Ben Patch's comment on a question regarding Trump
“I tremble for my country when I remember that God is just” —Thomas Jefferson
As a child, I remember watching Ronald Reagan on TV talking about America as a “shining city on a hill”, a beacon of hope for those who suffered under tyranny or oppression. As an adult, I have a more nuanced view of both the man and American history in general, and am aware just how often we have failed to be the way we picture ourselves.
But as an adult, I still believed we could aspire to that dream. That vision gave us a goal, something we wanted to be no matter how often we failed to reach it.
I look at my country now, and see not only little evidence of that shining city, but little evidence that we even want to be that any more.
In November of 2016 we had an election. Donald Trump won, and despite the grumbling about popular votes and the electoral college, no one really denied that. Many people voted for him not because they loved him, but because they despised his opponent, or because their own circumstances led them to want to try a new tack. He did have his group of “deplorables”, but there were also good people who wanted a change and saw possibilities in someone whom they perceived to be an outsider who could “drain the swamp”. I disagreed, but I understood.
Over the course of the last year and a half, however, his supporters have transformed. They were a group of people holding their nose and voting based on hope. Now they have become something resembling a cult. They brook no opposition. Someone cannot disagree with them without being considered evil.
The man has changed his positions on most every subject, sometimes multiple times, and they follow blindly. He insults our allies and cozies up to our enemies, and his supporters fall in line. He breaks promises right and left, and his supporters act as if his new position is the one he always had. Those who were loudest in condemning Bill Clinton for his philandering, Bush II for saber-rattling, and Obama for golfing or executive orders have suddenly turned a blind eye when their man has done the same, or in most cases worse.
They excoriated Obama for the national debt, even though he lowered the deficit during every year of his presidency. Then their guy blows up the entire concept of rational budgeting, exploding the national debt and deficit to their highest levels in history, and they are happy with the result. Hypocrisy.
The Mueller investigation into potential election malfeasance and Russian interference, which has so far produced 20 indictments and several confessions, is run entirely by Republicans, was appointed by a Republican , and is run by a Republican war hero, is scorned as “fixed” and a “Democratic witch-hunt”.
Try to imagine Reagan undermining Mueller. Try to imagine Eisenhower insulting the investigators. Try to imagine Bush, or even Nixon. They wouldn’t, because whatever their faults, they were patriots who wanted the best for their country. Hypocrisy.
While we’re on the subject, Trump keeps bringing up investigations into Hillary Clinton by means of deflection. If you believe there is something which needs to be investigated further, by all means, do so within the law (although one might think eight Congressional investigations without so much as a single indictment were enough). But she’s not the President. What she did or did not do does reflect on what he did or did not do. But I wouldn’t expect hypocrites to understand that.
He consistently disrespects anyone who does not fawn over him. American troops, war heroes, people who have given time or friends or limbs or sons and daughters for the sake of their country are repeatedly derided if they speak against him. And I have neither the words nor the wherewithal to even approach the hypocrisy of any woman who still supports him.
His believers railed against the Iran deal, despite it being negotiated and agreed upon by seven nations, despite there being specific measures for enforcement and oversight, despite all countries involved certifying that there was no evidence that Iran had reneged on the deal. Yet he goes to Singapore, gives away the farm unasked, uses the language that the North Koreans want him to use, gets no timetable or oversight or any other safeguard except a vague promise to start getting rid of some nukes, and his people hail him as some sort of negotiating genius. That, in case you are wondering, is the epitome of hypocrisy.
He is correct in thinking that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and his supporters won’t care. That’s what happens when you join a cult. The cult leader is important because of who he is, not what he does.
I am not normally of a Biblical bent, but as so many of his supporters claim to be Christians (despite their obvious idolatry of the President, which is in direct contradiction of their professed beliefs), I have to note that the sin that Jesus spoke against the most in the Gospels was not homosexuality or not going to church or using a different bathroom or anything having to do with the 2nd Amendment.
It was hypocrisy, followed closely by indifference to the suffering of others.
In history books when they describe our era and are attempting to talk about mid-term Trump supporters, they will use the sentence “It was hypocrisy, followed closely by indifference to the suffering of others.”
Honestly, for many of his most ardent cultists, …”sadistic interest in the suffering of others.”
Then come the stories from the border.
We can argue all day about immigration, illegal and otherwise, and how we should protect and secure our borders. It’s a complex issue and in my entire life I have yet to hear any truly spectacular answers. (Fun fact: did you know that under Obama, illegal immigration was flat for the first time in our lifetimes, earning Obama the nickname “deporter-in-chief?” If you listen to right-wing radio and watch Fox News or Alex Jones, probably not).
But the use of a law intended to protect children, allowing ICE to separate children from their parents in cases of abuse, is being used to promulgate industrial-scale terror. Taking children away, imprisoning them for the misdemeanors of their parents (crossing the border illegally is not a crime, it is a civil offense). They are doing this even when people present themselves legally and request asylum, meaning that they have broken no law. They are doing this with no trial, no due process, in contravention of not only established precedent, but the US Constitution. This is not enforcement. This is sadism. This is state-sponsored terrorism in the name of the law.
Remember the Constitution? It’s the document that Trump supporters always claim is on their side, and hold up as Holy Writ, but most cannot cite when asked what part of it justifies their argument. You know, like hypocrites do.
I have tried debating with individuals. I have tried bringing data, pointing out cognitive dissonance, and even conceding a point when I find I have been mistaken.
But one of the problems of talking to a cult member is that objective reality means nothing to them. They are tribal, and will speak and act in defense of the tribe, even if it hurts them personally. Facts are malleable, and truth is whatever agrees with them, or with their prophet. Anything which contradicts what their prophet says today (even if it’s what he said yesterday) is wrong. Reality doesn’t matter. Only the word of Trump.
We are not who we thought we were. At least not who I thought we were. I am not even sure what I can do, aside from voting and donations. But I can not just ignore the cancer that grows in 40% of my country and hope it goes away.
The only reaction I am likely to get from Trump supporters is “F$&@! your feelings, Snowflake!” which they will take as some sort of moral victory. They will likely believe they have made some sort of stand on principle.
But this isn’t a liberal or conservative thing. We don’t disagree on issues. Most of the people whom I know who can legitimately be called Conservatives agree with Liberals about Mr. Trump. And his supporters, despite the fact that they call themselves Conservatives, believe nothing consistent other than the words of their prophet.
In June of 2018, I don’t have a disagreement with Trump or his supporters based on principle. In order to still be a supporter at this late date, you have conclusively and specifically chosen not to have principles in the first place.