are outraged and indeed furious with the zookeepers, the boy, and even the boy’s parents (one of whom has faced intense media scrutiny). I would not be surprised to hear the news an animal rights group wants to try the child at the Hague for crimes against humanity. I understand that sentence is ludicrous and self-contradictory, but it’s just where we are now.
The mass lunacy I’m talking about is instead, the complete moral collapse and mind-bogglingly craven capitulation of the GOP to the insurgent candidate Donald Drumpf. Drumpf is a boisterous, loud-mouthed charlatan, so brutish and base I would call him an ape if that did not malign the good name of those gentle giants of the African wilds. This is the institution that could, without too much irony, still be called the “Party of Lincoln” mere months ago. More pertinent to the many fine, rational readers of Conciliar Post, this was the party that supposedly represented the interests and values of orthodox/traditional Christians in the United States. It is now the party that represents a man who can be called, without reservation, an antichrist.
Drumpf is crude, vacuous, and slippery. There is no person, no people-group, that he will not trample in his quest for office. His campaign has been a continuous assault on the dignity of minorities and women. He is the hero of online neo-Nazi groups and your “I’m not a racist but…” uncle alike, and his slow, non-committal denials of this connection reek of a man who will take power wherever he can find it. He encourages violence at his rallies and then blames ensuing fistfights on protesters. There is no political stance he can be trusted to have two days in a row, let alone one that represents conservative values. He calls himself a Presbyterian and courts evangelicals, while claiming he’s never felt the need to ask God forgiveness, which is the very entry point into the Christian faith. He is a con man, as his string of failed businesses and unethical practices attest. Drumpf University, by all reports, was nothing more than a pyramid scheme. He is a messiah to the paranoid disaffected among us, a Yeshua who would have happily taken up the devil’s offer in the desert.
Yet this is a man the leaders of the conservative wing of the United States have pledged to support. I feel trapped in an absurd, possible dream when I read the list of his endorsements: Jerry Falwell Jr, the president of Liberty University; Paul Ryan, House Speaker and one-time respectable leader; Marco Rubio, a human tumbleweed once thought to represent the GOP’s stand against Drumpf’s nativist insurgency; the list goes on. On June twenty-first, Drumpf will meet with hundreds of prominent evangelicals—this will surely be seen as at least a tacit endorsement. The dominos are falling.
This is a nightmare scenario for sincere American believers. Christian leaders are falling over themselves left and right to get behind a European-style strongman, a laughing stock reality-TV star whose crude bullying may soon be backed up by a nuclear arsenal. Their fears of progressivism’s (admittedly irksome) march against public faith are so great they’ve sold out to the first swaggering jester who promises protection—for thirty pieces of silver, it seems. It is a disgrace, and I cannot look at the news anymore without a sinking feeling of horror and revulsion. American Christendom is proving itself to be every bit as petty, shallow, and vindictive as the atheists said it was.
I have, in my mind, been calling Drumpf a cancer, but on further thought, this may not reflect reality. Rather, he is the pulsing, tumorous growth caused by the cancer already within the body. His campaign would not have grown so strong if he had not sown on such fertile ground. The resentment and bitterness (and even ignorance) that has believers casting their crowns at his feet has pervaded the GOP for years, even called upon by candidates needing that extra bump to get themselves elected. It is fostered by churches who do not merely acknowledge their gratitude for America’s freedoms, but put the nation on an altar and sing its praises. These are not straw men. I have sat in these services. I have heard pastors mock LGBTQ individuals rather than pray for them and share the Gospel. I have heard pastors talk about America’s disastrous foreign wars as judgment against Muslims. Donald Drumpf is the fruit of these wicked trees planted in congregations across the United States.
This might seem mad, but perhaps Drumpf is the candidate America deserves. The Lord is not without a sense of humor, or at least, a sense of irony. A prideful tyrant would not be an unjust judgment on a prideful people. Not that I would relish a Drumpf victory as some sort of vindication of my cynicism about the American church. I don’t expect him to win in November. I hope he doesn’t. What I will take away from his rise is just how crazy the world can be—and just how cheaply our leaders can be bought.
Photo courtesy of Michael Rael at Flickr Creative Commons.