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If Donald Trump Wins

If Donald Trump Wins

Presidential candidate Donald Trump has removed all ambiguity. He is running his campaign on a platform of xenophobia and unambiguous fascism that, if enacted, would change the character of the United States just as surely as if the Third Reich had won the second world war. The enduring popularity of Trump’s campaign represents more than an embarrassment to America; it is a genuine threat to US national security and the global community.

As Donald Trump’s presidential bid continues to steamroll the Republican primaries, I often hear the sentiment that Trump simply can’t win. Thank goodness he’ll never be elected, many say. Trump represents a dangerous and ugly strain within the American psyche, to be sure; but our country isn’t so far gone that we would actually hand this man the nuclear codes… right?

I was recently reading the blog of a good friend and Quaker thinker, Johan Maurer, who is also reflecting on what the rise of Trump says about the American people and our culture. He suggests that Trump’s intense appeal doesn’t derive solely from his blinding racism and complete disregard for the constitution and character of the United States. Instead, it is Trump’s authentic voice – his willingness to say what he’s truly thinking, no-holds-barred, that captivates a large segment of the American public.

Maurer writes:

My personal theory on this man’s amazing popularity is that it is payback for all the ways traditional politicians are seen posturing and pandering, election cycle after election cycle. Trump’s supporters… do not trust those smoother politicians, even the ones they mostly agree with. … His audience… has a sense that what they see is what they get, rough bits and all — in stark contrast with most of the other candidates and their recycled platitudes.

The American people have become totally disillusioned with the lies of the elite 1%. We have been manipulated over and over again by our political, military, business, and news media leaders. We’re tired of the slick non-answers of men and women in suits. We understand that they are ultimately beholden to the principalities and powers that are disinheriting the vast majority of the world’s people while devastating the natural environment.

Millions of us have had enough. We want courageous leadership and transparent honesty from those who would lead us. We have lost so much trust in the establishment, that we are prepared to listen to people like Donald Trump, because at least with him, we believe we know what we’re getting.

The followers of Trump are correct in one important regard: They’ve been lied to for decades. Virtually none of the establishment politicians (Democrat or Republican) are going to level with us. Our leaders have no intention of enacting a society in which ordinary people have as much of a voice as the 1% and their corporations. Donald Trump is himself a well-documented liar, but we’re so desperate for authentic leadership that millions of us are ready to give him the benefit of the doubt.

If Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, it will be the product of decades of moral confusion in our nation. We have been deceived for so long that many of us have lost our way altogether. We are increasingly unable to tell the difference between the bombastic charisma of demagogues and the humble authenticity of the prophets.

Now more than ever, our world is in desperate need of the church of Jesus Christ. In this age of deception and confusion, we must ground ourselves in the truthful way of Jesus, inviting our nation and world to walk in the way of justice and peace. Amidst violence and threats, we can point to the cross of Jesus, in which God has disarmed every blasphemous power and lying mouth. In contrast to the demagoguery and distortion of the world, we can demonstrate an alternative social order: the reign of God, in which each life is valued and no one will make us afraid.

It seems like such a small thing to change our lives. It won’t make front-page headlines when we join together in communities that love the refugee, practice economic redistribution, and care for the precious land we call home. Yet from this little mustard seed blooms a revolution of peace and transformation. Humble as it might be, this is the revolution that overcomes the world. Even if Donald Trump wins.

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  • It’s the bottom line with which you end that’s critical. Too many people from various parts of the political spectrum and the demographic spectrum are looking for a savior through the political process. You can see this in the Trump mania on one side and the Bernie mania on the other. But it’s a delusion.

    We need to be solidly grounded as a people so that our values and judgment become much more sound. Than the political process will change for the better. It won’t happen the other way around.

    I’m not sure how valid the comparison of Trump to Hitler is. Hitler had a fairly clear agenda which he pursued relentlessly. Trump does not have a clear political ideology or agenda. Also sometimes he seems crazy and sometimes he makes clear sense. On some issues, he has widely divergent stated views. For example, he was a strong opponent of the Iraq War and has correctly noted that our history of military interventionism in the Middle East has played a large role in creating the current problems. But now he is talking bomb them to hell, waterboarding and the like. Recently, he was interviewed on the Middle East and presented a very balanced perspective and refused to endorse AIPAC sentiments, but he has also criticized President Obama – whose actual policies (in contrast to his rhetoric) have been the most supportive of the worst elements in Israel of any President in history – as betraying Israel. Domestically, he has sometimes sounded like Bernie Sanders on income inequality and health care, but his actual policy proposals have been much different.

    We also need to remember that whomever we elect as President will have much less power than Hitler. Congress is capable of blocking much of what a President wants, and even Congresses with majorities of the same Party as the President seldom act as blank checks, at least with regard to domestic policies.

  • Kristine Rowland

    I’m still not sure what to think about Trump. He’s my brother, and I love him, but I don’t think I like him very much. He’s wrong to stir up the conservative base the way he does. There are much better ways to get attention, as pointed out in your article. Fomenting hatred and mistrust is easy. Inspiring love and peace is hard, but it’s what we need most.

  • Lesley Laing

    I agree that people do not trust political leadership they perceive as representing “1%” while only pretending to represent the masses – yes, we need authenticity in politics – and ALL of life. But if this is the primary dynamic playing at present, then why aren’t those who crave authenticity flocking to Bernie Sanders? Unfortunately, I think there are other dynamics at play here, too.

    Like unredeemed fear…fear of being an underdog. And if we can make someone else the underdog, then we don’t have to be quite as fearful…LOVE, perfect love, casts out fear, the One said.

    On a less existential note, if it is authenticity we crave, why are “the media” giving so little coverage to Sanders? Could it be that when most of us were not looking, media ownership became concentrated in the hands of the “1%” either directly (as with the Rupert Murdoch media empire, including Fox News) or indirectly though interlocking directorates, etc. At one time the FCC served to preserve local ownership, but that oversight has been allowed to disappear under pressure from the “conservatives.”

    Insofar as I have been following the presidential candidate rhetoric and records of those candidates who have been in public service, Sanders seems to serve up a remarkable degree of consistency and authenticity (not perfect some will say – yes, he has changed his position on some issues, but at least he admits to ‘changing’ – and doesn’t claim others are misinterpreting him!)

    Sanders is not a perfect candidate. He may not be “electable.” And his platform may not be understood or acceptable to “powers that be.”

    And who is elected may not make any real difference anyway – it hasn’t seemed to make any big difference as long as I have been voting (over 50 years now), as the “powers” seem to capture the office of the Presidency whether the holder is from the Republican or the Democratic party. If the President shows signs of going his own way, as did Pres. Kennedy at one point, “something” happens…

    Still, we must give “Ceasar” his due and make the best political decisions we can with what information we can get, doing everything possible to express the LOVE our Savior taught. And NOT be defeated or co-opted by Ceasar, but hold the powers accountable each to the highest purposes of the institution, while we follow the One in bringing the Kingdom of God into our lives and communities.

    Blessings, Micah, for your thoughtful essays and an example of faithful living.

    • Hi, Lesley –

      I don’t know where you get the idea that Bernie is a lost cause, politically. From where I’m sitting, I see that he has a very large base of support! Probably more significant than Trump.

      Totally agree that our main focus must be on living in the Kingdom of God and making the character of Jesus visible through our lives and our communities. That’s how we’re going to make an enduring impact, with the guidance of the Spirit.

      • Lesley Laing

        I truly hope for the nation that Bernie is not a “lost cause.” But I have hoped that before with Eugene McCarthy and Walter Mondale. And seen those hopes dashed, as the powers that be declared that those candidates were not electable…and sure enough, others prevailed. I fear that will happen again, unless there is an overwhelming groundswell of support that encompasses more than the progressives I know who are excited and “feel the Bern.”

        There’s not a lot I can do about this from Monteverde in Costa Rica, but maintain my US residency and vote in my home state of Oregon. Also interact by email and Face Book to support the values of the Kingdom…and hope, as I try to live in the Kingdom here – much work to be done! And glad you are there and helping us all, too. Blessings, Friend.

        • Didn’t realize you were in Monteverde. Lovely town. I suspect you’ll have a lot of visitors soon if the worst comes to pass in the upcoming elections!

  • Niyonu Spann

    Hmmm, I’m afraid we have to dig deeper to see past the illusion here. T is only posturing “what you see is what you get.” He bounces around from point to the opposing point. He lies to our face: “I didn’t do the very thing that you are watching me do on the screen we are both watching.” Micah, we had better be very careful here. T is bold enough to say the racist, sexist, xenophobic things that many public figures either truly disagree with or would just be afraid (previously, for good reason) to say aloud. Let’s not confuse that, for a minute with true transparency or courage or with authentic leadership. Quite to the contrary it is a 1%er being the bully that he has always been, declaring war against those who he perceives as less than and who have always been the target for destruction by a white supremacist system – and what better time, with an African-America President leaving office to launch this strategy. T is simply standing, grounded in his sense of entitlement and bringing his strong business sense about capitalizing on people’s addictions, to the lie of false power over (that is the lie that casinos survive on). I know that you are not endorsing T for President but in even suggesting that he is “at least showing us exactly who” or what we would get in him is inviting us to walk through the doors of a great and dangerous illusion – like in a casino- free drinks, no clocks, no windows and lots of noise – all the while taking your last SENSE.

    • Thanks, Niyonu. I agree with you.

      I hope I was clear in this piece that I think Trump is truly dangerous; the casino is a good analogy. The popularity of his candidacy highlights the need for a faithful, prophetic church that can witness to an alternative to his lies and blasphemy.

  • David H Finke

    We need to re-read and absorb this once more in the light of Super Tuesday.
    Prophets, keep speaking the painful Truth!

  • Daz Lee