This is not about Megyn Kelley after the first Republican debate where Trump said, “There was blood coming out of her.” It is not about Carly Florina about whom Trump said, “look at that face.” Nor does it concern Governor Jindal who was the brunt of the Trump retort, “I don’t respond to anyone not polling above 1%.” It is not about Jeb Bush, Illegal Immigrants, China, Mexico, or Nabisco. Trump appears to always be misunderstood. He is always the victim, or so it seems.
Victims As Supporters
Maybe it is an audacious claim. It could be a desperate search for a reasonable, or not so reasonable, explanation that Trump now polls above 30% among Republican voters. The same poll reports Trump is drawing more women. And, there is still the head-shaking statistic that Trump is polling stronger among Evangelicals. Though, Ben Carson appears to be drawing away many as his numbers rise.
What is Trump’s draw? What is his secret? Yes, Trump is plain-spoken if you mean he pulls few punches. But, try to pin him down on specifics, of say his immigration plan, and you find he offers as much gobbledygook as any career politician.
What if the answer is that Trump appeals to the feeling among his supporters that they are victims? Remember, Trump is the victim of trap questions, of misunderstanding, and of bad hair jokes. Google Trump Hair. That Trump has his victims is not a reference to the long list of people he has offended. Instead we may be witnessing a group of people who feel victimized identifying with someone who knows how to play the victim.
A recent NPR story illustrates something of Donald Trump’s appeal. Many people have not heard what Russell Moore and others have been saying. It also seems they have not paid careful attention to Trump according to the NPR piece.
Here is Moore’s analysis, “Trump has made his living as a casino mogul in an industry that preys on the poor and incentivizes immoral and often criminal behavior,” said Dr. Russell Moore, head of the influential Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
Moore offered a searingly blunt assessment of the current GOP front-runner in an interview with NPR. “He’s someone who is an unrepentant serial adulterer who has abandoned two wives for other women,” he added. “He’s someone who has spoken in vulgar and harsh terms about women, as well as in ugly and hateful ways about immigrants and other minorities. I don’t think this is someone who represents the values that evangelicals in this country aspire to.”
No matter what Moore might say, or for that matter any other leading Evangelical, it appears there is a deeper appeal than what once stood as the criterion for Value’s Voters. Instead of choosing someone who allies with core Christian values it appears Evangelicals being polled find it more important that Trump speaks boldly. We preachers and Evangelicals like boldness. And, when we can boldly claim we are victims of a run amok system we like it even better.
If boldness is the trump card, why not write in Kanye West ahead of 2020?
Lowering the Bar
In all my years as a Southern Baptist pastor/minister/minister-to-be, more than 30 years, the slippery slope has been a staple in the bag of those fear mongering the future. Imagine my surprise when the pastor of what was once considered THE flagship Southern Baptist Church makes these remarks,
Robert Jeffress, pastor of the megachurch First Baptist Dallas, wrote that evangelical voters aren’t under any delusion that Trump believes the same as them. Instead, they’re just glad he’s closer to their beliefs than President Obama:
“No Evangelical I know is expecting Trump to lead our nation in a spiritual revival. But seven years of Barack Obama have drastically lowered the threshold of spiritual expectations Evangelicals have of their president. No longer do they require their president to be one of them. Evangelicals will settle for someone who doesn’t HATE them like the current occupant of the Oval Office appears to.”
Lowering the threshold was always reported as a Liberal move. Our denomination had a Conservative Resurgence to ward off Liberal Drift. Now because we feel we have been victimized by the occupant of the White House, we lower the threshold? Of course it is because President Obama is not their kind of Christian. Even more, most still believe President Obama is a closet(ed) Muslim. The narrative plays out that President Obama deliberately slights Evangelicals, makes them victims, persecutes them. So, it justifies lowering the threshold, lowering the bar.
My what we do with Jesus’ words when we feel the victim, those among the persecuted. Maybe it is the Blood Moon.