Cheaters, Bullies and Gamblers

betting_and_gambling-18824153_stdI’ve been struggling this week to understand why I react at such a visceral level against the idea of a person like Donald Trump possibly becoming the President of the United States. I’ve been shocked to discover that Trump has so much support, and some of it even among people I know, love and respect as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Granted, the vast majority of them don’t actually like or support Trump himself. (Which is personally baffling to me.) I daresay most are understandably concerned about his obvious and highly publicized character flaws. But I’m discovering that their support for Trump appears to arise out of an embrace of one of the following assumptions (and, yes, I am focusing on the word “assumptions” because I don’t believe any of these three are actually true):

  1. If you don’t vote for Trump, it’s essentially a vote for Hillary, and she’s even worse. (Let’s call this the “Lesser of Two Evils” theory.)
  2. What’s really important is that we get conservative Supreme Court Justices on the bench, and Donald Trump is the only one who will elect these. We know Hillary Clinton won’t.
  3. In voting for Donald Trump, you’re really voting to support the Republican Party platform, which is so much more righteous than the evil Democratic Party platform.

First, let me preface my remarks by saying:

  1. No, I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton. To be honest, I’m not really sure which one, between the two, is “more evil.” I believe either will be very bad for America. And I disagree with the assumption that in order to be a good citizen I HAVE to vote for one of the major party candidates. I am an American, and I have a right (occasionally) to NOT vote, when it serves my purposes. Normally, I vote faithfully, for every candidate or issue that I have well researched, and am comfortable supporting one of the available options. But if there are no good options, or I am not sure of the difference between two candidates, I not only reserve the right NOT to vote for either, but I think that’s the most responsible thing to do.
  2. Personally, I feel a wolf in sheep’s clothing is more dangerous than a wolf in wolf’s clothing. Hillary is the latter. She’s clearly an enemy to much of what I believe in, stand for, and hold dear (such as the right to life). But while Trump pretends (depending on who he is talking to and at that moment trying to persuade to vote for him), to be a conservative, to be pro-life, even to be a Christian (even though it is painfully clear from the lack of fruit on that tree that he isn’t), to be good at business, ad nauseum. He is a wolf trying to wear sheep’s clothing.
  3. I don’t believe the Republican Party platform is perfect, but on balance I believe it is better than the Democratic Party platform. There are some things in the latter I resonate with, like the idea of justice for all, especially the most vulnerable; but the rub comes when you write some categories of people (like immigrants or transgender persons) into the phrase “all” and write other entire categories of people (like the unborn, who are far more vulnerable than either of the aforementioned) out! But the truth is, even a perfect party platform is next to worthless if the party nominates as its standard-bearer someone who turns it all into a lie. The Republican Party platform won’t be of use to anyone if the Republican Party self-destructs over Donald Trump.

Cheaters

While what Donald Trump would do as President and his policy positions (if indeed he has any) are quite unclear, he has made it perfectly clear that he is driven above all else by his concept of “winning.” And Donald Trump’s idea of “winning” is a cheater’s notion: As long as you come out on top, it doesn’t matter how you get there. You can lie, you can destroy another person, you can bully, you can perpetuate all kinds of economic injustice which leaves others impoverished and destroyed. It doesn’t matter, as long as you “win.” Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. And it’s more important than indefinables such as character and integrity.

I had a very recent and painful experience with someone who tried to cheat me (through an employment scam) out of $3,400. Because I was laid off from my long-time employer, I was in a position of vulnerability. So this individual (using an assumed identity and an elaborately worked-out plan) responded to my request for an interview (with a legitimate company who had no knowledge of this situation at the time), interviewed me, offered me an attractive job, and proceeded to unfold an elaborate ruse all designed ultimately to extort money out of me. This person just wanted to “win.” Fortunately I grew sufficiently suspicious of various discrepancies that I eventually sought third-party confirmation of his identity, and discovered the ruse. Then of course he, whoever he was, disappeared like a venomous spider back into the dark recesses of the World Wide Web. In following up with the company whom he had misrepresented himself as working for, I discovered that he was also in the process of scamming (or perhaps had already scammed) many others.

My recent personal and painful experience with a cheater gives me a very real sense of antipathy against people who say “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” This is the kind of “winning” embraced by C.S. Lewis’ “Uncle Screwtape,” whose goal it was to engorge himself by feeding on the misery of another soul. Jesus, on the other hand, said that the only real way to save your life is to lose it. Christ isn’t looking for cheating, “win at any cost” followers … He’s looking for faithful losers!

Bullies

This one goes way back, deep into my childhood, and was the initial reason I dug my heels in against a possible Trump presidency. As a young boy, I was severely victimized by bullies. Boys who were bigger and stronger than me tormented me. They did it to take my lunch or my lunch money, to try and feel better about themselves (probably because they were being bullied by someone else), to try and look cool in front of their friends, or who knows why.

With my dad’s help, I was eventually able to overcome the bully factor by standing up to these cowards. But I never lost the sense of seething rage which would rise up when I saw a bully in action. And that’s what I’ve seen, over and over again, in Donald Trump. He bullies women, he bullies people who disagree with him, he bullies those who are seeking to expose him. He seethes on Twitter in the wee hours of the morning, posting lies designed to smear the character of a former Miss Universe and humiliating her on the basis of her physical appearance! His behavior is exactly like those bullies who tormented me and wasted so much of my time and emotional energy when I was a young boy. Maybe worse. It really pisses me off.

Gamblers

A cheater married my dad. No, I’m not talking about my mom; I’m talking about the golddigger who, after my mom died of cancer, stalked him, seduced him, and extorted him into marrying her when he was vulnerable, lonely, and in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. She did this because he had millions of dollars and she apparently judged him to be an easy mark. (My dad always had a soft spot for women in need, and boy, did she play the part.)

During the three years they were married, she gambled away at least two thirds of his million-dollar-plus fortune. She also spent some of it on expensive furniture or gifts for her children, but most of it she simply gambled away.

My dad had never been a gambler. In fact, as a committed Christian leader he once lectured us kids about the evils of gambling. But after my mom died and he met and married the golddigger, she pulled him out of church (turning him through gossip and innuendo against the very people he had cared about for so many years, and who cared about him) and into the local casinos instead.

At one point Dad’s driving license was taken away because he had become too ill to drive safely. Despite this, she gave him the keys and he was still driving (once or twice a day, with the golddigger’s encouragement) to MacDonald’s to eat, as she had stopped feeding him at home. He was confined to a small, stuffy room on the second floor of the huge house which he owned (and which she had stuffed full of expensive furniture, at least in every other room except the one he was confined to). And she was trying to get him committed to a state-run institution so she could take the rest of his money and do what she wished with it while he faded away.

Telling me of her plans was one gamble she took that didn’t pay off. She wasn’t aware of this, but when he was in his right mind, my dad had made me a “successor trustee” of his trust. I needed two doctors to certify he wasn’t mentally competent. This wasn’t hard to find. A quick trip, with doctors’ letters in hand and dad by our side, to talk to the bank president (who was a personal friend of his), and it was done. I was in control of my dad’s remaining finances.

When we returned home with Dad, my brother Don and I told the golddigger: “We need to talk. We’re now in control of the finances you were intending to subvert. We are going to use them for our dad’s care — and we will take care of you, too, if you are willing.” But she exploded, realizing her plan was exposed, and became verbally and physically abusive. Dad wanted to leave, and we began packing a single suitcase.

That was his entire career — reduced to a single suitcase. Everything else he had worked for, the golddigger now had her claws into.

Except his remaining bank accounts, which she thankfully had no access to. We flew Dad back to Washington State and he moved in with us.

Back to Alabama, One Last Time

Several weeks later, there was a knock on our front door. I was served with a subpoena. The golddigger was suing me, and my four siblings, for “kidnapping” our dad.

Long story short: Dad (independently) saw a psychologist here in Tacoma, who testified that he wanted to leave the horrific situation in Alabama of his own free will, and moreover desired to countersue the golddigger for divorce. The golddigger’s subpoena was full of internal inconsistencies, and she perjured herself in deposition, so her attorneys knew she couldn’t prevail. They then settled for a relatively paltry sum. We sold the house they had been living in, and she took the proceeds and made herself scarce. We were able to provide for Dad’s care, with the remainder of his assets, as Alzheimer’s ravaged his brain during his remaining five years on the planet.

The golddigger had gambled, but lost. Her dreams of glorious wealth, at our dad’s expense, had evaporated, like the hundreds of thousands of dollars she gambled away during those three years, and she moved on, looking for another easy mark.

So now, I guess you can see why I detest gambling, and gamblers. Trump built up his fortune (in Atlantic City) on the backs of people like our dad, and his second wife, with her half-witted dreams and her gambling addiction. Here’s the man who wants to be the leader of the free world.

No, I’m not buying a lottery ticket. But, I’m going to take a gamble, go out on a limb, and say: Over my dead body.

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