“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” the old saying goes. A number of Republican voters and pundits should be ashamed of themselves. But instead, they have become, along with Donald Trump as Ahab, a retelling of a very old story.
In 1 Kings 22, Ahab, the King of Israel, summons Jehosaphat, the King of Judah. Ahab wanted Jehosaphat to go to battle with him at Ramoth-gilead and win back the territory from Syria. Ahab, a particularly stubborn king, had been told twice before that he would be killed on the battlefield. Both an unnamed prophet and the prophet Elijah had told him.
Before the battle of Ramoth-gilead, King Jehosaphat asks Ahab to “inquire first for the word of the Lord.” Ahab summons around four hundred prophets and they all behave as yes men. “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king,” they sycophantically tell Ahab. But Jehosaphat recognizes they are yes men.
“Is there not here another prophet of the Lord of whom we may inquire?” asked Jehosaphat. Ahab responded, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.” Nonetheless, Ahab summons Micaiah.
While waiting for Micaiah, Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah, one of the chief priests, began using allusions and words of the Old Testament to convince Ahab that he would triumph. As all the prophets prophesied before Ahab and Jehosaphat, Zedekiah made horns of iron and said, Thus says the Lord, ‘With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.’”
The symbol Zedekiah used was a Mosaic reference from Deuteronomy. Moses says that Joseph will, with “horns of a wild ox…push the peoples, all at once, to the ends of the earth.” The descendants of those people were, among others, Syrians. Zedekiah was basing the prophets’ prophesies on scripture. It was clearly God’s will.
But then comes Micaiah before the kings. Sarcastically, Micaiah tells King Ahab that victory is his. Ahab has clearly had run ins before with Micaiah and demands that Micaiah stop the sarcasm and tell Ahab what God’s will really is. So Micaiah tells him.
“Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you.” (1 Kings 22:19-23)
Zedekiah is outraged that Micaiah would contradict all the other prophets. Ahab washes his hands of Micaiah and throws him in jail. Again Ahab is convinced Micaiah just hates him and is intentionally telling the king lies because Micaiah hates him. Ahab goes off to war and, like Micaiah, Elijah, and the unnamed prophet all told him, Ahab is killed.
History repeats itself in the Age of Trump. No, those of us who have been opposed to Trump are not revealing God’s word. We are not prophets of the Word, but staters of the truth. Many of us got the primaries wrong because while Trump was championing polls, we just could not believe people would support him and thus believed the polls were wrong. We were wrong. The polls were right.
Those same polls that were right in the primaries showed Trump would perform worse in the general election than any other Republican candidate. Now the general election polls are confirming it. These polls are right too and now Trump and his supporters ignore them or dismiss them with as much zeal as they embraced the primary polling.
So what are Trump’s and his prophets’ responses. Well, like Ahab and his priest Zedekiah, they are convinced that we just do not like Trump and are claiming to be morally superior. They claim that because we do not like Trump, our declarations of his pending loss are really us just helping Hillary and hating Trump. Rarely a day goes by that Trump’s prophets and priests not bring on or cite some worm-tongued soothsayers to their radio and television programs to tell their listeners they have nothing to worry about and, if they do, it’s the fault of the truth tellers. “It is immoral,” to oppose Trump, they tell people on national television — defining morality by political party affiliation in defiance of scripture they claim to believe in.
Like the four hundred prophets, they use allusions to Gallup’s 1980 polling about Reagan that showed a late breaking surge for Reagan. But they ignore that the polling average in 1980 showed Reagan well ahead and staying consistently ahead by July. They have returned to claiming the polls are skewed, the voters are shy, and the Democrats are being over sampled. They would have you believe it is all a lie and Ahab is going to be victorious in November.
These are all the things Republicans told themselves in 2008 and 2012. We were wrong then. Trump and his supporters are wrong now. Like Ahab and his prophets, they chose to reject the truth and now blame the truth tellers for their, and the nation’s, fate. Trump has been, for a year, the one Republican who could not beat Hillary Clinton and now everyone realizes it, but would rather blame the truth tellers than admit they bought a lie.
The great difference between Trump’s priests, prophets, and mouthpieces and us is not that they support Trump and we support Hillary Clinton. We oppose them both, but we realized it was not worth sacrificing the truth or our integrity to shill for a loser like Trump.
They can dance before their king and use the allusions to history to claim he will win. They can rebuke you and me and smear us on television and radio. Like Zedekiah, they can strike us and demand, “How did the [truth] go from me to speak to you?” But in November Trump will lose.
If Trump does not lose in November, we have not told you the truth. But if Trump does lose in November, not only have we told you the truth, but they have been lying all along. Their rage now has more to do with damage control of their reputations than really being angry with the rest of us.
How many more elections must Republicans go before they realize there is no grand conspiracy of pollsters and telling the truth is not helping Democrats, but just telling truth? “So [Ahab] died, and was brought to Samaria. And they buried the king in Samaria. And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood, and the prostitutes washed themselves in it.” (1 Kings 22:37-38)