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Theirs was a great political party. It had given the nation a countless number of its brightest most effective civic leaders. But all that came to a halt with the arrival of an individual I will call “Child X.”

From the beginning it was clear that this lad was different. It was not just his independence; it was also his overriding need for affirmation. All children probably believe that they are the center of the world, but with Child X any person, word or action that did not boost his ego and importance, he took to be an enemy, and he fought back.

Beyond his ego needs there was a smoldering hostility that became a roaring fire at the slightest indication that something or someone had gotten in his way. This destructive bent was true not only with enemies but also with those who appeared to be his closest friends. He, therefore, had or kept close very few people he trusted — and even them, not for long. 

By the time he was in the 8th grade his behavior had flared into a dangerous threatening growl. At one point he had taken red paint and drawn a distinctive border between his family’s property and his next-door neighbors’. To it he had attached an explanatory note that told the neighbors to keep their children out of “his” yard.

It seems that at some previous time a toddler had crossed the then unmarked boundary and dismantled the beginning of a stick fort Child X was building. At that time he had scribbled a crude warning, threatening a massive assault on anyone violating his space or otherwise getting in his way. At one point he had poured lighter fluid on an invading cat, and cheered as it ran away, fur in flames.

There followed a long series of acts warning the world to keep away. This antisocial, dangerous behavior was not acknowledged or mentioned by his parents, at least not in public.

Picking a fight with potential enemies did not exhaust Child X’s — now a grown up Mr. X’s — hostility, that was being inflicted on friend and foe alike, including members of his own party. As he grew to adulthood these assaults and self-serving lucrative deals were produced even to the detriment of the respected uncles, aunts and cousins who had previously lauded him as the one chosen to make the party great again, and who had gotten into the very deep pockets of some very fat cats, all on his behalf.

What do you suppose was this fictitious family’s reaction to these continuing unruly episodes? Note the escalation.

First: “Why he’s our darling, and even if he says things that are out of the norm, that’s just part of what makes him precious. People are hungry for something fresh, having for decades endured the foul odor that has come from Washington.”

Then: “We’ve asked him to stick to the script, but tigers hate to be confined, so we’ll just have to grin, bear it, and cover for him if he gets too angry.

Then: “Boys will be boys, and many other boys, particularly those who think they have been left out, have shouted their approval of whatever he says.”

Then: This response began to come from an increasing number, first outside the party and then from inside it. “He is dangerous, and somebody must rein him in.”

Finally (at least we can hope): “Before America is in shambles, or we get sucked into a nuclear war, he must be impeached! And we, who stand for what is left of our party, must bring it about!”

If I’m dreaming, don’t bother to wake me up. 

Charles Bayer

Charles Bayer is a somewhat retired theological professor and congregational pastor. 

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