Trump The Absolver Begins His Left Turn

G.K. Chesterton wrote that “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” This quote also applies to politics, and to the many who’ve suffered under America’s oppressive political environment for the last several decades.

trump_human_quoteBoth parties have proved themselves untrustworthy. And although a small spark of the Tea Party yielded some great candidates, including two currently in the presidential race–Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio–they’ve now been heaped into the fervent oven of Donald Trump’s all-consuming incinerator by Americans not looking for a political leader, but an absolver.

One of my friends nailed this point for me (I quote him but will keep him anonymous due to his job restrictions).

I’m convinced Trump supporters simply think up what they’d like a candidate to be and then impute that to Trump. The Trump in their minds does not match the Trump of reality, but they’ve convinced themselves of the fantasy.

The fantasy is of a strong, no-nonsense leader, invoking George S. Patton (not the actual general, but the George C. Scott version in front of a massive American flag). The fantasy is Superman, or more appropriately, Tony Stark, genius billionaire who doesn’t need anyone to tell him what to do and (usually) does the right thing, although he’s personally flawed. Superman is too goody-goody.

And there’s where the double-standard comes in. When Trump calls Cruz and Rubio liars (I’d link stories but there are simply too many instances–just Google “Trump calls Cruz a liar”), people who impute their own view of a leader onto Trump believe it because if Cruz (and Rubio) isn’t a liar, we have to come back to earth where people solve complex problems using their brainpower, skills, and training.

Trump has brainpower, skills, and training too, but all in the art of persuasion and making “deals.” (I use scare-quotes on deals because his deals are always designed self-enriching, frequently at the expense of the other parties.)

Trump’s supporters don’t want him to disclose his taxes, or his medical records, or what’s on the tape at the New York Times. They don’t want him to be human. They want him to be a warped mirror of themselves, granting absolution for their own imperfections in a flawed leader who tells them it’s okay to feel scared for this country and to blame others for it instead of taking responsibility.

Look at how Trump is defended by otherwise good Christians. Mike Huckabee defended “winning.”

Huckabee, who has not officially endorsed Trump, told Fox & Friends that “people in Washington need to recognize the reason that Trump is winning is because they (his supporters) feel like people in Washington have helped them lose and they’re sick of it.”

“The donor class runs the political environment in this country and people are waking up to that and they are tired of it,” added the former presidential candidate.

“That’s what this election is largely about, it’s an overthrow of the government….we ought to be glad that it is a peaceful revolution with ballots rather than one with bullets,” said Huckabee, adding that the Trump phenomenon was a “political revolution in the Republican Party and in the country.”

I’d gasp, but that would be too dramatic. We should be glad it’s not with bullets–I guess Trump has broken Huckabee like a prisoner-of-war. Or look at Chris Christie’s stricken eyes. I’ve never seen such a broken man speak so much without saying a word as Christie did during Trump’s triumphant post-Super Tuesday speech.

He had the face of a man who has used his third wish and realized too late that “may my family never starve” could be twisted to mean that the genie should murder his entire family.

And Trump definitely continued his left turn in that speech. Persuasion expert (and Dilbert cartoonist) Scott Adams called the press conference “insanely brilliant.

It was obvious that Trump was trying to showcase his moderate, non-scary side – so the public knows he has one – and by most accounts he succeeded. I thought he succeeded as well. His statements about supporting women’s health in the context of Planned Parenthood funding – against the grain of his own party – were especially powerful.

And yet, Jerry Falwell, Jr. defends him (from his Washington Post Op-Ed on Jan. 27).

In short, we need someone to bring this country back from the brink and make America great again in the same way that the right team of professionals helped make Liberty great again between 1987 and today.

Finally, it was not my intent to compare Trump to Jesus Christ in my introduction at Liberty. I know that all of us are sinners, and only Jesus was perfect.

I do believe Trump is a good father, is generous to those in need, and is an ethical and honest businessman. I have gotten to know him well over the last few years and have come to admire him for those traits.

I do not believe, however, that when Jesus said “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” that he meant we should elect only someone who would make a good Sunday School teacher or pastor. When we step into our role as citizens, we need to elect the most experienced and capable leaders.

We’re all entitled to our opinions, but I think Falwell may be deluding himself about the ethical and honest businessman part.

Dallas First Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress continues the charade of self-delusion, invoking the Patton image, and lamenting that a Christian could never elected.

Let me tell you, George Patton couldn’t care less about tone and language; he was intent on wining a war – and I think we are in a war right now. We need to win the war and I think we need a president who is intent on doing that who can get elected.

Look, I would love to have a born-again Christian who has humbled himself before God and whose faith is part of every area of his life – if he could get elected. I’m saying I don’t think that candidate can get elected today.

William F. Buckley said, We need to nominate the most conservative candidate who’s electable – and I think that’s why there’s a case for Donald Trump. [Many evangelicals] may not agree with me – that’s fine. Everybody needs to make their own mind up about this. But nobody has the right to be a Pharisee and try to impose their opinion as an obligation on other people. I think we need to respect the right of other Christians to disagree.

I suppose Jeffress has never heard of Christians Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, who are both beating Hillary Clinton in head-to-head polling. Jeffress also said, “The Bible gives absolutely no checklist for how to vote, because voting was not present in biblical times.” Jeffress also conveniently forgot about Pilate and Barabbas.

The Trump delusion is very strong. It’s intended to be strong and to apply a double-standard to those who challenge it. If Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio ever said half the things that Trump gets away with (from cussing, to saying he’d have to “look into” who the KKK was), they’d be dumped from the race in less than 24 hours. Yet otherwise rational people react in fear and parrot Trump in calling those two fine men liars and dissemblers.

I fear that we are at a tipping point in this country. I fear that Mike Huckabee may be correct: We should be glad there are no bullets. But if it came to that, which side would Trump be on?

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

View all posts