I, like a lot of Americans, thought -- Trump is a joke, this will be fun to watch for a while, but once voting starts, he'll fade quickly. The American people know this job is too important to turn over to a narcissistic, rich-white-trash, foul-mouthed bully, who possesses no diplomatic skills, and who loves nothing more than the sound of his own voice. In a world where America's power rests in the respect accorded it by the rest of the world, no one will vote for someone who is already laughed at and disrespected by other foreign powers. New Hampshire was a fluke. Surely this will be over soon.
Then came yesterday in South Carolina. Raised a Christian, now an agnostic, I always knew, even if I could no longer stand in church and swear to believe the Apostle's Creed, that the Christian values on which I was raised were there, in the background, guiding what I said and how I thought. I could always depend on love thy neighbor, the story of the Good Samaritan, the Beatitudes to keep me safe. I have watched my country's myriad religions fracture over issues of sexuality and women's rights, especially over recent years; but, surely, goodness always triumphs. There will always be fringes who would have it otherwise, but they're just that, fringes, right?
Last night, I sat in front of my TV and thought, "It has come to this?" One frontrunner and two also-rans, each claiming to be Christian--from fundamentalist Ted Cruz, to Catholic/Mormon/Baptist Marco Rubio, to (he says) Presbyterian Donald Trump--each out to capture and seemingly appealing to a base of conservative, evangelical Christian voters.
Will someone please tell me: Where is the Christ in any one of these candidate's divisive, anti-gay, anti-women, anti-minority, anti-immigrant, anti-poor, anti-healthcare, anti-education, anti-science platforms, declarations that leave no room for polite discussion or compromise, that aim to demean any who dare disagree? I went to bed grieving for the religion of my youth and fearing for my country.
One thing I noted in all the reporting, was that voter exit polls seemed to indicate that these three, and in particular Mr. Trump, appeal overwhelmingly to those who do not have a college degree. Looks like the keep-'em-dumb, keep-'em-Republican pigeon has come home to roost.
The Republican establishment, with the exit of Jeb Bush from the primary race, is now completely at a loss over what to do. If they truly love this country as they claim to, the RNC will begin running ads in support of whichever Democratic candidate wins the nomination. Once a sane person is safely in charge of the U.S., the GOP can then spend the next four years rebuilding their brand--hopefully into a party that respects the American principles of diversity and inclusiveness, where education is be applauded, where the choice to worship as we see fit is a right, not a dictum, and where hate is no longer accepted as an American value.