This is the second in a three-part series on Trump and his supporters.
When evangelical Christians decided that they would back Donald Trump for President a number of commentators rightfully pointed out that the cynical hypocrisy of such an endorsement. The Religious Right stood for a certain type of morality that focused on personal behavior. Trump has a lifetime of behavior that is completely antithetical to the brand that evangelical Christians have built for 4 decades. Indeed, Trump does not live up to the any interpretation of the teachings of Jesus, whether you are a conservative, centrist or progressive Christian. Evangelicals made a choice to associate with someone who clearly has spent a life away from the church focusing on satiating his greed and an ego that he is never quite able to fill. Through cheating on wives, divorces and clear utterances of misogyny and disrespect of women, he exemplified everything Evangelicals have decried in public life. Refusing to walk away from someone who says he just walks up to women and "grabs them in the pussy" is evidence that evangelicals were willing to walk away from the values, for...well for what exactly? I assume their support was predicated on the promise of more conservative judges who will restrict abortion rights. Losing your soul to potentially make progress on a public policy is a most cynical political decision that seems so out of character with the moralizing that we've heard from the evangelical community.
I guess the "grab them by the pussy" comment answered the question that what would Trump have to do lose the support of his core voters like evangelicals. Maybe he was right. During the campaign, Trump said he could should someone in the middle of 5th Avenue and not lose his supporters. I'm sure Fox News would find a way to let us know that Trump was simply standing his ground against his unsuspecting victim. They've done it before (Trayvon Martin).
The last few days provided more evidence. He introduced "shithole" into our lexicon in describing Haiti and African countries in a way that those folks felt was really racist. So did the rest of us. Most evangelicals and Trump supporters writ large did not condemn the racism or the cursing. I know evangelicals generally shy away from such language. Some commentators and friends decry the use of "shithole" on TV rather than denouncing the racism which is misplaced. Most of us care about the racism and not so much about the cursing. But even with the cursing, the media is blamed as opposed to the man in the Oval Office who used the term.
There was also news the following day that Trump's lawyer paid $130,000 in hush money to a porn star (Anyone else look her up? Your kids probably did Trump supporters). Paying off a porn star during a campaign would have ended most political careers and certainly would have drawn forceful denunciations from religious right types. For Donald Trump and his supporters now, it is just Friday.
To Trump Supporters I would say this:
Many, if not most of you, are decent hardworking people. I understand that you may live in an environment where Fox News and other media, folks at church and in your community, affirm the choice you made to vote for Trump and supporting him now. I must say, though, defending this man now may actually be an exercise that corrodes your decency and our collective sense as a nation about what kind of behavior and sentiments we will accept from our leaders and that which will we This is not about the election, though Trump frequently talks about the election. Many of you proudly cast your vote for him. Are you proud now of that vote given his Presidency is really the question. And given that you voted for him do you hold him accountable for his racism and misogyny? If so, how? Are your concerned about the women who have come forward and those that apparently have been paid off.
Some of you may want to challenge the sentiment that the President is racist. That's a difficult position for me to accept. Some inquiries for you to consider:
- Do you think saying there are good people amongst neo-Nazis racist and anti-semitic? Which among the chanters saying "Jews will not replace us" are good people?
- Do you think saying all Haitian immigrants have AIDS is racist?
- Do you think saying an American born judge of Mexican heritage could not be fair in a case because of that heritage is racist?
- Do you think having an almost all white workforce in the White House, cabinet and amongst the GOP congress racist?
- Do you think calling Haiti and countries in Africa shitholes while saying you want immigrants from Norway racist? The African Union demanded a retraction and an apology.
- Finally, as a white person who isn't subject to racism, do you think you are the best judge of what is racist and what isn't?
On that last point, I try not to be a judge on what's racist. I listen to the folks most affected by racism and let that be an important guide to my view. The African Union issued an unprecedented joint statement. They felt the recent statement was racist. The Haitians felt the same way. The Norwegians felt similarly. African Americans in Congress denounced the statements as racist. Many Republicans did as well. The broad judgement of much of the world is that Trump has indeed made multiple racist statements. It is perhaps you who is either naive or willfully choosing not to listen to voices of those most affected an truly at this point almost the entire country and world who believe Trump is a racist based on his racist statements. My question to you again is how do you hold Trump accountable? Perhaps first though, you should be holding yourself accountable to listening and learning from folks who don't look like you, who find themselves the victims of racism.
If you have confined yourself to a certain range of content/media because you we hear the talking points that these outlets use to defend terrible behavior from the President...something about criticism coming from those "whom don't want America to succeed."
Many of you want us to look past his words and tweets but rather judge him by his actions. Do you judge all leaders in that way? Why do you tolerate behavior in from the nation's leader that you would not tolerate from your children or from anyone in your community? In my view, part of leadership is how they use their voice, but are you suggesting that we ignore the racism and pettiness that comes from the President on a daily basis? If you want me to judge him solely on his policy, what policy accomplishments can you point? Unfortunately, there's a lot of policies that Trump pursues that are likewise racist in nature.
In this most recent incident, if every nation in the African Union is offended by Trump's comments, should he apologize and retract? What would you tell your child who called his or her friends' homes shitholes? On some level it comes down to basic human decency doesn't it? Don't lose your soul and your own decency by defending Trump's lack of morality or decency or his dehumanizing of others. You voted for him, but don't lower the bar, Hold him accountable to living into our American ideals, basic human decency, and the moral values that every religion lifts up.
Most of you are a lot better people than Trump. Show it.