Its official. Recent research has shown that the divisions in the USA are so great it has led to some people becoming delusional.
The Washington Post reports the most staggering thing I have read so far in this whole saga. A full 41% of Trump voters when shown the photos of Obama’s and Trump’s inauguration crowds claimed that the photograph with more people was Trump’s. That is just plain not true. No repeating a mantra of ‘alternative facts’ changes red into green. But even more shockingly than that, 15% of Trump supporters, when told which photograph was which, claimed that the photo with lots of white plastic showing housed the larger crowd! They looked at the evidence in front of their eyes and saw the exact opposite. How is that not delusional?
Being so devoted to a hero that you become so convinced of a lie your eyes deceive you is not admirable, it is terrifying.
And yet, of course, there is a different side to this story. There is a suggestion that the two photos are a bit unfair, as the picture were taken before the two events started, and Trump’s crowd apparently grew significantly later on. Perhaps the media coverage of the size of the event was a little unjust. But it is one thing to question, and even doubt the media. It is another thing to look at a photograph and see something different to what the human eye sees.
The media has been unfair to Trump at times for sure. It was also unkind to Clinton. It has now helped to seriously stoke the divisions, which have always been part of American society. This has happened to such an extent that I now fear for social cohesion in that great nation.
Many people are so against Trump that they cannot see any good, and do not even wish him well. And yet, as Christians, the Bible tells us we should be praying for our leaders. Christians have done this since the Emporer Nero.
Some Christians have been very pro Trump. Others have been very anti. Brothers it ought not be so.
John Piper has written the most helpful article I have read on how we ought to respond as believers:
Today we will inaugurate a man to the presidency of the United States who is morally unqualified to be there. This is important to say just now because not to see it and feel it will add to the collapsing vision of leadership that enabled him to be nominated and elected . . .
Accordingly, let us go on to pray “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and holy in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:2–4).
And as we pray, let us recognize that, even in unbelieving leaders who cannot do God-pleasing works of faith, there is the possibility of promoting “good” conduct” READ MORE
When it comes to presidents, some Americans seem to suspend rational judgement on specific issues and applaud what the president says if they come from the same side and decry it when they are on the other.
This is all very unusual for me as a Brit. Over here, perhaps because we are more cynical about politicians in general, you will often find people praising specific things about political leaders from the party they didn’t vote for, and even criticising the leader of their own party. Actually, we tend to be overly focussed on the failings of our leaders, if anything. Very few Brits become passionate true believers in any politician.
Politics over here is less of a personality cult, and more of a weighing up the pros and cons of two parties’ policies, and deciding to go with one or the other. For sure the personality does play a part. But Theresa May is in many ways an archetypal British Prime Minister. She is not particularly charismatic, but seems to be slowly, quietly getting on with things. So much so that despite a defeat in the Supreme Court, her recent Brexit speech seems to have been broadly welcomed. Even by those, like me, who voted remain. About the best thing a British politician can expect is that they aren’t being angrily criticised even by their own party!
The level of adulation and hatred surrounding Trump has gone to a whole new level of strange, however. To some he is literally a demon. To others he is a saviour. During the campaign he joked that he could have shot someone and wouldn’t have lost the votes of his followers. But to his enemies, even if he could somehow do something trully amazing like broker peace in the Middle East, he would still not get any credit.
Perhaps the Trump presidency will lead to us realising afresh that truth and lies really do matter, both in our leaders and in the media that cover them. Maybe it will also help us to realise afresh that most people are not either 100% bad or 100% good. Maybe we will also finally come out of our bubbles and appreciate that not everybody thinks the same was as each other. I hope and pray that democrats and republicans, Trump haters and Trump lovers, will learn to understand each other better, and focus on what we have in common not what divides us.