Thank you, Mr. Trump!

Opinion: Columns

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By Kwame Salter

The truth will set you free. But first it will piss you off.

Gloria Steinem

As the presidency of Donald J. Trump unfolds, it is becoming increasingly obvious that we are in for more spectacle than substance. President Trump has been widely criticized, as well as lauded by many, for his unconventional approaches to politics and leadership. He is certainly unprecedented in how he comports himself as the POTUS. 

For the record, while I was once a card-carrying Reagan Republican, I am not a Trump supporter. Still, I believe God has allowed him to ascend to the highest office and most powerful position among leaders on this planet for a reason. Donald Trump is a bundle of contradictions. And it is only through contradictions that we learn. Without being faced with a contradiction, we are not challenged to exam our beliefs. President Trump's behavior presents contradictions to both critics and supporters.

Take, for example, the religious evangelicals [of all racial groups] who appreciate his ultra-conservative positions on right-to-life, gay rights and, in general, religious liberty. The 81% of white evangelicals who voted for Trump now find themselves wrestling with the contradiction of continued support for a man whose moral fiber is questionable and whose public statements ("I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters," and behavior, at times, seem downright anti-Christian. Each day, Donald Trump heightens the contradictions for evangelicals. He forces them to justify both in the minds and to the public why they continue to support him. 

Evangelicals are not the only ones who must reconcile their support of Trump with his public persona and bombastic pronouncements. Traditional political conservatives wring their hands and shake their heads as Trump's version of conservatism is conflated with theirs. As an example, these traditionalists are, in the main silent and stunned by his embrace of Russia's dictator-leader, Vladimir Putin. Additionally, Trump has ignored the long-venerated position of fiscal conservatism as he blithely adds to the national debt. These perplexed conservatives appear to accept the dismantling of their core values in exchange for marginal victories on global warming and the unwinding of government-funded social programs. Still, contradictions abound. Trump's intractable base of angry people is loath to abandon him or the newly christened 'Trump' Republican party. So traditional Republicans feel they must accept and pander to his base in hopes of getting re-elected. They are held hostage by the Trump base.

The most conflicted group who must deal with the Trump contradictions are white women. Over 60 percent of white women voted for him. Maybe domestic tranquility might explain their support. However, now they must grapple with the reality of his treatment of women. Daily, more and more information about Trump's view of women emerges with testimonials and tapes to back up claims of his tawdry treatment of women. 

Yet we hear some women blaming other women for having put themselves in the position to be disrespected by Trump. The complaining women are dismissed as "opportunists," women of questionable character or just plain liars. Basically, the female Trump supporters are saying "these women they got what they deserved." 

Trump's most ludicrous defense in one example was that the alleged victim was not attractive enough for him to assault. Apparently, Mr. Trump had a scale he used to determine what type of woman deserved his unwanted attention. As ridiculous as it sounds, this and other laughable defenses have been working for him.

So you might ask, why should we thank Donald J. Trump for entering the public space of politics as President? Well, simply put, he has made all Americans, examine what we believe are core values of this great country. Regardless of your political party affiliation or independence, President Trump has cut through the mealy-mouthed political correctness that had taken over the political and social dialogue in our country. Despite his double-talk, walk-backs, and, "alternative facts" defenses, he tells us what's on his mind now. 

He has flushed out and emboldened the deniers — holocaust, climate change, and supremacists. His brief tenure and a political base have proven that those of us who felt marginalized were not delusional. Racism, sexism, and militarism were not figments of our imagination — that they were real and potentially destructive to the American way. We now realize that to "Make America Great," we must guard against unbridled nationalism, ethnocentrism, sexism, and racism. For bringing the underbelly of hate and fear to the surface to be dealt with, I say, "Thank you, Mr. Trump!"

Kwame S. Salter is president of the Salter Consulting Group LLC.

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