I have to admit that I’ve been totally blown away by the meteoric rise of Donald Trump in the polls for President of the United States. As of today, according to RealClearPolitics.com, Donald Trump is leading the Republican field at 32%, with Dr. Ben Carson following at 19%, and the rest of the field down in the single digits. In other words, he’s winning by a healthy margin, at least at this point.
What’s interesting about this to me, among other things, is that this isn’t the first time he’s ran for president, but it’s by far the best he’s done. Why would that be? Has “The Donald” changed so significantly that his new message and delivery are more finely tuned and are therefore striking a new chord with the people? Or perhaps he hasn’t changed, but the pulse of our nation has changed, and now his message and personality are more acceptable and popular? Now I certainly don’t have any scientific analysis to back this up - I completely admit that my assessment is subjective - but the “new” Donald Trump seems exactly like the “old” Donald Trump to me. If my assessment is correct, then this tells me that it’s more likely that it’s not Donald who has changed, but the people in America.
Just to get it out on the table, I think that there are some flawed viewpoints that are leading some people to support Donald Trump. Please don’t get me wrong: Donald Trump very well may have something to offer our nation; he has a number of skills that very well may be beneficial in this office. But, as Christians, we should approach everything in our lives from a Christian worldview, and through these lenses, skill and talent and good ideas simply aren’t enough. A high sense of morals and character and integrity are just as, if not more important, than skills and talent and ideas. We need both, not one or the other. Let me be clear: I'm not talking about moral perfection; I'm not saying we need a president who is without sin; rather, I'm simply saying that we should place our support behind someone who shares our Christian convictions and doesn't embrace or enable sinful behaviors and attitudes. I hope that you will set aside preconceived ideas and at least consider what I have to say before getting defensive or angry.
Let’s look at a few of the things that, according to polls, people like about Donald Trump, and why from a Christian worldview these might not be the best traits for choosing the President of the United States:
“He’s entertaining”: Granted, this one is not based on polls, but rather this is simply my observation. During the first presidential debate, Megyn Kelly challenged him about some comments he’s made about women: “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals.’” When Donald replied, “Only Rosie O’Donnell,” the crowd absolutely erupted in cheering and clapping and laughing. Look, here’s the deal: regardless of your opinion of Rosie O’Donnell, this is not respectful, it’s not right, and it’s not ok. And though it was “entertaining” to some, this is not what we need as President of the United States. We don’t need a celebrity, we don’t even need a well-polished speaker, we don’t need an entertainer, but rather, we need someone with a brain, but also love, respect and wisdom.
“He doesn’t apologize”: This one has been a long time coming. A large portion of the republican base has taken issue with several occasions where President Obama has apologized to other countries for some of the decisions that our leaders have made in the past. I happen to agree that in many cases we shouldn’t go around bowing down to our enemies and apologizing for past leaders' decisions. HOWEVER, there are cases where we do need to apologize and we shouldn’t shy away from that – apologizing, done properly, respectfully and appropriately, shows humility and strength, not weakness. As Christians, apologizing and seeking forgiveness for wrong-doing is absolutely foundational to our faith. According to Jesus, we must forgive others as we’ve been forgiven, and we must seek reconciliation when the opportunity is there. And while this calling is on us as individuals, I believe it can and should be applied corporately as well. Not apologizing is not a positive trait.
“He’s not politically correct”: Political correctness has gone wild in our country. Some of the behaviors and decisions shaped by so-called political correctness are absolutely asinine. There are universities and schools across America that have banned the use of the terms “male” and “female” and “boys” and “girls.” One organization has convinced entire school districts to use the term “purple penguins” to refer to the children instead of “boys and girls” in an effort to not “offend” people. Sports organizations across America have ceased keeping score so that the team that loses doesn’t feel bad. Clothing depicting the American flag is banned in some western public schools in an effort to not alienate and offend people from Mexico. This is insane and unnecessary, and we do indeed need to take a few steps back and not worry quite so much about offending people. However, we need balance, not a pendulum swing all the way to the other side. My issue with Donald Trump is that he is so far on the other end of the spectrum that he’s offending people unnecessarily. Sometimes it seems like he is purposely offending people, and worse yet, some people really seem to like this! Here’s the thing: as Christians, we have a difficult and unique calling on our lives and that is that we are called to speak truth, but to do so in love. Unfortunately, this is a lot easier said than done. Political correctness for the sake of avoiding offending someone is silly, but using wisdom in how we communicate with one another to avoid unnecessary and exhibitionist-type levels of offense is not silly, but rather it’s our calling as Christians. And while Donald Trump may not be a Christian, I believe these are traits that we should consider in voting for a presidential candidate. Wisdom and love trump (no pun intended) political correctness, as well as political un-correctness every day of the week.
“He’s a successful business man and his business skills can help our economy”: True. Donald Trump is indeed a successful business-man as he has made billions of dollars. I don’t fault him whatsoever for his success, I think it’s wonderful. However, his philosophy on business doesn’t seem to directly apply to leading a nation. Take, for example, Donald’s best-selling book: “Think Big and Kick $%& in Life.” In it he said that he loved “to crush the other side and take the benefits,” and said about a bank who lost a lot of money on a deal with him: “I figured it was the bank’s problem, not mine. What the h%$* did I care? I actually told one bank, ‘I told you you shouldn’t have loaned me that money. I told you the %^&%*& deal was no good.’ It’s actually quite easy to agree with Donald on this: he makes deals to benefit himself, and if someone else loses, that’s their fault. But how is this kind of ruthless approach to negotiations and deal-making going to transfer to the complex and rapidly evolving global geo-political environment? How is Vladimir Putin going to respond to these kinds of comments? Or what about President Xi Jinping of China? The days are long gone where the United States can bully the world into submission; numerous world economies are growing very quickly and the world is catching up to us increasingly fast in many, many ways. Sure there are times when ruthlessness is appropriate, but restraint is going to be more and more important on the global stage, and it just doesn’t seem like Donald Trump has this particular trait.
What then shall we do? I write all of this not to bash Donald Trump, but to point out that as Christians our worldview should apply across the board: at work, at home, at the polls, on the internet, in government, etc. To be a soldout Christian means that our Christianity defines everything for us, not just what we do on Sunday at Church. We shouldn’t yoke ourselves to unbelievers, and we shouldn’t vote for people that don’t reflect our values. I'm not judging people who don't share our values; rather, I want to encourage those who do share them, to apply them in all facets of life.
Having said all of that, God is in control regardless of who wins, and while I believe we should participate in the democratic process in our country, this is not where we place our hope. Our hope is in Jesus and that’s good enough for me.