We need strength of character ‘for our nation to endure’


"We need strength of character — not divisiveness — for our nation to endure."

(Editor’s Note: Viewpoint submissions on this and other topics are always welcome as part of our goal to encourage community discussion and exchange of perspectives.)

Feb. 12, 2020 — Philip DeMers letter, “Let’s Stop the Political Hatred” (Feb. 5) asks “Where does this hatred come from?” in response to some people’s reaction to supporting President Trump. 

During last week’s National Prayer Breakfast, Arthur C. Brooks spoke to the group, which included the President, congressional members and others, and conveyed the same concerns Mr. DeMers expressed in his letter. 

Brooks gave a sincere and inspirational talk specifically focusing on the divisions in our country and in our government. He asked that people be respectful and tolerant, expressing the need to come together in a way that allows discourse that leads to working together toward solutions for the issues dividing the country.

He finished his talk saying, “Ask God to take political contempt from your heart” and urged our leaders to make that commitment publicly.

President Trump then took the microphone and essentially mocked Brooks’ call to civility, telling him, “I don’t know if I agree with you, Arthur [laughter] and I don’t know if you are going to like what I’m going to say [more laughter].”

He then went on to attack politicians sitting with him in the prayer meeting.

He mocked Senator Pelosi’s [Catholic] faith and stated “I don’t like people who say ‘I pray for you’” and also mocked Senator Romney for acknowledging his faith [Morman], oath of office and the rule of law imbedded in the Constitution for his decision to vote against the President in one of the Articles of Impeachment.

“I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what was wrong,” Trump said at the prayer breakfast. This diatribe was not a one-time response to the impeachment trial but rather a continuation of three years of attacking those who disagree with him, whether it be by Tweets, at press conferences, rallies or during television interviews.

Regardless of our differences, we all have one thing in common: we all want a strong president who focuses on the well being of our country and encourages people to work together for the common good. 

President Lincoln, in the Gettysburg Address, did that without vilifying his adversaries by calling the Civil War “A test of whether our nation would endure.”

I truly want to understand how Trump supporters can listen to the insults, debasement, crudeness and threats that come out of the Oval Office on a near-daily basis.

How can they not understand that Trump stokes fear, hatred and inciting retaliation against those who disagree with him? He demands absolute loyalty, which is how every dictator — past and present —grooms followers rather than supporters. Every despot has used the same playbook to obtain absolute control and the President appears to be following the same playbook.

That is why some have made comparisons to Hitler and other despots.

We need strength of character — not divisiveness — for our nation to endure.

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