As the late Sen. John McCainâ€™s departing call to national unity reverberated across America last week, Donald Trumpâ€™s prediction of violence should Democrats prevail in Novemberâ€™s midterm elections seemed both discordant and, well, weird.
The president issued his dire warning on Monday - two days after McCainâ€™s death - to a gathering of evangelical pastors at the White House. Trump warned that if they didnâ€™t rally their parishioners to turn out and vote Republican, Democrats â€świll overturn everything that weâ€™ve done, and theyâ€™ll do it quickly and violently.â€ť
Iâ€™ve nearly rubbed my chin raw from stroking it for answers.
What sort of apocalyptic vision guides our commander in chief? What level of paranoia inspires such hyperbolic projections?
These questions are tendered as rhetorical exercise. We know what petty perdition this president has created for himself. And, sadly for the country, it neednâ€™t have been this way. Given the antipathy toward Hillary Clinton, Trump might have won the election without appealing to raw emotion and base fears. Later, he might have changed his tune as president and tried to appeal to a broader cross-section of Americans. Who knows? As McCain said, in this country nothing is inevitable. Trump might have united the nation in common cause.
Instead, he chose the ugly path. From immigration, to health care and tax overhauls, to foreign policy, Trump took the low road. Thus, the less-rhetorical question is: How do these evangelical pastors sleep at night?
We know that many conservatives voted for Trump because he promised to appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court. We also know that Trump ran away with the evangelical vote.
But one must ask these men and women of the cloth: Is it really more important to hope for a Supreme Court that might reverse (or, more realistically, erode) Roe v. Wade than it is to have a president of whom we can be proud? In whom we can trust to be thoughtful, honest and impervious to every little slight?
Does same-sex marriage, which a majority of Americans support, so offend these church leaders that theyâ€™d rather risk a nuclear matchup with North Korea? Or an increasingly tenuous relationship with Russia and China owing to Trumpâ€™s careless use of power to intimidate, insult and badger our geopolitical foes? This month, Russia is slated to hold war games - its largest since the dissolution of the Soviet Union - and Chinaâ€™s army will be involved.
Is this of no consequence to those who preach the word of God?
Granting the benefit of the doubt, Trumpâ€™s supporters early on might have deluded themselves into believing he wouldnâ€™t be that bad. But whatâ€™s their excuse now?
But Trump was surely serious when he spoke about the darkness that would descend upon the land if Republicans lost the House. One would have thought he was speaking of the Islamic State or the Taliban, not fellow Americans with a different point of view. Even stranger, he mentioned violence in the context of Antifa, a loose group of anti-fascists who are militant in their protest of white supremacists, who have celebrated Trumpâ€™s presidency as a giant step for white mankind.
If Republicans do lose Congress in the fall, it wonâ€™t be because evangelicals didnâ€™t turn out to vote, though that surely would be a redemptive act. It will be because of Trump himself. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Friday found that 60 percent of Americans disapprove of Trumpâ€™s job performance. The same survey also found that 63 percent support special counsel Robert Muellerâ€™s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. And 62 percent said they support Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Trump has been threatening to fire. A Democratic victory in the midterms will happen because of the GOPâ€™s silence in the face of Trumpâ€™s untenable behavior; their lack of courage in condemning his Draconian execution of policies; and the utter hypocrisy of allowing such a foul-mouthed, race-baiting misogynist to occupy the Oval Office after many of these same paragons of virtue impeached Bill Clinton for lying about his irresponsible affair with an intern.
Violence isnâ€™t likely should Republicans lose, but impeachment probably is.
Kathleen Parkerâ€™s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.