Truth, Trump, and Turmoil

“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed – in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.” --Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison (1943-44)

June 21, 2020
By Dale Holloway

You’ve probably heard of the Liar’s Paradox. Those in my last pastorate heard a lot about it before I retired seven years ago. It’s the statement of a liar that he or she is lying. For example, if I say, “The statement I am making is a lie,” then that statement must be false because I just said I was lying. But if I am lying, then that means I’m telling the truth, which means . . . well, you see the endless cycle.

How about this one? “The next sentence is false. The previous sentence is true.” Let that swivel around in your mind a bit.

What’s the fundamental problem with those statements? The problem is that there is no way to assign a consistent truth value to them. And that, to a large degree, defines our postmodern, post-Christian world today, where the whole question of truth is up for grabs. The majority of Americans do not believe there is such a thing as absolute truth. Truth is relative. What’s true for you isn’t necessarily true for me. Consequently, truth is in a perpetual process of change. Of course, Jesus might argue that point a bit (cf. John 14:6).

What’s your reaction to the following statement? He is an evangelical Christian and not a Republican. If you’re an evangelical Christian, statistics would indicate that’s likely somewhat of a paradoxical statement to you. Well, the he in that statement is me.

My evolution from Republican to political independency probably began early in the Obama presidency. Although my political conservatism caused me to be critical of many of his policies, I liked him as a person and was glad to see a person of color finally become President. And, despite my disagreement with some of his political views, I considered him a man of integrity.

Then came the presidential campaign for the 2016 election. Businessman Donald Trump made a bid for the Republican nomination that many of us thought was simply another of his ego-building fantasies. Well, at least we did until other Republican candidates began to falter in the overly crowded field of primary candidates.

Perhaps more significantly, Trump catered to evangelical Christians, promising just about everything they lusted for, including power, prestige, and prosperity in exchange for their support. The clincher for evangelicals, I believe, was his pro-life stance, a position he had conveniently embraced when he considered a run for President as a Republican four years earlier. Consequently, evangelicals as a whole, including many well-known Christian leaders, jumped aboard the Make America Great Again bandwagon with their Republican messiah who was about to usher in God’s kingdom on earth.

That disturbed me greatly. In my opinion, Donald Trump was a bigot, a racist, and a demeaning bully. I knew I couldn’t vote for the man despite my strong Republican background. And I didn’t. In 2016, I wrote in the name of Republican Mitt Romney on my absentee ballot. A wasted vote? Perhaps, but not to me.

Why would I oppose a person for President who, at least in word, espouses the majority of my political views? The answer is simple: truth matters! And so does integrity! The two are inseparable. I had to be true to my conscience to maintain my personal integrity. I could not vote for a person I felt was morally unfit, devoid of integrity, and experientially unprepared to be the President of the United States simply because the person belonged to my party.

The words and actions of Trump over the past four years have only deepened my conviction that he is, indeed, a bigot, a racist, and a bully. Further, there is overwhelming documentation of hundreds of lies he’s told since occupying the oval office. He is profane, demeaning, deceptive and almost allergic to telling the truth. He is devoid of integrity. One needs only to read the history of the Nation of Israel and its kings to see what happens to a nation with immoral leadership.

Further, the actions and policies of Trump during his presidency have seriously divided this nation. He sees everything through the lens of his own personal and political needs. When he speaks, he speaks to his base supporters, rarely to all America. He has failed miserably as a leader in two of the greatest crises of his Presidency: the coronavirus outbreak and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests. During the coronavirus outbreak, his hypocrisy has been in plain view as he refuses to wear a mask anywhere in public. And during the BLM protests, he’s had a great opportunity to unite the nation and begin the healing process for millions of people. Instead, he has shown negligible, if any, support for the movement and even called up combat ready U.S. military troops to confront their own American citizens who were committing violence during the protests.

But there’s more. To satisfy his intense ego, Trump had a perfectly legal and peaceful protest forcefully dispersed (yes, gas was used) from Lafayette Square. Why? So he and his underlings could march triumphantly from the White House to St. John’s Church for that infamous photo op. Clergy members were forced to leave the premises while the President posed defiantly in front of the church while sanctimoniously and sacrilegiously holding high a Bible. Some called it blasphemy. There was no doubt the message he was sending and to whom.

Indeed, it was pure Donald Trump. His concern was not, "How can I help heal a deeply hurting America?" It was, "How can I appeal to my base supporters—evangelicals—and win the 2020 election?" Then, on Juneteenth, the day before his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he tweeted, "Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis. It will be a much different scene." The message was clear. The next night at the rally his thugs AND the police forcibly removed a female attendee because she was wearing a Black Lives Matters T-shirt.

What kind of leadership is that?

Never in my 73 years, which spans 13 U.S. Presidents, has our nation been more divided than it is now. The 1960s were certainly tumultuous times with the Vietnam conflict, riots, protesters occupying and destroying university buildings, and the assassinations of President Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. I remember those years well, especially the riots, as I was among the hundreds of Michigan National Guard troops that were activated and sent out with our M1 Carbines to patrol the streets after King and RFK were assassinated in 1968. At times it felt as if the country would never be united again.

But it was . . . until the election of Donald Trump. Now the country seems divided into two combating groups: pro-Trump-ers and anti-Trump-ers.

There are no circumstances that I can imagine under which I would vote for Donald Trump for President. If the election were held today, my vote will go for Joe Biden, not because he is a Democrat or because he has no weaknesses, but for the following reasons:

-- He has over 45 years of largely successful experience in Washington.
-- He served admirably as Vice President alongside President Obama.
-- He is immensely more qualified than Donald Trump.
-- I believe he is a man of integrity.

I’m sure some of you question how I as an evangelical Christian can vote for a Democrat as President given the Party’s pro-choice position. Admittedly, I have struggled hard and long with the question. My answer is that although abortion is a serious moral issue, it is far from the only serious moral issue our country is facing.

Was it not a serious moral issue when President Trump betrayed the Kurds when Turkish forces invaded their territory last year and allowed hundreds of Kurds to be killed? They had been our allies and thousands of them had died alongside American troops through the years. Was allowing them to be killed less serious than abortion? Most Republican members of Congress remained silent.

Is separating families at the border and sending parents’ children to places unknown not a serious moral issue?

Is being a bully and calling anyone who disagrees with you an enemy a moral attribute? President Trump does that almost daily and, worse, calls them terrible names. Isn’t bullying something our country has been trying to stop? Is it not a serious moral issue?

The Republican Party is led now by Donald Trump and it is barely recognizable to me anymore. He says, "Jump!" and his Congress says, "How high?" Even when they don't think it's the right thing to do. The Party has lost it's moral fiber, despite their pro-life stance. The only Republican member of Congress who seems to have the courage to speak the truth against Trump is Utah Senator Mitt Romney.

In an excellent online article titled The Downfall of the Republican Party, Peter Wehner gives great insight of the how and why of the Party's moral descent. I encourage you to click on the link and read the whole article. Below are a few highlights.

They [Republicans in Congress] know that to publicly challenge Trump—to call out his ethical transgressions, cruelty, and indecency even as they support his policies—invites impassioned attacks from Trump supporters and, in some cases, a primary challenge. No one likes to be under attack, particularly by the base of one’s own party, and no one wants to lose a job.

“What good does it do to attack Trump?” they [Republicans in Congress] will ask. He won’t change his ways, and they will only weaken themselves in the process. (Many of them are happy to attack Trump in private conversations, citing, chapter and verse, things he has said or done that alarm them, showing that they both know better and are playing a cynical game.)

. . . they [Republicans in Congress] are validating Trump’s approach to politics—the hyper-aggression, the lawlessness, the mendacity, the shamelessness—and therefore guaranteeing imitators. It also happens that their influence on the president is far smaller than they tell themselves. They have made concession after concession after concession, justifying each one along the way. Then you look back at the road they’ve traveled, and it’s breathtaking. Donald Trump has changed them far more than they have changed Donald Trump.

To see men and women who in other spheres of their lives are admirable, who got into politics because they believed it was a noble profession and they had a positive vision for the Republican Party, beaten down and broken by Trump is a poignant thing. Their weakness and servility, their vassalage to such a fundamentally corrupt man, is dispiriting to those of us who not only lament the injury Trump is inflicting on the nation as a whole but who still care about the Republican Party and worry that conservatism is in the process of being subsumed into angry, ethnic populism.

What Republicans who have rallied behind Trump don’t fully grasp yet is the toxic effect he’s had on the younger generation, and on college-educated, suburban, and nonwhite voters. (Trump is wildly popular among blue-collar and rural voters, who are shrinking as a percentage of the voting population.) The damage done by Trump won’t be limited in its reach. He has imperiled the future of the party he leads. And those who think the GOP will simply snap back to the best of what it was pre-Trump—who think the worst elements of Trump-ism will vanish once he leaves the White House—are kidding themselves.
God help us!

The one wish I have now is that Candidate Joe Biden will adopt Make America Great Again as his campaign slogan. Our nation was great before Donald Trump, a man devoid of truth and integrity, tore it apart at the seams, and it can and will be great again when we have a leader who has the knowledge, experience, and integrity to unite us as one. Then we will be we the people once again.

Yes, it is important that we elect Joe Biden as President of the United States. Why? Because truth matters!

© 2020 Dale Holloway  ۰  All Rights Reserved

Follow Up on June 21, 2020 Article (above)

June 27, 2020

My article of June 21, Truth, Trunp, and Turmoil, generated some response, most of which was negative. Of course, that wasn't surprising given that most of those who read it were evangelical Republicans.

One person's thoughtful response made me realize I should clarify a few things, so this is my attempt to do just that. Some of the person's response was, ". . . it seems clear you have strong negative feelings against our President. I 'feel' and know in some cases that facts/truth is hard to come by these days, due to many opinions of others who portray themselves as the only ones knowing the 'truth.' I believe that God puts certain people in certain positions at certain times to fulfill His purpose(s) whether I humanly agree or disagree with them."

Following is my response to those concerns. Hopefully, this will help others understand better where I'm coming from on this delicate subject.

"What I wrote, and everything I will write on that website, is based on what Jesus said in John 14:6. The problem is with a culture that doesn’t embrace that truth and the values it instills in fallen humanity. President Trump epitomizes that culture as evidenced by his lack of integrity and everything else I described in my article. So, yes, I have strong, negative feelings about him being the President of our country.

"I agree that God can and does put certain people in certain positions at certain times to fulfill His purposes. How often and who I don’t know. I don’t know how any of us can know who the “chosen one” might be. Did God put Hitler in the position to lead Nazi Germany? There certainly were many who thought so at the beginning. In terms of leaders, the only way I know to discern is to look at the results of their leadership. Since different people want different results, there will always be disagreements over who is a good or bad leader. It boils down to personal opinion based on one’s personal values. President Trump does not embody my spiritual or political values. Thus, I cannot vote for him. Unfortunately, politics often forces one to choose the lesser of two evils.

"I sincerely respect you and other believers who thoughtfully disagree with my views on the President. What disturbs me is the multitude of people who leave out the “thoughtful” part and argue for the President out of blind loyalty. Those people would benefit from reading the legend of the Pied Piper."