The following post, written by The Rev. Robert A. Franek, is a part of Politicus Policy Discussion, in which writers draw connections between real lives and public policy.
The Republican presidential primary failed. Donald Trump’s nomination despite his sheer unfitness for the office in both knowledge and temperament is evidence of that. This failure is exacerbated by the revelations of his long history of sexual predatory behavior.
Nevertheless, the nomination of Donald Trump by a major party to the highest office in the country is also the fruition of years of Republican policy and rhetoric. It is no accident that a sexist, misogynistic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, bigot won the primary.
This combination of failure and fruition has made the Trump campaign coverage hard to watch and stomach. This is to say nothing of the multiple biases and false equivalencies that have framed much of the media’s coverage of the campaigns.
As a person who cares deeply about the political process, our country’s future, and the well-being of people, planet, and all creation, I find at least these three reasons for why this coverage is hard to watch.
- Democracy requires two parties and when one is imploding in conflict the whole system fails.
- The psychic stress of absorbing the conflict within the Republican party, and the hate speech, inhumanity, deplorableness, etc. spewed by the nominee at rallies and in petulant tweets.
- The time, effort, energy, resources of every kind dealing with travesties, rather than issues that help people.
This system failure has been playing out in various ways for years: countless votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the failure to give Justice Merrick Garland a hearing and vote on his nomination to the Supreme Court among them. However, as the Republican Party reaches new lows in contending with their nominee for president, the two party system that is supposed to hold differing philosophies in healthy tension has fallen apart. Now, rather than a contest of ideas and principles, we face saving the country from a hot-tempered, thinned-skinned, sexual predator.
The psychic stress of listening to Donald Trump’s hate speech and the countless surrogates defending it on news outlets on a daily basis cannot be underestimated. More, the endless repetition of his rally soundbites, debate answers, and tweets further engrains the horrific into our collective psyche and we risk a normalizing of this hate and violence. This psychic stress is further compounded as we see how Trump’s speech is affecting children.
In the past ten days this psychic stress has reached the level of triggering the traumatic in the lives of countless women, as Donald Trump’s gloating over sexual harassment and denial of predatory behavior has caused several women to come forward after years of silence. In addition to the gut-wrenching sickness brought on by Trump’s words and actions, the minimizing, excusing, and dismissal of his behavior by many reveals a sadness beyond belief for our country. Defending the indefensible is indeed hard to watch and stomach.
As time, effort, energy, and resources of all kinds are devoted to the travesties of the Donald Trump campaign, they are likewise taken away from addressing the issues that people are struggling with each day, especially the most vulnerable ones among us. Issues like hunger and poverty are eclipsed by vile and vitriolic speech. The neighbor we are called to care for with compassion is denigrated by speech in service to fear. Rather than a discussion of substance, Trump is keeping fact-checkers occupied verifying his lunacy, absurdity, and wretched candidacy.
Democracy requires two parties working together with their competing ideas in service to the people and the common good of society and creation. As our country moves through the final weeks of this election season to Election Day, I pray we have the collective strength and courage to keep fighting for the values of equality, justice, and peace that are essential to the flourishing of life for all.