I am heartbroken, but not surprised that this will be the legacy of the Trump presidency. I was saddened when he was elected, and I voiced several of those concerns on that day with the prayer and hope that I was wrong. I have prayed for him to grow into the role of President, to understand the magnitude of the responsibility he carried on his shoulders, that those around him would be able to give him good counsel that he may steward the responsibility of the office. Yet, throughout his four years in office he has maintained his belligerent tone when addressing the nation enhancing the polarization already present in our political discourse.
January 6 in the Christian calendar is Epiphany, the day when traditionally the magi arrive to honor the child Jesus after the revelation of his birth by a star. But the word epiphany can also mean:
3 a (1)A usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something
(2) an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking
(3) an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure
3b. a revealing scene or moment. From Miriam-Webster.com
This is, I believe, a revealing scene or moment in the life of our country and about the danger of continuing to allow there to be no consequences for those who have impeded the transition of power from President Trump to President Elect Biden. The narrative of election fraud which is spoken on media from new programs to talk shows to social media pages by public officials and those who are associated with them without demonstrated proof of that election fraud needs to stop. It may make for good fundraising or for good ‘entertainment’ which exploits peoples’ fears and anxieties but we need to state honestly that this is radicalizing a portion of our population in the same way that Islamic extremists have radicalized people to become terrorists. This is strong language and I own that, but when we look at the actions at the capital today it moves well beyond the boundaries of protest. The people who entered the capital building are at least rioters and at worst domestic terrorists.
It has been common to wrap religious language around our secular symbols: the flag becomes sacred when people feel that it is dishonored for example. If we want to use religious symbolism as a metaphor to talk about our national symbols, then we need to also be willing to state that what happened today was (to use the language of Daniel, Mark, Matthew, and Luke) a desolating sacrilege or blasphemy of the central symbols and actions of our democracy. The breaking into the capital building and the disruption of the certification of the election by a mob incited by a president in his last two weeks in office should be viewed as an attack on one of our three primary branches of government fulfilling its constitutional duty. The dishonoring and in some cases looting that went on in the capital building was a jarring symbol of disrespect towards the symbolic building and the government it represents.
I know that we have not seen the dying gasp of ‘Trumpism’ or of right-wing conspiracies, but I do believe that the United States is better than this. I hope this can be a revealing moment where we see the essential nature or meaning of what this type of politics and rhetoric leads to. For those who have lifted up Trump as the savior of Christianity, or in some cases using explicitly ‘messianic’ language, may we have the realization that what we have is a false Christ/messiah propped up by false prophets.
This should never have happened. This is the reason that in previous elections there is a concession speech, even in a contested election like the 2000 election which was decided at the supreme court Vice President Al Gore conceded so that the country could move on and president elect George W. Bush could begin transition and ultimately governing. I have always advocated that the words and actions of leaders have power and because they have power they should also bear consequences when they undermine the symbols, structures and ultimately the good of the nation they swear an oath to serve.