Defeat Trump but recognize the problems with Tim Kaine

First, it needs to be said that we cannot let Trump win.

That being said, as an elected PLEO Delegate to the Democratic National Convention, I owe a report back to the people even as I continue to process the events of the past couple weeks, so I’m offering this partial post-DNC analysis/reflection/report back as I’m still processing the events I was privileged to witness. We need to go in with our eyes wide open as to what we’re being asked to support and work for in this election cycle. The following is a tidbit of a longer message regarding Sec’y Clinton’s VP pick Sen. Tim Kaine that was sent by the Bernie Campaign to his Democratic National Convention Delegates last week.

Known as a “centrist” governor of Virginia, Kaine supported restrictions on abortion and angered environmentalists by fighting for a controversial coal-fired power plant in Wise County. He declared “I strongly support” Virginia’s anti-union “right-to-work” law and denigrated critics of corporate-friendly trade deals as having a “loser’s mentality.” He criticized Democrats in 2011 for seeking a higher tax rate on millionaires. In the U.S. Senate since 2013, he has consistently ranked as one of the least progressive Democrats and was one of only a dozen Democrats who supported Trans-Pacific Partnership Fast Track last year.

Instead of solidifying the power built by the people’s movement to support Bernie Sanders into a unified Democratic base by choosing a progressive running partner, Clinton has chosen to throw the people’s movement under the bus in favor of the possible chance of gaining some votes from disenchanted Republicans. I’m having trouble seeing the loyalty to our party’s platform by courting those who are opposed to it, and am afraid that she’s disrespected the movement and lost for the Democrats much more than we stand to gain.

So, Clinton and the DNCC are forcing us to support a Right-to-Work, anti-choice, anti-environmental, anti-tax on millionaires, pro-TPP Vice Presidential candidate and work for our own demise? Where’s the respect for working families, women, future generations, and the growing movement to fight for their issues? Asking workers to support a Right-to Work (actually it’s Right-to-Work-for-Less) candidate is like asking displaced workers to train their outsourced replacements who will do their jobs for less pay.

Right-to-Work is all about breaking working people’s power. What is our future if our power is taken from us? With the advent of union busting, the proliferation of Right-to-Work to 25 states now, and the diminishment of union density and working families’ power to fight for our fair share of the wealth we create, income disparity has reached modern historical highs not seen since the 1920’s, when industrial unions started building real worker power and created the middle class.

There are similar analogies for women, environmentalists, tax fairness and fair trade proponents, i.e. asking women to support someone who wants to restrict choice, or environmentalists to support someone who wants to expand use of fossil fuels. It appears the policies that Kaine supports are all about advancing a corporate agenda. And, I’m reminded that Clinton’s chief advisor (Bill) is also from a Right-to-Work state and started this whole free-trade fiasco that has cost so many American jobs, was a founder and leader of the conservative DLC, implemented so-called welfare reform that has crippled the most vulnerable families, and instituted conservative criminal justice reform that locked up so many disadvantaged and people of color into the prison-industrial complex and militarized our police forces.

Certainly, the platform contains some very good policy objectives that we all instinctively know need to be in it, but with no way to enforce the platform on electeds it’s just a lot of good words. It all boils down to trust in Hillary. But, as a member of the Walmart Board of Directors, what did she do to support their low-wage workers? What effect will the millions of dollars she received from the many closed door speeches she gave to the Wall Street elite (at $300,000+ per speech) have on reforming our financial system with more than token efforts? Is the Debbie Wasserman Schultz fiasco indicative that Clinton uses political favors to repay political abuses, gain political power, and squelch the people’s voice? Despite the good words in the platform, policy follows power and in this case, I fear it will follow the money and the conservatives she, Bill, the DNCC, and the DLC are catering to and dragging the Democratic party toward.

Wouldn’t it have been better political strategy to embrace the people’s movement rather than to power through an agenda that moves us to the right?

Many Trump followers are frustrated with the insecurity that the ongoing assault by corporations and power elite have imposed on their families, so they’ve gravitated to a demagogue who is saying what they want to hear regarding change, but is actually an embedded part of the problem.

The media will spin all this to make it easier for us to rationalize, but we’ll still know the truth. So, Clinton vs. Trump? I’m still processing, and healing from the top-down reaming at the DNC (Bernie Delegates were abused all week at the Convention, some physically), but I know I’ll make the best decision in the end that my conscience will allow.

Now, I have to re-read the first sentence of this article above. What a dilemma.

Jerry Falwell’s Endorsement of Trump Reveals Who He Worships—And It Ain’t Jesus

If believing oneself to be the Only Begotten Son of God makes one a follower of Jesus, then maybe Trump qualifies. Either way, Jerry Falwell has a truth problem.

On Tuesday, January 26, Jerry Falwell Jr., President of Liberty University, endorsed Donald Trump for President, saying that Trump is “a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again.” The endorsement is no surprise: Falwell had previously likened Trump to his own father and even to Jesus himself, saying “In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the Great Commandment.”

Is Trump a faithful follower of Jesus?

Set aside for the moment the fact that he’s biblically illiterate. That doesn’t necessarily disqualify him. In fact, research suggests that atheists typically perform better on tests of religious knowledge than Christians do. So, maybe the fact that Trump can’t name a favorite verse, can’t decide whether the Old Testament or New is more important, and doesn’t know how to pronounce 2 Corinthians, is just a way of establishing credibility among the faithful. Same reason he uses a 4th grade vocabulary. Clever guy, that Trump.

But let’s take a look at what Falwell said about the Great Commandment.

What is the Great Commandment?

Falwell’s effusive words reference a story from the book of Matthew. In it, the Pharisees, who are the religious authorities of the time, ask Jesus which is the greatest of all the commandments in the Torah. Levitical law recommends capital punishment for 30 different felonies, so some legitimate moral confusion could arise: Is sassing your parents really as bad sex before marriage, being a witch, or committing murder? And faced with an offense, what’s a decent person to do? In the words of the now-famous “Dr. Laura Letter,”

“I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?”

As I said, the long list of Levitical crimes and punishments can be confusing, but in Matthew’s story, the Pharisees are just trying to trick Jesus into saying one sin is worse than the rest so that they can show he’s a bad Jew. But Jesus slips the noose by answering that the whole of the Torah can be summed up in two principles: 1. Love God with all your heart; 2. Love your neighbor as yourself. The way you know you’re doing well on Commandment 1 is if you’re doing well on Commandment 2.

Love your neighbor as yourself? That’s a high bar for a guy whose narcissistic personality disorder is so florid that experts have broken the normal professional taboo against diagnosing a public figure. Clinical psychologist and professor George Simon told the press,

“He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics. Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”

Epic Fail

Ok, ok, so love your neighbor as yourself is a stratospherically-high bar for a narcissist, rather like a camel passing through the eye of a needle. Some would argue that it’s an impossible (or unhealthy) bar even for those of us without personality disorders. How about some of the other teachings that have made Jesus a figure of inspiration for the last 2000 years?

Jesus says blessed are the meek (Matthew 5:5). Trump boasts that he’s so popular that “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

Jesus advocates nonviolence (Matthew 5:39). Trump vows to use brute force against America’s enemies, and then take their assets to pay for the war. “To the victor belong the spoils.” He promises to strengthen the military so that it’s “so big and so strong and so great” that “nobody’s going to mess with us.” At Liberty University, he championed gun ownership, telling Christian college students, “We’ve got to have the right to protect ourselves.”

Jesus says not to call other people names (Matthew 5:22). Trump has made headlines with his public insults of (among others)  Fox reporter Megan Kelly, disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski, competing presidential candidates, and the people of Iowa.

Jesus says give all your money to the poor and come follow me (Luke 18:22). Trump’s tax returns show him to be one of America’s least charitable billionaires, “a miser, not an ‘ardent philanthropist’.”

Jesus spends his time among the poor, living as one of them (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). Trump’s opulent Manhattan penthouse and Palm Beach estate rival the quarters of Marie Antoinette.

Jesus heals the sick (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). Trump vows to take away an insurance program that has made healthcare accessible to 10 million Americans.

Jesus welcomes the downtrodden. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).  Trump envisions an “artistically beautiful” wall of steel rebar and hardened concrete along the southern border of the United States. “I will build a great wall—and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me—and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”

Jesus says not to shirk taxes, even if you don’t agree with the government (Mark 12:13-17). While promising to repair America’s crumbling infrastructure, Trump pledges to cut taxes for wealthy individuals and corporations.

Jesus heals a woman who practices a despised minority religion, affirming her faith (Matthew 15:21-28). Trump intends to create a database of Muslims in America and suspend further immigration.

Jesus teaches that sometimes a “Samaritan,” a member of a despised minority, can show us how to live and love better (Luke 10:25-37). Trump proposes halting immigration from war-torn Syria and shipping 11 million Latin Americans back to the countries they came from.

Jesus willingly endures the criticism of his detractors (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Offended at being asked hard, critical questions by conservative Fox journalist Megan Kelly, Trump announced he would refuse to participate in any debate where she was a moderator.

Falwell might have gotten away with likening Trump to Jehovah–the petty, racist, sexist, war-mongering, temper-tantruming God of the Old Testament who seeks constant adoration. But Jesus is a different character.  If believing oneself the Only Begotten Son of God makes one a follower of Jesus, then maybe Trump qualifies. Otherwise, the two have as little in common as Napoleon and Gandhi.

Either way, Jerry Falwell has a serious truthiness issue—which in biblical terms raises questions about who he really worships. In the Bible, one of the core attributes of God is truth, while Satan is described as the Father of Lies—one who can even appear as a divine messenger.

Needless to say, a liar, whether human or supernatural, can appear as a divine messenger only to those who believe in such things. Perhaps that is why few people other than conservative Christians have been swayed by Falwell’s adoration of a man who so obviously is Not Like Jesus.

If Liberty University students are paying attention, Falwell’s endorsement of Trump may help some of them realize why so many former Bible believers now stand on the outside, refusing to take our guidance from self-proclaimed messengers of God and instead assessing presidential candidates and university presidents alike through the lens of our own reason and conscience.

Originally published at ValerieTarico.com