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Michael Harvey
Rabbi | Advocate | Educator

Trumpism is our own worst enemy

There is an old Native American parable, that goes like this:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

For the last 4 years, millions of Americans  have been feeding the wolf of anger, hatred, arrogance, sociopathy, narcissism, ignorance, fundamentalism, superiority, and ego.  It is because for over four years they have learned to worship the embodiment of those feelings, Donald J. Trump.  Donald Trump was born into wealth, into great privilege.  Psychologists have described him as “sky-high extroversion combined with off-the-chart low agreeableness,” and someone with low agreeableness leads them to be, “callous, rude, arrogant, and lacking in empathy.”  Trump is the embodiment of these characteristics.  He is absolutely a bully, calling people “dogs,” “disgusting,” “losers,” mocking the handicapped, stating he’d  like to “punch [people] in the face,” remarking that Megyn Kelly of Fox News had “blood coming out of her wherever.”   One defining story of Trump’s characteristics is when he told a journalist that “celebrities and rich people ‘all come over’ to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s exclusive Palm Beach estate. ‘They all eat, they all love me, they all kiss my ass. And then they all leave and say, ‘Isn’t he horrible.’ But I’m the king.'”

These characteristics, plus Trump’s charisma, led to a following of cult-like proportions.   But why?   Trump  is horrible, has always been horrible, and continues to prove over and over again that he is horrible.    What led low-income to wealthy Americans, and atheists to Evangelicals, flock to his rallies and vote for him even after it was proven he had cheated them, over and over again?

It is because, while before Trump and his narcissism was known only in business circles, where he further enriched himself by stepping on the backs of workers and tax evasion, when he became President of the United States this personality came out into the open and thus, in  a way, became acceptable.  Americans saw that a man that had bought his way into fame, squandered his wealth, accepted zero accountability, and insulted everyone around him, was able to reach the highest office in our great land.  The overall thought of Trump supporters was not, “how wrong this is!” but rather, “if he can be like that and successful, maybe if I’m like that, I’ll be successful.”  Long before his election, Trump supporters began to imitate their leader, tweeting insults, openly making racist, sexist, homophobic, and inappropriate comments, looking down upon those that disagree, and thinking they are the best most privileged people in the world.

Trump brought out the very worst of humanity in America, and made it something to aspire to.  They called him a king, they likened him to the messiah, they called him a lion of strength, all while he cheated on his taxes, paid off porn-stars, committed impeachable offenses, destroyed the decorum of the office of President, and turned his back on any dissenters.

And while Trump was voted out of office, the lasting effect of his reign still remains as a plague within this country.  There are those, even in the Jewish community, who would openly trade a safe diaspora for moneys to Israel, gladly exchange democracy with checks and  balances for tyranny under a king they feel will keep them safe.   When Trump supporters are challenged, they immediately go to insults, just as their leader would.  “Marxist,” “communist,” “socialist,” “libtard,” they call out.  Openly claiming “liberalism is a mental disorder,” and that those that wish to create an equal and just world “hate capitalism” and “hate America.”  When their leader was beaten in the polls, they followed the path of his narcissism, the inability to accept defeat, crying “lies” and “cheating!”

Trumpism brings  out the absolute  worst of who we are.  It should not be praised (nor should he).  The ends never justify such  disgusting means.  “Hate stirs strife, and love covers all crimes” (Prov 10:12).   He has cheated millions of  people out of their savings, made them believe that they can achieve what he achieved (despite inheriting millions), and he has told them that money is king while admitting “money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score.”

Trump is gone, but Trumpism still lives, and an entire generation must be converted out of this cult which not only allowed them to be their worst selves, but praised them for it.  What could be less American than a Trump supporter?

About the Author
Michael E. Harvey is a Reform Rabbi, ordained by the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in 2015. After leading multiple congregations across the United States, Mike proudly served as a hospital chaplain at IU Health during the height of COVID-19. Mike is passionate about social justice, interfaith cooperation, and bringing deep Jewish learning to the lay public. He has followed these passions in serving his communities, including founding and directing interfaith councils and sitting on multiple boards, locally and nationally. In 2022, Mike wrote and published his first book, Let’s Talk: A Rabbi Speaks to Christians, which became an Amazon Bestseller. Mike's current projects include finishing his second book, and completing his doctorate degree at Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning and Leadership. His new book "From the Gospels to the Gas Chambers: How Christian Scripture Inspires a Pattern of Genocide" is in production and is in need of a publisher.
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