Franklin Delano Roosevelt, forever icon of the progressive left, said “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” A fitting answer would be to quote Abraham Lincoln, who Democrats would do well to remember was a Republican who fought a war against Dixie Democrats, not Nazis, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
Jesus said “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?” (Matthew 12:25-26). He was answering accusations by the Pharisees that he cast out a demon by the power of a demon when he healed a sick man on the Sabbath Day.
Knowing people by their enemies is a wise move in discerning who is your friend. Discerning the motivations of those who perform acts with which you either agree or disagree is a necessary prerequisite in determining who is with you, and who is against you. Satan cannot cast out Satan, and Lincoln could not defeat Confederates as enemies, only rebels who needed to be brought back into the union of the United States.
But so often, today we see both the liberal political class and the liberal media judge intentions by their symbols, committing an error in holding people guilty by association. The same error is committed by many on the political right, especially the #MAGA class, who judge all who disagree with the man, President Donald Trump, as automatically the enemy of everything America stands for–or ought to stand for in their estimation.
This is the same error the Pharisees committed with Jesus. They believed they they were the sole arbiters of what godliness meant, and it meant keeping the law (their law) on the Sabbath Day. Healing on the Sabbath Day, to them, was not an act God would do, therefore Jesus must have cast out a demon by Beelzebul, the ruler of demons.
MAGA, or the words behind it, “Make America Great Again™️,” before they were co-opted by the Trump campaign, were used by Ronald Reagan as his campaign slogan. But they meant something contextually different in 1980 than in 2016. Greatness is in the eye of the beholder. To Vladimir Putin a Greater Russia is closer to the concept of a Great America held by Donald Trump than it was to Ronald Reagan. This might explain some of the alignment the two men have in their political worldview–power is greatness–proved by having the love of the people of their nation.
America can be great, but not in that way, or she won’t be the America she is destined to be. She will be the America that liberals promote that she was in past days–the great America of the Trail of Tears, slavery, the Mexican American War, the KKK, and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. That America existed just as much as the America that defeated the tyranny of King George III.
But the greatest America was the America the threw off the yoke of slavery, that guaranteed rights to former slaves, that crushed the KKK, that extended the vote to women, that fought to liberate Europe and China from the Axis powers, that opposed Communism’s worldwide plan to conquer, that largely crushed most institutional racism and elected the first African-American president.
This was not done through the acts of evil people. It was done through the righteousness of our neighbors and our family. To say that today’s America, with the problems we have, but with the progress we made, was made that way through the evil privilege of white men exercising their power, is to say that Satan cast out Satan. If only social activism and resistance yielded those results, then why claim that white privilege still exists, if it was defeated by a stronger force?
And if it was not defeated at all, can we then claim that if MAGA is evil, abortion must be good? Can liberals really say that conservatism is evil and only social justice is good? Liberals can’t both claim that America was and is evil, as well as cite the progress social justice has carried out while still claiming victim status under the evil they supposedly defeated.
Liberals are being Pharisees.
The response to today’s MAGA should not be to resist it solely because someone wears a hat to a pro-life rally. The response to those who passed a horrific law in New York allowing untrained medical technicians to kill a full-term baby in utero should not be to condemn all of New York to brimfire. We must love our enemies because they are our neighbors and family.
“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies. (from “Loving Your Enemies”)”
“A Knock At Midnight,” Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.–Reverend King–spoke those words. You see, King believed in MAGA. He believed in making America godly again. Because making America godly will result in love, and love will result in transformation. And transformation will result in righteousness. And righteousness will result in the destruction of our enemies–not by their physical death, but by making them into friends.
Making America great isn’t simply a paean to Donald Trump. He used those words, but he doesn’t get to define them any more than the Pharisees got to define God’s law.
America can be great because America still has the potential to be godly. America can be grateful that we are not the same as we were 200 years ago, when slavery was legal. America can be gracious because we liberated more countries than any nation in the history of the world and fought for their freedom without conquering them. America can be good because we have had a bloodless transfer of power for 45 different presidents in 230 years.
And America can be great because Americans can be godly. That doesn’t mean Americans must be Christian. But it does mean that we can forgive and love our enemies. We can recognize that “the other side” has valid concerns and ideas. We can put aside political strife and see that many of us are friends and neighbors.
Donald Trump would not exhort us to do these things because he is largely blind to the ways of godliness. When he leads those who shout “MAGA!” in ugly tones, he is the blind leading the blind into a pit. But we don’t have to be blind.
We should embrace MAGA all the way down. That doesn’t necessarily mean wearing the hat, which has come to symbolize evil to so many. But we should instead overwhelm evil with good–with love. Satan does not cast out Satan, and MAGA does not cast out MAGA. Let’s begin by making American godly again.