Because I like logic, I typically dislike politics and positively hold most politicians with contempt. I understand that politics are unavoidable, whether in government, business, or church, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it; it is, in my estimation, one of the clearest evidences that humanity is fallen. Politicians irk me with their rhetoric full of fluff and fallacies; it then irks me even more when I see that it works on people, many of who then become mouth-breathing supporters incapable of critical thinking. There simply is no arena of debate more soiled with raw and selfish emotionalism than politics. Therefore, I often ignore politics, which isn’t always a good thing, but it’s just so much less aggravating to read about things like sports (which is saying something because we all know that sports fans can lose their minds).
Still, because it is election season, I cannot help but be aware of the races to find each party’s nominee. Naturally enough, every candidate will have their lovers and haters, but there is perhaps no one more divisive than Mr. Donald Trump. Even among conservatives, he is a polarizing figure; many dislike him greatly, but there is a surprising amount of support for him such that he remains the front-runner for the Republican party. Not only does he have some support from conservatives in general, he has received support from some conservative Christians, including high profile ones such as Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist, Dallas.
I confess to being one of those people who is puzzled by this. I won’t pretend to be a policy expert, but there is much in Trump’s history to be concerned about as a conservative, such as inconsistent views on abortion and reactionary views on immigration. Also, while there is not (and should not be) a religious test for the presidency, we should still care about some general moral characteristics for our nation’s leader because that actually matters when it comes to making and executing law. Trump often comes off as a cartoon character who is amusing but superficial and childish. What makes things worse is his obvious pandering to conservative evangelicals and disingenuous appeals to Christianity. I honestly do not care that he said “Two” Corinthians in his infamous speech at Liberty because yes, people can and do call it that, but I do care that he is pretending to be something–a Bible-reading conservative Christian–that he clearly is not. I’d actually have a bit more respect for him if he did not pretend to be so but rather appealed to shared conservative principles regarding limited government, originalist Constitutional interpretation, and fiscal responsibility. In addition, on a purely practical matter, Trump is probably not even electable in a general election precisely because he is so polarizing, so unless conservatives want to be saddled with Hillary Clinton or a self-proclaimed and confused socialist, then it would seem prudent to find someone else to support.
So this brings us to the question: Why on earth does Trump have such strong evangelical support right now? From a policy perspective, I think one issue in particular has helped him, and that is his seemingly no-nonsense stance against illegal immigration. However, on a broader note, I think it is this: He comes off as an “outsider” to the political game of Washington, who says what he wants, does what he wants, and is not beholden to lobby or special interest groups because he has his own money (not saying that this is necessarily true, but only that this is how he comes across). He will “get things done.”
It is here that I, a self-professed hater of the political game, can relate a bit. There is something deeply dissatisfying about established politicians to the point that people often joke that the best men for the job of political leadership wouldn’t want to do it in the first place because they are too wise to want to get into that mess. The maneuvering, the rhetoric, the corruption–on both sides of the aisle–often lead to division and absurdity rather than results, and Americans are tired of it. And no one is more tired of it than conservatives who watched Obama try to ram legislation, executive orders, racial rhetoric, and massive spending down their throats while also watching their own conservative leaders make curious decisions and say dumb things. Add on top of that a Supreme Court that sometimes operates so profoundly differently than what the framers wanted, and it seems high time for an outsider to come in and blow things up.
I understand the frustration and exasperation, but I also think voting from a standpoint of frustration or anger isn’t wise. After all, while conservatives greatly dislike Obama, it wasn’t too long ago when liberals and even some moderates viewed Bush as the second coming of Hitler and blindly swallowed so many empty promises a younger Barack Obama tickled their ears with. Many of those same voters, 4 to 8 years later, found themselves bitterly disappointed. Frustrated and angry people are easily duped by nice-sounding rhetoric and high promises; look no further than Germany in the 30’s. Trump is obviously not Hitler (and neither is Bush or Obama), but the principle applies: Vote out of emotion, and you set yourself up for making a poor decision.
And this is how, in my estimation, a guy like Donald Trump has won the support of so many people, including Christians: He represents all of their annoyance with the “establishment.” All I will say, however, is that he may not be as different from the so-called “establishment” as he wants to portray, and even if he were very different, that does not necessarily make him better. I find him being president to be a deeply unsettling possibility, so hopefully, calmer minds prevail and voters act more prudently when it comes to this Republican race.