Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Trump Trounces Primary Opponents: Political Commentary with Moral Insight Worth Pondering — (And There's This: "My Suspicion Is That Trump Will Do Well Wherever There Are Catholics")

The New York Times this morning on what Mr. Trump's sweep to victory in the Republican primaries means for the party once branded with the name of Abraham Lincoln: 

This is a moment of reckoning for the Republican Party. It's incumbent on its leadership to account for the failures and betrayals that led to this, and find a better way to address them than the demagogy on offer. 
Republicans haven't yet begun to grapple with this. Instead they're falling into line. 
Republican leaders have for years failed to think about much of anything beyond winning the next election. Year after year, the party’s candidates promised help for middle-class people who lost their homes, jobs and savings to recession, who lost limbs and well-being to war, and then did next to nothing. That Mr. Trump was able to enthrall voters by promising simply to "Make America Great Again" — but offering only xenophobic, isolationist or fantastical ideas — is testimony to how thoroughly they reject the politicians who betrayed them.

Jamelle Bouie explains yesterday who among Indiana Republicans (hint: white evangelicals) went for Trump and why this happened: as he notes, though Indiana looks like a Cruz state, all indicators suggested that it would go for Trump. Bouie notes that white evangelicals are richly represented in Indiana and dominate the state's GOP; the state is largely white and its black communities are segregated; and where you find this combination of factors, you also find strong racial bias, and that translates into support for Trump — including (and even especially) among evangelicals who might otherwise go for Cruz.

And then he concludes,

Donald Trump is their Ronald Reagan [because they imagine he will "take the country back to a past where white Americans were truly dominant"], and at this stage, he is on his way to victory.

I say "white evangelicals" in Indiana went heavily for Trump, but no less than Karl Rove predicted yesterday that white Catholics in Indiana would go heavily for Trump as they have in other Catholic strongholds: 

My suspicion is that Trump will do well wherever there are Catholics.

And what that should say to American Catholics concerned about the future of their church and its import in the public square, and, above all, about the colossal failure of pastoral and moral leadership of the current bishops of the U.S. church, is mind-exploding. For a glimpse into how bad the situation is in the U.S. Catholic church right now due to that failure of pastoral and moral leadership, take a peep at the angry comments now piling up at the Commonweal site — a liberal Catholic site — in response to its latest editorial denouncing the Republican attempt to shut minority voters out of the voting booth. Enraged comments from Commonweal subscribers, no less, accusing the journal's editors of lying . . . . Ugly, dog-whistle racist comments about "Democrat wards" (read: black) in Philadelphia . . . .

American Catholics should be hanging their heads in shame.

Meanwhile, David Gushee discusses why he and other evangelical leaders from both the conservative and liberal wings of American evangelicalism recently released a statement confessing resistance to Trump on religious grounds: "Our children and grandchildren will one day ask what we did in election year 2016, when Donald Trump was running for president."

Gushee writes, 

On April 28 I joined a multi-racial group of Christian ministers and scholars in releasing a statement confessing resistance to Donald Trump as a Christian obligation. Indeed, I helped draft the statement, signed by dozens of leaders such as Jim Wallis, Otis Moss III, Shane Claiborne, and Lisa Sharon Harper. . . . 
The language of "confessional resistance" harkens back to two moments in 20th century history in which groups of Christians in a particular context made major statements claiming that the very purity of the faith that Christians confess was at stake in a political phenomenon, such that failure to resist represented a failure to follow Jesus. Those two instances were Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa. While no direct comparison is intended, the language of confessional resistance draws on that history.

Paul Phillips notes that no less than Fox News had to shut down comments on its recent story about Malia Obama's acceptance at Harvard University, due to the vile, filthy, open racism one commenter after another began spewing at the Fox site in response to this story. 

As Carlos Maza and Coleman Lowndes point out, the media themselves have had a major role to play in helping Trump normalize this kind of vile, filthy, open racist discourse in our society: 

]C]alling Trump's comments "controversial" is lazy and dangerous. It treats racial and religious intolerance as just a quirk of Republican politics. It normalizes that intolerance, turning it into an unremarkable and routine partisan disagreement. It lets Trump's defenders spin his comments as just evidence of his "tough" stance on immigration or border security. And it makes it easier for Trump to reinvent himself as a serious "presidential" candidate as he prepares for the general election.

Here's Jennifer Sabin on what hangs in the balance — the moral balance — in this election: 

But what I didn’t understand until this election, until I started paying closer attention to the voices of ordinary Americans, is how terrifying it is to read what some of them write on public forums, or to hear them say out loud what they really think about other Americans. The racists and bigots of America have always been out there. There have always been hideous trolls on the Internet. But now they are emboldened in a big way by the bellicose Donald Trump. He’s opened Pandora’s box, and nobody can shut it.  . . .  
Look: I’m going to write this again and again, right up until Election Day. You cannot view this election solely as a choice between two platforms, two parties, or two personalities. This election is about much bigger issues. It’s about the way way we look at people, and talk about them, and care for them. It’s about the soul of America and its relationships to the world. If you care about that, you cannot vote Trump, or stay home, or vote for a third party spoiler.

As David Crouch notes in The Guardian this morning, this photo of Tess Asplund confronting neo-Nazi marchers in Sweden Sunday has gone viral in that country and is likely to become an iconic representation of the determination of some citizens of the planet to resist the normalization of racist ideas at this juncture of history. 

(David Lagerlöf/Expo/TT News Agency/Press Association Images)

Crouch writes,

"Racism has been normalised in Sweden, it’s become okay to say the N-word," she says, recounting a man on the subway using the racial slur while shouting and telling her to hurry up. "But nobody paid any attention. I thought Sweden in 2016 would be more open minded, but something has happened," Asplund says. 
"I hope something positive will come out of the picture. Maybe what I did can be a symbol that we can do something – if one person can do it, anyone can."

And, in conclusion, just because — because it's such a witty comment, and, God knows, we need to laugh when we're so tempted to cry; and it's theological for God's sake:

I'm grateful to Dan Savage for circulating Molly Manglewood's tweet yesterday.

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