3 Things We Learned from The Trump Presidency
History will likely rank Donald J. Trump as the worst president to ever hold the U.S. executive office. Anyone will be hard pressed to make an argument against it, though I’m certain his loyal base will continue to defend his presidency for years to come. Thankfully, he was not re-elected. Since losing the election his silence in the face of an increasing number of deaths to the pandemic coupled with his ongoing absurd denial of the election results has left a hideous legacy. His malignant presidency and his eerie ability to draw the unfaltering support of millions of Republican Americans will be studied for decades.
Three things we learned from his presidency: who he truly is, the behaviour of the Christian right and the Republican politicians who enabled him was appalling, and the hope America provided by ultimately rejecting him in force.
Trump proved to be an amoral narcissistic pathological liar.
Where does one even begin to unpack such a statement about a President.
A President. Let that sink in.
When Trump was elected, he had already demonstrated enough of his dysfunctional personality during the presidential campaign and his public life to make many of us cringe and wonder what was in store for the U.S. in the next four years. However, most of us had no idea he was capable of being the person he proved to be. There was a part of me who recognized the effectiveness of his strategy to capitalize on the worst fears and negative biases of the American public. However, I hoped it was all just an act, a ruse, to get elected. Once in office I hoped he’d clean up his act. The opposite happened. He doubled down. His tirades on Twitter intensified. His lies grew. His reshaping of truth became obscene. He normalized lies to the point that he made them known as alternate truths by his staff or as misinformation by the media. No one seemed to be willing to call them what they were, LIES.
There isn’t enough space in this short piece to list the mountains of evidence to support the reality that Trump is an amoral narcissistic pathological liar. However, please allow me to list just a few elements. The most glaring is that there’s no need to provide any evidence whatsoever that he’s a pathological liar. No one can credibly dispute it.
Trump’s racism and his handling of race sensitive issues is atrocious. Whether it’s his support of white supremacists in Charlottesville, his refusal to acknowledge systemic racism, his response to Black Lives Matter protests in the weeks that followed George Floyd’s brutal public murder, his ongoing racist vitriol towards Hispanics trying to seek refuge in the U.S., his government’s retreat from the front lines of civil rights, or his voter suppression; he proved to be a man, a President, with no moral compass.
His ongoing lack of empathy and inaction while hundreds of thousand U.S. citizens died as he focused his attention on denying the results of the election is ample evidence of his supreme narcissism.
He will not only go down as the worst U.S. presidents in history, he will be known as one of the worst leaders the world has ever witnessed, and with zero empathy.
Christian support for Trump and the enabling of his behaviour by the Republican Party is demoralizing.
I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to remove the image of hundreds of Evangelical Christians lined up to have Donald Trump sign their Bibles. It was disheartening beyond measure. I understand no person is perfect. We must recognize and forgive each person’s flaws. But to overtly show disregard for a leader’s lack of ethics and moral standards, as the Christian Right has done, is appalling. Trump claims to be a Christian. Christians are to be recognized by the fruits of their spirit. Trump demonstrated time and time again he bears no such fruits—he is not a person who spreads love and compassion.
His spirit is one that sows division and fuels hatred.
His actions are anti-Jesus, not Christ-like in any form. His handling of children being taken away from their parents at the Mexican border is one of the most representative actions of who he is.
How Christian leaders such as Franklin Graham and hundreds of other Right-Wing Conservative pastors across the U.S. find it within themselves to support Trump is beyond comprehension. I don’t buy they do so because Trump is pro-life and loaded the Supreme Court to assure abortions are outlawed. Trump is not pro-life. As the activist pastor and author Shane Claiborne says, “being pro-life means respecting life from the cradle to the grave”. No one can argue that Trump does any such thing.
Christians who support and enable Trump should be ashamed, so is the case for Republican Party politicians. It was bad enough when the U.S. Senate, with its Republican Party held majority, acquitted Trump of his impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives on their charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but when they refused to acknowledge the will of the people from the results of a certified election and supported Trump’s insane attempts to overthrow the election results they proved to have a greater concern for their re-election and power than they do about their oaths to uphold the U.S. Constitution and democracy.
The Republican Party’s love for political power over integrity is one of the most discouraging behaviours one can witness from politicians.
I’m not naïve enough to believe the Democratic Party doesn’t have its moments where they choose power over integrity, but, the Republican Party’s refusal to call Trump out on his denial of the election results goes beyond what any politician should do.
Between the actions of the Christians who continued to support and enable Trump and the lack of integrity by the Republican Party politicians it would be easy to conclude that the U.S. is on a downward spiral into an abyss with little hope for redemption.
The Trump presidency showed us there is hope.
Two things emerged from the Trump presidency that give us hope: the voting citizens of the U.S. rejected Trump, and some Christians and Republicans did push back against Trump.
Joe Biden beat Trump with the same electoral college margin Trump beat Hilary Clinton with in 2016. Trump called his victory a landslide. Biden beat Trump with the largest popular vote margin in U.S. history, by over 7 million votes. When Trump won in 2016, he lost the popular vote. The 2020 U.S. election had the largest turnout in U.S. history. It was this large turnout that led to Biden’s defeat of the amoral narcissistic pathological liar Donald J. Trump.
I was appalled by Christian support of Trump. Yet, there were Christian U.S. citizens who were strongly opposed to what he stood for and that so many of their fellow Christians were supporting him. Faithful Christian leaders like Beth Moore, Andy Stanley, and Shane Claiborne were quite vocal up to, during, and after the election, that Christians should not be supporting Trump and his agenda, that it was not Christ-like. As a follower of Jesus, I thank them for their willingness to do so. I’m certain their actions played a part in Trump’s defeat.
Even though I’m not a U.S. citizen or resident, I’m grateful there were a few U.S. politicians from the Republican Party who stood up to Trump. Mitt Romney comes to mind. He was the only U.S. Senator to vote to convict Trump of the impeachment delivered by the House of Representatives. Romney also spoke out against Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the election and Trump’s false allegations of massive voter fraud.
He said of Trump’s actions, “I can’t imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting President.”
There were also other Republican Party politicians who stepped up, such as the Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, who denounced Trump’s claims of massive voter fraud. Georgia’s Republican voting system manager also vehemently denounced Trump’s accusation of voter fraud, even calling Trump out for provoking violence against voting officials with his baseless voter fraud claims. Though there were seventeen Republican State Attorney Generals who supported Trump’s conspiracy voter fraud case, the U.S. Supreme court, with is Republican majority, rejected it unanimously.
There were other Republican Attorney Generals and Republican election officials who refused to enable Trump’s attempts to reverse the election results. I thank each Republican Party politician and registered Republican Party election official and volunteer who stood up for democracy against Trump’s coup attempt to defraud the U.S. people of their votes by reversing the election results.
Ultimately faithful Christians, some Republican Party members, and millions of voters who rejected Trump confirmed there is hope, that, as Martin Luther King Jr. said,
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”.