Everyone who has been following the ongoing Republican political primary has been surprised, by candidate Donald Trump’s continued dominance in the polls. No one that I have heard from predicted that he would be a serious contender – let alone at the top of the polls. In spite of Trump’s strident, recent statements he has held his lead to the wonderment of all. Indeed, the man seems completely bulletproof when it comes to saying things that might get him in trouble.
I believe the reason for Trump’s continued success stems from the fact that he channels the justified anger that so many Americans feel at the weak futility of our current leadership. We now have a Republican congress that seems disinclined to do anything to oppose a president who is bent on eroding our liberties and weakening our great nation. Trump’s strident and sometimes angry message resonates with Republican voters who are fed-up with the status quo. To his supporters, Trump seems like the answer – a bold, plain-spoken, outsider who will break us free of our current malaise. That he sometimes acts like a jerk does not deter them – quite the contrary, they see it as an expression of their own frustration at being effectively disenfranchised and unrepresented in a government that is increasingly out-of-touch with them. Honestly, I totally get that.
I believe that Trump supporters have correctly identified the problem, but I also believe that they have applied the wrong solution. Trump is, without doubt, a bold speaker – just as he is, without doubt, a very successful business man. He has boldly said some self-evidently true things that are so rarely said that it is quite refreshing to hear them. His lack of polish is endearing to a public that is sick and tired of being lied to by smooth-talking politicians. I too am sick of being lied to by politicians who say they’ll fight for what’s right and then don’t do it.
And that brings me to the subject of trust. Trust is so important for conservative voters who have gotten burned more times than we can count by candidates who talked a conservative talk, but haven’t walked that walk. For my money, the only reliable way to tell if a political candidate will do what he says he will do is to look at his record and see if that’s what he’s done in the past. And this is where I start to get some serious heartburn about Mr. Trump. First and foremost the man has said “I do” three times, and while the jury may still be out on the last time, the first two times he certainly did not do. If divorce alone doesn’t bother you, then consider that he cheated on wife number one with wife number two before he divorced the former and married the latter. Granted that is in the past, but Trump also maintains that he doesn’t feel the need to directly ask God’s forgiveness for anything that he has done. It may sound clichéd, but if the man can’t be trusted to keep his marriage vows, how can we trust him for anything else? Don’t expect to find a Reagan with the personal life of a Clinton. It doesn’t work that way
But we don’t need to look as far as Trump’s personal life to find things that ought to make us queasy. Over his career he has shown a penchant for using eminent domain to try to seize land for his development projects. In one instance the story set up very much like the plot from the Pixar movie “Up,” with Trump attempting to throw an aged woman named Vera Coking out of her home. That doesn’t look very much like a strong regard for personal property rights. Now of course, the argument can be made that over time Trump has evolved to the political right – as he has claimed recently. For all we know, maybe he has. But that’s the trouble, we don’t know, and while we may use many words to describe him, repentant probably isn’t one of them. Trump has flipped his views on virtually every major political issue since 2000, and while I sincerely hope that he is truly convinced of the merits of conservative principles, he has had no opportunity to prove what he really believes.
Finally, I believe there is a strong argument against Trump from expediency alone. Doesn’t it strike you as odd that with all the news that Trump is making and all the attention he is getting, nobody on the left or in the mainstream media, (but I repeat myself), has said anything about his personal life? You’d think that would be all over the place given Mr. Trump’s rise to prominence and sordid marital history. This should make us uneasy, because it looks very much like the media is holding off on trotting out Trump’s soap-opera personal life until after he cinches the Republican nomination. It wouldn’t be the first time the media has used such a tactic.
I agree that America needs strong, conservative leadership. I just don’t think that Trump is our man. We can do much better, and we need to. Yes, we’ve gotten burned by a lot of smooth-talking politicians, but they are not the only ones who are capable of deceiving. Moreover even with good intentions, it takes an incredible amount of moral courage to go to Washington D.C. and stand for conservative principles. Trump has a lot of bluster, and perhaps even a modicum of real courage, but based on what we’ve seen of his record, we ought to be concerned that he does not possess the kind of courage and commitment to doing right no matter what, that will be required to turn our country around. That’s why, in my opinion, he is no Republican Trump card.