THE PRICE OF AMBIGUITY
Let me start this article by some “up fronts.” Since this article is about a political figure it is therefore a political article. I am not a Hillary Clinton supporter. I am pro-life, I am opposed to homosexual marriage being made legal, I am concerned with radical Islam. I am also pro-civil and human rights and I believe the government has a role to play in upholding justice and the care of the poor, the sick, and the elderly. Okay, so these are a few things up front in case you seek to put me in a political box. I didn’t vote for either majority party candidate for the sake of my conscience.
I will try to pray faithfully for our new president, as I tried to do for our departing president. As I seek to honor that office and seek to refrain from slander, gossip, or malicious talk about the President I am still committed to speaking out as to my concerns. This means that sometimes those comments will be negative. I am concerned about the behavior of President-Elect Donald Trump, and therefore concerned about our future as a country.
I am afraid our president elect is putting himself in the position of being suspected of some shady things. This reminds me of the dilemma that Saddam Hussein got himself into when he just wouldn’t let inspectors come back into Iraq while the U.S. government suspected him of having weapons of mass destruction. Many people accused George Bush of lying and using the WMD fear as a pretext for war. I blame Saddam for creating ambiguity and defying the United Nations which ended up in our invading his country and in his eventual execution. This is simply an example of creating ambiguity, and not of anything else in regard to Saddam Hussein.
The ambiguity Mr. Trump is creating has to do with Russia. He won’t disclose his tax returns, he won’t be open about his dealings with Russia, and seems to be in denial about Russia’s hacking of the DNC computers. He seems to prefer Putin to many of his fellow Americans. So, what are we to make of these things? He has the opportunity to be transparent, and if he is an advocate of closer relations with the Russian leader he really needs to be transparent, or else the suspicions are going to linger. We certainly hope there will not be further reason to suspect his motives due to some strange realignment of our national interests which might just compromise the freedom of other countries.
I remember when the arch-conservatives were paranoid of the Soviet Union (the rest of us were somewhere between concerned and terrified, and not that there weren’t Americans who advocated for communism). There was a book in the 1960s called, None Dare Call it Treason, by John Stormer. The John Birch society loved this book. It smacked of some of McCarthy’s accusations back in the 1950’s, with the suspicion that communists had infiltrated the State Department. The Obama administration was accused of making room for Muslims in the government (which by the way is quite legal) and this was seen by some as giving way to the enemy, (which in not Islam but radical Islam). For any President to compromise our national interest or strategic security due to his own personal interests would indeed be a step toward treason.
The way Mr. Trump has handled things leaves open the idea that the President Elect might be vulnerable to blackmail by the Russian President. The fear is that if he can be manipulated by them he could be used as a Russian stooge. Is it possible that a Republican President, not a Democrat or a liberal one, is in fact our worst nightmare for an unethical national compromise with an adversary that invades other sovereign nations (Georgia and Ukraine), supports and cooperates with our avowed opponents (Syria and Iran), attempts consistently to intimidate our military in fly-bys, uses cyber warfare against us on a fairly regular basis, and plays hard ball with us and our allies with the threat of nuclear weapons? Ambiguity leads to just these kinds of questions. Admiring strong leadership is ridiculous when it comes to strong arm dictators.
When I see conservatives, especially Evangelicals, defend Mr. Trump from even being asked legitimate questions I am a bit chagrined. Some of the same people who slandered Barack Obama incessantly, and insisted he wasn’t even born in the USA, was a Muslim, a Socialist, and a liar (and all of this before they mentioned what policies he stood for that they didn’t like) don’t seem to realize how hypocritical they sound today. At one time character seemed to matter to these folks but evidently not recently. What protection do any of us have for the pursuit of policies in which we believe not being thrown overboard by someone whose integrity we cannot trust?
What I am left with is the impression that conservatives are saying, “if your policies are in agreement with mine I don’t mind your lack of character.” I think a President’s character is always an issue, as well as their policies. They both count as either one can hurt or help us as a nation. Having endured top secret security checks during my own military career I know that consistent loyalty to America matters when you work for the government. Not only was loyalty an issue but so was susceptibility to financial or moral compromise. It wasn’t taken for granted, it wasn’t simply accepted by verbal affirmations or denials, and it had to be verified and proven. But now, for our highest office it is evidently to be taken simply by trust while we are given no means of verification.
Defending Mr. Trump cannot be done simply by attacking the policies of Barack Obama, or those that Hillary Clinton might have advocated. He cannot be defended by simply bashing the press. This situation has nothing to do with them, it only has to do with someone in whom we will all have to (at least to some degree), and want, to trust. Our freedom of the press is one thing that helps the American people to believe that we have something on which we can rely to ask probing questions. I certainly hope we will not have another Richard Nixon in office, nor a Richard Nixon type scandal.
The President is someone we all will need to act wisely and faithfully in America’s interest and not his own. Mr. Trump is, at this point, leaving us with lots of questions that come from an ambiguity which he has created, that leads to fear, and will create not only continued disunity but increasing cynicism. Again, this has nothing to do with his political opponents, nor about changing the election. It only has to do with him and the leadership that he is not giving at the moment. I hope you will join me in praying for him, and our collective future. My hope for that however lies with the God in whom I do trust.