Driving around the county as I do every day, it is hard not to notice political campaign signs springing up everywhere like dandelions in the spring. Usually every year at this time just before the leaves fall we see all sorts of placards planted in lawns asking you to vote for this candidate or that issue in the November general election. There are a few signs in particular, though, that have caught my eye lately in the way a plane crash would grab my attention.
Their handmade message is simple. The operative phrase contains just two words. But their plea is akin to Walt Whitman’s sounding his “barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world” (something I picked up not from college lit classes but from Dead Poets Society, by the way). It’s a loud, self-righteous appeal to do something to help us all avoid certain annihilation should a fiery pantsuit-wearing asteroid slam into Washington, DC, next January 20th.
“Save America” the signs say in big, bold letters. “Save America.” For God’s sake and for the sake of all future generations of Americans you must vote for Trump and Pence. “Save America.”
See a sample below.
The sign above is a bit tidy compared to others I’ve seen. I guess it had to look relatively nice since it’s at a busy intersection, but some of these signs look like they were produced in a remedial graffiti class at three in the morning after the “artist” was overexposed to too many spray paint fumes.
So “Save America” got me to thinking. Save America from what exactly? From our democracy? From our Great American Experiment? From our freedom to choose intellectually superior candidates if we want?
After Donald Trump’s vanquishing of Low Energy Jeb, Little Marco, and Lyin’ Ted, the real threat to our nation’s legacy must be a real-life fire breathing dragon the Dark Side has labeled Crooked Hillary. “Save America from Crooked Hillary” the signs imply. The hyperbole would be amusing if it wasn’t such a sad commentary on the state of some wayward minds this presidential election year.
It sounds so dire. It sort of reminds me of the “Corbett MUST win!” commercials during Youngstown’s mayoral race back in 1987 when incumbent mayor Patrick Ungaro was being challenged by an attorney named Jim Corbett and being painted as an unmitigated disaster in City Hall. By the way, Ungaro won by a big margin, served as mayor for another 12 years, and Youngstown somehow survived the faux catastrophe that was the drumbeat of the Corbett campaign.
So to save anything be it America, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, or the first colony on Mars, you need a savior. Obviously these producers of partisan posters with their exaggerated implication of imminent doom have placed the Royal Cloak of Savior-ness upon the shoulders of Donald J. Trump and are demanding votes for him. Or else suffer the consequences. But let’s consider that if he’s the Alt-Right’s savior, then how does Trump line up against the real Savior, the only one I’ve ever had at the center of my life?
Among the most profound teachings of Jesus Christ are lessons commonly referred to as the Beatitudes, a word that means supreme blessings and comes from a Latin root for perfect happiness. In the Gospel of St. Matthew Chapter 5, verses 3 through 10, you will find the text of the famous Sermon on the Mount where Jesus preached these supreme blessings to the multitude gathered there. Let’s put Donald Trump against each blessing and see what happens, shall we?
JESUS: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
I can’t imagine anyone more poor in spirit than a young man who is beaten, tortured, and held captive for five years in some dank Hanoi hellholes. Does Trump empathize with this noble naval pilot who was willing to sacrifice his life for his country?
JESUS: Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.
Meek and Trump will never be found in the same sentence. Except here. To prove a point.
JESUS: Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Did Trump show the slightest empathy toward a Muslim family whose son gave, as Lincoln once said, the “last full measure of devotion” to his country? Nope. His first impulse was to attack them for their criticism of his call to ban all Muslims entering the U.S.
JESUS: Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
Justice comes in many forms: legal justice, social justice, and economic justice to name three. The Citizens for Tax Justice released their study of Trump’s tax plan a couple days ago which found that the top 1% of U.S. earners will get a 44% share of his tax cut while the lowest 20% get the crumbs of a two percent share. Under Trump, blessed are they that hunger and thirst for they shall continue to hunger and thirst. It builds character. For the full analysis, click here.
JESUS: Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Toleration and forgiveness are not among Trump’s attributes. Here is some evidence.
JESUS: Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
And he pats himself on the back for not saying nasty things about her mom and dad because Chelsea Clinton was in the room at the first debate.
JESUS: Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
I don’t think slipping someone the ol’ knuckle sandwich was what Jesus had in mind in keeping the peace.
JESUS: Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Yes, let’s imply that Mexicans are rapists, thieves and druggies; that it’s perfectly acceptable to call a beautiful Latina woman “Miss Housekeeping” and “Miss Piggy”; and that those who practice a particular religion should be subject to some nebulous thing called “extreme vetting” even though sons and daughters of Muslims lie beneath the sign of the crescent moon and star in our national cemeteries.
The only thing I can think of that Jesus and Trump have in common is that they both draw big crowds. But it ends right there. After that, Jesus relied on a miracle to feed the masses. Trump’s miracle is when he doesn’t stiff the caterer.
Trump is a bellwether to legions of blind followers. I expect not one of them to rest a finger on their chin and say, “Hey, wait a minute. Maybe I should rethink this.” They will deny all of the above and let the Alt-Right guide and bend and mold the hatred in their minds which they now think is acceptable to embrace. And their response to the above evidence of his boorishness will usually start with the same three words, “Yeah, but Hillary…”
It’s okay not to like Hillary Clinton but it’s not okay to regard this hard-working, honored civil servant with bitter, ugly, unjustified hatred and to treat her candidacy as a harbinger of Doom. I would rather see the “Save America” coterie come to their senses, recognize the exaggeration and condescension in their message, and at the very minimum find a way to consider Clinton in the same fashion as political humorist P.J. O’Rourke who endorsed her with this backhanded Compliment for the Ages: “She’s wrong on everything but at least she’s wrong by normal parameters.”
Hillary Clinton is prepared, is committed to her country, and will not lead this nation into some wildly melodramatic end-of-life-as-we-know-it chasm. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is a clear and present danger to our future.
“Save America” indeed. “Corbett MUST win!” Youngstown survived and is a vastly different, better in most ways, city than it was at the end of the first decade after Black Monday. Likewise, when the sun rises on November 9th, our republic will still be in one piece. However, it does not need a conceited, misogynistic, xenophobic, self-serving, thin-skinned amateur to “save” it.
I know my Savior and it’s certainly not Donald Trump.