When asked four years ago if we could conceive of Donald Trump being elected president, we dismissed the idea of Americans falling for this huckster.
We underestimated the level of frustration (we’ll call it gullibility) of voters, but not how ill-prepared Trump was for the job. During his term in office, Trump has confirmed everything we’ve said about his lack of character and his misogynistic, xenophobic, racist and narcissistic behavior.
It’s not as though our observations about Trump were prescient. Individuals across the political spectrum have shared similar views.
Back in 2016, the president was called “a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot” by none other than Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Offering an equally unflattering description during the 2016 campaign was Republican Sen. Ted Cruz who described Trump as a “serial philanderer,” “pathological liar” and a “narcissist.”
Reflecting on his time as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan called Trump’s deference to Putin at the Helsinki summit “nothing short of treasonous” and said Trump was “wholly in the pocket of Putin.”
In a recent telephone town hall meeting, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) said Trump has “flirted with white supremacists” and “kisses dictators’ butts.”
Anyone else with these evaluations on their job résumé wouldn’t get hired as a dog catcher, and yet these “character flaws” weren’t enough to keep Trump from being elected and, quite possibly, re-elected.
We could fill this page with similar criticism, observations and concerns about Trump from former White House staff, lifetime Republicans who have been in other administrations and former national security and foreign services officials who have no political affiliation but whose only concern is the welfare of this nation.
The common thread is that all see Trump for what he is — a corrupt individual who has repeatedly put his own interests ahead of the nation’s.
But this isn’t news. There was nothing in Trump’s past to indicate he was anything but an egotistical, self-serving con man. Less predictable was the ease with which the Republican Party was willing to wilt in fear of a Trump tweet or risk the wrath of the Trump base.
But let’s put politics aside because this isn’t, and never has been, just about politics.
We can understand spineless politicians who have shown a chameleon-like ability to say and do whatever is necessary to survive until the next election cycle. What we don’t understand is how anyone with a shred of religious conviction — who is looking toward life eternal — can support someone who so brazenly rejects everything that the church is supposed to represent.
It’s not as though we haven’t seen this before.
Former Gov. Sam Brownback, who liked to flaunt his religious faith, delivered a wrecking ball to the state’s finances and then, as a symbol of moral courage and responsibility, abandoned the state to serve as ambassador at-large for international religious freedom.
But Brownback and ultraconservative Republicans, apparently fulfilling the will of God, had no problem enacting devastating budget cuts which impacted early childhood programs in Kansas, cut staff and services for young people in foster care and slashed funding that targeted nutrition programs for families and children.
When it comes to human suffering, exactly whose will did they think they were serving?
We have a president who incites violence against governors, refuses to denounce white supremacists, condemns people of different faiths, separates children from their mothers, has extramarital affairs with porn stars and is ambivalent about the deaths of more than 220,000 Americans.
And by the way, if that isn’t enough, he has the audacity to use troops to clear non-violent protesters out of a park so he can stand in front of a church holding a Bible for a photo op.
The silence from the religious right and Bible-thumping Republican lawmakers erases their final thread of moral legitimacy.
We have spoken against this president and lawmakers who have enabled his abhorrent behavior — not as a matter of politics, but as a matter of human decency. They have demonstrated complete disregard for science and the survival of this planet and have been complicit in the unconscionable transfer of unimaginable wealth from middle class Americans to the top one percent.
Their ongoing efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and deny some 22 million Americans access to health care is immoral. Their hypocrisy toward the ideals that are rooted in the founding of this nation and our democracy is indefensible.
This has nothing to do with a Christian interpretation of right or wrong, but about the way in which we should expect members of the human race to treat each other; the kind of behavior that should be expected from a civil and compassionate society.
Anyone who can continue to support this president and what he stands for, and who can still have a clean conscience in church on Sundays, will someday have some serious explaining to do to their Maker.
We don’t share that moral dilemma — not here, not now and never with this president.
Rod Haxton is publisher of The Scott County Record. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.