The Undoing Of America
Trump is president-elect of the United States and like all seismic shocks, the actual aftermath is more disturbing than the event itself. Rioting in the streets, predictions of doom and gloom, and in some quarters, a quiet conviction that the devil himself has inherited the earth.
Others see Trump as a saviour. Rabbi Mendel Kessin for instance has likened Trump to a ‘Messiah-like figure’ who, when suitably cleansed and reformed, (presumably by his high office) will show himself sent by God to save the Jews at the end of days.
On the other hand, Rabbi Daniel Zemel, at the Temple of Micah in Washington was visibly upset by the election. He bewailed the Trump victory as a disaster for Jews, likening it to Tisha b’Av, the traditional Jewish day of mourning. Rabbi Zemel attempted to comfort his listeners by telling his congregation, ‘We sit shiva now but we will not stay in shiva, we will return to life. We know this. We know this because we have been here before, yes, we have been here before,’ and ‘we have known every possible defeat, yet we rise.’
Such troubled and troubling responses are hardly surprising. Trump’s victory, bringing with it the threat of racism, sexism, bigotry and division is a tragedy for at least half of those who got out and voted. The question is, how much of his campaign diatribe was pure bluster, a strategic shock tactic to win over the blue-collar voters in electoral-college rich states?
Trump certainly is a maverick but he is cunning enough to realise that hateful rhetoric won’t get him far in Washington. In 60 minutes, for instance, he back-pedalled on key campaign pledges and directly appealed to his supporters to stop harassing minorities, though he was more concerned with the rioters who were demonstrating against Trump.
It turns out that Trump may not be able to build a wall across the entire border with Mexico after all, some of it may be fencing. His stance on deportation has wavered too. In contrast to the eleven million undocumented migrants he spoke of during the campaign, Trump now talks about deporting an estimated three million illegal immigrants with criminal records – a significant reduction.
Most striking of all is Trump’s turnabout concerning Hillary Clinton. Who can forget the venomous campaign pledge to prosecute Clinton for her alleged crimes against the government? Or the chants at Trump rallies of ‘Lock her up,’ reminiscent of medieval witch hunts?
When challenged by Lesley Stahl, Trump softened his approach, saying that the Clintons are ‘good people’ and that he didn’t want to hurt them. Trump comes across as magnanimous in victory but is this another sop to the listening public?
Whichever, Trump’s raised awareness is a relief, as is his willingness to shift his hard stance. Nevertheless, the campaign pledge – real or not – to employ a special prosecutor to indict Hillary Clinton has unleashed a nasty strain of vengefulness in America.
One of the most conscientious anti-Hilary campaigners was ex-NYC Mayor, Rudy Giuliani. Recently, appearing on Fox TV, Giuliani told presenter Sean Hannity that the Justice Department could overrule FBI Director Comey’s decision and that Clinton may well wind up in court. He pointed out that the investigations into the Clinton Foundation, involving both Bill and Hillary Clinton, are ongoing and that there should be equal justice under the law. Yet he was equally adamant that Obama has the power to pardon Clinton, if he so wishes.
Surprisingly then, Giuliani is less fervent about prosecuting Clinton than on the campaign trail, and certainly not as fervidly anxious for Clinton’s head on a plate as Hannity. But the issue has gone far beyond Giuliani, Hannity and Co.
These days, Hillary has dropped her power-in-a-pantsuit look, sporting a more unvarnished, somewhat traumatised post-election appearance.
She has every reason to be afraid. To her enemies in Washington, including members of the FBI, Clinton is a clear and distinct target.
Recently WND reported that:
A congressional investigation under the incoming Trump administration could raise additional evidence against Clinton or against one of her close aides at the State Department, including Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, that might induce a new FBI director to convene a grand jury.
Despite the continued questions about Clinton’s guilt or innocence, there is a sense of angst, even amongst arch-conservatives, about a potentially vindictive prosecution against the former Secretary of State.
In part, this has to do with her legacy. Hillary Clinton served thirty years in government and in that time accomplished a number of worthy aims, including securing 21 billion pounds for the World Trade Centre redevelopment. She also was instrumental in creating the United States’ healthcare coverage for children. Yet she was a hawkish senator, and an aggressive Secretary of State, (as senator she blindly voted for the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan).
Then, during her campaign, she advocated for minorities, for women, for LGBT and the economically deprived, espousing higher taxes on the uber wealthy, the very oligarchy of which she was a part. Were these legitimate political aims or was she cloaking herself with Bernie Sanders’ socially progressive agenda for the purpose of winning over the electorate? Or was she, in part, politically and ethically transformed by her own campaign?
Whatever the case may be, there is something horrifying about the pandora’s box of media and political avengers out to destroy Clinton. In such a scenario, Rabbi Zemel’s fear is justified. He has every right to be perturbed, as does any American who embraces American/Jewish/Christian values of tolerance, patience, forgiveness, kindness and love. How many patriotic Americans are willing to stand up and proclaim, ‘This is not my America.’
Yes, Giuliani was right to point out that there should be equal justice under the law and that therefore if (eventually) Clinton is charged with a crime, then she ought to be arraigned like any other American citizen. However, given the mob-like braying for Clinton’s head, there is now another vital issue at stake. America’s spiritual survival.
The Clintons may have been ruthless in placing personal ambition before public duty, and who knows, the rumours abounding about their private lives may or may not be true, but this is no longer about the Clintons, it’s about the future of American society.
Jesse Jackson has urged Obama to pardon Clinton, thus saving her from a potential prison sentence of up to ten years. (So far, Obama has shown no interest). Jackson said the prosecution would be ‘a monumental moral mistake’, though many would disagree. Is it not hypocritical to let a high official off the hook when ordinary mortals face imprisonment for much lesser charges? Bear in mind Clinton hasn’t been charged yet. But the public flaying of Clinton (which is what her indictment would amount to) would shift the moral and political tone of America in a dangerous direction. Trump’s rhetoric will have succeeded in creating a vicious, celebrity TV culture of reward and punishment, writ large. Clinton’s destiny will be decided as if she were a game show contestant.
Clinton’s ‘punishment’ is already upon her, i.e., humiliating defeat, expulsion from a cherished political life, the diminishment of her legacy, and the wounds inflicted by one of the harshest presidential campaigns in history. Americans should shy away from the urge to decapitate a controversial public figure. It will serve no end other than brutalise a society whose core values are already under siege. America is a nation beset by internal turmoil. If the nation submits to the impulse for public revenge, its undoing won’t be at the hands of ISIS or any other terrorist group, but at its own hands, aided and abetted by the media.