Voter Fraud

In President Trump’s first couple of weeks in office, he targeted seven Muslim nations and insulted refugees, he castigated traditional allies and environmentalists alike, and he frothed at the mouth in situations that require global diplomatic insight.  He himself has little, if any.  Or perhaps he has other ideas, when it comes to getting what he wants or needs.  Why else would he loosen sanctions on Russia in the very moment when the situation in eastern Ukraine has deteriorated?

He’s been crowned king, but he’s a clumsy one so far.  His feckless tweet-politics embarrasses members of his own party.  He makes off-color remarks to women and encourages Holocaust deniers.  He transparently draws from a limited supply of favorite adjectives when referencing the “amazing job” Frederick Douglass has “done” at a Black History Month gathering.  He imperils public education.

Now he’s tampering with our independent judiciary.  What next?

Our electoral college has delivered us a fraud.  He’s a fraud, because he’s set the clock back to the insipid kings in folktales, whose susceptibility to urges and overheard murmurings made them change course in a heartbeat.

By decree, one after another, he’s transforming government from its role of providing for the safety of its citizens to one that gets its richest denizens what they want at everyone else’s expense.  Billionaires in the Cabinet will accomplish it smoothly.  Have you watched their dulcet-toned “What, who me?” rejoinders, when Democratic senators have attempted to get straight answers?  The story gets told the way it’s rehearsed.  Ignoramuses get their portfolios.

The Jewish community celebrates the holiday of Purim a month from now.  There’s a self-infatuated king who, back in the day, not only governed by edict, but was content to turn over a good deal of control to a dangerous guy:  “The King removed his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman.” (Esther 3:10)  According to Malbim, this had two effects.  The first was that it removed him from any direct culpability for potential violence, and the second was that it meant that someone with an ideological ax to grind could determine our fate.  

 Like our present-day celebrity, this ancient king is the butt of satirists.  We don costumes and act out a reversal of fates.  But even though his palace is a farcical scene, what makes us laugh and rouses us to “flip the script” is the will to subvert the order of the day.  As readers, we participate in active resistance and see to it that Haman implodes.  The king’s role is a lesser comical inconvenience, because his bluster could preoccupy us only for as long as there was a behind-the-scenes agenda.

In the synagogue, we chant the story of Esther in which the king’s advisor had His Majesty’s ear, until his cause was debunked.  It is also true that we eat pastries in the shape of Haman’s ear, and it should remind us that the alternative truths we hear daily, in comparison with the stories of America’s immigrants and forgotten ones, are half-baked.  They emanate from a source that seeks to undermine our democracy, the pursuit of the truth, the love of learning.

As regulation after regulation protecting the people is repealed, and the whisperers have been positioned inside the National Security Council and on fast-tracks to oil and gas and the concentration of wealth, why shouldn’t we declare the fraud for what it is:  the Republicans, chagrined at first, are getting precisely what they have always wanted.  They have their idiot king, the treasury to carry out their plans, and a lock on the truth.  Let’s encourage our neighbors to hear what’s going on and call out the fraud for what it is.  We’ve got a king who is incapable of knowing from moment to moment what he’s doing, and others who will bring on plunder, until we call them out and change the order of the day.


About the Author
I am Rabbi emeritus at Havurah Shalom in Portland, Oregon. I have spent the last 35 years bringing Torah insights and practices to bear on social justice issues and spirituality, in light of today's critical social thinkers and fiction writers.
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