Let’s be freed from our obsession with the bad president

Let’s get a little perspective, people.

I’m just getting so tired of all the ire and high dudgeon. It’s exhausting. The anti-Trump outrage is at fever pitch at the moment and it’s making my ears ring.

The fury and the intensity of the attacks on Donald Trump are becoming so frenzied I fear we’re all starting to lose perspective. And I say that as someone who has been more than willing to criticize the President.

 

In the 90s it was the Republicans who were in full outrage mode.

Remember when Kenneth Starr was the Robert Mueller of the Clinton administration? The news cycle was dominated by Whitewater, the firing of White House travel agents, the alleged misuse of FBI files, and the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Paula Jones. And then along came Monica!

The anti-Clinton rhetoric was venomous and relentless, and lasted for years.

But by 2004, it was the Democrats turn. Michael Moore released his incendiary film Fahrenheit 911 alleging presidential incompetence by George W Bush for his response to the September 11 attacks and the hastily cobbled together Coalition of the Willing’s invasion of Iraq.

And then the so-called evidence for there being WMDs in Iraq all came to nothing.

The attacks on Mr Bush’s character and intelligence were unending. The critics claimed he was surrounded by a coterie of evil henchmen like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who were benefiting financially from America being at war.

The anti-Bush frenzy was so intense that Dems genuinely believed he couldn’t possibly be elected to a second term in 2004.

By 2011 it was conservatives’ turn to have their dander up. The birther movement was in full swing, with demands that President Obama produce his birth certificate, and inferences that he wasn’t fit to hold the highest office in the land.

Now, Democrats believe they have the current President’s number. After taped conversations with his lawyer were released, there’s a taste of blood in the water. The Mueller investigation continues with indictments and plea deals. The President’s performance in Helsinki was called treasonous. His use of Twitter is called irresponsible. His threats against North Korea and Iran are mocked endlessly.

On and on and on and on it goes.

The never ending cycle of indignation whips us all up into a frenzy. We’re incensed, infuriated, outraged. It seems that partisan politics is an even more divisive issue in America today than race.

 

Whether Democrat or Republican, each side lives in its own echo chamber, with its own preferred TV news networks, talk radio hosts, newspaper columnists, social commentators, blog writers, conventions, etc.

We all seem to exist in huge feedback loops, squelching dissent, and growing more extreme in our thinking, blithely ignoring evidence that our respective positions might be wrong. In fact, we want little to do with each other.

In a recent survey, it was found that 68 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of Democrats say they identify with their political party primarily out of their opposition to the other party. Indeed, 45 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats felt that the other party was a threat to the nation.

And then there’s the hate.

In 2010, half of all Republicans and a third of Democrats said they would be ‘somewhat’ or ‘very upset’ if a son or daughter married someone from the other party. Back in 1960, it was just 5 percent of Republicans and 4 percent of Democrats said they would be unhappy at that prospect.

How would Jesus respond to this world? By joining in the dissent and factionalism? By hating on people from the other party? You know that’s not what he’d do.

He stood with the poor in spirit, and those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness. He offered comfort to those who mourn, and mercy to the merciful. Jesus told the pure of heart they would see God, and the peacemakers that they would be called children of God.

When he called his disciples together, Jesus gave them a new way of life to live.

 

He taught them to offer forgiveness to their persecutors; he showed them how to shame their oppressors by offering them the other cheek; he embodied the way of humility and suffering; he gave them a new way to deal with money – by sharing it.

There was nothing like the people of God as Jesus imagined it to be. Instead of calling on his followers to smash the existing system, he inspired them to build a new order. And he did that by giving them a new pattern for relationships between men and women, between parents and children, between masters and slaves. It was a radical new vision of what it means to be a human person.

Rather than opting into party politics or ignoring it completely, Jesus’ people find a third way, the way of modeling an alternative society, an antidote to the sound and the fury that characterizes civil discourse these days.

By all means, speak up for the refugee, defend the rights of the marginalized, feed the hungry. Engage rigorously in the political process for the common good. Feel free to criticize Mr Trump’s conduct in office. But be freed from the obsession with the bad president.

Clinton lied about Monica; Bush lied about WMDs; Trump lies about, well, a lot of stuff.

Depending on who you listen to, we’ve had bad presidents before. And no doubt there’ll be bad ones in the future. But our hope isn’t in the White House. It’s in our hearts.

 

 

 

 

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The views expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent the official views of Morling College or its affiliates and partners.

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9 thoughts on “Let’s be freed from our obsession with the bad president

  1. The ‘obsession with the bad president’ — for or against — is sucking the air out of debate outside the US too. I have not seen anything like this in the last 40 years of my politically aware adulthood. Here in Australia we rolled our eyes at the Monica scandal & got up an outrage (mainly at our own government) over the WMD fiasco as an ally who sent troops to Iraq. Now our media cycle feeds on general disbelief at the latest tweet & about Trump’s attitude to trade and allies. More recently however the mood here has seemed to shift a little into a Trump fatigue and a sense that we can no longer be confident of America as the world once knew her. And so I echo your view that it is in Jesus that we put our trust – not in the White House nor in the American alliance. As we sit here Down Under with China our largest trading partner yet doing things we aren’t comfortable with in the South China Sea & the Pacific, Trump fatigue challenges us to focus on the road our own society is taking and take more responsibility (& prayer) for our own nation’s destiny.

  2. As a Christ follower living in America, I am similarly exhausted by the rancour and rhetoric…but as an international lawyer who has consulted with every administration since the first President Bush, I cannot agree that the current situation is analogous to the critique of prior Presidents, nor do I see this as a Democratic/Republican issue. The current President has engaged in behaviors that have been unprecedented. The breadth of unilateral actions, taken under the guise of executive action ( not legislation) , often against the most vulnerable and marginalized is compounded with a top down, secretive , often personally vindictive approach to the formation of national “policy” , the disregard and denegration , not only of our professional intelligence gatherers, but career diplomats, and other apolitical personnel, is further compounded by a wholesale attack on the press. There are very few similarities between the history of special prosecutors, and the current criminal prosecution which has already resulted in foreign and domestic indictments. To fight for the protection of the refugee, or the marginalized, as you suggest , has not been championed by many in the American “evangelical “ community… and doing so has taken extraordinary legal work , in response to governmental action unsupported by law. The good news, is that Christ followers are forced to evaluate the actions of the government, in light of the gospel – not party affiliation or platforms.

    1. I agree with the basic idea that we need to put our trust in God’s kingdom and following Jesus, not in governments.
      However, the so-called lies of other presidents are in no way equivalent to the lies of our current president. Real people are being hurt by these lies. Everything from health care to the environment is affecting many.
      I am heartened by Jesus followers standing up for the poor, the immigrants and refugees.
      It is not easy watching our Christian brothers and sisters turn a blind eye to an administration that tell many lies daily. Simply no correlation to past president’s “lies.”
      It is tiring and counterproductive to rant about our president. But neither can his lies be overlooked. Daily prayer and reading Jesus’s words will keep us out of the darkness and in the light

      1. I wasn’t saying we should overlook Mr Trump’s lying. Neither was I suggesting we acquiesce to his policies or decisions. I was saying that political discourse and protest is important. I was simply asking readers to be released from the vitriol and fury that seems to characterize that discourse.

        1. I love your posts.
          I am trying to walk the line between resistance and vitriol.
          Thanks for all the good you do in the world

        2. Michael, I do not believe that when President Trump was elected that the Lord gasped in horror and surprise , wondering how could this have happened…. I believe that Trump , his positions and behaviors have revealed a great deal about the American Church and who Christ followers must actually be.. who they genuinely follow, what we actually believe to be true, in a unique way. Incidentally I have shared your earlier post re the Black Knight…”Just a Flesh Wound” with students and lawyers working on the front lines of the child reunification issues… it brought them… and me… to tears…. it’s never been about Trump… it’s always been about the Kingdom.

          1. Thanks Patricia. I have admired your work from afar. All power to you.

  3. Dear Patty – your posts make so much sense in this tipsy topsy world we live in these days. We truly need level and compassionate words to keep us sane. Thanks to you , you are able t o express these thoughts clearly for us to digest. Bless you !,

  4. Patricia, the only thing we can say about how God might feel about Donald Trump is he loves him after all he is God’s child. I like to think the best of someone until I know better. If the media is my information then I would surely be confused and misinformed. I would not want to address weather someone is a christian or not as that is in their heart not mine and I definitely need to stay focused on my own heart. The most important thing I got out of this article was how much focus people have on politics, President Trump and the world and what it is doing. To much attention given tot these things. Good to be informed just not consumed to a point it changes who is in us if we are Christ followers. Patience,love and mercy and prayer will allow more room for God in our life. This will radically change us and those around us. Jesus is the answer. Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts on your reply and the post.

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