Sometimes I find it hard to remember that American presidential elections are real. It's tempting to pull up a chair, grab some popcorn and settle down for the world's most entertaining reality TV show. In such a world, Donald Trump becomes the crazy racist that the producers put on for deliberate insult creation entertainment value. His one purpose to offend as many people as possible and yet somehow be extremely popular. Like the world's least cool version of Jeremy Clarkson.
The recent comedy gold was the Donald insulted the Pope, saying: "If and when the Vatican is attacked by Isis, which as everyone knows is Isis’s ultimate trophy the pope can have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president because this would not have happened. "
After the success of Olympus Has Fallen I can only wholeheartedly recommend this as the next big Hollywood movie. I'm thinking that an ex-super spy turned troubled Catholic priest takes the battle to the terrorists through judicial use of priceless religious art and monk-fu, in doing so finding peace with God through excessive violence. Done correctly and around 2 billion people would consider the film of mortal offence.
But then my entertainment value is servery diminished when I realise that this is real life and the Donald may actually become the President of America. This realisation is made worse by the fact that he's only my third worst candidate. Hilary and Bernie would scare me a lot more than the Donald, Big Business being marginally less terrifying that socialism or another Clinton...
There are two solutions to these worries. The first is to maintain a faith in the sovereignty of God, the One who raises up leaders and brings them down. This was my comfort in the Scottish referendum - that even if the battle was lost and nationalism triumphed and Scotland broke away from the UK then my citizenship in Heaven could not be taken away from me. If Trump becomes President then we have to hold it in the context of Jesus still being the ultimate King.
The second solution is useful even if you are not religious. Presidential elections make it easy to forgot the impotence of Presidents. This was my comfort during the last American election. As Obama was heralded as the "Messiah" and people from across the world flocked to pay him homage, as his promise of "change" and "hope" rung so loudly in the ear, it was good to know that he couldn't possibly live up to the expectations on him.
Sure enough, this has proven the case. As it is written: "Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation." Psalm 146v3. Where is all the messianic fever of the Obama election? Wasted and scorned, as it turned out that Obama could do so very little and keep so few promises. It's a lesson for all governments, all people really, there is much beyond the power of the state to change. So much beyond the power of one man to change. In vain, do we pretend otherwise.
Its why the case for Scottish Nationalism is doomed to failure. It promises too much, it makes it sound too easy, it overlooks the years of hardship it would take for the possibility of Scotland to make it alone. And that is no insult to Scotland, merely a reflection that life is hard and change harder still.
Back to the Donald, yes, he makes a hundred promises, each more daft than the last. But take heart, he can actually do very little. As if, for example, the government could build a wall big enough to stretch along the US / Mexican border, as if they could afford such a stupid idea. And even if they did embark on such a venture there is no way it would be finished in 4 years, before the next election.
Obama surged into office on a wave of hope and achieved so very little. If Trump surges into office on a wave of hatred and anger, he will achieve little more. And ok, I will eat my words when American troops occupy the Vatican to "protect" the pope.