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.