Mention the name Donald Trump in conversation and you’re likely to get a very emotional response. Many detest him and would call him vile. However many think he’s wonderful, after all without “many” (a significant number of votes), he wouldn’t have landed in the position of President of the United States. Regardless of which side of the Trump “show” you are on there’s no arguing that almost every day the news is highlighting something Trump and his administration are either breaking, have broken or are about to break. And although the diehards will tell you it’s “fake news” or “the media is just out to get our President!”, for the “Anti-Trumpers” the headlines are like barrels of oil fueling the vehemence of their distaste for POTUS.
The seemingly infinite bank of examples makes it easy to use words like dreadful, bully, disgusting, horrid, appalling, shocking, insane, evil, loathsome, etc. to describe him. And nowhere amongst words like that would you expect to find “love” mixed in. Yet as Christians, we know that love should somehow be woven in. I couldn’t say how to do this but let’s be reminded that Jesus habitually loved individuals commonly loathed by society. And a more recent example was Dr. Martin Luther King who used love to combat the extreme hatred cast at him during the civil rights movement. Okay yes — it might seem far-reaching to find the capacity to love like Jesus or Dr. King when it comes to Trump – after all, we are only mere mortals. So, maybe we take a step back and approach the “Trump effect” from a different angle?
An easy and understandable route is to loathe, but let’s dig a little deeper to find some positives – not in order to accept who he is but instead for the purpose of maintaining our sanity. I’m sure you’re thinking: Huh? Find some “posi-whats”?! But, think of it this way. Trump’s often farcical behaviour, has in some instances indirectly spawned a positive outcome. Here are 5 reasons to see light amidst the clouds:
- Despite Trump’s polarizing approach, the after effect is sometimes unifying. For example, his actions and views towards women are so repugnant that he’s fueled many protests that have amassed turnouts to women’s rights rallies that in some cases are the largest ever seen. Trump’s effect even spans borders…there have been occasions were countries around the world participated in protest rallies simultaneously in response to Trump. And we can’t forget about the NFL and Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem in an effort to bring about awareness of social injustice. For the entire last season, Colin bravely stuck his neck out with little support from players on his team or around the league. But this season when Trump randomly shared his opinion on the matter he not only had players from every single team kneeling in response to his comments, team owners got down on one too.
- Marginalized groups have also indirectly benefited. Trump’s intention to ban transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the military was so excessively discriminatory that it became the focus of the media for days. This led to discussions on transgender rights by both the media and the general public as a human rights issue, indirectly increasing the visibility and voice of the transgender community in a new context. Prior to Trump’s proposed ban, most transgender conversations were typically anchored in whether they should be allowed to go into a gendered washroom or have their own. I’m certain the average person hadn’t taken time to reflect on transgender individuals serving in the military. Trump’s attempt to dehumanize a group indirectly shifted the perception in the opposite direction – bringing to light the fact that they’re just regular folk who do regular things like serving their country. The intent to ban has helped to create more empathy and support for a misunderstood segment of the population.
- Movements for racial injustice will benefit from Trump’s candour. His “tell it like it is” approach (more accurately “like he feels”) can be very bigoted. Many White Nationalist groups hear their voice through Trump which is encouraging them to come out of hiding and broadcast their wants and opinions. Of course it’s not comforting for many to see the increased visibility of racist groups but in the long run, this will be a positive. For one, any naysayer who might argue racism doesn’t exist anymore would find it hard to deny that now. More importantly, the visibility of these groups allows one to see where problems exist and begin the conversations around how to address and combat the hate.
- Trump’s refusal to believe that climate change does in fact exist and his decision to back out of the Paris Climate Accord may not have quite as negative and effect in the fight for the environment as one might anticipate. Following the withdrawal announcement, many private sector companies have stepped up and said that they are continuing to implement changes and provisions regardless of the president’s position. They are establishing their own goals and timelines in order to combat the changing climate. Trump’s denial of climate change will have implications relating to government policy. However, the fact that big companies (like Google and Apple) are taking ownership independent of government mandates creates more momentum for the fight to save the environment. And one would think that other business and industries will be inspired and motivated by these goliaths of commerce to follow suit. With companies acting on their own initiative, change can happen sooner and be more effective than having to rely on the government to monitor and enforce guidelines and regulations.
- Trump’s spiraling is creating a more engaged population when it comes to politics. For the longest time, the political system has been known for its inequality, the general belief that most politicians can’t be trusted and the usual political rhetoric that offers a response for everything with little or no results. This has created a political apathy amongst the masses. “Why bother to vote, nothing will change” was the adage. The general distaste for the average politician is what Trump (with no political track record) leveraged to propel himself to victory. The populous chose a candidate who appeared as an unconventional politician that was different and would make things better. A combination of inexperience and a general lack of understanding of the political process has produced some shabby results to date: unprecedented staff turnover, lowest approval rating in history, failed overhaul of healthcare, no border wall, Russian scandal, habitual lies and contradictions (i.e. alternate truths), the FBI director scandal, crazy tweeting – unfortunately the list goes on and he hasn’t been in office for 12 months yet. This political mayhem will undoubtedly create a new breed of voter who will pay closer attention to candidates. Hopefully, losing to Trump will also be a lesson to seasoned politicians that the public is demanding they do better – they were so fed up with politics in its current state that they were willing to vote for someone without a political track record.
Let me be clear, there’s no attempt here to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes suggesting that in the end, everything will work out for the best – the risk of many things going terribly wrong is real. However, for the sake of preserving our sanity, it’s helpful to look for silver linings amongst so much political upheaval, otherwise it will become too disheartening. As Christians, though we may not always be able to muster up the strength to love those who don’t share our opinions and values, we should at least offer some compassion to pray for them that they (as well as us) will be shown the way. As Christians, this Trump occurrence has taught us not to take what we value for granted and to stand up for what we value as people of faith. We should also remind ourselves during this politically unconventional moment in time that we must be faithful and trust that the Lord will carry us all through this in the best way possible.
Praying while I watch things unfold.
St. Paul’s Parishioner