September 2018

 Donald Trump presented evangelicals with a superficial dilemma. He could deliver their dream of a conservative Supreme Court for decades, but the cost of this was supporting a man who was the antithesis of all they stood for. I said it was a superficial dilemma because Trump is exactly what they stand for. Victory without regard for morality, decency, or even Christianity.

Conservative evangelicals are not as advertised. They are not a Christian group. They are, in fact, the largest white nationalist organization in the country, who have embraced the full slate of hate — racism, sexism, xenophobia —  and spiced it with paranoia. 

But they can’t admit to their real nature. So evangelicals offered their champion cover for his past by celebrating Trump’s ‘newfound faith’ and his ‘baby steps’ toward Christ. But even the most deluded among them realized that strategy was ridiculously untenable. It was obvious that Trump had no core beliefs and not one single redeeming Christian virtue. So instead they embraced the expedient notion that although he was an ‘imperfect warrior’ he was fighting the good fight.

It works well with the home crowd.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders does not have the advantage of an adoring and complicit audience. She has to use her pulpit to spread a secular message to the more critical members of the media. So she ignores Trump’s immorality to celebrate his ‘unconventionality’.

Americans have a naive belief that if the current political class sucks, then anyone who isn’t a member must be better. And what better way to establish your outsider bona fides than by threatening to blow the place up and celebrate a new beginning. But is that the path to salvation? Proclaiming yourself a maverick was Sarah Palin’s ‘cri de guerre’. And we all saw how that worked out.

It all springs from a misunderstanding. Say you drive a Ford and you don’t love it. Just buying ‘not a Ford’ is no guarantee of an improvement. You might end up with a Fiat. Especially if you take Fiat ads at face value and only listen to the Fiat news channel. (Joke break: What does ‘FIAT’ stand for? “Fix it again, Tony”.)

Maverick or unconventional are words that do not imply success. Terrorism is unconventional warfare. It is rarely a winning strategy. Bicycling through the Lincoln Tunnel is unconventional — but not recommended. Living off the grid is ‘mavericky’ but the Unabomber didn’t improve anything.

Everyone agrees that DC is dysfunctional and a disaster – and it may well take some unconventional thinking to make it better. But here the keyword is ‘thinking’. Einstein surpassed Newton’s mechanistic explanation for planetary motion by thinking long and hard before rolling out his General Theory of Relativity.

‘Unconventional’ without a plan describes a bull in a china shop.

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