The Dangers of Donald Trump

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President-elect Donald Trump during the presidential campaign in 2015. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore)

I grew up in a political family in the Washington, D.C. area. As early as I can remember, my father was involved in politics, running people’s campaigns, working in the Congress and eventually serving in the Nixon White House. I joined him on some campaigns and after graduating from law school worked in the US House of Representatives and US Senate for over nine years. We were a liberal Republican household, one of the few Jewish families that were actually Republican. I attended Presidential inaugurals, party conventions and election parties.

Politics is not for the faint hearted. It is a rough and tumble world, where sadly almost anything goes. In recent years many have despaired at the level of negative campaigning, wrongly assuming that it is a new phenomenon. The reality is elections in the United States have always included vicious attacks against opponents. Nevertheless, this current election cycle has introduced an unprecedented anomaly, the rise of an extremist candidate, who is wildly popular. Of course, I refer to Donald Trump.

Trump apparently has tapped into a well spring of discontent and fear in the United States. Large majorities feel like the country is heading in the wrong direction. Rising social and economic inequality, the spread of Islamic fundamentalism even to the shores of the US, a seemingly stagnant economy, a broken political process and more all undergird a Trump candidacy that is built upon insults and demagoguery. Worse, he is supported by large numbers of Evangelical Christians.

The Bible emphasizes the preeminence of character in leaders. Leaders in the Bible were often judged by how they treated the down and out. Note these verses: “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” (Deut. 10:18). “Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge.” (Deut. 24:17). Compare these verses with some of Donald Trump’s statements:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best… They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

“Jeb Bush likes illegals because of his wife (a Mexican-American).”

“He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured? I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump said of former Viet Nam POW and current Senator John McCain in July.

“If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?”

“I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”

He turned his fire on Serge Kovaleski, a reporter, who suffers from a congenital joint condition that affects the movement in his arms, during a rally in South Carolina.

Donald Trump is a misogynist. He has boasted of his numerous affairs. He has offended US war heroes, Muslims, immigrants, women, the disabled. In the last election Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, was pilloried for his wealth and an off the cuff statement about the poor, for which he later apologized. Trump, not only refuses to apologize for his outrageous statements, but often tells others they heard him wrong. Here is what Danielle Allen, a political theorist from Harvard, recently wrote in the Washington Post, “Like any number of us raised in the late 20th century, I have spent my life perplexed about exactly how Hitler could have come to power in Germany. Watching Donald Trump’s rise, I now understand. Leave aside whether a direct comparison of Trump to Hitler is accurate. That is not my point. My point rather is about how a demagogic opportunist can exploit a divided country.” She later said this, “Donald Trump has no respect for the basic rights that are the foundation of constitutional democracy, nor for the requirements of decency necessary to sustain democratic citizenship.”

During the 2008 US Presidential campaign, someone told me that he didn’t believe a Christian could vote for Barak Obama. Honestly, I was appalled at such a statement, although I didn’t vote for Obama. Nevertheless, I don’t understand how a follower of Yeshua could possibly support the Trump candidacy. Every candidate has his or her rough edges. There’s only one who boasts of his sins.