One of the sadder features of the US election circus is not so much that it spotlights the leading Presidential contenders – but rather it tells us what drives the true feelings of the voting public.
Which brings me to the question as to why Donald Trump has drawn so much support from such a large proportion of Republican voters , particularly those who wear the Christian label with such apparent pride. The Trump-Christian association is an unlikely pairing particularly when most Churches claim to follow New Testament teachings.
Reflect on Donald Trump a self declared Christian, and ask yourself which of St Paul’s descriptions of followers of Christ match “the Donald”. Forget for a moment the automatic sign off statement so much favoured by US politicians “God Bless America” – or even the phrase on US currency “In God we Trust”. That is hollow bluster if the actions don’t match the words.
So here is some vintage Paul. “Love is patient, love is kind, love keeps no score of wrongs” I am sorry but this is not how the Donald comes across. Paul says never be boastful or rude. Trump comes across to my untutored ear as the epitome of boastfulness and rudeness. Am I mishearing those speeches.
Paul lays out some identifying characteristics of followers of Jesus, the so called fruits of the Spirit … again do we see these matching Donald and his behaviour on the stump. Is it love, joy, peace – or maybe it is kindness, generosity, fidelity, gentleness or self control. Pull the other one. The Donald I have heard seems to be more about playing of people’s fears, their suspicion and stirring up anger.
Deliberate lies are another problem for those claiming to be trying to follow Jesus. Paul again in his letter to the Ephesians
Jesus’ message of loving our neighbour seems to have been somewhat distorted by a Donald Trump who defends waterboarding and assures an Old Folks village that torture works.
OK Donald, I must have missed the statement when you asked your voters to feed the hungry – but I only have the evidence you have provided about how you feel about “welcoming the stranger in your midst”. The Mexicans you would keep out with a ten foot fence and the Muslims would be denied visas. Quite apart from the obvious similarity with the historical disaster of the Berlin Wall,( and that earned East Berlin and its Russian masters world wide contempt), I would have thought that such a mind-bending expensive project as a wall along the Mexican border would be totally ineffective against anyone with a shovel and an enthusiasm for tunnelling.
Anyway Donald, if you really want the illegal immigrants to feel welcome, why were you fined so heavily for the way you employed (and underpaid) illegal immigrants in your building projects. If this is welcoming, it is not a form of welcoming we would recognise in this part of the world. Clothing the naked is also problematic because you want to keep all refugees away.
The trouble with saying you care about family values is that we have to look at past behaviour. Your comments about the way you value visible female beauty appear shallow. Beauty contests don’t necessarily show care for females who don’t look like contest winners.
Perhaps in America accumulating as much money and power as possible still counts but I would have thought family values do not require the building of a chain of Casinos. Failed marriages I guess could happen to anyone but mocking past wives is not a family value in my book. If indeed Donald, there are serious social problems in the US and you certainly claim you care about such problems, then why is there no visible past interest in such matters. Boasting about money in the bank (though not necessarily being anxious to square this with tax returns) is only the first part of the equation. The reason why I admire Bill Gates is because he is a known philanthropist. A rich Christian would be a philanthropist. I am less clear about why I should admire the Donald in that respect.
I am also a little puzzled at how under Donald the US is to be made great again. Certainly a nation that shows zero interest in the well being of those in other nations might build the power of its own home nation. After all Caesar did it for Rome, Hitler did that for Germany, Stalin did that in Russia. But it is hardly a formula for generating respect and understanding for those outside. Years ago as a university undergraduate I read a book called the Ugly American – the story of how Americans abroad were riding roughshod over the nations they sought to dominate. Is it altogether strange that the same dominated nations did not admire that power?
Perhaps as a non-US citizen I should not comment but it is hard as a citizen of a nation which is dependent on the power of the US for trade and future peace to contemplate the prospect of a President who not only has no apparent empathy for non US citizens but is one who finds it hard to see good in most of his fellow Republicans. Hillary Clinton says she wants American to “become One”and Donald Trump says he cant understand what she means. I can believe his lack of comprehension because he has shown no interest in reducing racial tension eg refuses to condemn the Ku Klux Klan and apparently sees nothing wrong with the last few years when the Republicans have steadfastly blocked virtually every piece of legislation in the Senate and the Congress.
In terms of wanting a President everyone can trust all the commentators seem to agree Trump changes his version of facts on a whim. For example, the Washington Post and the New York Times have both commissioned analyses of his election claims and found something like 60% of his claims to be “pants on fire” lies. Just to take one of his claims that blacks are responsible for 81% murders of white people. The FBI statistics on murder are there for all to see yet he gets them wrong by a factor of four. Does this mean he can’t understand technical information? Perhaps he has no advisors – or is it perhaps that he has advisors but treats them with contempt. If he doesn’t try to be truthful I am in no position to second guess those in the US but why would my nation want to have anything to do with him?
However to return to my first point, as an outsider I don’t only find it hard to comprehend why Donald Trump sees the policies he advocates above as somehow Christian, what seems much sadder is the number of those who live in the US who by their support presumably agree that he is right to call such values as Christian values. This seems to tell me that for a good proportion of Republicans at least, that this is now what Christianity has come to mean in the US.
What have I missed?
(NB An important disclaimer Some of the examples in the above come from an article by Norman Wirzba, “Christian America: God is not Fooled.” which I read in The New Zealand Herald (Feb 27 2016)- and for which the original I understand comes from the Washington Post. I am not seeking credit for originality.)
Perhaps someone in the US might like to share the above post as a discussion starter.