Learning the disciplines of pastoral leadership has been an interesting avocation since 1980. One of those skills is learning to eavesdrop on conversations taking place around you. There's a lot of important juice at the barber shop or fast food establishment. The other day a group of young professionals were talking politics over a burger. They blistered candidate Ted Cruz because of his evangelical positions, discounted the socialism of Bernie Sanders, dissed Hillary Clinton as untrustworthy, and rallied around Donald Trump. One of them said he really likes Mr. Trump because he's one of us. Footnote: they didn't even mention John Kasich.
Here's a newsflash: Mr. Trump isn't one of us. He's not a rank and file worker, is not and never has been a member of any silent majority, doesn't know what living from pay-day to pay-day means, is never subjected to standing in line at Wal-Mart, doesn't balance a check-book every month, and most likely has never driven around the local neighborhood checking the prices for a gallon of gas. He's always been at least a millionaire, inheriting between $40 - $200 million from his wealthy real-estate broker father, pays himself at least $60 million annually, and has a hard-to-pin-down net worth of roughly $4.5 billion (according to Forbes Magazine). He's been a Reform Party candidate, has voted Democratic and Republican over the years, and is a nominal Presbyterian, not listed as an active participant at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City. Mr. Trump and family breathe the rare air of personal privilege that is totally foreign to most Americans. He's a savvy entrepreneur, a loud, uninhibited voice to a group of our population that often needs one, and an independent rebel when the talk turns to government and politics. But, kids, he's not one of us.
It's the illusion that is so troubling today. A vast swath of American voters want someone from the outside the beltway to represent and speak for them, an anti-government champion to rally the cause of average citizens. Mitt Romney tried to do that last time around but missed the mark too. He just didn't do well in jeans with his shirt tail hanging out. Neither does Mr. Trump. His rebellious ways do resonate with us at many levels. But, the pretense that he's one of us is a carefully packaged ruse to create a bond that translates to votes. A good many of us really want someone to give this bloated government a smack-down. Will Mr. Trump do it because he understands the common guy? Not in my opinion.
excursus: as a conservative evangelical faith is an issue for me. My top three personal platform planks are constructed of faith materials: distinctly pro-life for more than 35 years; total and absolute commitment to the biblical definition of marriage, family, and gender identity; a belief that the United States Constitution as originally written is the supreme human authority of the land; and, a belief in the absolute freedom of religion of every citizen. At the same time, my departure from supporting Mr. Trump is not primarily a matter of his faith. I don't know what is in Mr. Trump's heart. Yes, I can invoke the fruit examination thing and make some observations about his faith and practice. But, that is between him and God. He'll give an account for that. And, I'll give an account for the personal stewardship of my vote.
That precious privilege and responsibility, how I use my vote, requires that I move beyond the media portrayals, the legends and myths, and focus on the truth. And, that's a hard one when Donald Trump's political life is examined. His stances on just about every issue important to common folks changes with the winds and the political expediencies of the times. I'm never sure which one of us he is. If the past few years have taught me anything, it's that he's part of the 1%, the exclusive, private club of the mega-rich, and I'm not. It doesn't make me jealous or envious, or have me weep in my un-sweet tea. It just means that I know he can't really identify with me, and that fact alone makes it problematic that he can represent me in government.
This is an important, if not critical time in our nation's history. We must get real about the people we elect to represent us on the world stage. James suggested how---
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without
reproach, and it will be given him.
James 1:5, ESV
Give me wisdom, and leave the myths to Mother Hubbard.