In the part of Brazil where I live, it doesn’t take long for people to figure out that I’m not Brazilian. In the olden days of yore (roughly six months ago), the first question that followed the revelation of my American nationality would be something like “What part of the US are you from?”, “How many times have you been to Disney?”, “Have you ever met Michael Jordan?” or some other similarly innocuous question.
All that has changed however. Now, almost everybody who learns I am a gringo immediately asks “So who do you think won the election?”
As it turns out, I have some thoughts about that.
The Lying Leviathan
In his masterful work Ideas Have Consequences, Richard M. Weaver refers to the media of his time – radio, newspapers, and Hollywood – as “the Great Stereopticon”. Since then – with the addition of television, the internet, social media, and cable news – this communication conglomerate has morphed into such a powerful beast of truly biblical proportions that it seems to me to have outgrown that moniker. The only word I can think of to describe it is “Leviathan”.
Leviathan has become a sophisticated purveyor of information and weaver of narratives. The way we think is influenced by Leviathan in a thousand ways every single day, usually without our knowledge.
And Leviathan lies. Ever since I came of political age (the Reagan administration, for the curious), I have watched Leviathan promote a specific set of narratives designed to advance certain ideologies, all the while presenting certain groups of people as villains while promoting the supposed virtues of other groups.
One of the more obvious “evil organizations” has been the Republican Party. I’m old enough to remember when Bush 41 was a wimp, until he was a murderous warmonger. I watched Leviathan shamelessly promote the Clinton candidacy, and cooperate to downplay his moral “indiscretions”. I remember how Bush 43 was “literally Hitler”, until he wasn’t anymore because Trump has apparently ascended to the erstwhile Fuehrer’s throne. Indeed, one of the easiest predictions to make is that the current “at least Bush never” think pieces will be recycled to read “at least Trump never” when the next Republican candidate for president is chosen. And of course let’s not forget how both McCain and Romney were racist and misogynists (remember the field day everybody had with “binders full of women”?) until they suddenly weren’t anymore.
But the lies go deeper than just a preference for one political party over another. Ever since they graduated from the Humanities departments of American universities in the ’60s, today’s journalists, entertainers and film directors have been actively peddling to us the brand of relativism that they learned in those hallowed halls. Truth is not absolute, rather it can be manipulated, must be manipulated, to serve a narrative that will bring the desired political outcome. Hence, every father is Homer Simpson, every Christian is a bigot, and every traditional family a microcosm of Handmaid’s Tale.
“Only the Sith deal in absolutes!” Obi-Wan screams to Anakin. And society believes him, to the point where men are women, murder is choice, tolerance is bigotry, good is evil.
Enter Donald Trump
Donald Trump is the creation of postmodern relativism. The apex of “narrative packaged as truth”, the very pinnacle of relativistic cynicism, is a genre of television that involves a group of “normal” people who participate in highly scripted narratives, which are then peddled to a credulous public as “Reality TV”. On the set of “The Apprentice”, Mr. Trump mastered the art of twisting the truth to serve the narrative.
Then he weaponized it and turned it against its creators.
To say Trump lies is to do him a grave disservice. He has a complete, breathtaking, purposeful disregard for truth. I say “purposeful” because I have come to believe that it is no accident. He deliberately lies in order to expose the lies of Leviathan.
In the 2016 I watched him say he never said things he was recorded as saying. I saw him make the most outlandish accusations without blinking an eye. But the moment I will never ever forget was shortly after the inauguration, when a Trump spokesperson was being interviewed about false statement made by Trump’s press secretary. The spokesperson instead referred to the press secretary’s words as “alternative facts”. The outrage of Leviathan to this term was the outrage of a slanderer who finds himself being slandered.
This also helps explain, I believe, Trump’s popularity among certain segments of society. People who had long been the brunt of Leviathan’s lies found someone who was able to flip the script, change the narrative, lie to the liars. And it felt good.
So…who won the election?
I really don’t know. Leviathan desperately wants us to believe it was Biden. But I don’t believe Leviathan. They have been lying to me since before I was old enough to vote. They continue to lie to me, every single day.
It is possible, I suppose, that Biden – who seldom ventured out of his basement and who has difficulty putting together coherent sentences – got more votes than the charismatic, eloquent Obama. It could be that all of those last minute votes in swing states really did go to Biden. There is a chance that the reports of widespread voter fraud are simply crackpot conspiracy theories. But then again, it is Leviathan – the same Leviathan who has been lying to me and about me all these years – that is repeating these mantras ad-nausea. Simply put, I don’t believe them.
On the other side, Trump is very obviously pushing a narrative. I watched him do it in the 2016 primaries, where he contested almost every result that did not go his way, whether or not there was any particular truth to what he was saying. Given his track record, I’m not particularly inclined to believe him either.
So we have established that Trump lies, and Leviathan lies. If we could leave it at that, a Christian’s attitude would be relatively easy: “A pox upon both of their houses” and be done with it.
But this is 2020, so of course it’s not going to be that easy. For you see, Mr. Trump’s administration has been far and away one of the most effective ones in living memory in several areas that are of extreme importance to Bible-believing Christians. I need cite only one of them: abortion. He has taken more concrete steps to limit abortion than has any president I can remember, and that includes my hero Ronald Reagan.
The claim might be made that he is only doing that to solidify his bona-fides with the religious right, and that he doesn’t really care about abortion one way or another. That may be true. In fact, I think it probably is true. And yet, the same could be said of each of the Republican presidents who preceded him since the ’80s. They too would have wanted to shore up their evangelical base. Yet they didn’t. Why not?
Is Trump undermining our Constitutional Republic? A nation that by and large accepts a constitutional right to systematically dismember unborn babies has long since discarded any concern about the meaning of the Constitution. Trump may be accelerating the process, but he certainly did not begin it, nor will it end with a Democratic administration.
As I mentioned, abortion is but one of the many policy issues where biblical Christians and Trump align, but if it were the only issue, it should be enough. The policies of a Biden administration will bring about the slaughter of millions more of the innocent.
So as a believer, forced to choose between two liars, I have to say that I’m always going to come down on the side of the one who doesn’t kill babies. In the face of that irrefutable assertion, it’s hard to imagine a Christian saying “Yes but…” followed by anything even remotely consistent with Christianity.
The Real Narrative
Having said all of that, I think Leviathan is going to win this one. The shock of their 2016 defeat has caused them to focus all of their considerable resources to make sure it didn’t happen again. Barring the unforeseen (Kraken vs. Leviathan?), Biden will be taking the oath to uphold the Constitution (speaking of lies) this January.
And the fact that believers might despair at this probability is an indication that we have lost perspective. It points to the probability that many of us have put our hope in Trump, and not in Christ. We boarded the Trump Train, and are distraught that it might be coming to the station earlier than we had thought.
Worse, we, a people of the Truth, have been led to believe that lies might just as well serve our purposes. In a previous article I mentioned consequences for the American Church due to it’s perceived whole-hearted embrace of all things Trump. That right there, the part I put in bold face, that’s the biggie.
As my father put it recently: “Evangelical Christendom has eaten at Ahab’s table. How long, now, until it is forced to sleep in Jezebel’s bed?”
So, to tie everything together, as I said before, I will vote for the guy who will not be killing babies, every time. I must not, however, allow myself to believe that somehow I can defeat Leviathan by becoming him. As a Christian who believes what the Bible says about God (a redundancy, I know), I am obliged to remind myself that God’s sovereign purpose does not always follow (better yet, seldom follows) my script, or that of the Republican party. Ultimately, it is God’s narrative that will prevail.
Rest assured there will come a day when the evil conglomerate I have called “Leviathan” will be dealt with just as God will deal with all of His enemies – whose number sadly includes Donald Trump, should he end his life with no true repentance:
In that day the Lord with His severe sword, great and strong,
Will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent,
Leviathan that twisted serpent;
And He will slay the reptile that is in the sea.
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