The Will of God

Well, I did it again. After days of warning myself not to do it, I finally caved in and typed “American Thinker” into my internet browser on the eve of the U.S. election, like one who just cannot resist the urge to peek at the drunken girl across the street to see whether she is actually vomiting. I felt a little dirty visiting my old haunt on these terms, so I could not stay long; but during the five minutes I scanned their latest headlines, I saw that one of AT’s lead editors, JR Dunn, has a piece entitled “Donald Trump and the Mandate of Heaven.” And that about sums up, as honestly as possible, the tone throughout the conservative media right now, as the acolytes and profiteers try to will their demigod across the finish line in his reelection bid.

Somehow, according to Dunn, a Trump victory would indicate that Heaven had chosen to renew his mandate. Indeed, by the end, the author is waxing absolutely hagiographic about the whole situation:

But whatever happens, we can say this: Donald Trump confronted the entire malignant panoply of the elites, the Deep State, the suit-wearing criminal class, took them on alone at the head of his people and forced them back for four long years. And that, in and of itself, is an achievement that places him among the Immortals.

The Immortals with a capital “I,” no less. That is quite an accolade for a man on whose watch the American communist movement has come closer than ever before to achieving its ultimate goals; during whose tenure American political discourse has been reduced at last to the level of crude Twitter screeds and naked propaganda volleys; under whose pen America has increased its national debt more cavalierly than even during the Bush and Obama years; by whose personal efforts the North Korean crackpot regime was raised to international legitimacy, and its figurehead elevated to brilliant leader status; through whose cowardice and fawning malleability the two great dictatorships of our world, Russia and China, made massive gains in global influence and moral equivalency, the latter gain thanks in particular to Trump’s own words of praise and admiration for Presidents Putin and Xi; and through whose vacillation, ignorance, and buck-passing instincts the White House has spent the past eight months passive-aggressively encouraging the advance of practical tyranny over the fearmongering fake crisis of COVID-19.

And all of this leads me to ask, in complete sincerity, about the logic behind all these “Chosen One” arguments for this or that candidate, and most especially Donald Trump. 

Let us assume for a moment that Dunn’s hyperbolic claim is factually true on its face: Heaven, meaning the divinity of your personal preference, is protecting Trump’s presidency and actively supporting his reelection. Would this prove that the gods believe Trump to be a great man, an Immortal, and that his policies and character are the best for America and the world in the long run? Or might it only mean that those divinities view Trump as necessary or useful for this moment, as part of their larger and more obscure plan for the future, perhaps a future so distant we cannot even conceive of it?

After all, the same divinities, if they do indeed give a damn about earthly political maneuverings and have the power and the will to choose leaders, must be presumed to have had that same power, and to have used it, for all the historically important leadership moments in human history, during which most of the monumentally successful or globally consequential rulers have been men the majority of us would define as tyrants, killers, and madmen. Surely, if the gods care enough to choose Trump in 2020, then they must have cared enough to choose Hitler in 1933, Lenin and Stalin in 1917, Mao in 1949, and so on and on throughout the annals of brutal inhumanity. For if they would (according to the Trump cult narrative) regard stopping the Democratic Party a sufficiently important priority to assert direct influence over the outcome of this election, then they must have regarded the rise of Stalin, Hitler, or Mao as at least equally serious matters — and yet they selected in favor of those men.

Why? Without getting all the way into “the problem of evil” (which I have dealt with properly elsewhere), let it suffice to say that the most certain fact about the divine perspective is that it is much, much wider and more all-encompassing than our human one. If the gods chose the most hideous rulers of the past century, they must have done so for a good reason, since they must be presumed never to have evil motives. Perhaps they thought that it was time for mankind to learn a needed lesson the hard way, or that a cleansing era of suffering was required as part of a gradual transition process in their grand design. In any case, it seems clear from the obvious past examples of men who achieved far more unequivocal “success” in their political careers than Trump has hitherto achieved, but whom Time has judged to be criminally insane on a world-historical scale, that to praise any given leader on the grounds that Heaven appears to be favoring his political success at any given time is both illogical and morally dubious in the extreme, even granting the premise that such favor is indeed being bestowed.

Among other things, perhaps above all other things, such untenable and shortsighted presumptuousness assumes that politics is what matters, that our practical machinations and earthly power struggles are what matter, that which tribe wins this or that skirmish in this or that blip of time matters — matters to Eternity and Being, no less. Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

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