Donald Trump vs GOP Values
I’ve wrestled with thoughts of how Trump could represent Republicans, let alone the American people as a whole, since he officially declared his intent to run. It’s not a minor or simple question – Trump, in many ways, seems to break away from the modern Republican establishment. There’s certainly something to the logic that both parties tend to favor charismatic political outsiders, and perhaps that really is the heart of where his support exists. While I wouldn’t call his charisma palatable or desirable in most respects, it is undoubtedly there. Many credit this with him being a straight shooter – that he speaks his mind regardless of the outcome. This may well be part of it, but if so it also acts as a reflection of the culture our nation (and the world) has been slowly adopting. We desire sincerity because it is becoming a commodity in scarce reserves, but there is a flaw in this logic. Sincerity is certainly a desirable thing, but a vapid mind full of abhorrent views and flawed ideology is not. Failure to differentiate between the two is damning to us all, as a greater whole: America.
Still, let’s give pause to that line of thought and explore a different logic. What is it that defines modern day Republican values? Well – there are many directions this question could take us, and still no simple answer to provide. However, at the core I’d assess current Republican values as focusing primarily on Defense, Economics, and Faith. Freedom has been a classic initial standard to build out from, but with curtailments under the Patriot Act, PRISM, and the like it becomes difficult to practically credit. What happens, though, if we assess Trump’s worth using this particular set of values?
Defense. It feels hard to even pretend that Trump carries credibility in this regard. When pressed for particular strategies to tackle the growing threat of ISIS (and the instability swelling in multiple nations in the Middle East tied to this, as well as other threats) – Trump fails to deliver. He asserts that publicizing strategies before acting on them would be poor logic and this is, in fairness, a point that carries some merit. However, his inability to draw upon any specifics suggests something frightening: that his oft-mentioned plans are fabrications. When we add to this that Trump has never actually served in the military (collecting deferments like so many trading cards) and has failed to deliver promised funding to veteran-based charities… Well, a trend becomes easily identifiable.
Economics. This is likely the trickiest of the four points to tackle. Trump’s name is practically synonymous with financial success. For many, if not most, Americans – the immediate association with Trump’s name prior to this election cycle would be his reality television presence and his real estate holdings. However, the reality behind the famous name is a bit less flattering. Trump has a documented history of refusing to pay contractors for work, has launched many ventures that were ultimately failures, has been sued numerous times for questionable business practices, and filed for bankruptcy multiple times. No one expects perfection in a candidate, but given that business acumen may well be Trump’s biggest selling point these business failures seem particular worth addressing.
Faith. While the Faith portion isn’t particularly my forte, I’d say that’s a fairly appealing foundation to build a political presence upon – but HAVE we really seen much proof of Trump’s faith? He’s certainly embraced the support of Christian voters who have thrown their credence behind him (and he claims to be a Christian himself), but when it comes to matters of living by the Book (or even being able to quote from it) – we see less evidence. This is, admittedly, a difficult factor to gauge, but Trump’s rhetoric often seems to include efforts to incite others to violence. Add to that his treatment of his opponents (both during the primaries and now in the election proper), and it becomes hard to see a Christ-inspired presence.
I’ve often heard Democrats (which I don’t define myself as) and liberals (which I do lean towards) mock Republican adoration of Reagan, and I’ve not particularly a fan of it. No President is perfect (just as no human is perfect), but Reagan stood for something that united many, many Americans. He had a vision of Americans working towards a brighter future. The idea of it being “Morning in America,” struck an optimistic chord with Americans who wanted to unite behind a grand vision. For liberals, I’d nod to JFK’s famous “Ask not what your country can do for you,” as a similar call to united inspiration. And so I close by asking: what grand vision has Trump offered us? Trump speaks of making America great again, and of creating jobs and building a wall – but when it comes to a real vision coupled with a call for unity: what does Trump offer forth? Trump not only lacks that which the GOP most values – he also lacks a unifying energy or even a clearly defined set of goals. Our two-party system virtually guarantees that we have to stomach one of only two options, and I fear that is to our detriment. However, given this is a political reality we face the question must be asked: can Trump lead our nation towards a goal, or towards a wall?