Time flies. From one Rosh Hashanah to the next, we can only hope the honey stays sweet as we continue to realistically hope our tomorrows are just a little better than today.
But it is hard to be optimistic when our world teeters from one upheaval to the next. From unabated horrifying acts of terrorism, to lunatic leaders with nuclear arms, to the most savage of civil wars in Syria, to the ‘leader of the western world’ who may actually be a lunatic himself, we cringe at how frightening the world has become as we wonder what this new year will bring.
This is a crazy, scary time – and scary should probably go before crazy. What else could it be when people openly speculate on the competence and mental health of the president of the United States. ‘Unfit for the job,” more and more people say.
To come out and say that Donald Trump is ‘a narcissistic nut-job’ would have taken an enormous amount of guts six months ago. But, now, it’s a matter of the brain catching up to the stomach. With a president who governs with too many blatant lies to keep track of, with cruel bullying tactics and unending aggressive tweets, the number of Americans with solid reputations who are willing to say out loud that Trump is ‘not worthy’ and is ‘not competent’ is growing.
But, it is not as if Americans didn’t know. All the president’s worse traits and character flaws were right there in the open during the primaries and during the election campaign. And yet he won the presidency despite it all, or perhaps because of it all. Democracy can lead anywhere when people are that fed up with the status quo.
Let’s remember that two years ago in our own country, Justin Trudeau won a majority government after it was repeatedly said by many that he was neither worthy nor competent. Voters didn’t care that Trudeau had no experience running anything. He was new, fresh and different and voters were fed up with everything old, tried and static. It was an election when voters were willing to take whatever risk was needed to achieve the change they wanted and felt the country needed.
The people are always right is the unbridled truism of democracy. How could it be, you might ask, if Trump is the president? What is of real interest isn’t so much that Trump may be a bad, mad and incompetent president but, rather, how in the world did he ever get to the White House. It was a simple yet complicated matter of fed-up voters wanting to turn a corner and say they are not afraid to do what is not expected, not afraid to go against conventional thinking, and certainly eager and energized enough to follow through.
In all the post-mortems from experts who believed Trump could not win the election came the view that the pendulum desperately needed to swing back a few political notches to accommodate mostly white, middle-class Americans who felt increasingly lost, voiceless and jobless in their own country.
Last Rosh Hashanah, we saw, for the first time, a candidate running for president of the United States who strategically appealed to the prejudices of those angry, self-proclaimed dispossessed voters. When it became clear there were no barriers of good taste that Trump wouldn’t cross to get their votes, it became inevitable that anger and hatred would get churned up and flourish.
This Rosh Hashanah, we see white supremacists and neo-Nazis, who hate African Americans, Jews, and just about everybody other than themselves, organizing and demonstrating with impunity. Shockingly, the president chooses to minimize his criticism of them and their beliefs. For a president who has shown to so dislike and disregard political correctness when it comes to minority groups, his reluctance to emphatically denounce outright hate-mongers is one of those terrible things that is so scary about him.
It is not that Trump is a racist – it is that he doesn’t have either the sensitivity or the judgement to know that when hatred gets uncorked, how difficult it is to get it back in the bottle.
While political correctness may have its shortcomings, an America without it is a place where hatred simmers.