Who is Donald Trump Really, and Who Would He Turn Out to be If Elected?
All of us who vote in the US have a very serious, high spiritual duty to think hard and meditate seriously and honestly on that question this year – just as we have the same duty for Hillary Clinton, John Kasich and Bernie Sanders. (I have said enough on the others for now.)
Yesterday, as I scanned CNN briefly while doing other things late in the afternoon, an image flashed into my mind, helping me see deeper into this question. Briefly: there are fascinating parallels between Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich (whom I know much better). In particular, Trump’s deep love for his current wife suggests strongly that he, like Ronald Reagan and Gingrich, really has made a deep shift in his views of women’s rights and the Supreme Court, just as he says he has.
That really was a brief thought, and probably a lot easier to understand than most of my brief thoughts. But it leads to a lot of related things.
For one thing – why does it always seem to take forever to explain some of the things I see briefly? There are a couple of reasons. Sometimes, when the thoughts come at a level of higher intelligence (typically around 3AM for me), they are intrinsically complicated and draw on a web of knowledge and memory beyond what I really draw on later in the day, especially in late afternoon and evening, when there are times I can hardly even do a difficult sudoku type puzzle let alone something more meaningful. But even in the afternoon – my brain has learned categories, “hidden neurons,” representations, concepts which are not shared by everyone and are called by different names even when shared. Also, associations with unique memories play a key role. At the Quaker discussion meeting eight days ago, someone commented how the term “suffering servant” is universally understood by Amish, in a way which lets them communicate very quickly some ideas which would take a lot longer outside the community. (I noticed how huge the gulf is between their concept of Jesus, as a suffering servant, and Constantine’s view, visible in a plaque as one enters Hagia Sophia, depicting Jesus and Constantine as co-creators and gods of the universe. Luda asks: “Why do you always bad mouth Constantine, like Dan Brown?” Yes, I am simplifying, but... save that history for another time. )
For another thing: what do I know about Newt Gingrich, and how, and how does this analogy work?
I have met Newt Gingrich in person only three times, and Newt himself... MIGHT vaguely remember just one of the three times, maybe.
The one he might remember vaguely was in 2009. Do you remember the concept of an “elevator speech?” Someone, somewhere, told people: “You need to have an elevator speech ready. You need to be ready to express your most important ideas really quickly in 30 seconds, in case you just happen to find yourself in an elevator with someone who could make them real...” So at one point, in 2009, I found myself alone in an elevator with Newt Gingrich, on my way from the top of the Hart building to the little coffee place on the corridor which connects Hart and Dirksen. I said something about how a lot of people remembered how he stood up for space, and how important that was, and we are interested to hear what he thinks now. Throughout the 2012 primaries, Gingrich really did stand u p for space, and one of his key constituents actually stayed in my house a couple of days to attend a space meeting we both went to. But at the same time, Gingrich stood up very firmly in support of changing the Supreme Court, so as to vitiate women’s rights at many levels. With regret, I concluded in the end that I had to channel my energies elsewhere, because womens’ rights really are a life or death matter for the very survival of the human species. I did not want to support being “nice” and “respectful” to a group of people who would then suffer brutally themselves from the consequences of doing so! And I was not alone on that.
Newt would almost certainly not remember the time, during the start of the 2012 primary season, when my back was about two inches from the back of his wife, when he and his wife were seated in the next table to me, Luda and a visitor of ours, in a Japanese restaurant. He was not loud, but he was rather easy to hear, especially for someone located where I was located. I noticed that he ordered shabu-shabu – the only dish I ever had in that restaurant which was merely mediocre. (Others... include the best regular sashimi I have had anywhere on earth, including Japan, though I guess it’s pretty arbritary to compare it with the special gifu I once had in Nagoya...) He elaborated in great detail on his views of Mitt Romney and on how the campaign might go. But in truth, I followed that primary more religiously than I am following these, and I learned a whole lot more from other sources. I noticed how many people were cynical about how deep his feelings might be towards his wife and human relationships... since his wife then was not his first wife... but Luda is also my second wife, and my own experience tells me a lot about how truly overwhelming and intense a marriage can be for some kinds of people (like me, Trump and Gingrich). Gingrich is relatively independent in his thinking, and far more truculent than most in asserting different views when he has them... but it is crystal clear that meeting his wife was truly overpowering, and that men and women both change a lot as they move into new territory. Conversion to Catholicism was part of that marriage.
For me... well Luda and I are both even more strong-minded in some ways... and neither of us are storm troopers for any religious organization. (Quakers do not recruit storm troopers.) Probably I should not say more right now.
But Trump with Melania... he spoke very briefly in that two minute period, but a lot of what he said was very, very familiar to me. Melania like Luda is a very striking and energetic person, and yet not so willing to speak SO much on TV. In fact, she is... like Luda in some ways, but with features of some other women I have known, more from the Germanic side of the world. From Slovakia, is she a Catholic, like Newt’s wife and almost all of my family? Maybe. I don’t know, but it is a reasonable guess. She wants to defend HER PEOPLE... and it is ironic for me that she defines her people as something more like my family than like Luda’s, and even more like them than Trump’s (though Trump is also of German roots). On its way from the Trier part of Germany to New York, my family did spend almost a century in the Austria-Hungary empire, and it is easy to recognize familiar things... Many parts of the Slavic community actually do share many traits with the German community (reminding me of my great-grandmother whom I knew well as I grew up)... and in that area, both had to cope with issues of relations with the Islamic world.
It is sad that litmus tests are now so insane in the Republican party ... that they freeze our choices so much, in such a bad way!! So Trump’s sincerity here bodes well for his nomination, but will present a very, very serious challenge for the general election.
But... Luda is now active upstairs, and I will go join her...