As a Christian and a conservative, I could probably find a thousand reasons for deciding against supporting Donald Trump in favor of supporting Ted Cruz. Yet, I understand the appeal. More than that, as with the other candidates in the 2016 GOP field, I appreciate a lot of what Mr. Trump has brought to the process. In the beginning, I think it was actually kind of healthy for us to have a loose cannon in the top tier of the debates. It was important this cycle that the people get shaken out of their apathy. It was important that we, as the citizens, broke the complacency of the political class within the GOP. More than that, it was cathartic to have someone who really doesn’t care about being classy or acceptable. It was cathartic to have the rage that has been bubbling along in the electorate the last several years be expressed on the main stage of the prime time Presidential debates.
In short, I believe, for a time, we needed Donald Trump as part of this process. But, I am a Christian, and a conservative, and as such I know it is dangerous to dwell in outrage and operate on emotional appeal. More importantly, I know that once that initial shock to the senses is achieved, to continue to rage against the world, or focus on the problems, will eventually lead to a blind mob mentality that inevitably leads to disaster. Mr. Trump never did quite make that shift. His message in this last debate was pretty much the same message he had in the first debate, and it wasn’t one of hope or substance. It was simply America sucks, and I’ll make it not suck. No realistic plan for how to accomplish that goal. And a demonstrable lack of knowledge when it comes to the critical functions of the President, like how our military and foreign policy actually work. As importantly to me, no demonstrable glimmer of the key requirements I have for a candidate this election cycle.
That’s a pretty strong assertion from me, and as such, I think I will likely break this particular candidate analysis into several parts. Because why I make that assertion is complex, rather than the simple knee-jerk dislike I keep seeing from so many people. It’s important to understand why, because if we don’t understand why we have that sense toward the man, he remains a caricature, the man everybody loves to hate. And quite frankly, in today’s political climate, that just might win him the primary, but it won’t win him the office of President.
So, let’s start with integrity and character. For me, that word means a lot of things, but primarily in this context it means that I can trust the person to mean what they say, stick to their words, and when they say something they are speaking the same language I am. This is one of the reasons I mentioned dissonance. If there is dissonance between what a person claims to believe and the way they behave, there is a lack of integrity and character. If there is dissonance between different things a person says at different times, there is a lack of character and integrity. Now understand, I do not mean thing where some has made a mistake, or simply changed a belief based on changed circumstance or new information, as in the case of Senator Rubio and the whole immigration debacle. I mean when a man says one thing one week, and something else the next. I mean when a man says he stands for one thing and against another, when the logical conclusion would leave those two things in opposition.
Donald Trump has exhibited numerous times where this has been a problem for him, and I don’t mean reaching back to previous election cycles and such. I mean right now, today. He cannot provide an articulate answer on the issue of ISIS or immigration. He’s gonna build a wall, bring businesses back from Mexico and then in his own words, whispered or not, tell those companies to perform an act I’m pretty sure companies aren’t capable of. Really? How does that work? You’re going to generate jobs by doing something you haven’t quite explained to bring companies back but then you’re going to be rude and obnoxious to those companies and treat them badly. This is supposed to improve the economy how?
That’s just the latest example of the incoherence of Mr. Trump’s speech. There is the vacillating behavior toward the press that flips and flops between him being victimized by them, but strong enough to stand up to them. Really? It has to be one or the other. Either you are victim or you are a grown up who takes the situation for what it is, an election cycle. There have been incoherent answers with regard to abortion, traditional marriage, national security, foreign policy, the military and health care. I can’t actually think of a single issue where I have heard him articulate a coherent idea or plan.
On this issue, I have two more things to say, and we’ll save the rest for tomorrow. First, there is the troubling truth that men of integrity do not claim other people’s ideas for their own. The border wall is only one of the several positions that have lately been attributed to Trump that were actually articulated by other candidates first. I have heard him do that on his stance about ISIS and the refugee crisis, as well as a couple of issues of economic policy. For many people, they don’t seem to notice that his was the echo, and the actual idea was someone else’s. For me, to be honest, I don’t entirely recall every instance either, but I recall enough, even it those moments are mere residual memory of early debates, that it creates a sense of dissonance, once again (see I told you that word would be coming up a lot). His speeches, debates and position statements are more and more reminding me of other populists who tried to keep people angry and distracted while they ran on empty promises.
Which leads me to the last and latest issue dealing with integrity and character. His comments to reporters that he can change into anything he wants to. I recognize that was in the context of his tone in the elections. But, it speaks to something deeply troubling when coupled with other things. People of integrity and character are who they are. What you see is what you get, and quite honestly, while you might change the topics you discuss some depending on the audience, and even the level of information depending on how much you expect an audience to know about a subject, you shouldn’t have to change your tone. I really don’t want a person who can become whatever he wants when he wants to. We’ve tried that. I want someone who already knows who they are and isn’t afraid or ashamed to be that person.
Long day ahead, tomorrow, a little more on character from a different perspective, and a little bit on faith. Hopefully we can wrap it up the next day.
In the meantime, I would not ask Mr. Trump to drop out of the race, as his position is quite different at this point than the other candidates like Doctor Carson. And in all honesty, perhaps considering the angst and the muddle that highly volatile partisan division has made of the populace, we may very well need to beat Mr. Trump in a fair fight in order to finally vanquish the notion that integrity and character aren’t as important as feeling good about being mad.
Be blessed and be a blessing, and happy voting!