In his campaigning he condemned himself out of his own mouth, with misogynist, racist, divisive and hate-filled comments. Yet he has managed to get himself elected to be president of the US.
How? There are many reasons given for Donald Trump's election, but one thing seems clear. A person's character can be overlooked or downplayed ("it was only locker room banter") because we are all flawed.
With the increasing ability of the media to expose the peccadilloes of anyone - in high office, in the entertainment or sport worlds, or in any other sphere, means that no one is any better than anyone else. Tall poppies are chopped down; people are knocked off pedestals; feet of clay are exposed (to mix the metaphors...) And the more newspapers, magazines and the media focus on the exposure of any celebrity scandals the more copies they sell.
What the Apostle Paul wrote in his letters when writing to Christians seems strangely foreign in today's sceptical climate. 'Whatever things are good, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, then think about these things...' wrote Paul. What a contrast with the human appetite for scandal!
Yet a number of nostalgic posts have been appearing on social media, highlighting the quality of the lives of the Obama family, and making a deliberate contrast with what has been happening in the presidential election. Not a hint of scandal; a dignity and a quality of family life; strong, independent successful women, and more – all of these things are being said about the Obamas. There's even been a call for Barack Obama to be elected for another term (not possible, of course.)
This admiration for the Obama family shows that there is still a hankering for the old-fashioned virtues, for the things Paul continually encourages and challenges Christians to do when living their lives. Whatever Barack Obama's political legacy might be (and his time in the White House has been hamstrung by the fact that he is a Democratic president with a Senate that is largely Republican), how he has lived his life with his family has clearly spoken to many people.
At a recent church men's group weekend the keynote speaker was a builder. He told the story of how he had completed a building project for a guy who was not a Christian, though his wife was. The way in which the builder and his team went about their work and completed the project spoke volumes to the client – and when he later developed cancer, because the quality of the builder's life had resonated with him, the client himself came to faith before he died.
The exposure of Donald Trump's flaws has left many people fearful. How he has lived his life thus far has given them no confidence in how he will live his life in the White House and as a President. The protests following the election bear this out. Whoever we are, how we live our lives really matters.
'God bless America' is becoming 'God help America'. The slogan on US coins, 'In God we trust', is now an urgent plea for many. And in spite of people's misgivings and doubts about the President-elect, it is possible for a person to change, for sins to be forgiven, and for the help of the Almighty to be sought in the governance of the most powerful country in the world. Let's pray that this will be so.
Elizabeth Hay is a retired editor and teacher, living with her husband in a remote mountain village, as far from the USA as it is possible to get. For relief from the American electoral race she has begun training for riding a bike trail before Christmas.
Liz Hay's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/liz-hay.html