The day of the Donald

People sure are apoplectic about Donald Trump.

On the one hand, you have conservative Christians repulsed by Trump’s ever-present boasting which we’ve seen since he became famous in the 1980s. He’s an adulterer, an opportunist, a demagogue, a flip-flopper blown about by political winds. He’s a crony capitalist who has supported liberals over and over again. He’s coarse, childish, and vindictive. He claims to be a serious Christian while being uncertain of whether he’s ever asked forgiveness. Someone tell the man to read 1 John 1 and Romans 3! Even Bill Clinton faked it better than that. Trump is so tone-deaf to Christian understanding that it makes me wonder if he’s ever contemplated a Christian sermon or a verse of Scripture. Is he so insulated among the jet set that his only exposure to a church is the occasional funeral or wedding at one of those big cathedrals where they have a beautiful choir and Mr. Milquetoast giving the homily?

On the other hand, you have the enmity of the Republican Party ‘establishment’ who are panicked about their power base. These are the people who look down on ‘flyover country.’ They know Trump is a threat to their power and influence. Make no mistake, Trump’s support is strongest among people who are thumbing their nose at this very establishment and its sponsors.

People like Trump’s verbal smackdowns of those they think have been in need of one for a long time. Trump’s shotgun blasts do occasionally put shrapnel in a deserving target, although my favorite moment was more inadvertently witty. That came when Trump defended banning incoming Muslims by saying that secular saint Franklin Roosevelt interned the Japanese… and we all love Franklin, don’t we? Well, no Donald, we don’t, but it was still amusing.

In the end, Trump supporters are tired of the same old political games. He has been the most flamboyant middle finger candidate in a generation. He’s coarse, but Dr. Johnson once noted that he knew someone who always talked bawdy at the dinner table because it was a language all could comprehend. Trump seems to instinctively understand this. This is a guy who’s been around the media for a long time. He’s had a hit TV show. I’m not convinced there isn’t some schtick involved here, as I’ve heard his private persona is different than the public one. To voters, if all politicos are corrupt, at least this guy has his own money and he’s been an entrepreneur… so how could he be any worse?

Honestly, I don’t know that Trump really is much worse than the usual Republican general election candidate, which is more of a comment on them than on Trump’s positive qualities. The GOP nominated Mitt Romney four years ago. Romney, who accused Trump this week of being a “phony,” is not childish like the Donald, but Mitt’s an ambitious career wind vane who makes Bob Dole seem principled by comparison. (I think Lew Rockwell is correct that Romney’s real desire is to find a way into the race, perhaps at the convention. Talk about tone deaf. Didn’t the Mittster see what happened to Jeb Bush? In past cycles, Bush would have been a significant candidate. He was a popular two-term governor of a large swing state. This time most people said “no thanks.” Why would they want Romney instead?)

Can Trump win? It’s a good question. He has legions of detractors and his cronyism makes it tough to attack many of Clinton’s shortcomings, but I think he puts states in play that his primary opponents probably do not. He’ll draw lower-class democrats who admire his success and populism. His brash style appeals even to minorities and can cut through the usual “racism” nonsense used in place of an argument by progressives and establishment hacks. He might be a tough out for the Democrats.

To his credit, Trump is liked by many who’ve know him, including employees. That’s more than can be said for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, for example. He seems to know how to cut deals and get along with others to some degree.

Not only that, Trump is the only candidate on either side advising some foreign restraint. He has rightly asked why we are trying to take on Russia. He’s questioned why we are so eager to start wars. I for one do not understand why so many Christians think we need to “make the sand glow” in the Middle East. How about we give Muslims the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ instead? Most Christians would protest that they agree with that sentiment, but spurred on by Caesar’s courtiers they seem to think the Holy Spirit can’t overcome the Crescent as well as Caesar’s bombs and planes.

Donald Trump has been a successful entrepreneur. He’s industrious and he’s hired lots of people. Of course, he’s also used the “political means” (bribes, eminent domain, etc.), but there is legitimate industry there even if his whole “what jobs have you created?” criticism of other candidates is silly. He’s against the establishment and its sponsors on the main issue to his voters: unrestrained/illegal immigration. I have my doubts on whether he’s truly opposed, but he’s doing quite a job at playing it up.

In sum, I could never vote for Trump for the reasons noted at the top of the article as well as the fact that behind the carnival barker front he’s just more of the same, a promoter of a massive state. However, I understand the support for him. At times I’ve enjoyed watching him take on the establishment. I don’t think the Donald is worse than the typical establishment general election candidate in most ways, and in some ways he could be a marginal improvement. But… I’ll close with some things for Trump supporters to think about.

First, the egotistical allure of playing a tough-guy commander-in-chief in office could lead Trump into overseas adventures surpassing neocons like Bush, Rubio, and Kasich. In a time of unrest, such as after 911, Trump’s Mussolini-ish tendencies could be a little frightening.

Second, unbelievers have no rock to stand on and are blown about by changing winds (thankfully restrained by God- Proverbs 21:1). If Trump has enough popularity he’s like to turn on a dime and betray those who put him in office, especially since I think his real views more closely align to someone like Bill Clinton.

Third, will God bless such an unrepentant boaster?

Fourth, I think he will realign the establishment, with careers falling and others rising. But it seems like a “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” situation. An old skyscraper will be torn down and a new one built in its place. Different people, different building, same result. In other words, Trump has long been a crony capitalist and a respecter of persons, so does anyone really think his movement will replace the old system with a more righteous rule? I don’t.

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