My Spiritual Journey with Donald Trump

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Donald Trump is not my spiritual adviser, but I find myself on an enlightening journey with the man.

From the beginning, Trump hasn’t exactly acted like a statesman. In fact, he makes Ferris Bueller look like John Foster Dulles. But then, he beat my guy fair and square. So unlike the Republican establishment, I got behind him.

My doubts grew as I learned more. The disclosure of his shabby words about women was the last of a whole bale of ugly straws, and it finally broke me.

Initially, it felt good to break with Trump. He’s just not a gentleman, I sniffed. I’m better than him, I boasted to myself.

Moral sanctimony is a buzz, and it’s addictive. I was not just high on my horse; I was just plain high.

But I thought more about it. I talked with friends I’ve made in other journeys, with professional women and with religious people. I even prayed a little, which for me is praying a lot.

I realized that my feel-good trip was exactly the repulsive feel-good that I’d seen earlier in the Republican establishment. It was a pose. It was self-bestowed. It was a cheap grace.

Yes, Trump is crude. I never want to be with him in a locker room or anywhere else. He’s deeply flawed.

But so am I. As a deeply flawed man myself, I don’t have the moral authority to judge Trump as a man. I can only judge him as a potential president, and in that I can only judge him in comparison with the other candidate.

That would be Hillary Clinton. Remember her? Assisted by countless establishment lackeys pleading the Fifth (the most recent being a State Department employee who did so 90 times last week alone) she’s the person who did for emails what her husband did for cigars — made them disappear.

WikiLeaks found a few thousand of those emails (but still no cigar). In one, her staff suggested using “brown and women pundits” to lobby newspapers for more favorable coverage.

Another is about her cozy encounter with Wall Street bankers who paid her $220,000 for the ostensible purpose of hearing her talk for an hour. That alone is not news. It’s well known that she and her husband monetized the public trust to the tune of $100 million with “pay-for-play” schemes thinly disguised as speeches.

(In the old days, before political correctness taught us to use words that disguise rather than describe, we called such arrangements bribery.)

But in this speech, she went further. She reassured the bankers that she has two different policy positions — a “public position” and a “private position.” Smart bankers can connect the dots. They saw that Hillary’s public bashing of them was a sham so long as they keep the protection money flowing.

When Hillary’s duplicity came up in a debate, she compared herself to Abraham Lincoln. It reminded me of the 1988 vice president debate when a young Dan Quayle compared himself to a young John F. Kennedy. His opponent, a senior white-haired senator named Lloyd Bentsen, retorted, “You’re no Jack Kennedy.”

Well, Hillary, you’re no Abe Lincoln. Lincoln didn’t enrich himself with phony speeches to favor-seeking bankers; he enriched America with a speech about a nation “for the people.” Lincoln united Americans; Hillary deliberately divides them. Lincoln gave his life to saving the country; Hillary devotes her life to looting it.

Hillary and her homebrew email server containing classified information is now the subject of a reopened FBI investigation. Hillary is making history but not in the way she advertised. She’ll be the first candidate for president under an active FBI investigation at the time of the election.

After the debate, Hillary announced in an interview that she’s “the last thing standing between you and the apocalypse.” But maybe not for Trump’s “basket of deplorables” that she’s judged to be “irredeemable.” For them, Hillary has evidently decided, it’ll be fire and brimstone. And IRS audits.

I’m not sure about the apocalypse, but “irredeemable” is not part of my religion. (Other leaked emails suggest that she views some denominations as better than others; maybe mine is one of the bad ones.) In my religion, humans are deeply flawed but every soul is redeemable. The only authority in this universe to judge otherwise is God.

Hillary, you’re no God.

I believe Hillary’s soul is redeemable even if she judges that mine is not. But until the day of her redemption, she’s shown that she wants to lie to us, judge us, loot us, divide us and rule us.

By voting against the rudeness called Trump, we could bestow a cheap little grace on ourselves. But the price paid by the nation — a president who thinks she’s a queen — is too high.

I won’t ask the country to pay that exorbitant price for my cheap grace.

(Published Oct. 30, 2016 in the Aspen Times at

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