While I have had no enthusiasm for this election cycle, my dismay has started to evolve into horror. A lot of that shift has to do with Donald Trump’s candidacy.
That GOP Governors Christie and LePage have endorsed Trump as well as Sen. Sessions (R- AL), shows the resistance to his candidacy among the GOP is weakening. We’re watching mainstream GOP officials jump on his bandwagon. Doing this gives his candidacy legitimacy. It’s not that he is an illegitimate candidate, but he is not a candidate by any stretch of the imagination who should have been given entry into this contest at all. However, given the realities in our political process, there was no way to stop him from running either.
GOP officials, whether elected or party leaders, should not support Trump’s candidacy in any way. Doing so is a Faustian bargain which not only will damage the GOP, but can cause serious harm to this nation.
As a liberal independent, I would argue that Trump’s ascension among the GOP base followed a trajectory established long ago. Its starting point? I could point to Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy. I could argue that one of Ronald Reagan’s unsung legacy’s was effectively severing the government’s role in ensuring the common good. Then again, maybe it was Newt Gingrich’s ascension to Speaker of the House which began to place rigid party discipline over the nation’s well-being.
In some respects I don’t see a lot of daylight between Trump and the rest of the GOP field when it comes to climate change, immigration, foreign policy, and tax policy to name a few. I also know there are differences, such as Trump is pro-choice (although will not fund Planned Parenthood) and does not want to cut social security and Medicare. He’s also more pragmatic than most of the GOP on guns. Despite those differences, however, he is a dangerous demagogue whose temperament and worldview are frightening and to give that demagogue power, especially the presidency, will lead to ruin. However, this is not a reason to withhold support.
Trump has tapped into a vein of serious discontent among a broad swath of the general public. This has been rising for years due to external forces related to globalization, technology, economics, and serious government dysfunction. We have become a fearful nation because our political leadership and much of our media hasn’t adequately addressed this and has used it for political leverage rather than pedagogy. I also think we’re too distracted by bread and circus (as in why people can tell us about the Khardashians, but are almost clueless on important issues affecting their lives.)
I actually don’t care if Trump is a Christian or not. I’m not voting on whether the candidate is a Christian or how many times s/he goes to church or even if s/he prays every day. I want someone who will proclaim and support values rooted in God’s steadfast love or as I often express in my sermons, shalom (a peace beyond the absence of violence. A peace that encompasses the wholeness of all creation.)
While I know no candidate will fully stand on such a platform as it will radically upend all our bearings and markers as a nation, we should disavow the candidacy of someone whose positions are completely antithetical to those values.
Flat out… the GOP should not embrace a Trump candidacy. I see this as no GOP politician should endorse him. Should he win the GOP nomination, he should receive no support from anyone in the GOP. As for the right-wing media, they can say all the hallelujahs it wants, but bear in mind that’s entertainment not news or informed opinion. GOP voters should stay home and not vote, even if it means a Democrat becomes president.
A Trump candidacy is not just about expressing displeasure and frustration to the political establishment (and the establishment, both Republican and Democrat, better note this), it implicitly endorses his worldview. This is a man who is authoritarian, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, and misogynistic. As an extreme narcissist, his worldview is cramped, basically it is himself.
A Trump presidency has the potential to bring us to a dystopian world. Short of that, a Trump presidency can give rise to facism. The prospects are frightening. He will fail on his campaign’s slogan, “Make America Great Again.” The aftermath of that failure will give rise to terrible violence and suffering.