Thursday, November 3, 2016

B128. Two Kinds of Trump Supporters

I live in North Carolina, a swing state that has been called by some the most critical state in this upcoming presidential election. If Hillary Clinton wins NC, they are saying, she will win the election. If Donald Trump loses NC, he will have no path to getting the electoral votes he needs to win. My loved ones are Hillary supporters, and my loved ones are Trump supporters.

Me? I’m definitely a Hillary supporter, but before you roll your eyes and move on, it might surprise you to know I didn’t vote for her 8 years ago, I voted for Republican John Kasich in this year's primary, and I have never been a Democrat.

What we have in this election though is not a 2-party presidential race. There is no real Republican. Even the past Republican presidents are not supporting Trump. Nor is Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice or many of the current Republican legislators across the nation. 

This Republican nominee personifies everything that opposes morality and basic human decency. We have watched him degrade veterans, women, immigrants, people with disabilities, black people, Muslims, and Hispanics. We have politely pretended not to hear him as he has made f-bombs, p*ssies, and gun threats commonplace talk even in conservative circles. We have watched him lead rallies that look more like The Jerry Springer Show than American politics. This election season has made even little children scared, and has empowered those of all ages who bully others, erasing the line of decency that in the past they would have had to cross.

The prospect of a Trump presidency scares me to the core. Not in a political way. Not in a “my party vs. your party” way. But in a “this could be the end of our country as we have known it” way. I imagine that most Hillary supporters are dumbfounded as to how anyone could support Trump. Self included, but my anguish and ponderings have brought me to this explanation. I think there are two basic types of Trump supporters*:

1.  First the “deplorables.” These are the ones we have seen punching people at his rallies. These are the KKK and other white supremacist groups that enthusiastically support him. These are the angry white men who are tired of hearing about rights for black people and immigrants and women. "What about my rights?", they demand to know. These are the men who educate themselves and each other to the loss of any other reality, believing made-up conspiracies, believing the government wants to take away their gun rights, believing everyone's out to get them. These are true Trump supporters. They hear his words and see a brother. No one will change their minds.

2. The second group is the more difficult to understand, and they are the group I know best, the fundamentalist Christians. These are not the angry disenfranchised, fearing that someone else is taking their rights. These are kind, gentle, loving and caring people who want above all else to please God and to do what’s right. These are people whose religious traditions have fed and clothed the needy for centuries. Throughout their history they have sent money both overseas and across their homeland to help those less fortunate. They volunteer at natural disaster sites and at rehab centers and soup kitchens. They speak without four-letter words. They pray, sing old hymns, and share pot-luck dinners on the church grounds. Many of them don’t even drink alcohol. They are good parents, good spouses, and the best of care-takers for each other.

So what on earth? Well, it’s not their fault, except that they have been taught to be too trusting. For centuries fundamentalist Christian churches have ingrained in their congregants the rules of the church. Attend regularly, give 10% of your income to the church, pray, honor the Bible as the Word of God, obey God, honor your pastor as God’s servant . . . This worked well until politics saw its vulnerability and set out to exploit it. Well documented, in the 1970’s a group led by Jerry Falwell made a plan that would marry the fundamentalist Christian churches, a huge segment of the population, to right-wing politics. A brilliant plan, because, if it worked, and it did, right-wing politics would gain a large group of the most devoted voters, already trained to believe and obey whatever they were told. The group called itself the Moral Majority, and just as planned, the fundamentalist churches attached themselves to it, thus becoming Republicans for God.

Once the Republican party became seen as God’s party, the rest was easy. Every Republican issue became God’s issue, and Republican leaders became God’s spokespersons. To be Christian meant to vote Republican, no matter what issue and no matter what candidate. God and Republican were one.

Now fast forward to Election 2016. What a mess. These God-fearing people find themselves voting for a man who exemplifies everything their Jesus does not. Hate your neighbors. Hate your enemies. Turn away the foreigner. Use and demoralize women. Bear false witness in everything. Cheat employees and business clients. (The man has been sued over 4000 times.) Use the most offensive language possible. Compassion? What’s that? And Jesus’ favorite: leave the poor where they are.

Why am I writing this blog? Because I know that many of my own family and friends are still worried about how to vote in this election, and their church leaders are dutifully handing down the political messages as God’s mandates. I’m writing because this election is not politics as usual, but a most frightening time that could leave us in less than one week with the most dangerous elected leader this nation has ever seen. Vote for your Republican candidates on the rest of the ballot if you want, but please pray, really pray, about your presidential vote. If you just can’t vote for Hillary, then please consider leaving the presidential race blank, or voting third party or a write-in.

I also understand that the abortion issue is the one issue that is guiding many of you at the polls, and I get that. But consider this. Roe vs. Wade made abortion legal in the US in 1973. That was 43 years ago. No Republican president since then has reversed it (which is not in a president’s power anyway), and it is quite unlikely that a man of Donald Trump’s record would have any such passion. (Did you know that prior to being a presidential candidate he was adamantly pro-choice?) There is no reason this should be a major 2016 election issue except that someone has told us to believe it is.

Pause, my friends. Pray alone, and listen for the Spirit’s response. It might be that deepest gut feeling that keeps calling to you. I will continue to love you even if you keep wearing the red cap, but I write because I fear, really fear, for the world we are leaving to our children and grandchildren. A world without Morality, Trust, Truth, or Christianity except as defined by Government. Maybe I fear too much. Maybe not.

*Note: Certainly there are other Trump voters who do not fit into either of these 2 groups. Staunch Republicans who automatically vote Republican despite having no religious interest, for example.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
B126. Why I'm Not Afraid of Hillary
B50. Franklin Graham's Religion Is Not His Father's


Anonymous said...

Beautifully written and from the soul. Thank you for this. I shared this on Facebook because your words speak for me.
Amy Parrish

Kathy Vestal said...

Thank you, Amy. Thanks for reading, reposting on Facebook, and your kind comments in both places!

Amy in Asheville said...

It's an important post that's getting a good response on my Facebook page. It's being shared there as well.

Kathy Vestal said...

I love more shares, Amy! And thank you for the Tweet too!

hobiemom said...

I've kinda left the Christian Church because I see so much there that isn't how I want to be in my life. Your post is wonderfully written and if all Christians were as thoughtful as you, I'd be compelled to return. Thanks so much and I'm sharing it to my fb.

Kathy Vestal said...

Hi Hobiemom. Thank you for reading and taking the time to share your thoughts. Unfortunately there are so many like you who are backing away from the Church because of the politics that have crept in. I challenge you though to seek a church that hasn't accepted the political confusion. There are many churches and even complete denominations that are still focused on living our lives according to the life and teachings of the Jesus of the Gospels. If I can help you find a new church to try, email me at ncprof579 at hotmail, and tell me your denominational background and where you live. Sending a prayer for you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your elitist point of view. Looks like the left are now protesting our President, creating violence and inciting hate.

Kathy Vestal said...

Thanks for stopping by, Anonymous.