Right-wing Americans have sunk to such a low that far too many of them are ready to anoint the worst that they have as the best they can be.
As the battle to recapture America’s “greatness” continues, it seems that a new cadre of committed crusaders has joined the fray. This cadre appears to be a loosely organized band of thugs marching under the Donald Trump banner. With no thought and lots of bluster, Trump exhorts his acolytes to remove “troublemakers” from his midst. Like good thugs, they comply. He then applauds their work. If this were simply a new low in a game of charades, it would be bad enough, but this is real life being lived in a moral and historical vacuum.
While it might be academically useful to discuss comparisons to other fascist thugs who historically have raised their ugly heads to crush opposition or target “enemies” of the message, that exercise only serves to obscure America’s present-day political reality. For some reason, right-wing Americans in 2016 have sunk to such moral depths that way too many of them are ready to anoint the worst that they have as the best they can be.
If nothing else, this race to the bottom should end all talk of America’s “greatness” for a while and begin an urgent and earnest dialogue about finding a national moral compass that is a prerequisite for constructive participation in the community of man. If America ever gets itself straightened out on this point, maybe we can begin to examine the prerequisites for “greatness.”
Meanwhile, back on the frontlines, America’s ever-vigilant press lines up to stoke the fires of campaign violence as if they were making sure we all knew when and where the next public lynching was scheduled to take place. Hard as it is to believe, every Trump rally is now pimped as must-see TV for its potential violence, because the previous pimping of Trump blather finally started to lose its profitable luster.
Establishment, Populists and Evangelicals
Amidst the chaos, it might be worth trying to figure out how we got here. It seems that a lot of right-wing Republicans are angry at something and consider themselves to be “anti-establishment.” Curiously, this same group has rallied behind a billionaire blowhard who is about as “establishment” as you can get.
Maybe ignorance is bliss, but the word “establishment” must mean something different to Trump supporters than what the dictionary says it means: “[A] group of social, economic, and political leaders who form a ruling class (as of a nation); a controlling group.”
If there is anything truthful about what Trump says about himself, it is that he is an oversized part of the economic elite and has used that status to peddle influence with others in that same controlling group of elitists. Even if Trump’s supporters are spending more time looking for socialists to attack than dictionaries to read, the press should know better and stop mouthing this “anti-establishment” nonsense.
While we are at it, let’s check out another press favorite: “populist.” Some in the press have described Donald Trump as a populist, a man of the people. Here again the dictionary is instructive, defining a “populist” as “a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people.” Last time I looked, “common people” included blacks, Mexican immigrants, minimum wage workers, some women and even some liberals fighting for universal education and health care.
Trump as a press-anointed “populist” has nothing to do with populism, unless populism is defined as callous exploitation of the fears of some common people at the expense of the rights, wisdom and virtues of others.
But it only gets better when we hop on the “evangelical” bandwagon. The evangelicals find themselves enraptured between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, with Cruz only occasionally winning because he actually is an “evangelical.” Time to go to the dictionary again: “Evangelical” is defined as “of or relating to a Christian sect or group that stresses the authority of the Bible, the importance of believing that Jesus Christ saved you personally from sin or hell, and the preaching of these beliefs to other people.”
“God Bless America”
To be honest, watching hardcore Christians trying to hoist Trump into their biblical pantheon of greatness is a wonderful reaffirmation of the bankruptcy at the core of what passes for evangelical thinking. Exactly how a completely self-absorbed pathological liar, philanderer and god of greed gets beyond the last row of pews to rub elbows with Jesus, Peter, Paul and Mary is utterly beyond me. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone asked?
At the same time, watching right-wing Republicans of all stripes bathe themselves in Christian piety before voting for Trump should cause the rest of us to question how far from “Christian” values these folks will mindlessly stray to embrace the next zealot crusader. When you combine white anger and white Christian fervor and get Trump, the cocktail seems so intoxicating to some that this national vermin will remain a force in America even if defeated in November.
If right-wing Christian vanguards somehow manage to win the US presidential election, the nation and world will be further imperiled. “God bless America” will have won the day, and those who so blithely utter those words in secular forums will have only themselves to blame for abandoning their principles to honor a fouled spirit.
*[A version of this article also appeared on Larry Beck’s blog, Hard Left Turn.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
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