Bar the kicking and screaming

So it’s over. The long season of the US Presidential election is finally done bar the kicking and screaming of the current resident of the White House.

There is a part of me that wants to hate him, all he’s done and all he has said and all he stands for. It is hard to deny that Trump represents the dark underbelly of the American dream. Nothing succeeds like success except perhaps the illusion of success. If half of the what is printed about him by those who dislike him is even close to true, then he is a fairly despicable human being but he is not Hitler, he is not Pol Pot. And he did not set out to be despicable and probably does not view himself as anything other than the hero of his own story.

No man is truly self made. They are the sum of many experiences and influences and how they reacted to those is what makes them who they are. Reading about his father and his upbringing you get an understanding of what made him what he is. He was the victim of an emotionally abusive father who allegedly drove one of his sons to suicide with his demands. Trump learned to cope with this by emulating it. This does not excuse his actions or his words. Supporting racist extremists, promoting violence by refusing to condemn it, his treatment of women, the armed forces, the poor, ethnic minorities and even his own supporters if they slip in his expectations is sociopathic and his lack of empathy made him ill suited to the role of President and those should be villified. But the man? I believe the man should be an object of pity. He has been made a monster by accident of birth and by upbringing. So I try hard not to hate him. I fail more times then I succeed. Every time he opens his mouth my first instinct is to feel hatred for the lies and evil that issues forth. I know he has done real harm to people. The children caged and separated from the parents (and now some 500 apparently lost) first and foremost among them. Does it make a difference that his evil is on a much lesser scale than Hitler or Pol Pot? I don’t know but i continue to view him with pity, like the guy with mental health issues and alcohol addiction ranting at passers-by in the park. Although he’s got some 70 days left in office and can still throw dangerous tantrums, I find I no longer fear him and that seems to make pitying him easier.

There is also the issue of the 47% who voted for him. If you make him into a monster to be hated what do you make of those who followed him and do still with a cult like fervor. Unlike the Guilianis and Bannons of this world who hitched themselves to his wagon for power or money or influence, many Americans followed him because they believed his rhetoric and they are not evil. But if you make their leader out to be evil where does that leave them? If the aim is to heal the American rift you have to address Trump as a key part of that. The other part of that healing is recognising that the Democratic party played a part in creating Trump. When, like New Labour, they deserted the working man in favour of the new middle class, Mondeo man, they helped create the business environment that enabled Trump to thrive. Not only that but they left a disenfranchised working class who were desperate for support and attention that Trump gave them. And it wasn’t only in the States. We saw it here as the working class, left behind by New Labour were engaged by the likes of Farage and Johnson.

I cannot hate the majority of Trump supporters, starved of affection they gave themselves to the first person to offer them a bone. The out and out racist groups then went along for the ride because he made them feel legitimate. How do you heal the rift with them?

these are questions worth asking because we have a situation ourselves that is a warped reflection of the US situation. Brexit drove a wedge through this country that demonised both sides and the constant unravelling of the Brexit promises makes reasonable response harder by the day.

I shall be watching the healing process closely in the months to come in the hope we can learn a lesson from it for our own country. And in the meantime I continue to try to rise above hate for Trump, Johnson and all those who do our human psyche such harm.

Author: missionerpete

i an the Pioneer Connexion Missioner for The Meon Valley Methodist Circuit. Also husband, father and artist though not always in that order.

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