Hopefully, the title of this article didn’t cause you to have a stroke. Equally hopefully, the title didn’t cause you to say, “Damn right he was!” I started noodling with this idea after reading a very thought-provoking article by CNN analyst John Blake (who happens to be African-American). The point of Blake’s article is that, despite the insanity of the whole Trump phenomenon, he has been able to do what his predecessor, President Obama, was not. Blake claims that Obama’s easy going approach, “no drama, Obama” as he called him, was not enough to capitalize on the opportunity his unprecedented election offered. Progressives loved Obama (still do), and for good reason, but they didn’t mobilize enough under him to seize the day. Trump, on the other hand, has lit a fire under progressives and he has completely stripped away the veneer that has been covering America’s seething problems of racism, intolerance, and bigotry. John Blake has an interesting take there and I think it bears consideration. To borrow a phrase from the world of addicts, perhaps we needed to hit rock bottom and perhaps Donald Trump was just the vehicle to take us there.
Let’s look at what Trump has accomplished. I mean actually accomplished, not what he’s tried or claimed to accomplish:
- He pulled away the veil from the underlying racism and bigotry that still infests America like a cancer. His thinly-veiled rhetoric struck a chord with the least tolerant and enlightened segment of our society and emboldened them to reveal themselves. Most of us can now put many faces on the seedy, intolerant, formerly clandestine American underbelly. We all knew it was there somewhere but it was sometimes difficult to precisely locate it. Trump came in and quickly stripped that bare. With his emergence, that seedy element, that significant remnant of our darkest past, proudly stepped out into the light because they finally had a leader who wouldn’t call them out, after all, they’re “fine people.” It’s been really uncomfortable to witness, but sometimes we have to get uncomfortable in order to force ourselves to stand up.
- He ushered in the 2018 Blue Wave. The voters spoke loud and clear when Democrats regained the majority of the House of Representatives. Not just any Democrats, but the most diverse class of new Congressmen and women we’ve ever seen. The floor of the House now looks more like the actual United States than it ever has before thanks to Donald Trump and the push back he created.
- He has caused millions of Christians to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Many have begun to distance themselves from the politics that have been so enmeshed with the doctrine of their churches. Others have embraced the progressive political stances they were once ashamed to admit to publicly (my own hand is raised here). There is an ever-growing community of progressive Christians who have found each other on large social media pages like, I‘m Not That Kind of Christian, Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented, The Christian Left, Unfundamentalist, and many more. These social media groups provide a large platform for progressive Christian writers, like myself, to help lead the discussion on what it means to be a follower of Christ in such politically divide times. There is a clear divide in the American Christian community when it comes to Trump. Some are preparing to go down with the ship while others never got on board and are trying to offer lifeboats.
- He has shown a harsh light on America’s marginalized–the poor, the sick, people of color, immigrants, non-Christians, women, LGBT, etc. and, in his garishly bigoted manner, brought much needed attention to their plights. It is impossible to overlook or ignore hurting people when your nation’s leader is so blatantly orchestrating their sufferings. This goes hand-in-hand with the growing progressive Christian movement, which is ever-pointing to the fact that the people whose rights Trump is trampling are the very people Jesus called his followers to love and care for.
In short, Donald Trump has swiftly led America to hit rock bottom. Any addict will tell you that, while hitting rock bottom is a hellish thing to go through, it is an ultimately necessary moment. Without hitting rock bottom, we’d likely just keep existing in the same space we have been. But when you hit the bottom, there’s no place to go but up.
We can thank Trump for bringing us to rock bottom, but the sooner we put him behind us, the sooner we can start to climb back up.
Maybe, in a sick, twisted, round-about way, Trump can indeed help make America great again.