Steve Metzger: Trump and the selling of souls

For the Monitor
Thursday, June 14, 2018

How I yearn for the good old days when you could pretty much understand people by the labels they used to identify themselves.

It used to be that self-proclaimed Christians adhered to the teachings of Christ and the role model he presented. Jesus was humble, gentle, compassionate, a peacemaker and a truth-teller. He was a uniter and loved all people, especially the sick, the poor and the weak. He extolled the sanctity of marriage, the virtue of the family and the innocence of the children.

Now 80 to 90 percent of Christian voters have helped elect and continue to support unconditionally a president who is a narcissist, a belligerent bully, a serial and unrepentant adulterer, a pathological liar and a racist who uses skin color to divide our nation for political gain. They admire this man who is intent on eviscerating the safety net for our most vulnerable, who allows children to be ripped from the arms of their parents at the border, and wants to deport millions of Dreamer children whose only crime was being brought to the U.S. by their immigrant parents. Christians have forgotten that Jesus was an immigrant, a Dreamer. And as Donald Trump acts as though he is above the laws of man and God, they become even more enamored of him. The Kool-Aid is happily swallowed.

The Republicans of my memory always stood for certain core values that identified them: “law and order,” “personal responsibility,” “patriotism,” “democracy” and “anti-communism.” Today, Republicans like Devin Nunes and others actively subvert the investigation into Russian meddling with our elections, shredding the FBI and the Department of Justice in the process. They stand proudly next to a man who prided himself on cheating in business and shunned personal responsibility with multiple bankruptcy filings. They sit in silence as the draft-dodging Trump casts slurs at war hero John McCain and a Gold Star family. They enact laws that suppress voting, the true essence of democracy and patriotism in action. They remain mute as Trump acts more and more like a dictator, praises Vladimir Putin and does all he can to protect Russian interests. No sin, no crime, no core value is allowed to interfere with their goal of giving more to the wealthiest 1 percent.

A most disturbing fact is that in a recent poll 72 percent of Republicans think Trump is an excellent role model for their children. Thus another cycle of our current national disease is already being imbedded in our culture.

Perhaps the height of hypocrisy is the so called “pro-life” stance of many Christians and Republicans. Both claim that all life is sacred, yet the Christians ignore the manic drive by the Republicans to take health care away from millions of Americans, which will result in untold suffering and many deaths. And in their push to end abortion they turn a blind eye to the push by Trump, via the corrupt Scott Pruitt, to eradicate laws against pollution and chemical contamination that will affect the health and endanger the lives of millions of men, women and children, including their own families. As Barney Frank once said, “Republican believe that life begins at conception and ends at birth.”

I’m old enough to realize that history is a series of cycles and that all cycles eventually run their course. I hope and pray that this current cycle of tribalism, incivility, lies, divisiveness, immorality and intolerance ends soon. But in the interim the long-held identities of Christians and Republicans are taking a beating. By stepping away from their core values they devalue their message and credibility. Christians may see the end to legal abortions, and the Republicans may put even more lucre in the pockets of their greedy campaign contributors, but at what cost?

Maybe they need to refer back to the teachings of the Bible, in Matthew 16:26: “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul.”

(Steve Metzger lives in Concord.)