Between Two Worlds Day 32 (of 40)
I don’t know if I am diverging from my Lenten theme or not. But I find myself compelled to use my voice–as pastor, writer, blogger, spiritually sensitive person, American, and world citizen–to raise my concerns and alarm over the mobilization of the Trump army. I have thought long and hard about this for many weeks. As a pastor I feel strongly about that uneasy alliance between faith and politics. On the one hand, my Christian faith compels me to promote the values that I believe a morally healthy society requires. On the other hand, I generally draw the line at endorsing or denouncing any particular candidate.
But I believe that we are playing with a completely different animal here. The fact of the matter is Trump hasn’t given me enough of a picture of his political platform for me to either agree or disagree with him. This isn’t about denouncing him for policies that I feel will not be best for America. No, this runs much deeper than that. If I disagreed with his policies, but found that he was playing by the rules of democracy and political dialogue I could easily retreat to my usual rule–preach about values without telling people how to vote.
I need to be honest here. I am truly alarmed about the growing momentum of Trump-ism. Here is my concern. Trump has refused to follow the rules of a presidential candidacy. During the debates he repeatedly interrupted other candidates when he was challenged, yet he had that nasty double standard of raising his hand when others attempted to interrupt him, sternly firing back, “Excuse me, I am talking right now.” Unfortunately, the debate moderators were either unwilling or unable to stop him and he was able to dictate the tenor of the debates. And he has made being a playground bully into an adult art form.
But the real concern is this. I am not seeing any sign that this man will graciously accept defeat, if and when that comes. Today he is beginning to set the stage for his army of supporters to go into full riot mode if he doesn’t get his way. He is warning us that if he has the most delegates going into the convention, but is denied the nomination that he fully expects there to be riots. He knows exactly what he is doing–giving permission for his followers to resort to violence while claiming that he himself does not endorse it. It’s like letting your pit bull loose in a mall and then saying, “I didn’t bite anyone!”
It is looking entirely possible that he may win the Republican nomination by completely legal means. But if that happens and he loses to either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders will Trump finally bow out respectfully? Will he stand before his followers offering a graceful concession speech saying, “We fought one hell of a fight. We may not have won, but we certainly sent a message to Washington.” I hope that he has someplace in that twisted soul of his to bow to the majority vote, if and when it comes. I hope that his ego can take a seat for just a moment and let the will of the people dictate our future.
I am seriously concerned though. I have seen no signs of his ability to do this. What will he do if he loses the presidency, but he also has 50 million people who are angry as hell and who want to “make America great again.” Will his ego allow him to tell his followers, “Let’s get back to work and try again in four years.” Or will he gather his growing army and tell them, “Let’s show America who is boss. No one tells me I am a loser!” So far the latter seems to fit his character better.
I am not sure what all this has to do with our conversation on the theme “Between Two Worlds” except that the pulpit has always been a place where truth could be spoken. No matter what other competing interests there were the rest of the week, for twenty minutes on Sundays, the pulpit was reserved for “hearing what God has to say to us today.” And my emerging work is largely about honoring the language of the soul–and quite honestly my soul is feeling violated, threatened, scared, and mobilized.
Will Trump make America great again? Or will he make himself great on the backs of women, immigrants, the disabled, Muslims, refugees, and losers like the rest of us.
We need to be careful. We need to be watchful. We need to be ready.