To borrow a phrase from our soon-to-be former President: "Let me be perfectly clear."
I am not now and never have been a Donald Trump fan. The man disgusts me; he is the most morally loathsome candidate ever put forward by the GOP. Braggart, bully, unrepentant serial adulterer, pathological liar - all these terms which have been thrown down during and since the campaign accurately describe the GOP nominee. And yet this utterly unqualified man won the White House with the aid of millions of passionate, evangelical Christian voters - people who would never once participate in the behaviors that their chosen candidate has enthusiastically indulged in for his entire life. How could people who are so devoted to the teachings of Jesus Christ vote for a man whose life has been lived in direct contradiction to those principles? How could pastors like Franklin Graham and Robert Jeffers and so many others publicly endorse a man whose life is a mockery of the moral principles their faith is based on?
I was shocked and appalled as one evangelical leader after another came out for Trump. I was disgusted when men who had publicly called Trump out for the charlatan that he is then came crawling to him hoping for cabinet positions once he had secured the election. I was one of those voices in the wilderness who did his level best to stop the GOP from running off the moral cliff by supporting this man - and I must admit that I was proud when both living Republican Presidents and the last two GOP nominees refused to endorse him.
So why did they do it? Why did so many Christian conservatives embrace a man who only discovered his conservatism last year, whose positions on conservative issues seemed to change almost daily during the campaign, whose rhetoric bristled with personal insults, thinly veiled racism, blatant lies, and whose comments about women would have been the kiss of death for any other GOP politician? After a month of consideration and soul-searching, the conclusion I have come to is a very simple one:
You created Donald Trump, my liberal friends. All my feminist, gay rights-championing, pro-choice (which, let's be ABSOLUTELY HONEST, ultimately means pro-abortion), Christian bashing, Black Lives Matter-loving lefties - you drove millions of conservatives into such a tight corner of fear and paranoia that they turned to a monstrous bully in panicked self defense.
Consider what has happened to us conservatives in the last eight years:
Any of us who gave anything less than full-throated, fist pumping enthusiasm to homosexuality, transvestitism, and various other sexual deviancies were publicly shamed, sued, and openly compared to the racist thugs who lynched black men in the darkest days of the Jim Crow South. When we expressed concern that overly broad "bathroom bills" might let pedophiles take advantage of our children (I don't think many of us were that worried about real transgender folks peeing where they felt most comfortable), we were slandered and vilified.
If we dared to question or disagree with the redefinition of the world's oldest and most successful social institution, marriage - even thought it was only achieved by a 5-4 split in the nation's Supreme Court against the eloquent objections of the Chief Justice of the United States - then we were branded as hatemongers and bigots and lumped in with the likes of Osama bin Laden.
When the attorneys representing the United States Government threatened to revoke the tax exempt status of churches that did not recognize gay marriage, or of Catholic hospitals that refused to provide abortion services, you backed America's Christians into a corner.
When the candidate you chose to back for President refused to recognize that there should be any restrictions at all on abortion, not even in the ninth month of pregnancy, millions of Americans who believe that unborn babies have a right to life were driven straight into the arms of Donald Trump.
When a Planned Parenthood executive was caught on tape going over a price sheet for the body parts of aborted human babies, your response was not horror or even soul-searching, but a flaming denial that what our eyes and ears told us was real, followed by a prosecution of the undercover journalists who filmed the interview - and the stampede grew.
When you shamelessly pandered to the "Black Lives Matter" crowd and condemned good cops as racist assassins, but refused to acknowledge the epidemic of criminality in America's black ghettos which makes policemen afraid for their lives every day, you drove millions of Americans who still respect law and order straight into voting booth to pull the lever for Trump.
When you refused to express any concern about the flood of illegal immigrants who are taxing our fragile social welfare network to the breaking point, and who sometimes do come here to sell drugs, commit crimes, and wreak mayhem among us (even while nearly all of us recognize that those bad actors are a tiny minority of the undocumented community), and then mocked those of us who were concerned as Klansmen, nativists, and "Know-Nothings," you put our backs up against Trump's imaginary wall.
You demonized us, ridiculed us, belittled our faith, our morals, our values, and you drove far too many of my fellow conservatives into a panicked stampede that ended in an orange-tinted electoral apocalypse. Some of us stood firm - I valued conservatism and traditional values far too much to cast my ballot for a man whose life was a mockery of both - but you scared enough traditionalist Americans into believing that their whole way of life was under assault that they elected a man who promised to defend their values and faith, even if he didn't share them.
So as inauguration day approaches, and you prepare your protest signs and your mourning robes and all the other paraphernalia of civil disobedience, grief, and dismay, remember this - when you marginalized half of the people in this country, you empowered Donald Trump. The best explanation for his Presidency can be found by looking in the mirror.
I hope you're proud of yourselves. Your arrogant self-righteousness may well have destroyed this great nation.