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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

If America doesn't keep politics in perspective, it doesn't have a prayer

Mike Kinman, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, said his church won't pay for President Trump by name to avoid triggering "trauma" in worshipers fearful of the nation's new leader. (You Tube screen grab) <br />
Mike Kinman, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, said his church won't pay for President Trump by name to avoid triggering "trauma" in worshipers fearful of the nation's new leader. (You Tube screen grab)
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Friday, January 20, 2017 09:01 pm
If you're reading this, the nation has somehow survived its first day of leadership under our new president who, contrary to the scenario laid out by CNN, was not assassinated before taking the oath of office Friday. And so, at church Sunday morning, my pastor no doubt will pray for Donald Trump, as he regularly prayed for Barack Obama and George W. Bush before him. At All Saints Church Episcopal Church in Pasadena Cal., however, any prayers offered by Rector Mike Kinman will omit Trump's name to avoid mention of a president "whose name is literally a trauma trigger to some people — particularly women and people who, because of his words and actions, represents an active danger to health and safety . . . for some, it could be as if we demanded a battered woman pray for her abuser by name."

Ohio State University and other campuses, meanwhile, provided "safe spaces" for students during the inauguration, and singer James Taylor, perhaps inspired by former First Lady Michelle Obama's lament that Trump's election signaled the end of the very hope her husband represented, offered a pessimistic spin on his greatest hit by telling fans "it feels like it's raining all over the world."

What in the name of psychosis is going on here? To be sure, some of Trump's overheated and unfortunate campaign rhetoric invited trepidation, and was fueled by equally irresponsible opponents, such as when Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., last week compared Trump's plan for border security to the infamous Berlin wall which, unlike a secure border, was intended to keep citizens from leaving, not illegal immigrants from entering.

But the over-the-top terror, despair and anger being expressed by the left — before Trump had taken a single action as president — reflects something deeper than simple partisanship. It exposes the divide between people who view government as their savior and protector and those who see it as their servant.

To such people, Trump's 20-minute inauguration must have been frightening indeed, even though it would have seemed unremarkable and perhaps even mundane.

Gone was his predecessor's lofty but ultimately fatuous "citizen of the world" rhetoric. Trump unashamedly promised to put America first by transferring power from "all talk and no action" Washington elites and returning it to the people, where it belongs. He actually mentioned radical Islam by name and vowed to eradicate it, and promised to reform a government that will spend money and lives to protect other nations' borders but has been unwilling to defend its own.

To those who equate such talk with xenophobia and racism, Trump had a ready answer: "When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice . . . we all bleed the same red blood of patriotism."

There will come a time, probably very soon, when policy differences will justify a loyal opposition. But street demonstrations, inauguration boycotts and other purely symbolic and premature temper tantrums only reflect the lack of seriousness of those engaging in them. 

Conservatives hardly rejoiced when Obama took office eight years ago, but I recall no widespread protests, no calls for "safe spaces," no organized GOP boycotts. A few, including Trump himself, questioned Obama's country of birth, but the Tea Party came later. On the contrary, even most conservatives initially were inspired by the election of America's first black president and knew that the policy disagreements sure to come should be kept in perspective.

That is not some after-the-fact defense of Trump. Before Obama even won the Democratic nomination I wrote that I missed the days when "people actually trusted and respected their leaders and each other . . . Obama appeals to that ideal, especially among those not old enough to remember what it was like and how painful it was to lose."

After his election I (naively) hoped he could heal the nation's racial divide and suggested the resulting sense of unity, "encouraged by Obama himself, is a good thing perfectly consistent with conservative ideals. And after his election, I urged conservatives to remain upbeat and cautioned Obama supporters against excessive euphoria, because "happiness built on such flimsy, shifting soil (as politics) is easily washed away by the inevitable disappointments sure to come . . . Our Founders knew what we seem to have forgotten: What government does not give you, it cannot take away. No one can guarantee your happiness but you."

That's still true for Democrats and Republicans alike. Former President Obama, ironically, got it exactly right this week when he said, "I believe in this country . . . I  think we're going to be OK."  For now, Trump is promising to "make America great again," but if he and the GOP-controlled Congress fail to deliver, the inevitability of politics will reverse those emotions.

Without the childish histrionics, we can only pray.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Kevin Leininger at kleininger@news-sentinel.com or call him at 461-8355.


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