If Donald Trump Had Been an Honorable Man . . .

If Donald Trump had been an honorable man, he would have been exactly what the country needed. Perhaps the most significant casualty will be Christianity.

US Capitol: should be occupied by an honorable manHe would have brought in wise and creative people who would say, “This system is stuck. I’m going to unstick it and help it regain its vitality” and “this regulation was necessary at one time, but it is no longer. I’m going to eliminate it.”

If Donald Trump had been an honorable man, his educated aides and advisors would look at the health care situation: “We have a real challenge with our health-care situation in the US. We know that too many with inappropriately vested interest are making decisions. We are aware that the Affordable Care Act needs some important restructuring to stay viable. We need other voices at the table. We need to find creative solutions that work within our free-market economy. As we do, we must stop bringing too many on to financial ruin when faced with impossibly high health care/drug/insurance cost bills.”

If Donald Trump had been an honorable man, his advisors would say aloud and in private: “Washington functions as a closed-off society, unknowing and uncaring about what is happening in much of the US. It’s time send them away and put fresh voices and fresh ideas at work here.”

If Donald Trump had been an honorable man, his advisors would discuss serious economic disparities: “There is growing resentment against the extremely wealthy. And let’s face it folks: we who sit at these tables are among them. It does none of us any good to have so many making a minimum wage that has not for a long time meant a decent standard of living, even with two wage earners in the household. People living in despair are people from whom revolutionaries are drafted, revolutionaries who might destabilize the US in an already unstable world. It is in our self-interest, as well as just good sense, to get wages up and invest far more in job growth and US manufacturing. We also need, as the wealthiest segment, to pay a disproportionate share of income taxes. How do we do this?”

If Donald Trump had been an honorable man, his advisors would speak honestly of corruption and scandal: “A corrupt government will eventually collapse on itself. Everyone who has decision-making power must immediately divest themselves of any assets that could bias decisions. Yes, we will expose our financial lives to the world. That’s the nature of public service. We must put the common good above our own. Anyone who even has a whiff of scandal or corruption about them will have their employment terminated. We are going to drain the swamp, and it starts with us.”

If Donald Trump had been an honorable man, his advisors would insist on surrounding themselves with expertise: “We need the most knowledgeable people around us as advisors. We need to hear multiple viewpoints about subjects that are controversial. Even as we work to break through the red tape and strangling rules, we need to be aware that the safety of our people is in our hands.”

If Donald Trump had been an honorable man, his advisors would speak honestly of primary concerns: “The economic health and security of the US is our primary concern. We want to focus on what is best for this country. If anyone in the administration has at any time been in the pay of a government outside the US or if anyone in this administration owes money to a foreign bank, put all that information on the table right now. The people of the US have the right to know if some of these obligations or entanglements could be detrimental to our self-interest. All of this information must be disclosed well in advance of Senate Confirmation hearings. We will not tolerate lies and omissions. If discovered, you will be asked to vacate your office immediately.”

If Donald Trump had been an honorable man, he, aware of his needs, would have said: “I expect extreme loyalty from my staff. We cannot function if we cannot trust one another. But on top of loyalty, I expect you to speak up if you see problems. I promise to receive your words with respect.”

If Donald Trump had been an honorable man, the truth would matter, and Trump would say: “We have emerged from a grueling campaign and an unexpected victory. The vote was close—and I did not win the popular vote. Yes, a lot of my campaign rhetoric belittled and disparaged my opponents. Those tactics did bring a victory but now is time to heal and go forward and prove that they put the right person with the right team in place. We also have to acknowledge that there are many questions right now about Russian influence in the US election process. We must get any possible interference brought to light and addressed so that it doesn’t happen again. I pledge my support to any legitimate inquiry process.”

But none of this happened because Donald Trump is not an honorable man. Trump’s staff, advisors and Cabinet members are either so morally compromised as to be unable to function, or so unqualified that all they can do is destroy without any plans to rebuild. He replaced an admitted and unhealthy swamp with even more massively disease-bringing pestilence. The promised focus on doing serious work to help the growing dispossessed and disenchanted citizens of the US has been lost in the quest to win something in Congress, anything, no matter how much damage it does to the people of our nation.

Their lies and “forgotten” conversations wrap ever strengthing tentacles around them, rendering them increasingly on the defensive and ineffective.

A pro-Trump columnist for the Wall Street Journal wrote this in an opinion piece:

Instead of an honorable man, we have a scorpionTo understand the dance of death in Washington now between Donald Trump, Robert Mueller and the media, you need to watch the first 10 minutes of “The Wild Bunch,” Sam Peckinpah’s classic movie of the Old West.

It shows a trapped scorpion struggling in the dirt as it fights off hundreds of ants. A group of children are watching the scorpion fight the ants, and sometimes they poke it with a stick.

In Washington’s wild bunch, the scorpion is Donald Trump and the children delighting in his struggle are the Washington press. Robert Mueller is their poking stick.

It’s sad because the nation did need an honorable Donald Trump. We did need an informed outsider who could function more independently of the sycophants and lobbyists and corrupt politicians who care only about their careers rather than the health and justice of the nation they were elected to serve.

What we did not need is a petulant, ignorant person who values loyalty over truth or competence, and whose own business practices haunt him. Perhaps, because he just didn’t care enough to find out what his staff was going, he is not guilty of collusion with the Russians to win the election. Nonetheless, his business entanglements with Russia, including a likely history of money laundering and possibly crushing debt, may at some point bring him down. Simple honesty could have prevented all this. But Trump does not know that kind of honesty.

We have a complicated kind of government, inherently unstable

Government, as envisioned by our founding fathers has always been somewhat volatile. The problem with moving from autocracy, like royal families or dictators, to a democratic republic is that a lot of people get to help make the decisions and also get to question the decisions of others.

We don’t have a consistent ruler at the top. That is by design, but it also means that change, often genuinely radical change, becomes the constant condition. Our form of government always been problematic, often severely corrupt and inept, never, ever smooth. Nonetheless, somehow, slowly, and in many ways, we have become a more just society.

Many of us wonder if the US will survive this presidency. As much as I hate to say it, we will probably survive it better than a Hillary Clinton presidency. Note, I did vote for her, despite my misgivings, because I could see early on the problems with Trump’s character.

Although Clinton was far more prepared to take office, the same stench of corruption, legitimate or not, surrounds that family. The press beating taken by Trump would have been nothing compared to the one she would have been subject to. I suspect she would have given us a failed presidency, and it would have been blamed on her being a woman.

We need clean individuals for clean politics

Is it possible to clean up politics? Yes, but it requires clean individuals. Here’s where the church could have a role in the future of the US. Not the kind of role that the Evangelicals played in this one when they married this inappropriate and fundamentally indecent man.

No, the role of the church comes from any influence we may have left to practice the reality of a good God interested in redeeming the entire world, to teach morals and to internalize truth and integrity. I say, “any influence we have left” because I am thinking the big casualty of this election will not be our system of government but the community of faith.

Pastors like Robert Jeffress have soiled the name of Jesus by their unwavering support of Trump and their unwillingness to call him to account. They, like what we thought was the incorruptible John Kelly, the current Chief of Staff, have sold their collective souls to stay on the good side of a man who is slowly and inexorably being exposed as an unfit human being, cruel, only self-serving and without self-control.

It’s all sad. My ever-present hope, however, is that new life always follows death. Perhaps from this debacle, something good will emerge.

US Capital photo by Martin Falbisoner – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Scorpion photo by Shantanu Kuveskar – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

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