So here's a thought: Donald Trump is the frontrunner for the Republican Presidential Nomination. In my circle of friends, I've yet to find someone who supports him, which is odd. I have plenty of conservative/republican friends, but no one wants a piece of this.
He has belittled women. He has bullied disabled reporters. He has called for the elimination of an entire faith system from our country, and labeled a whole race of people "rapists." He was hesitant to put distance between himself and the KKK, which frighteningly looked more to me like a calculated move than a misstep. This is all a little bit troubling.
I've said since The Donald Show starting playing on my news that I had no problem imagining that the character of Trump exists in America. The law of big numbers would catch up with us eventually there, that someone could behave as he does. I even have no problem imagining that such a person would run for president. With an ego that size, how could he not run?
What scares the daylights out of me, and what I'd much rather talk about than the candidate himself, is what his rise and success means about the American people.
It means that for a large percentage of the voting public, when a grown man mocks a disabled reporter, something sparks in them. When he blames a tough (but not unfair) round of questioning from a female reporter on her "cycle," there are people who are more attracted to him because he's speaking to them. When his best formula for how to get America back on track is "We're going to start winning again," people are all in. That, more than any candidate in any election cycle ever, scares the daylights out of me.
For a while we have been making politics our national blood sport, even we who have grown millionaires beating the crap out of each other every week on TV. I'm afraid after all this time it has turned us bitter. It has turned us mean. It has turned us into a culture of bullies and bully worshipers. And more than anything, I'm afraid we won't be able to get it back.
I don't very much mind who you plan on voting for this year. That's totally your choice, and whoever you think is best for this country is who you should go with. But my goodness, if you believe in the Lord, if the Way is something you take seriously, we need to work extra hard to reverse the process that has been at play in us since the advent of 24/7 news channels. We need to sow the seeds of love and forgiveness and charity and gentleness, not the seeds of whatever hatred, jealousy, discord, and competition our current political system has inspired in us. Those who claim they want to vote for morality this election cycle ought to realize that morality is much bigger than who we marry or what a woman is allowed to do. Morality is how we treat each other. Morality is how we speak to the stranger. Morality informs what we do with the strangers in our midst. Morality is how we craft a budget. Morality is how we represent others, even the ones we disagree with.
The eternal optimist in me wants to believe that we are not, at this point, too far gone to turn it around. I believe we can be the country we were born to be, one that sets an example the world over for grace and peace and kindness and goodness. But I'm worried with each passing day we're getting closer and closer to the point of no return. And while you and I might be single individuals, we are where it starts. What we say can change the conversation, one step at a time.