Beaten By The Trump Card

5 Reflections On The Election.

The world is in a state of shock.

Donald Trump, billionaire playboy and reality TV star has surprised nearly everyone by  taking the White House. Writing in the Washington Post, Chris Cilizza says:

Trump’s victory is the single most stunning political development I have ever witnessed.’

Trump supporters are on top of the moon. And Hillary supporters, well, perhaps ‘pit of despair’ is a fitting description of where they’re at. Elections can do that to us.

Donald Trump

Photo courtesy wikimedia.com

There’ll be much to analyse and discuss as the dust settles on this historic upset. But in the immediate aftermath, here are 5 reflections: 

1) In an Image Driven Society, the Reality TV Star is King

We’re more impressed by style than substance.

The late Neil Postman warned about modern society’s obsession with image, driven by television (and now digital) technology:

As the influence of print wanes, the content of politics, religion, education, and anything else that comprises public business must change and be recast in terms that are most suitable to television’. [1]

In other words, image-based technologies such as television and digital media have made us into people more influenced by image, than by substance (e.g. detailed policy concepts). We’re more influenced by appearance and style, than by intelligent – and boring! – discussion.

Now sure, there’s more to Trump’s victory than just image: as one commentator put it,

‘Trump is the collective middle finger form all the people who think the elites have laughed them off and dismissed them for too long’.

But it’s our western society’s reliance on image that allowed this billionaire – who boasts about his wealth! –  to become the hero to the disenfranchised working class man.

2) Trump Promises to Bring Heaven to Earth

But he’s going to disappoint.

You can’t win the American Presidency without making stratospheric promises. In this case, it was ‘Make America Great Again’. If there’s a problem with our world, then our secular age looks to politics to solve it.

Now don’t get me wrong: politics is important. But it can’t solve all our problems: it’s value is limited. Politics can’t solve crime, or family breakup, domestic violence, drugs, or pornography. It can’t solve child abuse, or any other significant problem our society is grappling with. It can’t solve these problems because these problems arise out of our sinful human hearts. And whilst politics can address the symptoms of our sin, it can’t solve sin. Only the Real Messiah can do that.

(Sorry to disappoint, Trump fans).

3) The Constitution was Designed for People Like Donald Trump

It deliberately limits government power.

Whilst progressivism tends to increase the size and power of government – particularly the Federal government –  so as to deal with pressing social problems (poverty, inequality, etc), the conservative worldview – built on the Christian view of sinful humanity – is very cautious about government power. And it’s this caution that’s built into the US constitution, restraining the government. As social commentator Yuval Levin writes:

Restraining public power enables society to avoid the large mistakes that would ensure if too much power were wielded by any one group’. [2]

Perhaps with the advent of Donald Trump, more progressives will realise the importance of limited government?

4) Did You Notice The Clash of Worldviews in Support for Hillary?

The first ‘woman’ President vs Gender Fluidity.

I noticed something surprising in the Hillary campaign. On the one hand, we’re increasingly being told that our ‘gender identity’ is fluid, and not tied to our biology in any way, shape or form.

But on the other hand, we’re told that Hillary’s victory would have been historic because – get this – she’s a woman.

So who’s right? The people that say gender is fluid, not tied to biology – and thus insignificant, or those who say gender is tied to biology – and thus deeply significant?

5) Remember What Colin Buchanan Says

“The Lord is King. And He’s Going to Look After Everything.”

 

You might be scratching your head, wondering how nobody saw this coming. Wondering how the American people could vote for such a man. Wondering how it’s taken the world by surprise.

But it hasn’t taken Jesus the Messiah by surprise: Jesus is the One who’s in control here. He knows what He’s doing. And we can rest in that knowledge. 

What Next for the Donald?

Perhaps Trump will live up to his divisive campaign rhetoric, and –amongst other things – make economic war against China, whilst building a southern wall. Or maybe he’ll settle down and become a more rational President – a glimpse of which we saw in his conciliatory victory speech. Time will tell.

But either way, we Christians should start praying for Trump – whatever country we’re in – that he’ll be a responsible President. And let’s keep doing what the Messiah wants us to do: proclaiming His Salvation to all nations, and loving our neighbour.

No matter who sits in The White House.

 

What are your thoughts on the Trump victory? 

 

 

 

[1] Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves To Death (London: Methuen, 1987), 8.

[2] Yuval Levin, The Fractured Republic – Renewing America’s Social Contract in The Age of Individualism (New York: Basic Books, 2016), 37.

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11 thoughts on “Beaten By The Trump Card

  1. That’s a great post Akos. I agree, we ought to be praying for Donald Trump, not just that he will be a responsible president, but that in great moments of political engagement with a broken and fractured world, he may come to see the hand of God in everything. I like Billy Graham’s biography – especially his close dealings with a succession of US presidents, and the many times he prayed with them, ministered to them, encouraged them. I think only Truman was cagey and unreceptive (though at the time, Graham did not have a strong profile), but Graham had a close and positive influence on virtually all the rest.

  2. Okay, the American people have chosen a Shallow Demagogue who can no more command America to be great again than Canute could order a king tide to appear at his front verandah. But that is better than electing a seizure-prone Blood Clot with no morality to speak of.

  3. I have mixed feelings about this post, Akos. First, I am worried that many Christians will take Trump’s conservative victory as an encouragement to wind back those political achievements in Australia that support fellow Australians as a community, including Medicare, our high quality public education, NDIS etc. As Christians we instead need to base our politics on the Biblical principles of community, of truth in public life and of care for the creation which God has given us stewardship of. Otherwise we be “more impressed by style than substance” and fall for another celebrity hero like Donald Trump.

    Second, on Sunday week, 20 Nov, many churches will celebrate “Christ the King” or “The Rule of Christ”. So I am encouraged by Akos’ fifth point, “The Lord is King and he is going to look after everything” – despite appearances to the contrary.

    • Hi Steve!

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, it will be interesting to see the fallout from the Trump victory.

      Just a question, though: what makes you think that Christians want to wind back those particular institutions? (They may well do, but I haven’t seen anything to indicate that).

      And yes, we need to think carefully about Biblical principles that would inform our public engagement, lest, as you say, we fall for the next celebrity hero…

      God bless,

      Akos

  4. While the results of the US Election may have taken us all by surprise, I believe it was something that had to happen – given the limitations of the two remaining candidates. Surely the main factor that propelled Clinton out and Trump in, was the average American’s increasing distrust of ‘The Establishment’. This has become increasingly apparent under Obama’s presidency, along with the corruption of the Clinton ‘Dynasty’ that has only now become widely known. And while Trump may be lacking in both integrity and wisdom, God may use him to bring America to its knees in acknowledgement of the only One who IS able to save them. Beyond the images, the promises and the hype, the US was founded on Godly principles, and until these are rediscovered by today’s generation, nothing of substance will change.

    • Thanks Ann,

      You make some pertinent points. The ‘Establishment’ has definitely received a pounding. It will be interesting to see where they go from here!

      And I like your point about God being to use Him for His purposes: we need only to look to Scripture to see that theme recurring, in the likes of Cyrus, not to mention Pilate.

      All the best,

      Akos

  5. “Make America Great Again” reminds me of what the people in Israel wanted in 1 Samuel 8 19But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
    May those in the USA that recognize the real leader King of this universe that is God be the beacon of light that God has chosen them to be proclaiming His Salvation to those around them and that the fervently pray for their new president.
    But like you say Akos “But either way, we Christians should start praying for Trump – whatever country we’re in – that he’ll be a responsible President. And let’s keep doing what the Messiah wants us to do: proclaiming His Salvation to all nations, and loving our neighbour.”