Tuesday, August 9, 2016

It's All About Faith

If Facebook had existed during the time of Moses, vociferous, passionate supporters would be touting his candidacy in the forthcoming election for the first leader of Israel by citing Moses' personal relationship with God, his ability to communicate with talking bushes, his ability to cut good deals with Pharaoh, his military prowess demonstrated by parting the Red Sea and then drowning the Egyptian army, his survival prowess shown by his solitude on Mount Sinai and his strict construction of 10 Commandments received on account of the aforementioned personal relationship.

It being Facebook, there would be equally vociferous, passionate supporters of Joshua, arguing that after 40 years in the desert, Moses was not fit to serve as leader in the Promised Land. Had Joshua been in charge, the Hebrews' exile in the wilderness would have taken no more than five years. Moreover, they would point out, Moses is clearly a liar, making up stories about his imaginary Friend and claiming to have accomplished clearly impossible tasks some 40 years earlier for the purpose of self-promotion. Such a liar and mentally unstable braggart can not be trusted with the mantle of commander in chief after leaving the Sinai.

There was no Facebook as my people crossed the Jordan River a few thousand years ago. The absence of mass media espousing contrary views allowed Moses' version of events to become gospel (pun intended) and be honored annually throughout the world in the telling of the Passover story. Jews do not dismiss the stories of the Hebrews' escape from slavery at the hands of the Egyptians, wandering in the desert, accepting the Torah and reclaiming the Eretz Israel because the specifics defy common sense. We accept the stories, and worship Moses' imaginary Friend, as a matter of faith. No amount of derision, appeals to logic, name-calling, or public shaming can shake that faith. It just is, with no regard for what your definition of "is" is.

Today, a few years later, as evidenced by Facebook and elsewhere, there is a large group of vociferous, passionate supporters touting the candidacy of Donald J. Trump in the forthcoming election for President of the United States. Unlike the elections of 2008 and 2012, where I also strongly disagreed with the proposed policies of the respective GOP candidates, I have been particularly publicly critical of the Trump candidacy. I have repeatedly posted my own criticisms and have shared others' posts which reflected my viewpoints. I have been unabashedly derisive. I have appealed to logic. I have engaged in name-calling (#pigeons) and have publicly shamed Trump's supporters. I have lost respect for individuals I had believed shared my perception of basic human decency but whose defense of Trump led me to another conclusion and who I decided to "unfriend" in order to avoid additional angst over my misjudgment.

This past weekend, I had an epiphany and have decided to re-direct my efforts. I realized that many of Trump's vociferous, passionate supporters are, like Jews at a Seder, acting on faith (the rest are acting for various self-serving purposes). Their support of Trump's ideology and proposed solutions to perceived problems rests on their collective faith that he has the power to (wait for it) make America great again. The absence of specifics, the clearly demonstrable hypocrisy and the impossibility of many of Trump's proposals are no more relevant than the likelihood that Moses did not take direction from a burning bush. I no longer believe it is possible to dissuade the Trumpish from worshipping the Donald. While this is incredibly frustrating to those of us who believe that Trump represents an existential threat to the Republic, we need to accept the fact that our efforts are better spent on alternatives to converting the Trumpish. 

I intend to work to reach the "agnostics" among the electorate and offer clear choices based on my view, admittedly, of good governance, tolerance, fairness and reasonable expectations. This country has serious problems that need to be addressed in a manner that might actually start the process of achieving resolutions. There will not be any overnight fixes; some might take another 40 years. Hopefully I can make a difference and help deliver additional support to Secretary Clinton so that in November the Trumpish will go the way of the Know Nothing movement, whose followers shared many of the Trumpish' grievances.

Watch this space.

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