by Johnny Townsend
A former missionary colleague told me President Trump “has our back” in regard to tariffs, climate, and pretty much everything else. He said I was being manipulated to believe the “Angry Swedish Girl” over Trump, who is looking out for us by abandoning the Paris Agreement, which “many people believe” is “an attempt to control us.” Pointing out the obvious, that Trump has called climate change a “hoax,” that he and his appointees have fired scientists, suppressed peer-reviewed data, refused public access to research, denied scientific testimony regarding climate in Congressional hearings, has banned the USDA from using the term “climate change,” and has rolled back emission standards (and refused to let states enact their own higher standards), would be useless, so I asked another question: Why do you think a man who brags about sexual harassment, makes fun of the disabled, and boasts of his prowess at bullying is motivated by goodwill on your behalf?
Mormon Trump supporters so often repeat the same, heartbreaking mantra every day. “He’s not perfect, but no one is, and he has good policies.”
There’s a difference between being “imperfect” and being despicable. Of course, listing the dozens of documented offenses this man has committed would also be pointless. So instead I asked, “In what chapter of the Book of Mormon do we see that King Noah had the back of his people?”
When did Laman and Lemuel have the back of the people?
When did Laban?
How about Korihor? Did he have the back of the people? And Gadianton?
In the scriptures, people this deeply flawed are rarely angels in disguise. Yes, in the New Testament, Saul has a vision and becomes Paul. In the Book of Mormon, Alma the Younger has a vision and repents.
But Trump has shown no sign of any revelatory experience leading him to repent of his narcissistic behavior and start behaving benevolently. Yet far too many Mormons keep supporting him because “while imperfect, he has our back.”
It’s hard accepting that we’ve been lied to by Trump and his appointees. Lied to by Fox News and other right-wing propaganda. It’s humiliating to realize we’ve been deceived by those we trusted.
Still, at some point, if we don’t accept the facts easily available all around us even in a right-wing bubble, we must take some degree of responsibility for choosing to remain deceived. If our husband or wife comes home with herpes and tells us they got it from the bathroom at work, we have a choice in how we respond to clearly unreliable information.
When I finally began to suspect I’d listened to inaccurate teachings on LGBTQ issues, I did some research, and I chose to accept facts, not misinformation. When I began seeing reports about vaccines causing autism, I did some research and confirmed the well-documented science behind disease prevention. When I heard that artificial sweeteners were correlated with weight gain, I read some articles and talked to medical professionals. And learned that what many artificial sweeteners and preservatives do is suppress healthy bacteria in the gut microbiome, the prevailing bacteria that remain causing people to process food differently and gain weight.
Believe me, I wasn’t happy that I’d been an advocate of artificial sweeteners for years. But the only successful way to function in life is to be open to new information and to reassess our position when we receive that additional information. When we know better, we do better.
We will undoubtedly learn more about climate in the coming years. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t act on the incontrovertible evidence we already have.
We will undoubtedly learn more about unethical conduct or outright crimes by DJT. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t act on the incontrovertible evidence we already have.
Donald Trump doesn’t have our back.
Governor Boggs didn’t have our back.
Fox News doesn’t have our back.
If it’s too scary to contemplate finding a more reliable source of information, if it’s easier to just let others make all our decisions for us, we can certainly continue to do that.
But it would be nice if those who read history books one day about the decisions we make now could see us as Ammon and Abish and Abinadi, as Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai and David Hogg, and know we had their back.