Perhaps you’ve noticed that I hardly write much about politics anymore. That’s because I’m so deeply disheartened at where every side is at in our country now, and I’m not sure I even have anything useful worth saying about any of it. But there’s at least this one thing.
I continue to be surprised and scared by Donald Trump’s popularity on the right.
Six months ago, I would have said that if anything good were to come out of this new administration, it might be a real focus on media bias, which is pervasive and truly dangerous (it almost certainly contributed to the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise, for example), and which Trump has actively highlighted.
But now it’s clear that, if he’s done anything at all, he’s set back the issue at least twenty years. Consider his infamous “covfefe” tweet. Everybody laughed at the weird typo (which he said was caused by typing at night while getting tired), but the real story was ignored: the president of the United States, in bed at night, felt sorry for himself and wanted to garner sympathy by lashing out at domestic critics, but he was so sleepy that he screwed it up.
And he’s in charge of defending the free world.
Such a petty man-child is nobody’s hero. (For more on how ineffectual he and his inner circle are, see here. Seriously, his list of failures so far, including TWO failed attempts to replace Obamacare, should be a huge red flag alone–and his party controls every level of government!)
Peggy Noonan nailed it recently in a devastating Wall Street Journal (!) piece comparing him to Woody Allen, not the macho John Wayne-type he pretends to be.
Speaking of Noonan, that reminds me of the issue this post is about: Trump’s popularity on the right, despite being a very poor excuse for a representative of it. Noonan once wrote a very sweet biography of Ronald Reagan called When Character Was King.
Conservatives used to believe that, remember? That character mattered. Remember that coming up a lot during the Bill Clinton years? We also used to say that “birds of a feather flock together” and “a leopard doesn’t change its spots” and untold other proverbs of character, but for some reason we just don’t hear those much any more.
But today we see many on the right in America–perhaps millions–excusing the most crude, oafish leader we’ve had in our history, apparently just because he makes liberals so mad.
Do we really hate liberals more than we love our values? If so, then we’re truly lost.
Consider this passage from the Book of Mormon, about a king named Morianton:
“But he got the job done!” Morianton’s spin doctors might have said. Sure, and maybe he would have put an impressive conservative on the Supreme Court, but in the big picture, does that really matter? When a society is falling apart? When its ostensibly conservative base no longer prizes moral character in its leaders?
When we stop insisting on character in our leaders, it means that we’ve stopped expecting it of ourselves.
And that’s what truly terrifies me. That’s what signifies tragedy.
I’m not the first to make this Trump/Morianton connection. One woman who already did so even cited a General Conference passage from the inimitable Neal A. Maxwell that, while obviously not referring to Donald Trump, clearly says that Morianton and leaders like him are wicked:
Previously, society has often had helpful, though subtle, balancing and restraining mechanisms—including families, and churches, and schools—to checkrein excessive individual behavior. But too often some of these mechanisms are either missing, malfunctioning, or equivocating.
Moreover, the foregoing trends are further accelerated by the fashionable nonjudgmentalism which excuses whatever wrong individuals do—as long as they do anything else commendable. After all, didn’t Mussolini make the trains run on time? Violators of the seventh commandment may still make useful contributions, but they pay a hidden, personal cost (see Alma 28:13 Of King Morianton we read, “He did [deal justly with his] people, but not [with] himself because of his many whoredoms” Ether 10:11 Apparently a fair, no-respecter-of-persons leader, Morianton did not respect himself! His self-inflicted wounds were masked by the outward ornamentation of riches and buildings (see Ether 10:12)
So sobering is all of the foregoing that what follows needs to be said, and I do not hesitate to say it. The revelations tell us that commensurate with their own sins, unrepentant sinners must suffer even as [Jesus] did for ours, as they one day personally experience the full justice of God (see D&C 19:16–18) Additionally, however, those who in various ways persistently foster and intensify this often drug-drenched drama of immorality—whether as promoters, enablers, facilitators, or profiteers—will also then face and then feel all the misery they have caused countless others!
Finally, brothers and sisters, in certain times and circumstances, discipleship requires us to be willing to stand alone!
And yet, there are plenty of American “conservatives” who excuse Trump and are even in a weird state of denial about him. I mentioned a pro-Trump meme on this blog a few months ago; here’s an even worse one I’ve seen since then:
Excuse me?! What? Are you kidding? There is literally nothing at all even remotely conservative about Donal Trump. Here are Russel Kirk’s ten principles on the subject–show me one example from Trump’s life that illustrate any one of them.
As for “exalting God”…give me a break. I won’t even address that.
Why are so many people on the right eating this garbage up? Last year I predicted that within a year of his election, a lot of his voters would feel like they got played for chumps. Maybe that was wrong; maybe, like the small town rubes in Huckleberry Finn, tricked into seeing an awful performance, they’ll refuse to admit their mistake and instead brag to their friends until the show becomes even more popular.
So is that it? A mixture of simple tribal pride and denial and wishful thinking?
When major megachurches write hymns about Trump, can we any longer deny that American Christianity is in a state of apostasy? The Mormons have caught a lot of grief for that belief since the 19th century, but whatever you may think of it back then, it seems pretty undeniable that it’s true today.
And that idolatrous, cultic loyalty is actively solicited from Trump. He gave a partisan speech to the Boy Scouts about it. Forgetting the impropriety of turning a nonpartisan event like that into a stump speech, Trump’s insistence on loyalty from people may be the clearest warning of encroaching tyranny from him yet.
A better leader would know that we don’t give loyalty to him; he gives loyalty to us. We all give loyalty to the law. That’s how this works.
It seems that his supporters are so bloodthirsty for revenge on liberal elites that they’re willing to support the very flaws we used to protest in order to get it.
Barack Obama relied far too heavily on executive fiat to rule (though, in all fairness, he was hardly the first president to do so). But now Trump is ruling by spontaneous tweet. Whatever we may think about his transgender military ban, its announcement was childishly poor. And this is not the first time Trump has made precisely this mistake (remember his travel ban, which blew up in his face).
I may not have liked the things President Obama did, but at least I can respect him as a man. I cannot respect Donald Trump.
Despite some glimmers of hope every now and then that he might mature in office, he has continued to belittle others for personal reasons, target citizens in pathetic rants, and fly be the seat of his pants. (Whenever a mere campaign has the kind of turnover this administration has, we say that it’s over. Remember when tons of important members of Gingrich’s staff resigned in 2011? The Trump White House is so much worse, isn’t it?)
So what’s the point of all this? What do I want out this rant, breaking my relative streak of silence on Trump?
Ever since his election, I’ve filtered every day’s news with the question, “Do I regret not voting for him and will I vote for him next time?” My answer has sometimes gone as positive as maybe, but has usually been a firm no on both counts.
Please, please, do not support Donald Trump. This is not the first time I have begged my religious conservative friends to resist the siren song of this irreverent revolution.
Yes, we need to pray for our country. Yes, we need to defend religious freedom. Yes, we need to save our children from the ravages of progressive ideology.
But not like this. Why not? Because:
Do not vote for Trump in 2020. Let’s find someone better. Let’s focus on our actual God and not on some wolf in sheep’s clothing. No matter how many of our neighbors take the bait, let’s return to reason and live the conservative tradition that was handed down to us.
Please, America. President Morianton may make us rich and punish our enemies, but in the end he will only lead us to hell. It’s not worth it.
Go to church on Sunday. Keep the commandments. Teach your children.
Worship God. Serve Him with your whole soul. Love Him.
That is the only way to make America great again.