T. Barnum would be jealous.
Quoting Wikipedia, “Phineas Taylor Barnum (1810-1891) was an American showman, politician, and businessman, remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and founding the Barnum & Bailey Circus. He said of himself ‘I am a showman by profession … and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me.’ According to his critics, his personal aim was ‘to put money in his own coffers.’ He is widely credited with coining the adage ‘There’s a sucker born every minute’.”
For the last four years I have been trying to understand what his supporters like about showman Trump. Only a couple of my friends have shared their candid views: “I’m better off than I was four years ago.” “The China virus is not his fault.” “He has appointed many conservative judges.” “He has reigned-in North Korea and hasn’t started any wars.”
When I ask if his wanton narcissism and blatant disregard for truth matters, I get something like “Oh, he’s just being The Donald; at least he does not pretend to be other than he is.” Interpretation: He gets points for authenticity even if authentically repugnant.
I ask you, my Republican friends: His policies may be good for you personally, but are they good for everyone else? Do you care about his capricious abuses of our democratic norms, the wellbeing of our Republic, and whether or not we are respected by other nations? I am a U.S. Army veteran. Yes, I love my country, but not to the exclusion of my fellow citizens of the world. It is true that we have never lived up to the ideals so eloquently set out in our Declaration of Independence, that all are equally deserving of life, liberty and happiness, but nonetheless aren’t these excellent goals? Should we discard them because they are yet to be achieved? Do you like our president’s branding of more than half our population as his enemies? Do you believe his claim that he “is the least racist person in the room.”
Why do dictators of the world love and support him? Do they admire his leadership and think he’s “a very stable genius,” or do they think he’s a useful idiot?
I think Trump’s nationalism-on-steroids is bad policy for world trade, world relationships, and our planet’s health. There has never been a time more critical for the survival of our species (and all others) as now. Contrary to our president’s claim that he has reduced life-threatening carbon buildup in our atmosphere and oceans, the opposite is true, as anyone can easily check here.
One thing I can say for Barnum: As far as I can tell, people didn’t die from his entertaining scams. He didn’t withhold vital, life-dependent information that could have saved many thousands of lives. Barnum was not the world’s most powerful and dangerous man. He didn’t follow what Goebbels hypocritically projected upon the British in WW2: “The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.” Sound familiar?
If you are in the game for yourself, do ends justify means? Do ethics, morality, and principles matter if the result is all you seek? Matt 16:26: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?
Has Trump made our country great again, or is he “the man behind the curtain” projecting a false facade?