There now. I’ve stirred up the hornet’s nest with a headline.
I’ll have people assuming that because I loathe Donald Trump I must love Bill and Hillary and all the Democrats. I don’t. In fact, I loathe them even more.
I’ll have people grumbling or even ranting, “You’re a priest. You’re not supposed to talk politics. Shut up and mind your own business.”
I’ll also have people telling me all the great things Donald Trump has done and therefore he must be a good guy. Again, take a deep breath. I like some of the things Donald Trump has done. I think as a businessman he knows how to get things done. I think he’s pragmatic and knows where his base is. I’m glad he has appointed judges who say they are “pro-life”. I doubt if they will actually do much to stop abortion and promote a pro life agenda, but I’m willing to be proven wrong.
So I can acknowledge the good decisions he’s made, but I still don’t like the guy. I’m suspicious. The Amish in me doesn’t trust any of the establishment types, and it seems to me that if you want worldly power you’re in the same category as Old Nick just by definition.
In fact, I don’t actually loathe Donald Trump I loathe the Trump Cult
This is the growing adulation for the man, and for that reason and the huge rallies disturb me.
I’m disturbed because I am whiffing the signs of demagoguery, and the problem with the demagogue is overweening pride.
The problem with pride is not arrogance, boasting or showing off. Those are simply the symptoms of pride.
The deeper problem with pride is the assumption that I am right. Not only “I am right” but “I am 100% without a doubt, right” and if I’m 100% without a doubt right, then the other guy must be wrong, and if he’s wrong, he’s the problem, and if he’s the problem, then he has to be blamed, and if he has to be blamed and if he is the problem, then I have to solve the problem, and the way I solve the problem is get rid of the problem. The problem has to go away, and if it won’t go away on its own I will make it go away.
What complicates matters is that there usually is a problem, and it is usually an urgent problem that needs to be solved. The danger comes when the problem is identified with people. So, for example, “There are socio-economic problems in the countries of Central America that desperately need solutions.” However, when the problems are focussed only on the immigrants they start to be identified as “the problem” that needs to be solved.
The immigrants, on their own, are not the problem. There are deeper, more difficult problems that need to be solved. The immigrants are the result of those deeper problems. However, it is far harder to solve those other problems, and far easier to focus the problems on the people.
When any body falls into this trap it is noxious, but when a politician falls into the trap it becomes dangerous.
Because he or she will attract all the other people who have fallen into the same trap and before long they get into a gang, a tribe or a political party and they begin to realize their strength. The politician plays on this and together they play the blame game. They find somebody else or some other gang or tribe to blame. The temperatures rise, and if the other side actually has some faults and really is arguably to blame for the problem even just a little, then the blame game intensifies and turns violent.
Most politicians play this game at election time. They raise the stakes and do not so much sell themselves and their policies as they demonize the opposition, point to the threat of the “other”, fan the flames of fear and rally the tribe around their own fires of the night.
Along with this blame of others is an increased loyalty to the tribe. As the fear of the other increases, demands for loyalty to the tribe increase. The bully boys of the gang will not allow neutrality. You must sign up or ship out. (Remember, as I discuss this behavior I am quite aware that it happens not only on both sides of the political divide, but also within religions, within business, educational establishments and social warfare groups.)
On balance, I should add that while I am suspicious of Trump-ism, I also have a good deal of faith in the common sense and ordinary goodness of most Americans. I hope most of those who vote for Trump and his party do so with a sense of proportion and realism.
If you are an American Christian, don’t fall into the trap and jump on the Trump bandwagon. Vote on Tuesday with your eyes wide open. Vote for the best candidate according to your conscience and according to that person’s personal integrity, his or her policies and what you realistically believe they can accomplish to achieve the common good.
Prefer Donald Trump if you think he will do the best for the country, be grateful for the good decisions he has made…
…but when it comes to the cult of Donald–apply the brakes.
PS: If you are a Trump fan and this post has made you mad…don’t you think that might be a warning sign? Isn’t it a good thing to be wary of politicians and men of power? Isn’t it a wise thing for a priest to step back and warn about the allure of worldly power and advise caution?
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