Saturday, August 27, 2016





DONALD TRUMP AND THE SCHISM IN SOUTH CAROLINA



August 27, 2016---
An Episcopalian, at least I think he is an Episcopalian since he is citing Forward Day by Day, has offered his view of Donald Trump in an opinion piece on August 26 in The Washington Post. I recommend it: Colbert I. King, "I Meditated on Trump, He's a Mean, Scary, Hurtful Person." Read it here . The title says it all. I could not agree with him more.

July 23, 2016---
Lest anyone think my view of Trump is out of the mainstream, here is a sampling of the reactions to the Republican nomination of Trump from some of the most widely read and respected print media in the U.S.:

Time magazine, Joe Klein, July 21: "An Unhinged Republican Convention and the Nation's Greatest Test." "The Republican Party, by contrast, has become a national embarrassment. Donald Trump is a national embarrassment. This election will be the greatest test, in my lifetime, of the wisdom of our people and the strength of the democratic project."
Read the entire article here

The Washington Post, editorial of July 22: "Donald Trump is a Unique Threat to American Democracy." "Donald J. Trump, until now a Republican problem, this week became a challenge the nation must confront and overcome. The real estate tycoon is uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament. He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance. To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America's problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions. Mr. Trump's politics of denigration and division would strain the bonds that have held a diverse nation together. His contempt for national norms might reveal the nation's two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we know. Any one of these characteristics would be disqualifying; together they make Mr. Trump a peril. ... We cannot salute the Republican nominee or pretend that we might endorse him this fall. A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world."
Read the entire editorial here .

July 22, 2016---
The Republican National Convention ended yesterday in a long and dark speech by its nominee, Donald Trump. It has to be the most important performance of sheer demagoguery in American history. He validated everything I have been saying about him. Today I am sad, disturbed, and frightened: sad, because a great political party has been hijacked by a loose cannon who apparently has no inner convictions, disturbed because of the many dangerous things Trump is saying and the way he is saying them, and frightened for what might lie ahead. However, I continue to believe he will not get elected because he is still targeting his base, the Angry White Man, with no effort to go beyond that. The AWM is a distinct minority of voters.

The only glimmer of positivism I saw in the speech should give pause to the DSC and others committed to an anti-homosexual stand. Trump made it very clear he is for equality for homosexuals even though he couched it in terms of protecting homosexuals against radical Islam. The prople still fighting to keep homosexuals from equal rights must be very upset with Trump today.

I have been trying to think of historical parallels to Trump and so far have come up empty. My first thoughts were of Julius Caesar and Napoleon. Both cleverly played on popular fear of social/governmental chaos to make themselves popular dictators. But then I dismissed them because their world view foreign policies were the opposite of Trump's (Trump has no coherent foreign policy He enunciates contradictory ideas: e.g., isolationism [America First], and interventionism[destroy Isis]). Too, that comparison is too grandiose. The pedestrian Trump comes no where near those two geniuses. I must admit, the name Adolf Hitler came across my mind, but I quickly dismissed that. Trump is not, after all, a satanic psychopath. He is not a bad person. It is important not to demonize people with whom we disagree. So I am left with Juan Peron, a populist dictator. He was definitely neither a genius nor insane. But then I think, no. Could anyone envision Melania as Evita? 

Today, more than ever I stand by my theory that Trump is the phenomenon of the revenge of the Angry White Man, just as was the schism in South Carolina. Both of these are going the wrong way. They derived from fear, resentment, differentiation, and hostility. Instead, what we need in our political system, and in our lives, is the love and compassion that is now, as it always has been, the core of the Christian religion. To be good Christians, we must love one another. That will bring healing and peace. The turning away from loving one another is what disturbs me the most about both Trump and the schismatics.
 


July 20, 2016---
We have reached a new low point in American political history. The Republican Party, one of the great political associations in the world, the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan, yesterday formally chose as its candidate for president of the United States in 2016, a man whom I see as shockingly unqualified and unsuited to be president of the greatest nation in the history of the world.

This is a campaign of personality. Trump's supporters believe that he personally will solve all of their problems. They also believe their opponent personally will do the opposite. The convention of this week has been 1-personal attack on Hillary Clinton, 2-glorification of a would-be strongman. It has played to the base, the Angry White Man, and offered little or nothing to anyone else. On the first night of the convention, a grieving mother accused Clinton of being responsible for the killing of her son ("I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son."). On the second night, the audience chanted repeatedly, "Lock Her Up," as another speaker linked Clinton to Satan. This is a political campaign of character assassination and personal destruction beyond the pale: charging one's political opponent of causing death, of being Satan, and of being a criminal. This is worthy of a banana republic. Moreover, while Trumpism promotes the personality cult of one man, it is almost completely bereft of specific positive measures to build up the country. To their credit, most Republican leaders are boycotting this week's convention. What is happening now supports my theory that Trump's campaign is one that aims to restore the Angry White Man to power in this country.

This campaign is dangerous for two reasons. Giving power to a strongman would undo the institutional governmental system our country has built up over 227 years. Employing the politics of personal destruction would demolish the democratic working structure of respect for differing views and compromise. Our nation was founded and has evolved under a constitutional system of law and a democratic order of compromise. The United States of America was created in 1776 expressly to reject personal tyranny.  

In light of the events of this week, I am reposting my earlier comments on the origins of the rise of Donald Trump and of the causes of the schism in South Carolina.  


June 2, 2013---
On 31 March 2016 I made the following post about Donald Trump and the schism. Much to my amazement, it went "viral" on the Internet getting well more than 6,000 hits. Since then, Trump has clinched the Republican nomination and Hillary Clinton will gain the Democratic mantle momentarily. I would not change a word of what I said on Mar. 31. Trump is the most unqualified candidate ever chosen by a major party in American history. He is the first never to have been elected to a political office, hold a public office, or serve in the military. It appears to me he has no realistic grasp of American history, public values, or the constitutional system. If he continues on as he has in the last few days he will self destruct and take down the Republican Party with him. At the present rate, Clinton will win in a landslide after Trump crashes under the weight of his own uncontrollable ego and unrestrainable personality. Those of us who want a strong two party system ought to be very concerned. We have reached a dangerous low point in the political life of America. 



Original post of March 31, 2016-----
What in the world could Donald Trump have to do with the Episcopal Church schism in South Carolina? Well, let's think about that for awhile and look at these two phenomena.

As everyone else observing the current political season, I am fascinated by the rise of Donald Trump, riveted and appalled at the same time. A brilliant showman with a genius for media manipulation and with absolutely no political experience, Trump is masterfully dominating the entire presidential campaign as no one in history ever has. I have tried my best to make sense of this unique experience, and here are my thoughts.

Trump has encapsulated his campaign in a slogan: "Make America Great Again." This means that America was once great, and no longer is. He promises to restore the country to its greatness. There is much more here than meets the eye. Restore what, and for whom?

Among Trump's best-known promises to "Make America Great Again" is "The Wall" to keep Mexicans out (which the Mexicans are going to pay for), forced deportation of the 11-12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., stopping all Muslims from entering the country, and bringing jobs back from Mexico, China, and other countries. Most of this agenda is absolutely unconstitutional. To carry it out would mean the overthrow the Constitution of the United States.

To promote his agenda among the electorate, Trump has employed the politics of personal destruction. He has insulted and ridiculed, sometimes in vulgar manner, women, blacks, Hispanics, Chinese, disabled people, and Muslims. He was slow to criticize the KKK. He has personally ridiculed practically every other candidate in the race (and sometimes their families). Fans at his performances have violently attacked opponents. Trump himself has predicted riots is he does not get his way in the Republican convention.

Trump's answer to "Make America Great Again," is to use the power of his personality to make "great deals." He promises government by a strong man. His critics call this fascism.

In my view, Trump is channeling The Angry White Man. He is telling him in other words that he will restore the white man to power and at the same time get revenge on the forces the white men perceive to be the causes of their fall from power, especially women, minorities, foreigners, and big corporations. What Trump is doing is essentially to lead a counter-revolution against the revolutionary social and economic changes that came out of the twentieth century.

The twentieth century saw the victory of democracy in the world. It defeated monarchism in 1918, fascism and Nazism in 1945, and Communism in 1989. This was one of the great transforming events in human history. It also produced a great wave of reform to grant freedom, justice, and equality for social elements long oppressed. The civil rights movement gave blacks a certain amount of power. Women and homosexuals also won a certain amount of equality. White males saw this democratic reform wave as a mortal threat to their previous dominance. It was white males which had largely won the great crusade for democracy. It was the white males who enjoyed power and prosperity in the aftermath of the Second World War. However, by the late twentieth century, white males came to see their dominance in society and the economy slipping away. They saw women and minorities rising up and the good factory jobs falling down. They became frightened, frustrated and angry.

The Republicans cleverly capitalized on the rising anger of the white males. Nixon employed the "Southern strategy" in 1968 that subtly began moving southern whites, angry over the civil rights movement, into the Republican Party. The old Confederacy is now solidly Republican. Reagan picked up on the anger in 1980 when he said the government cannot fix the problem, the government is the problem. This suggested the idea that the old institutions had actually caused the problem. Republican campaign operatives such as Lee Atwater and Karl Rove developed a politics of combat. The angry white men rallied to elect the born-again conservative George W. Bush but he only disappointed them with two unjustified and costly wars and the worst economic recession since the 1930's. They felt betrayed. In the end, the actual effects of Republican rule meant not the restoration of the white male but a massive transfer of wealth to the top tiers of the economy (Bernie Sanders tells us this every day). Many of the angry white men increasingly believed the institutions were against them: the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, and the national government.

Trump is signaling to the angry white men not just their restoration but revenge and punishment for their perceived enemies. What sets Trump apart from the earlier manipulators of this movement is that he is implying an overthrow of the old institutional system and creation of a strong-man regime where the president would make the "great deals." The really scary thing about Trump's counter-revolution is it implied threat to overthrow the rule of constitution and law replace it with the rule of personality. The fact that so many Americans are voting for him to do this is downright chilling. It tells me that a great deal of people in this country have lost faith in the American system of government.

Trump cannot get elected president. The angry white men make up only a minority of the electorate. He has already alienated the majority of the voters. For instance, polls show 3/4 of women hold a negative view of Trump and most would never vote for him. About 80% of Hispanics see Trump likewise. This all but guarantees a landslide election for Hillary Clinton. Yet, a large and angry minority will continue on in the country perhaps feeling increasingly threatened and alienated. This is not a good scenario for the future.

The schism in South Carolina was also part of a counter-revolution, in this case against the Episcopal Church. After the 1950's, the Church championed the democratic causes of civil rights for blacks, equality for women, and equality for homosexuals. This also produced a backlash of The Angry White Man that reached a head in 2003 with the confirmation of the first openly gay bishop and in 2006 with the election of the first female presiding bishop. In reaction to Robinson in 2003, ten ultra-conservative dioceses formed a pre-schism body called the Anglican Communion Network. After the election of Jefferts Schori in 2006, the five most angry dioceses voted to leave the Episcopal Church. In 2009, the first four of these formed a new church, the Anglican Church in North America whose Constitution and Canons specifically banned rights for homosexuals and equality for females. ACNA was to be governed by men (women cannot be bishops). South Carolina is set to join ACNA next year.

As the other four, the schismatic diocese of South Carolina is stridently homophobic and anti-feminist. Women are treated as second-class. There is only a handful of women clergy, none as rector of a medium or large parish, none as head of any important diocesan institution. Mark Lawrence has ordained only two women as deacons and one as priest (a grievously ill deacon). 

The diocese's campaign against rights for homosexuals is well documented. For instance, in last year's diocesan convention delegates approved three resolutions blocking equality for gays. All the while, the diocese has been parading through anti-homosexual-rights Anglican bishops, particularly from the most "anti" places in equatorial Africa. In a few days, DSC will put on display "Voices of the Anglican Communion," which would be better called "Voices of Anglican Homophobia." On April 11, DSC will present ten African and South American witnesses, mostly from Uganda, arguably the most stridently anti-homosexual rights country in equatorial Africa. See "LGBT Rights in Uganda"  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Uganda . Uganda is one of only two countries in the entire world to make a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The recent fierce anti-homosexual law there was mercifully struck down by the high court, but new and equally oppressive bills are in the works. Anglican bishops in Uganda have supported the harsh policies against gays. One of the bishops in the group of "Voices" on April 11 is Joseph Abura. One should read his essay promoting the notorious law against the human rights of homosexuals: www.speroforum.com/a/23193/For-some-Anglicans-Vices-are-now-Virtues . (Homosexuality= "sin," "sickness," "vice," "illness," "disease," "infectious.")

The Anglican primate of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali, tried to get the Episcopal Church expelled from the January primates' gathering in Canterbury. He failed and promptly bolted the meeting, alone. The GAFCON faction then tried to get TEC kicked out of the Anglican Communion for three years and failed too. Now, Ntagali is boycotting the upcoming meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council and has been joined by two others of equatorial Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. The beef with all the GAFCON crowd is that the Episcopal Church favors freedom and equality for homosexual people. To his credit, the Archbishop of Canterbury has publicly chastised the ACC boycotters.

As Trump's followers, the schismatic Diocese of South Carolina is the expression of The Angry White Male. It too is out to suppress the democratic movement of equality for women and gays. Racism is more subtle. (Note that the major historically black churches in SC stayed with TEC. Note too that after last year's massacre at Emanuel, the TEC diocese undertook an extensive campaign against racism but DSC did not). DSC too lost faith in its national institution. It came to see the Episcopal Church as not the solution to the problem, but the problem itself. They now believe that ACNA, a new institution, is the solution to their problem. It is not. ACNA will not last. It is a house of cards full of internal contradictions. 

Democracy won in America, in the Episcopal Church, in the world, and for good reason. The Angry White Man is wrong to see the democratic revolution as the enemy. Others' gains are not necessarily their loss. We are all better off when all of us enjoy freedom, justice, and equal rights. That is the American way, and now the Episcopal Church way.

Thus, Donald Trump has a lot to do with the schism in South Carolina. Both came from the same roots. Both are backlashes driven by fear of the loss of power, fear of the other, fear of change. Regardless of temporary obstructions, the sweep of history goes on. We are now in the great age of democracy, the age of the rights of men and women.