Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue

I’m not into horror movies. Just ask the friends who endlessly try to convince me to watch the films–I avoid scary movies like the plague. But these horror-loving friends ought to be more than proud of me right now: I’m in the midst of a horror film and am actually somewhat enjoying it. Although I am mildly terrified, about 300 million other people are watching the film with me. Its title? “Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue.” Or, as it is more commonly known, the 2016 Presidential Election.

The rhetoric and news propaganda is endless. The caucuses and primaries began about a month ago in Iowa with 16 candidates in total; just a month later and we’re already down to 6. Personally, I expect another dropout (or two) to come soon, but that’s another story for another day. Since the field is narrowing, I think it’s time to address a contentious topic: the elephant in the room.

If you know political symbols, then maybe you’ve already guessed it… yes, I’m talking about a Republican in the political “room”. A certain Republican who announced his candidacy for the presidency on June 16, 2015. A candidate who doesn’t fit the typical political mold; someone who answers to not one, not two, but zero pundits; and a man that also owns seven golden towers. Yes, I’m talking about Donald Trump.

I’ve wanted to write a blog post about Donald Trump for a long time. In less than five months, I’ll be heading off to college to study Political Science or some variation of a political major. I love political theory, public policy, and election science… I find it important and interesting. But not only have I wanted to write a blog post about this certain “elephant” because of my political interest, but also my interest in following Jesus and honestly even my human interest. I invite you to consider some of Trump’s policies and characteristics with me. If you love horror films, you’re in for a treat. Some of these policies are downright terrifying.

Before we consider the policies, I want to share two of my favorite Bible verses: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” -1 Corinthians 4-5. When I read these verses and am considering them with this political season in mind, I can’t help but wonder why anyone, but Christian Americans specifically, are rallying behind Trump. The aforementioned characteristics are not descriptors of this candidate and what he stands for whatsoever. Here’s why:

  1. A proposed ban on ALL Muslims entering the United States. In my eyes, this policy is just shameful. Not only is it racist and divisive, but it wouldn’t even succeed in what it’s intended for. The purpose of this ban is to deter terrorist threats, but the Global Research Center reported in November 2015 that of the 180,000 Americans murdered in terrorist acts since 9/11, less than 1% of those deaths were caused by Islamic extremism. White American supremacists kill more people in the U.S. than extremist Muslims. Sure ISIS is a real threat, but they feed off of rhetoric like “muslim bans.” Terrorism is usually fueled by a lack of belonging. Sometimes it can come from other places (lack of food and terrorists promise food, etc) or maybe a terrorist truly wants to cause Americans harm. But if we’re looking to stop the horrible violence or even the threat of violence against United States citizens, creating a scapegoat out of an entire group of people who are also entitled to religious freedom is most certainly not the answer.
  2. Killing the families of terrorists. The thought of this coming out of an actual contender for the presidency’s mouth is frightening. If you don’t believe that Trump actually said this, please watch the video here. As someone who strives to love others unconditionally, this battle tactic is unfathomable to me. There surely are families of terrorists who are mourning for the loss of their son or daughter to this horrible cause. Maybe they’re poor and are trying to make ends meet, and the reason their child left to fight was because the terrorists promised them an end to their hunger. Now the parents feel guilty and ashamed because their child wouldn’t have left if they had been able to keep food on the table. Honestly there are so many variables here, which is why killing innocent families is not the answer. Personally, I just think it’s human decency not to kill innocent lives. Again, ISIS is a real threat, but there are better policy plans out there than killing innocent families.
  3. The creation of a wall between the U.S. and Mexico–that Mexico pays for. Something that I’ve learned in my seventeen years of life thus far is that building a wall around problems never works. Creating divisions between people and trying to box them out results in more harm, and it’s usually the person creating the wall that gets hurt the most. I think this emotional example is a great metaphor for what would happen if this wall was actually built. Yes, immigration reform has been a longstanding issue and there hasn’t been much Congressional resolve to fix it. While I understand that there should be a process for legal immigration, I also understand that many citizens from across the globe need the solace that our American soil has to offer. While the American dream certainly is glamorized, the U.S. really is a darn good place to live for the majority of people. I think we should welcome immigrants with open arms while still making sure they engage quickly and efficiently in the legal processes to become citizens. What kind of message would it send for us to build a wall around our problems? The United States has been known for tearing down walls (Berlin Wall, anyone?) and breaking down barriers. Let’s not turn back the clocks and rebuild the barriers that we’ve worked so hard to get rid of. (PS: Many of Trump’s towers were created using the labor of illegal immigrants. I smell hypocrisy here.)

Although these policies are more well-known, they were the best ones to comment on since they are the most clear. Trump seems to morph into Hillary Clinton on other issues as he gives vague or contradictory statements about his beliefs. He’s supported more funding for Planned Parenthood while also slamming abortion, advocated for tighter control on weapons while praising the 2nd Amendment, and so on. The confusion in Trump’s rhetoric is rampant.

As citizens rally behind their candidates in light of the Missouri primaries this coming Tuesday, I hope you find it in your heart to tear down walls and welcome everyone into your life. After learning more about Trump and his policies, one thing becomes clear: his campaign lacks a whole lot of love. His policies and his supporters are fueled by hate. His rhetoric is divisive. I believe that love changes everything, so we should fill the world with it. Only a love for others can end this national nightmare.

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