In the past two days, I’ve received several questions from readers about my writings on Donald Trump, chief among them is this: Why don’t you write equally negative things about Hillary? Are you a Democrat?
Oh, the binaries we so enjoy.
Perhaps it’s time to say it straight. I am no more a Democrat than I am a banana or the sky or Thor. I’m not a card-carrying member of either party. I am, though, an American citizen, born under the stars and stripes of Old Glory flapping outside a maternity ward somewhere in Louisiana. This has always been my country, and I love her, which is to say I love her people, her rocks and rills, her woods and templed hills. I love the underlying premise of our fair country–all men (and women) are created equal.
I’m American, yes. I’m also a follower in the way of Jesus, which is to say, I’m the Christian variety of American. I reckon this means that I put God above country, that I count myself a citizen of another Kingdom (an eternal one that will outlast the damage done by any election), and that the ethics of Kingdom motivate my actions. (This is only true on the best of days, of course; on the poor ones, I can be quite the idiot.) The ethics of the Kingdom trump even the Constitution, though there’s at least one similarity to both–all men (and women) are created equal. Scripture puts it this way:
“In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal.”*
Equal, equal, equal.
Men and women–equal.
Rich and poor–equal.
Citizens and immigrants–equal.
In the early days of Mr. Trump’s bid, some of my fellow believers in the way of Jesus lined up to support him (mostly men of influence). They told us he was a man who had our best interests at heart, a man who was changing. They told us he would advance “religious liberty” (which is to say religious power) and that he’d be the man to appoint the next Great Conservative to the Supreme Court. They’ve said, and said, and said. And despite all of their saying, Mr. Trump continued to make xenophobic statements about Muslims and Mexicans. He continued to demean women. Video leaked of him bragging about sexual assaulting women.
And this brings me to the point. I only write about Mr. Trump because he represents that certain sort of unabashed evil–xenophobia, jingoism, misogyny, overt sexualization of power–that bamboozled men of faith. Through his candidacy, we see how engaging in end-justify-the-means politics co-opts the faith. At the end of the day, we see how jumping in bed with politicians (hint, hint, wink, wink, nudge, nudge) only exposes the darkness of our own hearts, our own lust for money, power, and greed. And as of this week, we’ve been given another clear example of how situational ethics might lead people of faith to excuse the worst of sexual abuses (as if we needed that proven again).
The Trump candidacy underscores how people of faith, when backing a prospective candidate, can shed the core tenant of belief–all men (and women) are created equal–for a slice of the political pie. This exchange–faith for the pie–is the very barter that’s haunted men from the start and has haunted us ever since.
No party has the moral high ground, there is no doubt. But Hillary is Hillary and always has been. She’s not pandered people of faith, and she’s not co-opted (or been co-opted by) the Christian right. She’s not conflated religion and politics, at least not to the extent of her counterpart. And that being the case, I find no reason to write about Hillary. She’s not pretended to be my people. She’s not made implicit promises of political power in exchange for the vote.
*Scripture taken from Galatians 3:28 in The Message.
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