I woke up in the middle of the night last night to watch the second presidential debate between Trump and Clinton. It was not a debate, but then neither was the first one. I learned to debate in high school and was eventually captain of our debate team but I have to say last evening was nothing short of an illuminating fiasco.
The main casualty of the debate last night was truth. The truth was buried in half-truths, lies, deception, misdirection and all manner of innuendo. We discovered that Hilary is the devil, thank you Donald for projecting your own dark side onto her. We learned that substantive issues about real life were given the shove off the cliff. We watched as two alleged adults, vying for what is arguably the most powerful political office in the world, acted more like children on a playground. We watched the debates and Aleppo burned. We got angry at either Trump or Hilary (depending on whom you prefer) but we saw no anger for the children lying among the ashes of war and violence. In short, we learned nothing.
I really don’t care who becomes president, and it really does not matter. What matters is that we see the entire imperial American mechanism collapsing before our very eyes. America is in her death throes. Can she re-born? Can something rise from the ashes of our mutual contempt? Maybe, maybe not. It doesn’t matter to me. Why?
My reality is not clouded by partisan politics. You know by now I do not like Trump and that I do not particularly care for Hilary. I confess I do not care much for the process at all. I am reminded that my personal vote is only a suggestion to the Elector of my district who can vote any way they chose once they enter the Electoral College. Thomas Jefferson rigged the system long ago because he understood the popular vote was easily manipulated.
I have watched as friends have turned on one another this election cycle. I have observed all manner of vitriol aimed at one group or another. Part of me weeps inside, part of me wants to say “a pox on both your houses.”
As a theological thinker, I suspect the lens by which I view this election is colored by something much deeper and more profound than is recognized by the masses. I confess the Presidency of Jesus. I acknowledge that the True Human will never be found in any political party, but is to be found seated at the right hand of Majesty. I believe that the reign of truth comes only through the proclamation of the Gospel, not through the blustering of politicos or limp wristed legislation.
If I sound unduly pessimistic about the political process in my country it is because I affirm that all government is inherently grounded in the evil, the horrid evil, of victimage. If I have learned anything from Rene Girard it is this: social structures need the blood of victims, innocent or guilty, it no longer matters, it is the blood that counts. Last night’s bloodletting which I am sure continues on the 24/7 news cycle and on Facebook (which I have not read yet this morning), is all part of the sacrificial process. Yes, there will be blood. Yes, there will be a scapegoat. Trump sought to demonize Hilary last night by calling her the devil. He threw his own VP candidate Mike Pence under the bus. This sort of Manichean display of dimwittedness was surely to be expected at some point, particularly from Trump who has experienced his own ‘blood loss’ in the revelation of the sexist tapes recently revealed. Hilary has her own history of victimage (much of it alleged but nevertheless suggestive). Make no mistake, these are two gladiators in a contest to the death and we are the observers cheering them on.
Most of all I am appalled at the way so called Christians have sought to justify the candidates. I am particularly disturbed by the complete and total capitulation of the Evangelicals and Fundamentalists to Mr. Trump. If there was ever a presidential candidate who embodied all of the opposite values of Jesus it is The Donald. Yet, Evangelicals continue to pour their support into his failing campaign even as Republican Party leadership is abandoning ship. I would be aghast at this if I knew nothing of church history. But, as history shows those in power (in our case white male heterosexuals) do not give up that power easily. And ever since my friends Nelson Keener (d. 2015) and Frank Schaffer (who have both repented) sat down with Jerry Falwell Sr. to create the Moral Majority, American Evangelicalism has become more and more the anti-Christian religion.
Does anyone really think Jesus, the LORD of Glory was present at last night’s debate? I will go on record as saying that The Almighty does not give a flying F-bomb about last night and that Jesus was not present there. Where was Jesus? He was walking the streets of Aleppo last night, bleeding with those who bled, weeping with those who wept, dying with those who died. He spent last night picking up the bodies of the little children killed by bombs made in Russia and in America. He was there asking for food, medical help, anything, anything at all, and all we could do here in America was turn on each other and devour each other as our tax dollars, the fruit of our labors, were turned into weapons of war. If there is a judgment on America it is not because we abort babies, nor is it because we sanction gay marriage. Our judgment is our own, and we condemn ourselves because we turn a blind eye to the real victims of our politics.
The truth was the real victim in last night’s debate.