Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Being So Right Is Wrong for America

Is it over yet?

This has been a particularly depressing few weeks for me.  As hard as I try to suppress my emotional reactions over the endless train-wreck that is this year's presidential campaign, I find myself increasing frustrated:  So much of what I've warned against in my blog over these past several years is being proven correct.

Not that I'm tooting my own horn here.  And indeed, the things I've written about right-wingers, the Tea Party, and American politics in general have not been popular.  This blog has never attracted a large audience, although after certain articles have been posted, it has received an impressive page-click count.  Still, how many readers even finish reading my essays I do not know.  But the outpouring of affirmation for what I've written has never been resounding.  And it's not like I'm correct about everything I write anyway.

Nevertheless, as Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and particularly Donald Trump have duked it out over the Republican presidential nomination this winter, they've basically validated some of my consistent themes.

More's the pity.

Illegal immigration, for example, is a major problem for the United States.  But I believe we need to deal with it in a humanitarian and economic fashion that minimizes harm to families and provides economic opportunity for law-abiding citizens and legal immigrants from across the globe.  We cannot simply deport millions of people, we cannot grant blanket amnesty, and we cannot vilify an entire ethnicity or country of origin without damaging the civil rights of innocent human beings.

For the record, my solution is simple:  Enforce the employment laws currently on the books.  I call it "organic repatriation."  When U.S. employers are made to hire legal workers, the market for illegals will dry up.  Effective enforcement will mean that employers will have to construct a wage structure that fits with the capitalistic model of supply and demand.  Capitalism - what a concept, huh?  If it's true that Americans won't work for the wages you want to pay, then you'll need to raise what you're willing to pay.  Meanwhile, immigrants who are here illegally will figure out that they can't get work, and they'll return to their countries of origin.  Hopefully, back legally at home, they'll become advocates in those places for better employment and living conditions, based on their experiences here in the States.

Then there's national security, for which our vast military industrial complex has been invented, and right-wingers especially have adopted as their cause célèbre.  Donald Trump would like to temporarily ban all Muslim immigrants until he can be convinced that they don't pose a terroristic threat to the United States.  Yet Trump, and his legions of supporters, refuse to admit that such a ban based on religious grounds is blatantly unConstitutional.  And even if Trump could circumvent the Bill of Rights in this case, he'd be propping open the door to the elimination of religious rights for all Americans, thanks to the basic legal doctrine of precedent.

The sheer lunacy of right-wing duplicity when it comes to national security is intensely sobering to me.  How can people who claim to so enshrine the Constitution be so ambivalent about deconstructing it?

And what about this "exceptionalism" I keep hearing about?  First of all, if America is so exceptional, why do we have this deplorable caliber of candidates for president?  And second, although there is legitimate debate in some circles about the numbers of so-called "evangelicals" who are supporting Trump, the master ear-tickler in this year's campaign, I've been spinning my wordsmithing wheels over the fact that the United States of America does not trump - pun intended - the Bible!  We're not God's chosen country.  We may have been founded by people who were well-versed in Christianity's religious traditionalism, but we're not a "Christian" nation. 

Even if we were, we're certainly not now, since so many church-goers suddenly wax hedonistic when it comes to supporting people like Trump.

Most all politicians are egotistical, and I used to consider Cruz one of the worst when it came to self-aggrandizement.  But Cruz is a pussycat compared with Trump.  Trump has mocked the handicapped, denigrated women, boasted about lusting after his own daughter, owned casinos, bankrupted at least nine of his own companies, professed admiration for Russia's Vladimir Putin, and proposed nominating his pro-choice sister to the Supreme Court.

And to top it all off, Trump says he's unwilling to confess his sins to God.

Hello?!  That's like one of the major tenets of the Christian faith:  confession of sin, repentance, humility, walking in the truth of the Gospel?

And so-called evangelicals don't care about any of this?  Where is the Fruit of the Spirit ANYWHERE in Donald Trump's personal life, public life, or business resume?

"Bringing America back" is not a Christ-centered reason to vote for anybody, whether it's Trump, Cruz, or Bozo the Clown.  Being anti-establishment isn't, either.  Liking a candidate's flamboyant political incorrectness isn't, nor is the much-vaunted priority of national defense.  Yes, national defense is good, and I'm glad we have it.  Being anti-establishment appears to be a good way to help break up "crony capitalism" (from which, incidentally, both Trump and Cruz have benefited over the years).  But leave those reasons to heathen unbelievers, or money-hungry secularists.  God's people are supposed to have higher standards.

Nevertheless, even if I am wrong about all of this - and some evangelicals would still insist that I am - perhaps my biggest beef isn't with the political candidates themselves.  After all, they're simply parroting what their voters want to hear.  I don't propose banning people like Trump from the presidential race.  We're still an approximation of a free country, whatever that means.  Shucks, a longtime friend of mine from my New York City days is personal friends with The Donald, she's voting for him, and I respect her desire to want to vote for a friend.

No, my biggest beef is with the many people who apparently have abandoned the truth of the Bible and capitulated to baser instincts of fear, lust for titillating entertainment, and their love of affluence.

To these folks, not only have the no-good Democrats become villains, but also anybody who does not see things the way they do.  I've read many articles by evangelicals more talented and famous than I, imploring church-goers to evaluate candidates like Trump against the authority of Christ's Gospel, and the vitriol being spewed at these authors by self-professing Christians is profane, obscene, and utterly non-Christlike.

In a way, I now understand why Christianity has become so impotent in the United States.  People may go to church, but they don't follow Christ.  People may recite Scripture, but they don't truly believe it, or they've twisted it to mean what they want it to mean.  Time was, conservatives accused liberals of doing that, but now we know that many good church-going conservatives have been doing it, too.  There's no other way to explain their tidal surge of adulation for politicians like Trump.

So, although I hate to say "I told you so," I'm not sure what else to say.  I'd like to have been wrong, through all of these essays, most of which I wrote for my own benefit as I tried to sort out my own sins, hopes, fears, and problems.  There's not a whole lot of satisfaction in being proven right when it means a lot of bad things for American churches and our country as a whole.

In fact, I guess I was pretty stupid and naive to think that anything I wrote might help convince a reader that perhaps I was right and they were wrong, but there was something they could do about that.

Hey, it's my pity party.  I guess I can cry if I want to.

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