America embraces a top-down socially stratified hierarchy of power, where leaders with enough clout can have their ideology trickle down into hordes of people who represent the nation. This ideological transformation of the people is most prominent when we are led by demagogues, although President Trump has still not convinced the American people that his views should dominate politics.
However, President Trump’s track record has shown that his demagoguery and pursuit of partisan politics have left the White House almost devoid of values that are otherwise badly needed to reform our nation. In fact, President Trump’s demagoguery has reached the point where his administration is institutionalizing ideas that combat the values and hallmarks embraced by Benedictine University.
Where the University calls for hospitality and community as hallmarks, President Trump has promoted ethnic, racial and religious divisions via identity politics and has imposed his personal views on who should be allowed to enter American society. For instance, President Trump’s undying insistence on constructing a U.S.-Mexico border and his push for expelling El Salvadorans are some examples that reflect his xenophobic mindset and probably his vision of a great America that is not so great when it comes to receiving immigrants from other nations.
As Benedictine University stands for humility and obedience, President Trump often spews acrimonious or self-aggrandizing speech online and in the press, where he sometimes bends the truth and promotes deceit. On many occasions, President Trump has been insensitive to the heritage of many who reside in the United States.
Some examples of President Trump’s closeted bigotry include his dealings with Muslims (pushing for blanket immigration bans) and the derogatory term he used to describe some countries. Notice how President Trump’s lack of humility and obedience is related to his lack of hospitality and community.
There are other Benedictine hallmarks (i.e., stability and stewardship) that do not align with Trumpian demagoguery. But the main point here is to acknowledge that President Trump’s values and ideas are, in many ways, at odds with the Catholic mission and identity at Benedictine University.
Labeling President Trump as a demagogue certainly invites controversy, but there is no clearer way of defining a leader who has deceived and divided—favoring some people over others— as President Trump has. Yet, President Trump’s call for unity, or at least his version of it, in last night’s State of the Union address brings some for value-driven leadership in the future. Maybe his administration can move past their shoddy management of state affairs by exercising humane values that can possibly bridge the large gaps in our communities.
If you would like to leave the author a comment, you may reach him at Omair_Ali@ben.edu.