One of the reasons the American electorate seems so angry and out of sorts is that time and again we witness politicians who break promises and seem to have no core values. That is, they declare a set of values and then proceed to violate them.
(One exception might be Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, who seems so remarkably consistent that he's unwilling to change his beliefs about the benefits of sweeping tax cuts despite a bombardment of evidence that what he called an "experiment" in economic management has failed miserably. He's dead wrong -- foolishly and recklessly so -- but at least he's consistent, though that's no virtue in his case.)
A different story is Rep. Paul Ryan, speaker of the U.S. House. He has just proven himself to have the political morals and principles of a vacuum cleaner. And he's contributing further to the lack of trust Americans have in politicians.
I'm far from the only one saying that. Columnist Kathleen Parker (pictured here) was in Kansas City the other evening for an American Public Square event and lambasted Ryan for his political spinelessness and the compromise of his principles.
When it came to deciding whether to back Trump, Parker said, "Paul Ryan did not do what I hoped he would." She said she wanted him to tell the public that "I have thought long and hard about this, I have prayed, I have spoken to my family, to my close friends and I am here today to tell you that I cannot support Donald Trump. And the reason I can't is that it would betray everything I believe in. It would betray my children and everything I've taught them. It would betray my faith, which calls for compassion and empathy and understanding. And (so) today I'm going to surrender my position as Speaker of the House. . ."
But, of course, Ryan did nothing of the sort. Instead, he endorsed Trump, however reluctantly. He thus offered one more terrible example of a politician betraying his values.
So later in the week, when Ryan criticized Trump for Trump's attacks on a federal judge because of his Mexican background, Ryan's words had almost zero credibility, given that Ryan already have given away the moral high ground.
Another sad aspect of this is that once the Republican Party finishes destroying itself this election year -- and its demise in its current form is all but assured -- Ryan could have been a morally credible leader to recreate a new national party, perhaps similar to the way the GOP was birthed out of the collapse of the Whigs in Abe Lincoln's time. But now Ryan has thrown away that chance.
I'm not, by the way, making the argument that the Democrats have a presidential candidate without stain. Not at all. In fact, both Trump and Hillary Clinton have historically high negative ratings in polls that measure how voters feel about them. And many voters may decide either not to vote at all or to vote for a minor-party candidate, which, of course, will simply assure Clinton's victory.
But imagine how the American public might have reacted had Ryan done the right thing about Trump and stood by his values. Well, no doubt I'm being optimistic. After all, despite the many terrible things Trump has said in this interminable campaign, he still has a lot of support among those same Americans. Sigh.
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TRUMP AS A 'MUSCULAR CHRISTIAN'?
How is Donald Trump like the late advertising executive Bruce Barton? Let this Atlantic piece count the ways as it also describes what Trump thinks of Jesus. You know, Jesus, the muscleman of God.