The Trump phenomenon isn’t about him. It is about the 40-year right wing takeover of the GOP I describe in detail in my book CRAZY FOR GOD: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back. It is about the Republicans and their evangelical backers on the religious and racist right fomenting a slow motion lynching of President Obama where they tried to kill his presidency with a miasma of lies.
The time to have stopped Trump was not when he called for banning Muslims from entering America but when he went along with the Tea Party Koch brother-financed lies about President Obama not being born in America.
Trump is not an aberration, he’s just being honest about what the Republican Party is but has pretended not to be.
The GOP is not a political party at all but a laundry list of grievance and ignorance that grips white racist gun-toting religiously conservative Americans.
It is the party of Liberty University’s president Jerry Falwell Jr. calling for students to arm against Muslim terrorists.
It is the party of climate change deniers, and anti-science text book editors.
It is the party of voter restriction, and of people who fear a Hispanic and gay “takeover” of America.
It is the party of Wheaton college going to the Supreme Court to refuse their female employees insurance coverage for contraception in the name of “religious liberty.”
It is the party of Gordon College’s president writing to President Obama asking to be exempted from ordinary anti-discrimination laws so Gordon can get rid of gays.
It is the party of the men who run Christianity Today magazine as they go after people like author Brian McLaren, because he preaches love and inclusion of gays and a non-retributive Christian theology.
As I wrote in CRAZY FOR GOD
In 2000, we elected a president who claimed he believed God created the earth and who, as president, put car manufacturers and oil company’s interests ahead of caring for that creation. We elected a “born-again” president who said he lived by biblical ethics who played the dirtiest political games possible, for instance in the filthy lies his people spread to derail Senator John McCain’s presidential primary bid. We elected a pro-life Republican Party that did nothing to actually care for the pregnant women and babies they said they were concerned for, but rather were corrupted by power, and took their sincere evangelical followers for granted, and played them for suckers.
The so-called evangelical leadership—Dobson, Robertson, Falwell and all the rest also played the pro-life community for suckers. While thousands of men and women in the crisis pregnancy movement gave of themselves with tremendous and sincere sacrifice (in order to help women and babies), their evangelical “leaders” did little more than cash in on fundraising opportunities and stir the pot so that they could keep their followers motivated. That way the evangelical leaders could represent themselves as power-brokers to the politicians willing to kowtow to them.
To the extent that the Republican Party benefited from the pro-life movement, my efforts and those of my father contributed to making the Republican congressional majorities of the 1980s and 1990s possible. We also indirectly helped make the election of Reagan, Bush Sr., and Bush Jr. possible.
Bush Jr. was the “Christian’s” president. So it was bitterly ironic that Bush Jr. was personally responsible for, amongst other self-inflicted horrors, the persecution, displacement and destruction of the one million, three hundred thousand-person beleaguered Christian minority in Iraq. They had fared much better under the secular regime of Saddam Hussein than they did once Bush Jr. unleashed the Islamic militants.
It bears repeating: Bush Jr., the bible-believing, born-again president, delivered up his Iraqi fellow Christians to destroyed. They fled, died or went into hiding because a “faith-based” evangelical American president stupidly unleashed a civil war. And of course Bush Jr. was also responsible for the killing of countless other innocent civilians caught in the sectarian strife.
The puny “president” I indirectly helped elect sent my son John to an ill-conceived, ineptly carried out war, a war where my son’s friend Alex Del Rio got his legs blown off, where Mark, the only son of my friend Mindy Evnin, was killed. And Bush Jr. was elected with the help of millions of evangelicals that Dad, Koop and I—directly or indirectly—helped galvanize.
Trump is the creation of right wing evangelical-dominated aging and reactionary Americans. He is them personified. He is the logical conclusion of what we evangelicals began in our “culture wars.” Trump is also the creation of the Bush family and their addiction to useless war. He is the creation of the neoconservatives’ lust for global conflict.
Trump is a cipher through which huge increasing countless numbers of Americans communicate fascist sympathies. He’s a symptom, not a cause. Trump isn’t an outsider, Trump is just the most honest Republican.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book —WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace