I found Herb Panko’s article in the July 16 issue to be a head-scratcher for many reasons. Panko states that we live “in the midst of two alarming trends.” He names these as uncivilized discourse in politics, taken to an extreme in Trump, and second, that the Christian Right supports Trump. His article is half ripping Trump and half ripping the Christian Right, with a coda that is something like “Ha! Less people are going to church so your backward mindset is dying off.”
Quick disclaimers to avoid being labeled as a Trump-supporter and having my point of view immediately rejected by some: I did not vote for Trump (or Clinton). I am not a fundamentalist Christian; in fact, I’m a Bible college drop-out. But I have been on both extreme sides of this hostility between secular liberals and religious conservatives, and quite frankly, I am fed up with both.
Here is something to remember: members of the religious right are often single-issue voters. The issue they often most care about is abortion. You can have whatever opinion you want about abortion, but do not be surprised when a pro-life voter selects a candidate for President who promised to appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court (coincidentally, Trump has followed through on this promise). This is not a “new trend.” And sorry, Herb, but you don’t get to call what your opponents’ view as important issues “selfish agendas.”
I also wonder what Mr. Panko means when he writes things like the Christian right has “enthusiastic acceptance of this [P]resident,” and “the shocking extent the religious right has gone to in excusing [immoral and crude] behaviors.” Are those accusations based off the fact that they voted for him? Or some televangelist praising Trump? Or a few religious neighbors keeping Trump yard signs up? I think it is dangerous to paint with such a wide brush. Tell me, Mr. Panko, is this name-calling (“religious lap dogs,” for example), condescending tone, and obvious disdain for these people helping to bridge the divide in American politics or making the chasm more wide? How did you miss your call-out of hypocrisy as also applying to yourself?
I just will not accept the premise that every person who voted for Trump is an idiot or evil (or both). This is the opinion that many liberals have and it is flat-out wrong and counter-productive. It is as much to blame for the polarization in American politics as Trump’s ridiculous antics. A vote is not a comprehensive agreement of everything a candidate says, believes, represents, and has acted out. Most Americans only view the Presidential race as between two candidates, and I wager many of them pick the one they dislike less.
Herb, we get it: you HATE Trump. I can see why a person would. But I can also see why people picked him over Hillary Clinton. People on the left often think of themselves as open-minded, but I’m seeing a serious lack of understanding in the Trump era.