Trump and the Lukewarm Republicans

  • Posted: July 13, 2018
  • Category: Blog
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It gets harder all the time to stay engaged with the mainstream media, the responsible journalists, the serious people. Whether it’s NPR, the Denver Post, the New York Times or whatever, these folks simply seem to live in a different world, familiar yet alien. There is a fevered myopia to their concerns, an assumption of truths questionable if not laughable. If I might paraphrase the Old Testament prophet Joel, “the old reporters dream dreams and the young reporters see visions”. If I close my eyes and listen, I hear the Adorable faction of the American electorate in the grip of eschatological vision, something like talk of the coming Tribulation in Evangelical circles.

Donald Trump stands as the Great Enemy, one might say the Anti-Christ, though that is an epithet without meaning in the land of the Resistance. Instead the specter of Adolph Hitler hovers like Banquo’s ghost in our media’s mind. Not since WWII have the Nazi’s been so prominently featured in our news. Even Fox News during the Age of Obama stood as an island of reasoned commentary compared to the responsible press of today.

There are members of my family of this mind. I must closely guard my thoughts when in conversation, the mind too easily slips onto the tongue. That is not bad advice in any time or place, but one does sometimes yearn to just speak as the spirit takes you. I find it amusing that my family believes me an acolyte of Trumpism, while I fancy myself an agnostic fence sitter. But since I do not spew fear and hatred at all things Trump, becoming enraged at Melania’s fashion choices, even my children assume me a depraved Deplorable waiting my chance to don the ceremonial robes of the KKK and burn crosses in midnight rituals.

If Marty McFly, Doc Emmett Brown and their time traveling DeLorean should materialize in 2018, I imagine they would be puzzled over our political landscape. Having an actor for President wouldn’t be the issue, that was old news in the 1980’s. It’s not even that we have a bad actor for our President, “Bedtime for Bonzo” was no triumph of the cinematic art. It’s what we argue over, passionately even fearfully argue over, that would be puzzling.

Even more, I think the level of bone shaking fear and righteous anger displayed over these controversies would simply blow away Doc Brown, Marty not so much. Marty was just a hormonal teenager with Jennifer Parker on his mind. As a scientist, real scientist as opposed to social scientist, Doc Brown would investigate. What terrible things would this Trump person be doing to create this level of hate and paranoia? What is it about Trump or his agenda striking such terror into America’s best and brightest? Is he making government staffers read Mein Kampf?

His findings would puzzle Doc Brown. This fiend, this Trump person, is certainly a blowhard egotist with vanity issues. But then Doc Brown has lived in Hollywood and moved in the circles of California politics. Compared to Barbra Streisand or Harvey Weinstein and other progressive heavyweights, The Donald is a pretty well adjusted dude.

The Donald has strong opinions and a big ego, but surprisingly Trump has actually shown that he will listen and change his mind once in awhile. Not since the days of Bill Clinton has America had a President capable of changing his mind. It’s hard for the Doc to figure out where the current hysteria comes from. The economy is strong. Compared to Doc Brown’s time the world situation is pretty mellow. Doc Brown would be mystified.

What is it about Donald Trump? Maybe Doc Brown should have brought Mel Brooks along in his time traveling DeLorean instead of Marty McFly. Mel Brooks would probably get it. Mel always had a keen sense of the zeitgeist, the ideas, beliefs and interests that are typical of a culture. His movies, his comedy always played with the zeitgeist.

The villagers in Young Frankenstein, the townspeople and rustlers in Blazing Saddles, the audience and investors in The Producers would be outraged at Trump. Trump thumbs his nose at the zeitgeist of America in the early 21st Century. People get outraged when someone pokes fun of their deeply held ideas and beliefs, and so we get mad when Donald Trump says things that Americans, at least good Americans i.e. Adorable Americans, aren’t supposed to say – or even think.

It was Mel Brooks who said:

“Bad taste is simply saying the truth before it should be said”

This sounds like a good description of Trump and his agenda to me. What charm Donald Trump has for me as a politician, probably goes to his bad taste. He says things no one else has the guts, the chutzpah, the sheer bad taste to say. Even when I don’t agree with his rude and boorish thoughts, I can appreciate that someone is saying them. Trump may be an adult version of Dennis the Menace, but Dennis’s childhood foil, Margaret, has ruled our public culture for too long a time.

But there is more to Trump haters than simply a reaction to his boorish bad taste. The Resistance of the Adorables is about blind hatred, the response of an immune system to the invasion of a pathogen. The Adorable reaction to Trump requires a paraphrase of Barry Goldwater’s great quote – “Moderation in the pursuit of Trump’s downfall is no virtue”. After all, that standard bearer of responsible news, the New York Times, declared two years ago that Donald Trump was such a threat to the Republic the New York Times would no longer attempt to be fair or balanced when reporting on Trump. I must add that they have in fact honored their statement ever since.

This is the public stance of our most prestigious newspaper; a newspaper so broad minded that it recently spent a year celebrating in dreamy wistfulness the Centennial of the Communist Revolution creating the USSR. What can provoke this level of hate in the leadership class, i.e. the Adorables, of the most educated, wealthiest and most powerful nation on the planet?

It’s not only Donald Trump and the United States. There is a wave of something, might I call it Trumpism, sweeping over the countries of Western Civilization. Eastern Europe has had enough of Adorable culture and is rapidly opting out. England has its Brexit and Germany’s Deplorables are revolting. France has a President saying very un French-like things.

And everywhere the head of this many-headed Hydra appears; the Adorable culture reacts in bewilderment, shock and anger. Margaret thought she had consigned Dennis the Menace to the dustbin of history, or at least to the streets of dusty farm towns and decaying Rust Belt suburbs.

Perhaps we should move beyond comic strips and movies in search of metaphors explaining our present impasse. Perhaps we should look to a historical situation some 500 years past. In fact we shall celebrate its quincentenary next year. I of course refer to Martin Luther and his nailing the 99 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany.

I don’t mean to say that Donald Trump is a figure comparable to Martin Luther, though there are disturbing similarities in their public personas. It is more that our political struggles more and more resemble a battle against heresy than politics. Has no one noticed the increasing resemblance of the Progressive Left to the Grand Inquisition?

Over the past decades an ethos has arisen in the countries of the West. On the surface, this ethos is a fine thing, one might call it The Brotherhood of Man. It has much of the French about it, a belief in government by the meritocracy – educated in select institutions and overseeing a logical regulatory regime. In a unique pairing, America and German contribute economic power combined with a refusal to exercise discernment as to cultural norms or dysfunctional individual behaviors under the rubric of “human rights”. And of course, the American military is the iron fist guaranteeing this rising ethos.

The idea of a Brotherhood of Man is unthinkable without Christianity. But over the years Christianity has proven cumbersome; sometimes a snag, sometimes a deal breaker. And so over the years those troublesome sticking points that come with traditional Christianity have been removed in the interests of progress, to facilitate various agreements or to placate troublesome interest groups.

Today the Christian foundation of The Brotherhood of Man resembles one of Europe’s great cathedrals, an impressive feat of architectural magnificence, but empty of life and of meaning. Who but a Christian would talk of a Brotherhood of Man? But Christians bring with them too much that is uncomfortable and difficult. The modern world has come to prefer the vision of a different martyr, John Lennon. Contrary to Christ, John Lennon flatters us with airy castles of meaningless fantasy rather than speaking truth to us.

These cathedrals of Europe were great edifices in Luther’s time as well, but they symbolized a leadership class badly out of touch as well. The Adorable’s of Luther’s time, the nobilities and aristocracies of kingdoms and Church, were united. Just as modern Adorables, they administered a dominant international culture. As is the custom in human societies, the many were ruled by the few, sometimes well, sometimes not so well. As is generally true, the ruling few found places in their ranks for their own offspring and relations, but also allowed a few others, the ambitious and the talented, into their ranks. But new comers were required to have the proper credentials, the proper education, the proper beliefs. No deviations from orthodoxy allowed.

Martin Luther was talented and ambitious. He checked the right boxes in his credentials, his education and his beliefs. He was an Adorable in his time. But along the way to a successful career in the hierarchy of the Church, Luther found himself choking on a fishbone too large to swallow. As it is sinful humans that both govern and are governed, we require flexibility in our faith, in our culture, in our zeitgeist. Ideals are nice but the real life of governing requires deal making and compromises. But in any faith or culture or zeitgeist, there are deal breakers – rocks that cannot be compromised away, rocks that break the hard won peace of the go along, get along mind set prized by those in power.

In Luther’s day, this deal breaker was the Catholic Church’s practice of indulgences. Luther could not turn his cheek to indulgences. Christ said that a simple acceptance of his own perfect sacrifice was sufficient for man to become right with God. There was nothing men could do except believe and ask for forgiveness. But Christ has always been a difficult figure for ruling elites, he allowed no leverage, nothing to deal with. A powerful man named Caiaphas spoke for many others in positions of power when he said about Jesus,

“it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish”.

John 11:50

In the Middle Ages, wise men and/or powerful men stepped in to do what they have always done, they stepped in and created the levers of power God had forgotten to provide. They created a system that allowed for flexibility, for deal making, for compromise. There grew up a complex system of penances and sacrifices allowing men to get right with God. Of course this system required men with the power to administer it, to apply it properly and to supervise it.

But busy men and women increasingly had no time to comply with these time wasting rituals. Proud and powerful men and women hated public, or private, humiliation. It was unconscionable that they should be forced to rub shoulders with serfs, with people of the street, even worse that they should be humbling themselves within sight of these inferiors.

There was strong pressure for shortcuts, with money being the preferred shortcut in all times and places – witness Tesla’s in the HOV lanes on California freeways. In addition, the Church had to recruit warriors for its unpopular pet projects, namely an endless series of crusading conquests in Eastern Europe. Money could substitute for repentance. There was no need for penances and public shaming by the elite, for a suitable donation to the Church any sin could be forgiven. A FASTPASS through Purgatory was only a few gold pieces away.

Luther believed this to be wrong, totally and wholly wrong. It was Jesus, and He alone, who could forgive, not a priest or cardinal or Pope. Many others of Luther’s day believed the same way. Luther simply said what many thought. And luckily he escaped the fate of so many others who ended their days with the fire’s smoke in their nostrils, the fire licking around their feet and removing them from the concerns of this world.

Like every other political compromise that is required of Christianity in power, indulgences were a political necessity. The Catholic Church and the kingdoms of Europe needed each other; compromise and deal making were required else there might be chaos. The new and growing middle class in the towns and cities might get ideas about who should be running things without the Church’s doctrine of “the divine right of kings”. The nobles and merchants were tired of the lengthy penances and other degrading rituals involved in condoning their sins. Purgatory was a frightening concept. The Church needed money to finance the “work and workers” of the Church. Paying to remove sin and escape purgatory solved everyone’s problem.

But when the ruling class, the Adorables, push compromise too far, when they finally hit a deal breaker, the dirty masses, the Deplorables, become restless. But in reaching that critical stage, the deal breaker, the Adorables usually have crossed a line, a line they know in their hearts that they shouldn’t have crossed. Crossing such lines create bitter and determined opponents. On the one side is the one who knows in his heart that he has done a great wrong, is past the point of no return and has nothing to lose. On the other side are those willing to lose everything for what they believe.

In the case of Luther, the Catholic Church and the dependent nobility reacted in fury, burning at the stake, torture and slaughter. I think many of them knew that Luther was in the right, but they had sold their souls for accommodation in this world. I think many of the Jews crying for Christ’s crucifixion knew he was the Son of God, but they felt they had no choice either. Theirs is a tragic circumstance in human affairs. We know that we have done wrong, but rather than admit to it and asking forgiveness, we fight on with renewed fury rather than surrendering our pride and humbling ourselves.

And so we return to Donald Trump and 21st Century America. I don’t think Donald Trump to be a Martin Luther, but rather a perceptive man who is also a shrewd politician. He was a successful developer in the snake pit of New York City after all. The Donald recognized that a great mass of people in the United States had become estranged from those who led them. He used that perception to rise to power, every day nailing his theses to Twitter’s door.

It seems that we stand on the banks of a Rubicon in America. When the soldiers of Julius Caesar’s 13th Legion splashed across the Rubicon River in Northern Italy, it was an unmistakable deal breaker. People in Rome knew they needed to choose. It seems equally clear that there is a deal breaker causing a split in the American public, but it is not so obvious as the Rubicon River and Caesar’s 13th Legion. But what is clear is that there is one. How is it that the American people came down to a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? Our forefathers would be rightly ashamed of us.

What is it? What is the deal breaker that has shattered the increasingly tawdry system of compromises that is our culture? Where in the confusing mix of anger and fanaticism whirling around immigration, identity politics, sexual identity and health care have we crossed a line that cannot be crossed without fatal repercussions?

I think we all know what it is. It lurks in the murk of our 24/7 news cycle, sometimes glistening for a short space before once more being submerged in the trashy fixations of our news media. We all know it’s there, but we are as uncomfortable with it as our talking heads are. Perhaps like those German’s of an earlier day, we know of Auschwitz, but prefer to stick to our own concerns.

Back in Martin Luther’s time, there was one issue that the Catholic Church allowed no compromise upon. The Catholic Church claimed the sole right to declare the will of God, including and most especially, the right to declare sins forgiven – or not. Just as with the medieval church, there is one issue that the Democratic Party allows absolutely no compromise on. The issue at the core of the present Democratic Party, the party of Adorable America, is abortion; any time, anywhere, under any circumstances.

Whatever Hillary Clinton was, whatever else she did or didn’t do, Hillary left no doubt that she would defend the right to abortion to her dying breath, as will any other Democratic politician. On the other hand, the Republicans have been the party of people opposed to abortion, but the Party has always been conflicted about the whole thing. In a nutshell, they don’t think it’s that big a deal. No Republican politician is going to lose his job or the nomination because of his stance on abortion.

But perhaps there is a growing groundswell out there in the great mass of voters. Our conscience is bothering us. Abortion is just the most visible of other troubling trends that are worrisome. Human life is becoming a commodity, something subject to an amoral marketplace rather than something sacred. Euthanasia, cloning, designer children, organ harvesting, LGBTQXYZ, people trafficking. Where are the boundaries? Where are the lines that we will not cross if we value our souls? If we have any self-awareness at all, we know that there are things we can’t be trusted with, and we know no one else should be trusted with those things either.

It is not that this great mass of troubled voters believes, or believed, Donald Trump to be the reincarnation of El Cid, a paladin sent to do battle for our fallen souls. The Republican Party’s nominees, good men and true but Adorables themselves, have always pledged to fight the good fight. But time and again, there have been other priorities, other battles more important to win.

Perhaps the nomination process that threw up Donald Trump reflected an appreciation of our Savior’s words by the restless folks out here in fly-over country. Christ’s words to the church at Laodicea might well be said to the leaders of the Republican Party:

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of My mouth.” Rev. 3:15-16

Perhaps Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and others fell before Donald Trump because voters, hot voters, wanted someone who was not lukewarm when it came to their concerns.

Perhaps the Republican Party has forgotten its beginnings. There was once a party known as the Whigs. Within its ranks were people known as Abolitionists, the people who hated slavery. But the Whigs were the party of many other concerns as well, tariffs, rule of law and the business interests. The Whig Party was lukewarm about slavery, just as most of the country was. But since the national party, the Democratic Party, was totally committed to upholding the practice of slavery, the Abolitionists had nowhere else to go.

But a line was crossed when Kansas and Nebraska applied for admission to the Union as States. People sitting on the fence, people hoping it would just go away could no longer whistle past the graveyard. There was a line crossed with slavery’s expansion into the West and the Whig Party’s lukewarm compromising stance was no longer acceptable.

The Republican Party was born, nominating a strange man as their candidate for President. Few of the best sort of people believed Abraham Lincoln to be anything other than a laughing stock. But to his credit, Abraham Lincoln was not lukewarm. He would not go along to get along. Abraham Lincoln was the Rubicon River and the 13th Legion. People in the United States had to look at slavery, what it was and what it meant. Compromise was no longer possible. People had to take a stand. A terrible war that no one wanted came about, but after that war, slavery was no more.

Statistics, particularly statistics on controversial things, are slippery, but a reputable source estimates that the United States has had 50 million legal abortions performed since 1970. Tens of millions of women have used the “day after pill”. This is the rock lurking in our news cycle the Adorables don’t want to think about, don’t want to honestly debate.

Is it about women’s rights or is it about human life? Should we mourn the death of 50 million innocent children or should we celebrate the exercise of life choices by 50 million women? We rightly risk damnation if our answer is determined by political expediency or dogma. Political expediency over two generations instead of an honest and open debate within our country’s governing class might explain the presence of Donald Trump in the White House.

But unelected judges, chosen by Donald Trump or anyone else, should not determine our answer either. We supposedly live in a democracy. Why do we let judges decide? We know in our hearts that this question goes to the very heart of who we are. If we are simply assemblages of carbon molecules living in a deterministic meaningless Universe, then abortion is simply a life style choice. But then we should be more honest with ourselves. Human rights becomes subject to economic analysis. What are the pluses and minuses associated with any particular individual or group? Inconvenience, cost or just plain indifference of the people paying the freight must be weighed in the balance. The principle has been established.

But if we are beings created in God’s likeness, with his very essence in our souls, then each soul is sacred. But even so, hard choices must sometimes be made. Triage must be invoked. Who makes these hard choices and are there guidelines? If abortion is the death of an innocent child, God will forgive us if we repent, whatever our motives – pure or impure, but we must also forgive ourselves.


3 Responses to “Trump and the Lukewarm Republicans”

  1. Judy Hoxworth says:

    you sir have summed up the entire nightmare in words beyond the average educated adorable or even deplorable! You have a gift with words that absolutely fascinates me. I have mostly educated myself outside the college walls…pretty much learning what I know on my own. Thankfully God gave me wonderful grandparents who had more brains and perception than what I see in my own children and grandchildren. Both my parents were gone by the time I was 2 and my grandfather came over from Russia in the late 1800. I learned very early that soon I would be on my own as they had already raised 8 children by the time I came to live in their house. I thank God every day for them and the common sense to understand and to be able to come to the same conclusion that your article sums up…even though some words and one paragraph is still is beyond my comprehension! Challenges like this are how I learn. Even though I have been an avid letter write to the paper…in today’s climate I told the publisher it is something I will no longer do. However, I will let him know when I disagree with him. We have never met but we are on a first name basis…and often he’s not happy with my responses.

    Thank you for your effort…sometimes I write these things only for my benefit but am always pleased when others enjoy my thoughts. I for one enjoy yours and the continuing education!!!

    • Jeffrey N Esbenshade says:

      If the nation could read the entire story not just the headlines we would be better off. I read Wall St Journal watch BBC.Here are a few stories need to be understood.

      The Defense Dept today said the GI bill is a forever benefit In past you only had
      so many years to use it after your discharge or lose the benefit

      Remember IRS Louis Lenner hearings? one thing that was about Obama wanted non
      profit donations to be listed on tax form 990 which is a public document. Govt
      would know who donated to what group, Tues the Treasury Secretary told non profits
      no need to report any donations

      The Europeans made USA fight two world wars, Cold war, we rebuilt Europe with Marshall Plan They put little into NATO. Germany has over 60 million people with a full time military of 100,000. South Korea has 20 million people with 800,000 full time military. Germans do NOT do combat. But no Euros for NATO
      The former Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schroder went to work for Gasprom Russian
      gas company who are bringing nat gas to Germany by way of the Baltic Sea pipeline.
      Russians invade Ukraine can Germany help, no. The Trump administration is selling arms to Ukraine.

      The US moves its embassy to Jerusalem, Congress approve the move in 1996.
      Trump cut the PLO aid in half, they got bonus for killing Jews and maybe a Street
      name after you in GAZA, your tax dollar at work!

      For the time being PC is dead

      Food stamp people and Medicaid able body person may have to work a few hours to get their benefits.

      The EPA will not regulate water quality of stockponds, huge deal in farm states

      Obama was going to out law glidder kits a trucking business deal.Las day of Pruitt in EPA office, he said we can build glidder kits.

      the list is so long can’t write enough. This could be our greatest President ever.

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