To say that this has been a volatile 14 months with Donald Trump in the White House is an understatement. There seems to be something new, often spurring controversy, on a daily basis, and it often starts with a Tweet. Secretaries of State and Health and Human Services, a Chief of Staff, an FBI Director, just to name a few, get canned with little notice and sometimes with none at all via Twitter.
We’ve become accustomed to the drama, as well as all the reactions and commentary, pro and con, that often result in firestorms that fail to last beyond the news cycle. Why? We know another shoe is going to drop tomorrow— or the day after that. A whole lot of shoes have dropped and they’re filling up the closet.
The rest of the world, especially long-standing allies, are confused and no longer sure whether historic ties and loyalties still mean anything. Russia has been transformed from an archenemy to a friendly rival.
There are a lot of things to contemplate about the direction we are heading as a country, and it seems that most of us are entrenched in our views. You can pretty much tell which side people are on from the network they choose to get their news. Walk into a house where CNN or FOX is on much of the day and you have a pretty good idea where the inhabitants stand on presidential politics.
Each group suspects the other of subsisting on alternate facts and, of course, fake news. I doubt if either side can change the minds of the other unless this express train we’re riding flies off the rails. Then again, the percentage of people who believe President Trump is doing a good job, though still a minority, has actually gone up a few points since January while, at the same time, Republicans are losing special elections in what was once solid Trump territory.
So what should we make of all of this? Is it just the cyclical disappointment we tend to have in all Presidents after a year or so in office? We are, after all, a fickle people who don’t have a lot of patience with those we elect. Then again, we are a democracy where about 45 percent of eligible voters don’t take the time to cast a ballot in a Presidential election.
I get confused myself with the political stands I’m seeing people take in regard to President Trump. Most confusing of all is the allegiance verging on devotion that conservative Christians, notably the evangelicals, have for him. Evangelicals, by definition at least, cite the Bible, the four Gospels in particular, as the only source of religious authority and that they must bear public witness to their faith.
On the surface, a history of amoral and immoral behavior would seem to preclude any support for Trump from that sizeable bloc of voters, which, though dwindling in this decade, can still get Presidents elected and likely did in November 2016.
Not only did white evangelicals support Trump in the 2016 election, but many continue to defend his unchristian, occasionally aberrant behavior as his unique governing style. It is forgiven because he professes political views similar to their own. Forgiveness is essential for evangelicals, and they forgive Trump his loathing for “losers,” refusal to ever turn the other cheek whenever challenged or criticized, his blatant materialism and huge sense of entitlement. His view of “do unto others” is clearly different from the Biblical meaning. He continues to behave in this manner and evangelicals keep on forgiving and defending.
Jerry Falwell, Jr., President of Liberty University, still insists he and fellow evangelicals have “found their dream president.”
White evangelicals have abandoned the moral high ground upon which they once professed to stand to follow a leader with distinctly non-Christian values, a potty mouth, the maturity of an adolescent in matters of sex and females, a disdain for minorities and a penchant for mistreating his underlings. I specify white born-again evangelicals, 81 percent of whom voted for Trump, according to the Pew Research Center. Compare that to fewer that 20 percent of black evangelicals voting Republican.
After Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012 a local Christian I’ll call John, who is an evangelical and a lay pastor, told me that it was clear to him, as a student of the Bible, that Obama was the antichrist. He was the false Christ, “the one who denies the Father and the Son,” who would rise in power to usher in the Second Coming. John was sincere and so convinced in the truth of these words that I respectfully did not comment. Four years later, with the evil Obama apparently vanquished and impotent, John was clearly joyful over Trump’s victory.
Not all white evangelicals believe as John does, but many, as the voting records show, were invaluable in Trump’s ascendancy to the Presidency. One who wasn’t is an old friend who I used to rib about her political beliefs. She loved Ronald Reagan, felt Bill Clinton’s sins of the flesh were despicable and was gleeful when George W. Bush, an avowed evangelical, became President. I enjoyed needling her about her political views, even those with which I agreed.
I lost contact with her during the Obama years, and was surprised to run into her about six months ago.
We shared a hug, and after catching up with each other’s lives, she suddenly turned somber.
“There’s something I have to tell you,” she blurted as if preparing me for really bad news. “I guess I’m one of the few people in my church who didn’t vote for Donald Trump. I still don’t understand what’s going on or what they see in him that I don’t.”
Amen to that.