Dear Congressman Walden:
I am not alone in thinking that this US president is unfit to govern—morally, ethically and because of his insufficient knowledge and inadequate skill. But I hope you agree that even within the low bar of his presidency, he crossed a deeply troubling line when, in a televised exchange with a pool of reporters, he proclaimed while looking upwards at the sky: “I am the Chosen One.” Earlier, he had tweeted: “[The Jewish people] love [Trump] like he is the second coming of God.”
Does he truly believe that?
I hope not. I hope he was just jesting. A joke gone terribly wrong. Joking this way would be akin to invoking the name of God in vain, which is a sin in some religions. And that would be contradictory at best, for a president strongly supported by religious groups. Faith leaders could—should?—rightfully condemn such a joke as blasphemy. And some have. The president should certainly explain, and apologize. But he hasn’t, and likely will not. Possibly because he is not prone to apologizing. Or perhaps because he actually was not joking.
Perhaps this president actually believes himself a divine choice, out of delusion. That would mean that something is truly seriously wrong with him, mentally—a concern that has been expressed before. The power of the US Presidency being in the hands of a delusional individual, with illusions of grandeur, should be terrifying to all of us—regardless of political affiliation. Were this true, there would be no reasonable choice but to invoke the 25th Amendment—before irreparable catastrophic harm is done to country and world.
I realize that the Constitution does not give you the power to invoke the 25th Amendment, Mr. Walden. But you would be called to vote on it, should the Amendment be formally invoked by the Vice President or Cabinet, and then challenged by the president. Also, as a GOP leader, you have the moral obligation to raise the issue on your own, in appropriate form and circles, should you come to believe that the president may not be mentally fit to discharge his obligations. Is it time, Sir?
Of course, the president could simply be deliberately lying, to capitalize on people’s faith or ignorance, towards power consolidation. This president lies. He lies frequently, and shamelessly. About small and big things. He does so for obvious political gain, from lack of self-confidence, or even for no apparent reason. This is not acceptable behavior in a US president. Every time he lies, he crosses a decency line. The fact that he does it repeatedly should not dull our collective sense of outrage. Our country is better than this, Mr. Walden. Regardless of individual political preferences, we should demand that he publicly apologizes and changes his ways, or else that he resigns. Anyone who remains complicit to his behavior should be deeply ashamed.
Here, Sir, you clearly have the power—and the obligation—to speak up. As a GOP leader, please publicly condemn the president’s persistent lying—and specifically denounce this particular, outrageous, lie. And please encourage your party to not restrain (in fact, to foster) an internal Primary challenge. Having a nominee who does not make lying a cherished habit and political tool is—as modest a goal as it might sound—a necessary step towards possibly restoring the much battered Republican soul.
For completeness of analysis: Could this president be truly God’s chosen? To answer this question, one should start with a philosophical discussion on whether and in what form God exists. But that is a complex and subjective discussion. More appropriate for this letter are the questions of whether or why any God would “choose” a US president.
Take as an example the Christian faith, which the president proclaims to profess. In this faith, God sent his Son to Earth to offer salvation to humanity. Jesus came as a humble carpenter, who preached love and tolerance, and warned against greed, lies and deceptions. Jesus defended separation of church and state, by saying “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21)—thus making it highly unlikely that God would choose to interfere in our politics. But if, improbably, God did decide to choose this president, that could only possibly be a test. A test that this nation would pass only by clearly rejecting a president whose divisive vision and practices are deeply contrary to everything that the message of Jesus, the Ten Commandments and the Bible—all cornerstones of Christianity—stand for.
It truly is time for clarity, Mr. Walden. Please reflect on your core Episcopalian values. More importantly, I ask that you examine your conscience. That you ponder the responsibility that comes with the sizable power of being a member of a co-equal branch of government.
And, then, please do the right thing: Denounce this president, call for him to resign or lose re-election, and help minimize the damage done while he remains in office.
With best regards,
— Antonio Baptista