Who speaks for the U.S.?

Merriam Webster: lynch (transitive verb) to put to death (as by hanging) by mob action without legal sanction.

The United States is not a particularly good moral leader, given our international record. Our presidents often do not serve well in setting an example for other nations. But even by our standard, Donald Trump fails.

U.S. citizens have been lynched in many different fashions—hanging, burned alive, torture and decapitation. One man, Luis Ortiz, was lynched by being hung from the iron bridge across the Truckee River in Reno that served as a model for the new bridge installed this year.

There is now a lynching spree going on in the Philippines. The new president, Rodrigo Duterte, has told both police and private citizens that they can kill those they believe are drug dealers. The death toll so far is 5,600. In the 23 weeks since Duterte was inaugurated, more people have been lynched in the Philippines than U.S soldiers who died in the Iraq War since 2003.

There is no way of knowing whether they were drug dealers or just Duterte adversaries, inconvenient people or bystanders. But they were all murdered.

On Dec. 5, The Philippine Star reported that the National Police brought holiday gifts to children they orphaned in the drug killings. The Star’s Ana Marie Pamintuan wrote, “One needs consummate skill in mental, emotional and spiritual calisthenics to separate the long-term effect from the cause, and to greet families of the casualties of your own war a merry Christmas. As PNP [Philippine National Police] chief, General Bato, you are directly responsible for the children’s eternal grief.”

If there is one way to demonstrate how deeply flawed Donald Trump is as a national leader, it is to take a look at his ability to deal with the Philippine lynchings.

How does Donald Trump function as a moral leader? During a Las Vegas debate during the campaign, Trump said he would order U.S. troops to commit war crimes—killing families of supposed terrorists, using interrogation techniques worse than waterboarding. He has attacked people for their looks, their race, their religion, their disabilties. He has cut ethical corners, bragged about cheating people.

How does he set an example for Duterte? How can he possibly speak with credibility?

What is happening in the Philippines is just the first issue of moral import Trump will find on his desk if he becomes president. There will be issues of crime, military action and income disparity. His dreadful example will wash over the people of this nation.

“I could sense a good rapport, an animated President-elect Trump,” Duterte said after speaking with Trump on the telephone. “And he was wishing me success in my campaign against the drug problem.” Trump’s spokespeople have not confirmed or denied this.

How do we look with admiration to the man who will soon sit where Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln sat? There are those who tell us it’s time to accept Trump and move on. But for the next four years, who will speak both for and to the U.S. on issues of morality? Trump cannot do it.