Photo credit: Ines Ferreira
Did I post on Donald Trump before the 2016 election? I must have said something. The man appalled me. I thought a) he couldn’t be elected, and b) if elected, he’d be a disaster.
My attitude has changed. I still don’t like him. I don’t want to have lunch with him. He annoys me.
But I kind of like (most of) the things he does.
I’ve come up with a theory about President Trump. It’s probably inadequate, but I’m pretty sure it’s better than the theories held by his political opponents, who consistently underestimate him.
My theory concerns words.
I don’t think words mean the same things to Trump that they mean to, oh, to choose somebody at random – me.
For me words are conveyors of meaning. They’re related to the Biblical concept of “Logos,” carriers of truth, spiritual concepts to be handled with reverence and not misused.
For Donald Trump (I think) words are tools. I won’t say that he doesn’t recognize the meaning of words, or that everything he says is insincere. When he says he loves America, or his family, I’m sure he means what he says with all his heart.
But in his public life the man is primarily a game player. A deal maker. And words are the equipment of the game.
When he insults someone, I’m appalled. Why, I ask, would he alienate someone with unnecessarily crude and offensive words, ugly names?
But for Trump, it’s part of the strategy. You can whipsaw a person with names. First you insult him, get him all hot and bothered, and then you treat him as a friend. Praise him. Give him credit for virtues he doesn’t possess (as in the case of Kim Jong Un). It disorients him. Makes him vulnerable and suggestible. Donald Trump has spent his life playing this game, triangulating against other players, keeping them off balance, and he does it very well. It works for him.
I don’t like having a president who uses words in this manipulative way.
But I (generally) like the results.
So what do I conclude?
The Lord spoke of two sons. Their father told them to go out and work in the fields. One said he would, but didn’t. The other said he wouldn’t, but changed his mind and did.
The Lord approved the son who said the wrong things, but did the right things.
This does not mean I consider Donald Trump a role model. It does mean he’s earned some respect – and gratitude – from me.