The Presidential Campaign of 2020 is in full swing, and due to Donald Trump willing to do anything to undermine his potential opponents, the ugly specter of Anti Semitism, Anti Socialism, Homophobia, and Misogyny are alive, and will be part of the discussion for the next nine months.
The fact that Michael Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders are Jewish, and that Sanders is a self professed “Socialist”, which is NOT Communism in any sense, will be part of the upcoming political debate.
The fact that Pete Buttigieg is gay and has a husband is certainly to be part of the political debate, with hatred and prejudice existing among right wing evangelical Christians, conservative Catholics, and Orthodox Jews.
The fact that Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar are serious Presidential contenders will stir the misogynists who think women should only be in the kitchen and the bedroom, and not running for President or Vice President.
It is certain that the Presidential Election of 2020 will match others as the “dirtiest” campaign, including the Presidential Elections of 1828, 1860, 1896, 1912, 1928, 1948, 1968, and 2016!
Trumpism and the Corruption of Christian Morals
David French has an interesting formulation to describe the strange phenomenon of conservative Christians rallying around a man like Donald Trump. These folks are essentially asking the president to hate their enemies for them so that they can remain true to Jesusâ€™s commandment to love their enemies.
Whatever misgivings they may have about Trumpâ€™s personal morals, at least he fights. And, if he loses, then there will be a pro-choice president who appoints pro-choice judges, and no one will protect them from infringements on their right to live by the principles of their faith.
What happens next, according to French, is that people are drawn in by their initial acceptance of Trump as their proxy and representative. Before long, they begin to rationalize that any criticism of Trump will weaken him and empower his opponents, so they refrain from criticizing him. Then they begin to attack his critics even when they agree with them: â€œTheyâ€™ll echo Trumpâ€™s lies. Theyâ€™ll defend Trumpâ€™s lies. Theyâ€™ll adopt many of his same rhetorical tactics, including engaging in mocking and insulting behavior as a matter of course.â€
French describes this phenomenon using the hypothetical older woman who is â€œso nice in person that youâ€™d hardly think itâ€™s real.â€
[â€¦she loves Trump because sheâ€™s sick and tired. Sheâ€™s sick and tired of the elite media deriding her faith as bigoted. Sheâ€™s sick and tired of a political party that rejects the humanity of unborn children. Sheâ€™s appalled at the way she believes the media have gone out of their way to destroy good menâ€¦
â€¦She doesnâ€™t necessarily like Trumpâ€™s lying, but the Democrats lie too, and if you read what she writes on social media, and you hear what she says to her friends, itâ€™s full of condemnation against Adam Schiff, the Steele dossier, and the other laundry list of Resistance sins.
She doesnâ€™t like Trumpâ€™s personal insults, but her political conversations are full of shock and anger at the oppositionâ€™s disrespect for a president she appreciates. Thatâ€™s where she invests her emotion. Thatâ€™s where she focuses her activism. Have you seen what The Squad says about Trump? The misdeeds freshman members of Congress loom far larger in her mind that the misconduct of the worldâ€™s most powerful man.
Hereâ€™s the end resultâ€”millions of Christians have not just decided to hire a hater to defend them from haters and to hire a liar to defend them from liars, they actively ignore, rationalize, minimize, or deny Trumpâ€™s sins.]
Somewhere along the way, the idea of loving your enemies gets lost. Along with it, the standard against lying is abandoned. And, since Trump cannot be criticized and must be defended, every foul act in Trumpâ€™s history is either denied or ignored. Traditional norms of American government, like the separation of powers and Congressâ€™s right to subpoena witnesses and documents, are thrown to the wayside because the president doesnâ€™t abide by them.
Some of this is not unique to Trump. Leaders will transform the people who follow them and reshape the organizations they head, and to a certain degree, this is what we expect from them. But, a moral leader can appeal to peopleâ€™s better angels and mold them into better fathers, mothers, friends, and citizens. A moral leader can provide people with the courage to risk their health and wealth on a bigger cause. The problem arises when an immoral leader reshapes people and organizations in a negative way.
Trump takes kind old ladies who worry about the unborn and transforms them into hate-tweeters. He turns upright and model citizens into apologists for sexual assault, white nationalism, business fraud, self-dealing and foreign interference in our elections.
For French, his primary concern is what this does to faithful conservative Christians. For the rest of us, the concern is what it does to the nation as a whole. As the core of Trumpism is the corruption of the national character.
When Martin Luther King Jr. sought to change the national character, it was in obvious need of changing. Trump supporters may feel the same about attitudes towards abortion or immigration. But they havenâ€™t rallied behind a leader who wins people over with personal courage and Christian teaching. Theyâ€™re not transforming peopleâ€™s attitudes about the things they care about but are instead being transformed into immoral beings. The causes they champion are sullied by association with Trump and his extreme un-Christian behaviors and beliefs.
French doesnâ€™t mention it, but the movement around Trump is increasingly described as cultish, and we see him compared to Christ more and more often. This, too, is heretical, and a threat to monotheism.
When I think about this cult, I keep going back to the song Ship of Fools by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia. I picture a time right after Trump leaves power and his intoxicating effect has worn off.
[The bottles stand as empty
as they were filled before
Time there was and plenty
but from that cup no more
Though I could not caution all I yet may warn a few:
â€œDonâ€™t lend your hand to raise no flag
atop no ship of fools.â€]
My main hope is that a leader will arise after Trump who leads these folks back in the right direction and who can restore their standards and morals. Theyâ€™re ultimately victims of Trumpism just like everyone else, and French is correct to call them on it.