What Does the Rise of Donald Trump Say About Us?

September 1, 2015 by cloften  
Filed under Bible, Church and Leadership

Seriously. It was great TV.

Seriously. It was great TV.

If you watched the early seasons of The Apprentice, then you saw some amazing television.  It was during the prime of the reality TV show competitions and “The Donald” was hilarious.  The attitude, the hair, the one-liners.  He was a character made for reality TV.  It ran its course after a few years and switched to “Celebrity” Apprentice (I think we are ultimately going to have to redefine that word) and Heiid and I lost interest.  I’m stunned it was still on this year, but he is a great TV character.  But Troy, Bill, Omarosa that was some good TV.

So, a few years ago when The Donald started inserting himself into politics, I knew it was going to be good TV at a minimum.  Then, he did it.  He decided to run for president.  I follow politics closely, and guard my personal politics just as closely.  I knew this was going to be interesting.  He would cause a storm and have some great one-liners.  He would get the publicity that he wanted, have a good time and then the “regular” political race would continue.

But then something happened, he became the front-runner…by a lot…in an overwhelming large pool of candidates.  He was/is getting 25% of the Republican primary in a crowded field of 17 candidates.  This makes a brother stop and wonder, how does such a thing happen? What does this say about us and the current state of American politics?

Disclaimers: If you are planning on voting for him, you will probably think I’m slamming him.   If you think he is a big jerk, you will probably think I’m justifying him.  If both groups are a little upset, then I have set the right tone for this.  Also, for the purpose of this piece, his particular politics are irrelevant.  If he had come out as the polar opposite on the issue of immigration, I am coming to believe that the result would have been the same.  The haters would love. The lovers would hate.  Because his personality and approach to the political stage are tapping something inside of us and are the natural result of where our political culture and culture as a whole has been heading.  Final disclaimer: I am not telling you to vote or not vote for him.  I do not believe that is my place or my particular calling to do that.  My thoughts on that are pretty well-documented.  Click on the politics tag at the bottom and read for yourself, if you’d like.

1. He says what he actually thinks. There is something particularly refreshing about someone who just tells you what he thinks in easy to understand language.  For years politicians have talked in a way to make what they say seem vague enough to send the right message to supporters but confuse other people.  They also give themselves the wiggle room they need to get out of something that they said if it turns out to be unpopular later.  They intentionally obfuscate in order to be able to say later, “You may have thought that’s what I said, but what I meant was…” They can put any number of things at the end of that sentence depending what is expedient.  All sides of the spectrum have grown weary of that and are looking for someone who will just “shoot straight” with them.  If The Donald is anything, he is clear.  This leads to the next one.

2. The end of respectful disagreements is almost dead if not already dead. When is the last time you heard someone in politics or in much of anything say, “Allow me to respectfully disagree,” “I see your point but please allow me to explain why I see it differently,” “Can we agree to disagree?”  Nope, that’s not what you are going to hear.  Instead we get, “Allow me now to show you what an idiot you are,” “I could see your point if I were an idiot, but I’m not so…” “Can we agree that you are an idiot?”  Our thinking has become so polarized that we can no longer believe that there are good-hearted intelligent people who see things differently than me.  Don’t believe me? Check your Facebook wall or any cable news network, not just the one that THEY like, the one you like too.  In a world where people who disagree with me are immoral or stupid, we become attracted to someone who will just “tell it like it is.”  I think they are idiots and I want someone who will say that they are idiots.  Which leads to the third.

3. He is unapologetic. We have decided that we are sick of people who back down when they are pushed.  Say what you mean, say it strong and don’t say your sorry.  The Donald has no problem saying what he thinks, saying it strongly and not backing down if someone is offended.  Whether he is referencing POW’s, female moderators of debates or simply people who disagree with him, he will not back down or apologize.  He has said that he has never sought God’s forgiveness.  If that’s the case, I wouldn’t think that Megyn Kelly or Jorge Ramos should be waiting by the phone.  We have been building toward this for a while as well.  George W. Bush multiple times during his presidency said that he couldn’t think of any mistakes that he had made.  President Obama followed that up by saying his greatest mistake was not doing a good enough job telling people in the right way that what he was doing was right.

We take arrogance and call it strength.  “Well if you admit that you did something wrong, THEY will make an ad slamming you, so you can’t.”  I get it and this is where we are then.  We decide that if THEY won’t back down, WE won’t back down.  I’m not going to give THEM anything.  So humility and honesty are considered vices not virtues.  I want to be led by someone who makes mistakes, knows that and then fixes them.  I don’t want to be spun and told up is down and down is up.  However, that is where we are.  Until that changes, we can expect our candidates to only get more brash and arrogant.  While some of that isn’t all bad, it certainly isn’t all good either.


4. He is giving political speeches in a suit and a baseball cap. Who doesn’t love that?

5. He’s a celebrity. I believe we are just a few years away from exclusively electing celebrities as president.  No further comment here.  A celebrity culture rant may come later.  I’ll just leave you with this.  President Kanye West.