During the 2016 presidential campaign, I considered the entrance of Donald J. Trump as a publicity stunt or novelty . . . at first. As the primary continued and he continued racking up victories, I entered a period of concern about the “small” disenfranchised group that would vote for this man. I could not believe that so many people could believe in him, the man I had known as a narcists and a con man for decades. As he was becoming the sure nominee for the Republicans—as an ex-Republican—I grieved the death of the party.
Even on the eve of the election, I reassured my son’s girlfriend—who was very worried that he might win—that he was not electable. I really thought we would see, not only the loss of Donald Trump but the total collapse of the Republican party and the Democrats taking over all three houses (Congress, Senate and WH). I wasn’t worried about that. Hillary was not my favorite candidate, but I could sleep well with her at the helm of the country, but certainly not the Donald.
I sat up that Tuesday night, watching returns pour in . . . in a state of disbelief. The news commentators shared the same feeling as I had, expecting Hillary to win but feeling the wind leaving their sails. It was only a matter of time until all the votes were tallied. It was clear that he had won.
During the first few weeks, after the election, I had “conversations” with about 25 Facebook friends who were evangelical supporters of Trump. We had sparred a few times during the election. However, I was confident that I would be vindicated after the votes were counted. That, of course, did not happen.
After the victory of Donald J. Trump, my pro-Trump evangelical friends became emboldened. They started to celebrate their victory online. I was in a state of mental shock and was almost speechless for a number of days.
Almost immediately after the election, the resistance to Trump started to form and within that group, I felt a new home. I even found some anti-Trump Christian groups. My kids participated in the early marches. My wife and I participated in the women’s march on January 21st. It was during this time my relationship with my pro-Trump evangelical friends took an ugly turn. They were very critical of the marches, while I was defending my family, which had participated in them. They took the position that God put Trump in power because he stood for Christian principles. But then they went further to suggest the marches were satanic. At that point, I could not contain myself anymore.
During this post-election period, a few old evangelical friends—staunch right-wingers—kept comparing the election of Donald Trump to that of Obama. They considered Obama as pure evil (in my candid opinion, it is because Obama’s skin is black but they would never admit that) and used themselves as examples of how good-losers should behave. They argued how they didn’t put on pussy hats and march in the streets when Obama was elected. They pointed out that they were mature and decent people and accepted Obama as president, even though he was evil.
I kept trying to make the point that they were trying to normalize this election as typical partisan bickering. But this was NOT NORMAL PARTISAN BICKERING! I guaranteed them that there would have been no marches in the street, no tears by the masses if ANY OTHER REPUBLICAN had been elected but Trump. Okay, there would be some anxiety if Ben Carson had been elected, but not this horrible sinking feeling that we have entered some new dystopian age of America’s history.
But during that conversation, my evangelical friends started to make the argument that we anti-Trumpers were not good Christians, or good Americans if we did not (now) support Donald Trump as our president. God wants us to embrace him . . . or does he?They painted themselves as the far better Christian. I finally made it clear (in the fog of my disillusionment in the American political system) that I really did want Trump to succeed because he was my president, like it or not.
I have had a change of heart. I also had to jettison all those evangelical Pro-Trump friends, (except for my sister). But now, I must confess that I am a Presidential Schadenfreudite. The German word Schadenfreude is taken from the roots of harm and joy. It means someone who takes pleasure or joy in the harm or failure of someone else. I must honestly say that I want, from the bottom of my heart, for Donald Trump to fail and to fail magnificently. My greatest joy would be seeing him in handcuffs, actually including his entire family, except for Melania, being hauled off to life in prison. Okay, let the kids get out in ten years. My schadenfreude is so severe, that I feel bad during his good weeks and better when he really screws up.
The soul-searching I’ve had to do is to consider if this is sin or not. Schadenfreude, of course, can be sin. For example, take Proverbs chapter 24:
17-18 Don’t laugh when your enemy falls;
don’t crow over his collapse.
God might see, and become very provoked,
and then take pity on his plight. (The Message)
Here is a practical example of such a sinful attitude. Imagine someone cuts me off on the road and then I hope they get pulled over and a fat ticket for speeding. An even more sinister example could be where I wanted a certain position in my church and it was given to someone else. Then, I felt some pleasure when they do a lousy job. These things cannot be out of a good character. I have to candidly admit and I capable of these thoughts.
But is desiring the massive failure of Donald Trump sin? It doesn’t feel like sin. I don’t mean this in a flippant way (as if feelings can discern sin). It is because, I want it to be clear if you are an arrogant, narcissist, asshole, then failure will and should come. This is a principle of God’s kingdom. To have such a bad person succeed (unless there is an incredible repentance first) seems to devalue God’s law. I want him to fail, and to fail in a spectacular way. That is not being un-Christian . . . it is not being un-American. I also want it to teach his supporters the foolishness of their ways. Am I bad?
But I close this thought with this passage for contemplation:
Psalm 94 The Message (MSG)
1-2 God, put an end to evil;
avenging God, show your colors!
Judge of the earth, take your stand;
throw the book at the arrogant.
3-4 God, the wicked get away with murder—
how long will you let this go on?
They brag and boast
and crow about their crimes!
5-7 They walk all over your people, God,
exploit and abuse your precious people.
They take out anyone who gets in their way;
if they can’t use them, they kill them.
They think, “God isn’t looking,
Jacob’s God is out to lunch.”
8-11 Well, think again, you idiots,
fools—how long before you get smart?
Do you think Ear-Maker doesn’t hear,
Eye-Shaper doesn’t see?
Do you think the trainer of nations doesn’t correct,
the teacher of Adam doesn’t know?
God knows, all right—
knows your stupidity,
sees your shallowness.
12-15 How blessed the man you train, God,
the woman you instruct in your Word,
Providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil,
while a jail is being built for the wicked.
God will never walk away from his people,
never desert his precious people.
Rest assured that justice is on its way
and every good heart put right.
16-19 Who stood up for me against the wicked?
Who took my side against evil workers?
If God hadn’t been there for me,
I never would have made it.
The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,”
your love, God, took hold and held me fast.When I was upset and
you calmed me down and cheered me up.
20-23 Can Misrule have anything in common with you?
Can Troublemaker pretend to be on your side?
They ganged up on good people,
plotted behind the backs of the innocent.
But God became my hideout,
God was my high mountain retreat,
Then boomeranged their evil back on them:
for their evil ways, he wiped them out,
our God cleaned them out for good.