A fellow Christian (and conservative) friend asked me to list the problems I had with Donald Trump as a Republican candidate. The hard part is knowing where to start.
Trump claims to be conservative. He is definitely saying things that resonate with those who are concerned about jobs, border security and immigration. But, I believe proven character and integrity is far more important than what a person claims about themselves.
Trump supporters are convinced he is genuine simply because he says things they want to hear. Yet seem to forget that the art of demagoguery is to say what plays well with a particular crowd. Trump is shrewd enough to make a sale, but is he honest?
Myth #1—Trump ‘says it how it is’ and is honest.
Trump’s claim to fame is not personal integrity or conservativism. He is known for salesmanship and a bestselling book, “The Art of a Deal,” where he talks about creating a big impression. In other words, try to create an appearance of success and dazzle.
Trump parroting popular prejudice doesn’t make a him honest anymore than me moonwalking makes me Michael Jackson. There’s a strong possibility he may just be saying what some want to hear in order to make the sale. Those saying that Trump ‘says it how it is’ might want to consider who they are dealing with.
Trump, like the used car salesman who sold you that clunker, is trying to make a deal with you.
Sure, he might not be saying what ‘they’ want to hear, just as a used car salesman might also act like he’s at odds with the management because the deal he is making with you is going to cost ‘them’ too much. But that doesn’t mean you take the salesman at their word on it!
From a Christian perspective, there is even more need to be discerning and skeptical of claims that sound good to us:
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-5)
Trump has claimed a mythological net worth of near nine billion dollars, but Trump’s actual net worth is half of what he claims according to Forbes. So is Trump clueless about his own business holdings? Or does he know that the attention span of the average person is short and that he can dazzle people with a huge number that they’ll never check?
Even Trump’s business prowless seems as grossly exaggerated. Yes, he’s extremely wealthy, but he also had a huge head start and his daddy’s fortune to build from. It is said that the first million is the hardest and there’s some truth to that. You are far ahead when you can reinvest rather than spend your income on necessities. Trump had that advantage.
The real way to measure Trump is to put his accomplishments in perspective of his own peers:
Reality check: Trump’s success really is not as impressive when put in proper context. Trump is trying to make a sale, he is out to make a big impression with his target audience and willing to deceive.
Myth #2—Trump is rich and therefore he cannot be bought.
John D. Rockefeller, the world’s wealthiest man, was once asked: “How much money is enough money?”. His reply: “Just a little bit more.”
Rockefeller’s answer should be the end of this myth that the rich man cannot be bought or bribed. G.K. Chesterton took it a step further and said:
“You will hear everlastingly that the rich man cannot be bribed. The fact is, of course, that the rich man is bribed; he has been bribed already. That is why he is a rich man.”
I could understand how a secular person could be fooled into believing that wealth is a virtue. But a Christian has absolutely no excuse, Jesus makes mention of the “deceitfulness of riches” (Mark 4:19) and may well have been paraphrasing the book of Habakkuk:
“Wealth is deceitful. Greedy people are proud and restless—like death itself they are never satisfied.”
Could it be that Trump is rich because he has already been bought?
The wealth of a man does not prove anything positive about his character or integrity. There are good wealthy people, but there are also many wealthy people who would steal from their own grandmother and wouldn’t think twice about scamming you.
Is every wealthy person a crook? No, certainly not! I disagree with those who automatically equate wealth and greed. However, in many case great wealth can be a sign of moral bankruptcy.
One of Trump’s holdings could say a bit about his philosophy in business and in life. That is that he’s in the Casino business. Sure, this is a perfectly legal enterprise, gambling is an activity many people enjoy, but it is also a game stacked against the participant, the house always wins, and the people who can least afford it are often the losers.
Reality check: Trump’s wealth may be legally acquired, but that doesn’t mean it was acquired through morally upright and non-exploitative means.
Myth #3—Trump is a political outsider and not an ‘establishment’ candidate.
During the debate Trump was asked:
“You’ve also supported a host of other liberal policies, you’ve also donated to several Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton included, Nancy Pelosi. You explained away those donations saying you did that to get business related favors. And you said recently, quote, “when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”
“You better believe it… I will tell you that our system is broken. I gave to many people. Before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them. They are there for me. And that’s a broken system.”
Now some may say such a brazen admission is a ‘breath of fresh air’ and refreshing honesty. I suppose a serial killer bragging about how he outwitted investigators could also be considered the same. But I’m not sure a shameless corruption is an improvement over the run of the mill variety.
If Trump were a poor person gaming the welfare system to his own advantage and bragging about it, would we applaud his shameless corruption or condemn it?
If Trump were a politician, would an ‘everyone else is doing it’ rationale and a witty response about the Clinton’s attending his wedding absolve him of guilt for being complicit in corruption?
Then there’s the matter of Trump’s attempts to use eminent domain for personal gain. As a National Review editorial puts it:
“Donald Trump’s covetous nature is not in dispute, but what many may forget is that he’s no great respecter of the admonition not to steal, either: The man has a track record of using the government as a hired thug to take other people’s property.”
Trump tried to use government power to force a widow from her property and was struck down in court. That is the modern day equivalent of king Ahab seizing Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21) and is the kind of crony capitalism that is the problem.
There’s two sides of the political establishment. One side is the politicians and the other side is men like Trump who work tirelessly to corrupt politicians. Men with money, like Trump, who exploit the system for personal gain, are just as much the problem as a crooked politicians who take their money.
Trump is as much a part of the political establishment as a Bush or a Clinton. He is not an ‘outsider’ by any stretch of the imagination. So, it is time to see past the sales pitch, do not be dazzled by a man who has never proven himself loyal to anything besides his own self-interest.
Reality check: Trump shows no sign of having embraced Christian ethics. Trump’s confessions of his own corruption come without any sign of remorse and repentance.
Myth #4—Trump will govern differently than he does business.
If we have not learned by now maybe we will never learn. But every manipulator on the planet claims that they will change if only you give them what they want.
Trump shows no sign of remorse or repentance for exploiting the system for personal gain, yet we are supposed to believe he would never abuse government power for personal gain if he secures the White House?
If you believe that, I have a bridge I am selling…