Catholics need to take a hard look at Trump's rhetoric

This article appears in the Election 2016 feature series. View the full series.

How does one assess the Donald Trump candidacy?

The Baltimore Sun is pretty clear what its feelings are about the candidacy of Donald Trump for president of the United States: the "unimaginable" has happened, a "pitchman, huckster, insufferable narcissist and celebrity billionaire" is poised to be the nominee.

What I find myself wondering is whether all the things Trump said during the primary campaign still matter. Can he just move on?

I am reminded of the Hebrew notion of words having meaning. God created the universe by speaking a word. Once a word is uttered it cannot be taken back. Knowing one's name gives you power over that person. The words you speak, matter.

I don't think Trump should be able to get away with claiming now that what he said was just entertainment, or that he was just doing what he needed to do to win the primaries. Donald Trump needs to be held accountable for his endless insults, for his plan to prevent Muslims from entering the United States, for his plan to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, and for his suggestion to kill family members of terrorists. None of these ideas or his resorting to bullying when challenged represents a rational approach to governance. Any attempt he might make to pivot to the middle requires constant reminders of the primary campaign he has run.

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On the other hand it seems unlikely that Trump could or would move in that direction. He seems to believe that he can really do or say anything and still get the votes of a majority of people. Although it is not mentioned in the Sun editorial, he did say he could step out on Fifth Avenue in New York, shoot someone, and he would not lose votes.

David Zurawik, a television critic for the Baltimore Sun talks about how the media is complicit in creating the Trump phenomenon. It is impossible to watch a news show or a cable political newscast without seeing how dominant the Donald Trump coverage is. Surely there is a responsibility to vet his statements and hold him more accountable. He should not be allowed to control the media in the way Zurawik demonstrates that he has.

Finally, it is interesting to take a look at the perspective of one Republican who has found himself forced to consider voting for Hillary Clinton. While I haven't been a Republican in many years, it is difficult to see how Donald Trump represents the basic principles and values of Republicanism or conservatism as exemplified by perhaps Paul Ryan. Many Republicans are going to have to ask themselves some serious questions about what they intend to do about the current leader of their party.

Christians and Catholics also need to take a hard look at everything Donald Trump has had to say up till now. Does his platform represent something Christians can find congruent with the Gospel? Does his approach to governance meet the minimum standard for an ethical and moral leader of our country?


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