You did this.
If you’ve spent these last eight years relentlessly demonizing the current occupant of the White House—questioning his religion (as if it should matter), doubting his citizenship, making thinly veiled racist jokes—you did this.
And no, this isn’t about being a partisan shill. I disagree with President Obama on a great many things.
If you only listen to voices that reinforce your existing bias—all while complaining about everyone else’s blind spots—you did this.
If you cheer for obstructionists who care little about finding common ground—whose sole objective is to torpedo the other side—you did this.
If you’ve demonized “outsiders”—immigrants, Muslims, gays—if you’ve perpetuated false stereotypes, refused to acknowledge their humanity, treated them as little more than a punch line to a crass joke—then you did this.
You may be shaking your head, wondering how we got to this point, where a misogynistic, xenophobic, neo-fascist demagogue is now the presumptive nominee of a major political party.
But you shouldn’t.
When gatekeepers grow their empires by preying on people’s fears, convincing white evangelicals—who happen to be one of the most disproportionately privileged groups to ever walk the earth—that we are under siege, then Donald Trump is what we get.
If you nurse a persecution mindset long enough, Donald Trump is what you find waiting for you at the end of the road.
When you perpetuate the rhetorical violence of the culture war—when you live and die by an “us vs. them” mentality—then Donald Trump is your future.
When you teach people to be perpetually outraged, Donald Trump is the only logical outcome.
When you encourage your followers to marginalize, stigmatize, and demean people because of where they come from or who they love—Donald Trump is your standard-bearer.
Already I hear some evangelicals asking, “How did this happen?”
Was there any other possible outcome?
As if choosing fear over love—and teaching our followers to do likewise—could ever lead to a different result?
Trump is not some strange aberration who suddenly appeared out of nowhere. He is a reflection of us.
You did this.
We did this.
God help us.
Photo: Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0
23 thoughts on “You did this.”
Very well written post. It feels like the nightmare has already begun and there is no way to stop it. Your blog is the only conservative blog I follow. Really love the posts and most of all the compassion that ekes from your writing..Once I used to believe, but not anymore.. Glad to see that there is at least a few people still out there following and living Christ’s message…
Thank you! Though I’m not sure my conservative friends think I qualify anymore. 🙂
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To me, Donald Trump is representative of what Western people value the most: wealth, power and sexual conquest. If he is elected President of the U.S. then the people will have a king after their own heart.
However, I believe I know the main reason people are voting for him in the Primaries. Our previous governments sold us out with NAFTA. Jobs went to Mexico and China. Factories are still closing, the latest one in Canada is an auto manufacturer who is moving to Mexico to build cars. Thanks, NAFTA. And of course the cost of the Iraq war and the aftermath has almost bankrupt the U.S. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. That to me, is the reason for Donald Trump. No one trusts politicians any more because they don’t care about average Americans.
President Obama has been handling things very well and has done a fine job getting us out of Muslim countries and more war. But now I see he likes the Pacific Trade Agreement. I haven’t read on this yet, but if it is anything like NAFTA, we are being shafted once more. Apparently, the dairy producers in Canada are yelling because cheap milk and cheese will be heading our way from the Pacific Agreement. That means they may go bankrupt and thousands will lose their jobs. I’d rather pay more for cheese so my fellow Canadians can make a living.
Do you know anyone who lives near the Mexican border? I do. No one feels safe. My friend has had her dog shot at and a bullet go through her sliding glass door. Apparently, the State (Texas) has asked the Federal Government for help, but they said no. Hmm, and people think a wall is racist. I don’t. It is just protecting your citizens. I went to school with Mexicans in California. Had lots for friends. Most Mexicans are terrific. The ones who cross illegally are the dangerous ones. The ones with guns and drugs.
Donald Trump is frightening. Who knows what will happen if he becomes President. I’m hoping Hillary will win, but I wish the Democrats had chosen someone young and vibrant with a more Progressive message. Hillary epitomizes the same old – same old. She also voted for all those wars! I think she may lose! Well, we will see. One thing about it is we need not worry for God is in control of our lives. This verse gives me peace about all this; “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? The Lord is in his Holy Temple. The Lord is on His heavenly throne.” Psalm 11:3,4
Your statement about what people value…wow. That hits the nail on the head.
I think you are probably right about what’s drawing people to Trump. Ironically, I think the same can be said of Sanders on the other side—working class families have been hit hard and largely left out of the economic recovery. Unfortunately, instead of offering serious ideas to address the problem, Trump has chosen to play on people’s baser fears and prejudices.
I know several people who live along the border…my family has roots there. More to the point, I’m not sure the data supports the suggestion that those entering illegally are dangerous. No doubt, some are—particularly those involved in the drug trade. But as a whole, violent crime is lower among immigrants, including those who are here illegally. That doesn’t negate your point about the need for responsible immigration policies—I just don’t think building a massive (and profoundly expensive) wall along the border and trying to get Mexico to foot the bill qualifies.
Thanks for engaging—and amen to your reminder at the end!
And I’d add that I’ve spent some time along the Texas border and the “violence” thing is complicated. All sorts of people are coming across the border — remember all the women and children two years ago? (and continuing today.) They are going to be the victims, not the perpetrators of violence, and as the channels narrow (and boy, have they narrowed) they are all coming in the same few spots. Also, Mexicans are a mere half of illegal immigrants, and that number has been declining — on the US southern border they are as likely to be from Central America, they merely passed through Mexico.
So why don’t Americans want to understand why people would come? That if NAFTA has been bad here — it has been catastrophic in Mexico and Central America. Centralizing poverty in cities, contributing to the violence of gangs, undercutting the ability of farmers to make a living. The drug war has contributed to the violence in places like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. And guess where all the guns in Central America have come from? That’s right, made in the USA.
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Our military leaders are quite frightened at the prospect of having a president with impulse control issues. Did you hear the Forum interview by Michael Krazney?
I haven’t heard the interview, but I’m not surprised at the concern. It’s well placed.
I think you hit part of the story but you swung and missed on the other part. The leftists have spent the last 8 years demonizing (deliberate word choice) and ostracizing anything remotely viewed as “conservative”. America’s left has made it en vogue to shame and demonize people for being white. Trump resonates with white, working-class who don’t feel like they have this “most disproportionately privileged groups to ever walk the earth”. (As a side note, the other side of this coin drips with bigotry but most leftists don’t think that deeply about things.)
Henry, you’re assuming my critique is aimed only at one side when that’s not the case. Certainly some of what I describe is specific to the political right—for example, the relentless, racially motivated demonization of President Obama (though I also make clear not all criticism or disagreement with the president falls in this category). But “listening only to voices that reinforce your existing bias” and “cheering for obstructionists” are criticisms that can be applied across the political spectrum. But I do not buy the “white victimization” narrative. At all.
Working-class individuals have suffered in this economy, no question. But that’s something Trump is exploiting for his own gain. Instead of addressing the real issues, he’s using it to stoke the fires of resentment, fear, and bigotry.
I hope you see the irony of your last statement, btw.
I’d say your critique is primarily aimed at one side. You pointed out the blaming of immigrants and Muslims but failed to mention the blaming of the successful, mysterious “big business” and others. Fill in the blank: The ____________ don’t pay their fair _______________. The numbers say something completely different though certain exceptions do exist (which is true with just about everything). It’s a false statement intended to make people feel helpless and like victims. What’s true is “the rich could pay more” but that doesn’t feed the fear and resentment like the other message. Need more evidence? Look at the rate of entrepreneurship and new business starts. We’re at some of the lowest points we’ve ever seen. Why? I think one major factor (and there are other factors, of course) is the left’s campaign to make success be something about which to be ashamed.
“But I do not buy the “white victimization” narrative. At all. ”
That’s because you’re either not paying attention or you’re not thinking about it. I get that YOU don’t buy into it but that isn’t what’s important. You have to ask could others buy into it? And I don’t see how anyone could truthfully say “no”. At one of the Democratic debates, the mantra that “everyone is racist” was pushed forward and accepted. The underlying message of “white privilege” is “you didn’t earn what you have; you got it because of your skin color.” Again, YOU may not agree but is that a reasonable conclusion? I think it has to be a “yes”.
“I hope you see the irony of your last statement, btw. ”
That wasn’t the point. Do you see the truth behind it? There is a book called Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath that I recommend to everyone because it’s a great book. One of the concepts they put forward is to ask, “If X is true, what else must be true?” If you start doing that with the white privilege argument, and you’ll have to get into what it means you must also believe about non-whites, it gets into shameful territory.
The reality of white privilege is a lot more nuanced than your definition suggests. Instead, you seem to have opted for a straw-man caricature of white privilege so you can more readily dismiss it. Are you really suggesting that whites in America do not enjoyed any advantages tied to our skin color?
Precisely which Democratic candidate said “everyone is racist” and at which debate?
Yes, I understand it’s a lot more nuanced but you’re looking at it as an academic and not as an everyman. Look at it from the perspective of someone who really finds Trump appealing. They’ve not done a lot of study or thought on white privilege. What he knows is that he is 28-years old, an e5 making around $35,000 per year, get’s shot at for a living and has trouble maintaining everything for his wife and 3 kids. Same is true for the woman whose factory closed to relocate to China/Mexico and she’s having trouble making ends meet with her job at the local market?
Do you REALLY believe those people sit around and think, “Damn, it’s great to be white!”? Do you think they feel like they get all these advantages for being white? What do you think they feel when they’re told, “Hey – check your privilege! You’re white so you have advantages”?
“Are you really suggesting that whites in America do not enjoyed any advantages tied to our skin color?”
I challenge you to point out where I said anything close to that or point to something where a reasonable person would draw the conclusion that is what I was implying. You also avoided the question that I brought along with this. Is it possible for someone on the fringes of the conversation to hear the white privilege talking points and hear, “You only have what you do because you’re white”? Again, not from the perspective of someone with your academic, deeper thinker approach. But someone who only sees headlines and Facebook comments.
“Precisely which Democratic candidate said “everyone is racist” and at which debate?”
If I remember correctly, it was stated by the moderator and coupled with a question at a Dem debate several weeks ago. Most likely March.
I’ve never seen a closer portrayal of the adage ‘we get the leaders we deserve’ but then what does that corner of American community, which does garner our respect, do? To remain operating at a constant polar opposite, until conditions of people’s hearts improve, can be a long wait. Thanks for a poignant, accurate post
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The rich do not pay their fair share of taxes. Remember when Warren Buffet said his secretary paid more taxes than he did? When Elizabeth Taylor was a big star, she paid 60% taxes. It didn’t seem to hurt her lifestyle at all. Corporations and the rich have been paying less and less through the years and it has resulted in cities going bankrupt and infrastructure falling apart. The middle class has been shrinking and will disappear if things don’t change. Corporations manufacture goods overseas and make billions. They could have their goods made here and pay their CEOs and management less money. They could help the country and fellow citizens, but they won’t because they don’t care. And they don’t care that goods are made by slaves in China whose lives are a living hell. They just want more and more money because there is never enough money for them.
The President asked Steve Jobs if he could move manufacturing back to the U.S. Jobs said it would never happen. He was worth 10 billion dollars. Who on earth needs 10 billion dollars? He just didn’t care if Americans had jobs or not or how his phones were made by suffering people. That is what people are so mad about; rich Americans don’t care about poorer Americans. The bankers don’t, the corporate world doesn’t and most politicians don’t. I wish Bernie Sanders could be elected because I think he would change some of this; I don’t think Hillary will do a thing.
Anyone who doubts what BelleUnruh said about slaves in China whose lives are a living hell, do a Google Images Search on “China FoxConn factory suicide nets.” Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Until recently, Apple electronics were made there. Many others still are. Those nets were put up because of the number of FoxConn factory employees who were jumping out of windows to their deaths due to the sheer hopelessness of their situation.
So what did China and FoxConn do about it? Increase their wages to something livable? Reduce their working hours to something reasonable? Allow decent breaks? Provide for some basic on-site counseling, even by amateur counselors and not actual psychologists (let alone psychiatrists)?
No. They put up nets under all windows that “workers” have access to (including in the on-campus dorms [slave quarters] that they’re required to live in) so that their “workers” can’t even escape through death!
The very device you’re reading this on right now was likely made at FoxConn or similar places by such slaves.
Belle – I don’t think you know what the meaning of the word “fair” means. The tax system is deliberately unfair and treats people unequally. It is UNDERSTANDABLE that it is done this way but certainly not FAIR.
Why is it fair that Person A pays 25% in income taxes when Person B pays only 10%? If it was fair, wouldn’t both pay the same rate?
“Corporations and the rich have been paying less and less through the years and it has resulted in cities going bankrupt and infrastructure falling apart. ”
Everyone has been paying less, including you. Is it fair for you to complain about the wealthy paying less and leading to bankruptcies and infrastructure failings when YOU are also part of that problem? And while the wealthy are paying less as a percentage of revenues/income, they’re paying a higher percentage of the overall taxes.
“They could have their goods made here and pay their CEOs and management less money. They could help the country and fellow citizens, but they won’t because they don’t care. ”
This is false and the precise demonization of the successful I mentioned in another comment thread. Consumers are price sensitive and the cost to manufacture in the US is significantly higher than prices overseas. For many products you use, the price would be 2x-5x (or more) higher than it is now. Despite what you’re told, most companies don’t have Scrooge McDuck money towers. Bringing 100% of manufacturing to the US would mean they’d close their doors within 12-24 months.
“That is what people are so mad about; rich Americans don’t care about poorer Americans. The bankers don’t, the corporate world doesn’t and most politicians don’t. I wish Bernie Sanders could be elected because I think he would change some of this; I don’t think Hillary will do a thing.”
You are NOT a victim. YOU control much of your outlook and path in life. Yes, crap can happen you can’t control but you control the response. Buying into the “I’m a victim” mantra is precisely what the leftists want from you.
I strongly disagree. I predicted this result back when Obama was first elected – that there would be a backlash: a day when people who put government ahead of the people would be challenged by those who put the people ahead of government. I also predicted the backlash would yield a hideous prospect, as it has.
The party (and voters) who gave us a president whose agenda included America-bashing, increased racial tensions, and who openly stated that he wanted to see our country be weaker, the party and voters who gave us this heinous choice have absolutely no room to cry “foul” when they are presented with an equally heinous choice from the other side.
Woth very little editing, this entire article could be spun 180 degrees to reflect poorly on those who gave us Obama, and who are now presenting us with Hillary or Bernie as follow-ups!
All three major contenders are hellish nightmares, but to try to pretend one is more nightmarish than the other two is diabolically hypocritical.
I’ve been poor and I’ve been middle class. 10% of $100 is ten dollars when you are poor. That is milk and bread and butter for the family a person would pay out in taxes. For a rich person to pay 25% taxes would mean a Mercedes instead of a Jaguar. They might have to buy a smaller boat. They might own 5 houses instead of 7 as I read John Mcain owns. Now in paying more taxes they are helping their country (which gives them the opportunity and freedom to make that money) and they are helping the poor through social programs etc. Is this fair? Hey, nothing in life is actually fair, but some things are right and some things are wrong. It is wrong to take and take from this country and not pay back.
Selfish, greedy, hard hearts don’t want to help their fellow man in any way. “I made it, why can’t they?” I’ll tell you why; maybe their childhood was a nightmare, maybe they were born with a lower IQ than you, maybe they have a mental or physical illness. Woe betide any person who is not “normal” in our society.
As for paying more for items made in the U.S., that’s the story they give us while becoming the richest corporations on earth. Sorry, I don’t buy it.
Your 10% vs 25% comment speaks to WHY it makes sense we charge different tax rates. However, it certainly isn’t FAIR. You are penalizing someone for being successful. Remember that’s what you’re advocating.
“For a rich person to pay 25% taxes would mean a Mercedes instead of a Jaguar. They might have to buy a smaller boat. ”
You’re demonizing the successful. You need to stop doing that. You’re carving yourself and others out as victims. You need to stop doing that too. You’ll be hard-pressed to accomplish anything in life if you see yourself as a victim.
While we’re talking about taxes, did you know that your choice for President, Bernie Sanders, is in the top 2% of income earners? Yet he too deductions to reduce his income by tens of thousands of dollars and paid thousands less in taxes because of it. Bernie is using the current laws to reduce his taxable income. Yet you praise him and vilify companies for doing EXACTLY the same thing. You need to get your priorities in order instead of seeing yourself as a vicitm.
“As for paying more for items made in the U.S., that’s the story they give us while becoming the richest corporations on earth. Sorry, I don’t buy it.”
It’s the truth. It doesn’t matter if you buy it or not. Do all of your grocery shopping at Whole Foods. The price difference you experience there will give you a small taste of what life would be like if everything was produced in the US.
Hi Henry, I’m not sure what solution you would propose to fix the money problems of the government. I know the Republicans always say they will make government smaller and then proceed to make it bigger and bigger. They actually rarely ever do what they say they will.
I don’t hate the rich or demonize them because of their success; I just think Steve Jobs could have been happy with 5 billion dollars, instead of 10, and had the i phone made here. Don’t you think 5 billion dollars would have offset the price of the phone? Do you see what I mean?
Since this is a Christian site, I would think most people would want to help those who can’t work. Jesus said to sell our things and give to the poor. He said if we had two coats, we need to give one away. I mean, really, what would God want rich people to do? That is the meaty question.
Do I think of myself as a victim? No, my husband has had a great job for 36 years. We are what you would call, “lower-middle-class.” My heart just breaks for all the people who have lost good-paying jobs because businesses moved manufacturing overseas. I care about those people. It hasn’t even happened to anyone I know personally! I just care, that’s all. My heart hurts for them.
Ben – I just discovered your blog this evening through a Facebook post from the Cathedral of St Paul in Erie, PA where I was confirmed more than 50 years ago. Your posts on what it means to you to be Episcopalian, on what’s going down with Christianity here and now and on your own journey have preoccupied me for the last few hours. I often ask myself what the main gift of getting up each day has been. Today discovering your corner of the universe is the answer. My involvement with the church has ebbed and flowed and taken different forms since I was baptized 64 years ago. Right now it is ebbing, though not for reasons I expect the church to fix to make me happy. I am grateful to encounter a voice that speaks plainly and humbly like yours.
Having said all this, I found your post here thoughtful and on point. It pains me to read so much bitter contentiousness in the thread following. I’m a WWJD kind of guy and I kind of doubt J would recognize himself in such words. This is a theme I have been working on myself. You may be interested to see my latest posts on We Shall Overcome at salamandersworld.wordpress.com. Blessings on the path. Tim Cole