“Nice people made the best Nazis. My mom grew up next to them. They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly and focused on happier things than “politics.” They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away. You know who weren’t nice people? Resisters.”
— Naomi Shulman, freelance writer
It is increasingly obvious that the strategy of those in power is to overwhelm and fragment us. In such an environment we are made to feel small and powerless. In such a condition, those in power can undermine democracy, enhance the wealth and resources of the 1 percent, enact repressive measures on the populace, and rig elections through voter suppression and continual gerrymandering of congressional districts.
The real agenda of the Republican Party, of which Trump is merely a buffoonish and dangerous distraction whom the party itself will eventually help to impeach, is to roll back America to its pre-FDR form, a gilded age where business was unregulated and the wealthy were segregated from the rest of the riff-raff. The philosophy that drives this quest for autocratic power has as its patron the right-wing conservative factions within Christianity. These are not merely the ground troops but are also the political operatives that implement policies.
Although Trump’s Cabinet is full of right-wing Christians — Priebus, DeVos, Carson, Bannon, Flynn, Sessions, Pompeo to name just a few — perhaps the single person to keep an eye on is Vice President Mike Pence. His fingerprints will be all over the policies that drive this administration’s merging with right-wing Christian ideology. He is the fist inside the glove.
Right-wing Christians, led by media evangelists, have distorted the message of Jesus inside the majority of churches in this country for several decades. Christians are now trained to affirm a worldview that has at its heart a vehement opposition to abortion and any form of sexuality outside of a patriarchal heterosexual understanding of gender roles. They oppose government regulation of business, believe that unregulated markets are benevolent and see minimal value in wealth distribution or taxation for social services. This Christian worldview affirmed the use of torture, the death penalty, a robust and active military, a militarized domestic police force, and the belief that Israel and the United States are each uniquely favored by God. It has led to a strong suspicion of foreigners, refugees and people of religions other than the Judeo-Christian heritage. This worldview is suspicious of science and free thought, and has a bias toward authoritarianism and strict hierarchical roles in society.
But make no mistake. Trump himself is simply a useful idiot until his megalomania goes too far. But even with his removal the agenda will steamroll forward unless confronted with a more powerful force.
Rev. Rich Lang is the district superintendent of the United Methodist Church in King County. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.