To most of my relatives and friends—more appropriately, former friends—I’m an outcast, a traitor to the true faith. Were we to have an extensive family gathering, I’m sure I’d be allowed in, but then I’d be shunned—until, finally, someone would broach the topic: “Why are you such a Trump hater? Why have you become,” face suddenly contorted in a disdainful sneer, “a lib?”
In such a scenario, were I to respond, my words would drift off into the atmosphere having found no place to alight, all attainable auditory landing sites obstinately barred.
My Heretofore Unimaginable Shift
Four and a half years ago I could not have imagined being unbendingly at odds with folks I’d grown up with, folks I’d shared meals with, folks I’d have trusted with my life. Nor would I have imagined writing blog posts for a site run by a man with the username Brookingslib. And no one could have convinced me I’d be phone banking in support of Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates in 2020.
Then came Donald Trump. As I’ve stated in previous posts, in a sense, I’m grateful for Trump’s arrival on the conservative scene. That such an ignorant, arrogant, self-centered, ungodly man could so easily take control of the Republican Party and most white evangelical churches revealed to me the profound corruption that had infected both those entities. I’d seen glimmers of—had fleeting peeks at—that simmering degradation, but had found ways to ignore it or justify it. But their unreserved surrender to a man whose life and words dishonor virtually everything both groups previously claimed to cherish was the tipping point. I could not stay.
This does not mean I have undyingly turned against the Republican Party or the evangelical movement. If either entity were to reform, to return to its roots, I might return to them. But in their present forms and practices, I want nothing to do with them. And, no doubt, the feeling is mutual. I’m sure I’d have to grovel in demonstrable repentance for either faction to allow me back among its ranks.
The Republican Party’s Unimaginable Drift
One of the fundamentals in the formation of the Republican Party was opposition to the expansion of slavery. In its early days, the GOP, as it became known, was the more progressive of the two parties, proposing, for example, a national banking system, and arguing for free-market labor over slavery. Stated prominently within the new party’s first platform in 1856, was the following resolution:
… [W]e hold it to be a self-evident truth, that all men are endowed with the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that the primary object and ulterior design of our Federal Government were to secure these rights to all persons under its exclusive jurisdiction; that, as our Republican fathers, when they had abolished Slavery in all our National Territory, ordained that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, it becomes our duty to maintain this provision of the Constitution against all attempts to violate it for the purpose of establishing Slavery in the Territories of the United States by positive legislation, prohibiting its existence or extension therein.
Four years later, the party’s platform included this declaration:
That we brand the recent reopening of the African slave trade, under the cover of our national flag, aided by perversions of judicial power, as a crime against humanity, and a burning shame to our country and age, and we call upon congress to take prompt and efficient measures for the total and final suppression of that execrable traffic.
Now, while the current GOP has not gone so far as to call for a re-introduction of slavery, consider the following few examples of many blatantly racist statements and actions from the current Republican President, as reported on the Vox website:
On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly made explicitly racist and otherwise bigoted remarks, from calling Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists, to proposing a ban on all Muslims entering the US, to suggesting a judge should recuse himself from a case solely because of the judge’s Mexican heritage.
The trend has continued into his presidency. From stereotyping a Black reporter to pandering to white supremacists after they held a violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, to making a joke about the Trail of Tears, Trump hasn’t stopped with racist acts after his 2016 election.
And throughout the man’s many racist statements and actions, only a few prominent Republicans dared to offer even mild criticisms of such hateful behavior. GOP now means Greedy, Obstinate, and Pitiless.
Evangelical Christianity’s Graveling Grift
As I’ve written in previous posts, America’s white evangelicals tend to have a persecution complex. So when a blustering bloviator came along and offered their leaders unlimited access to the halls of political power should he be elected president, all their previous proclamations about the need for high moral character in leaders suddenly became irrelevant. What good is a birthright of integrity when we’re hungry for power and this man is offering us a bowl of sweet-smelling dominance? (If you’re confused, go read Genesis 25 in the Bible evangelicals claim to revere.)
White evangelicals—whose Bible plainly tells them to welcome strangers and foreigners—raised nary a cry when Trump called for a Muslim ban. They hailed his pledge to build a wall to bar persecuted and impoverished families fleeing grave hardships. They defended his heartless separation of those Latino families that did manage to cross the border, past the wall he still has failed to build. They seem to care little about a virus that has killed nearly 230,000 of their fellow Americans. Might that be because the virus’s infection rate is nearly three times higher among non-whites than whites, and the death rates are also higher for minorities?
With Trump’s election, white evangelicals did gain their long-desired, unprecedented access to the nation’s political power brokers. But woe to them for the ways and extent to which they have misused it.
Liberals’ Proffered Gift
Meanwhile, I’ve been inspired by my growing association with liberals. They’re tolerant. They know I’m a pro-life evangelical (although no longer active in that movement), and they accept me anyway. That, of course, is the nature of liberalism; it’s accepting, nonjudgmental. Liberals are willing to respectfully disagree with me, and others, on, for example, the pro-life / pro-choice issue. That’s why the Democratic Party is growing while the Republican Party is dying.
Will Repentance Uplift?
Ten days from now, the nation will once again elect a president—along with many other leaders. It’s all but certain the nation will not re-elect Donald Trump, the Republican candidate. Will secular and religious conservatives then arrive at their “come to Jesus” moment and repent of their imprudent and immoral choices? Will they return to their noble beginnings? If not, both will continue their decline into irrelevance.