"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK?" Trump told an enthusiastic audience at a Christian school, Dordt College. "It's like incredible." Donald Trump: Supporters would stick with me if I shot someone 'in the middle of Fifth Avenue'
The same day Donald Trump used the podium at a Christian school to reflect that he could do murder and and still be embraced by his secular worshipers, I was at a prayer meeting at my church. This was the final day of 21 days of prayer and there was an overflow crowd of thousands, spilling over from the sanctuary into the theater next door. In my church, folks pray with their hands open, palms up, symbolizing our openness to God's will and not our own. The room rippled with electricity, and the power of God was evident to every participant.
When I later heard of Trump's boast, I reflected upon the jarring irony of the two scenes in similar venues and shook my head at the sheer brazen demagoguery that Trump's performance represented. The story relates that the response of the audience (most of whom if asked I'm sure would self-identify as Christians) was "enthusiastic."
The Founders, whether Federalist or Anti-federalist, perceived the dangers of demagoguery to their new Republic as being the greatest threat it faces. Here are two representative quotes from either side of the argument at the time:
"A dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants." -- Federalist No. One, Alexander Hamilton.
And this one from the uncompromising Elbridge Gerry:
The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy. The people do not want virtue, but are the dupes of pretended patriots. -- Elbridge Gerry, Constitutional Convention Monday May 31, 1787.
Gerry also said this: "It is the duty of every man, though he may have but one day to live, to devote that day to the good of his country."Trump and his followers maintain that they are doing what they are doing for the good of the country. They point that Trump, whatever his flaws, couldn't be worse than the last four occupants of the White House. I was on a radio call in show the other morning and had this argument pulled out in Trump's defense.
"Whoa up," I insisted. "What you are doing now is arguing over the varying qualities of excrement." I continued, "What you are saying is that some turds are big and smelly and you do not like them. You are saying 'I don't like those turds. I prefer my turds to be small and less odorous." The hosts of the show laughed. Now Grandpa Vanderboegh told me that it was possible to eat a turd if you had enough ketchup. But the fact of the matter is that you have to be persuaded that you WANT to eat that turd very badly and you have to conjure up the ketchup yourself.
Donald Trump, as near as i can make out, is absolutely unprincipled and like all demagogues is saying what he believes he needs to say in order to achieve his ends. My concern is that he is obviously as much of an insecure personality as Obama and, like Obama, gets his "principles" in the mirror every morning when he wakes up. Taken together, their proclaimed fidelity to the limits of the Constitution are so much fart in the wind. Only when the mask slips as at Dordt College, do you get a sense of Trump's inner demagogic voyage of discovery. To paraphrase George Corley Wallace, if you put Obama and Trump in a barrel and rolled them down the hill, there would always be an unprincipled son of Beelzebub on top.
This will cost me more than a few readers, I'm sure. But as I don't expect to last long enough to vote in the upcoming election (although I might make the Alabama primary) I can at least go on record as to where I stand. And since I lack that longevity that most of y'all take for granted, you won't have say to me in the fullness of time that I was right about demagogues. Like prostitutes of a more innocent nature, the joyful experience is fleeting but the diseases they bring are forever.