Trump: Unexpected and Unconventional but Suited for Our Times

One of the most extraordinary things about Donald Trump’s primary victory in the Republican Party is that he received more votes from people identifying as Christian than his closest competitor Ted Cruz -- the son of an evangelical pastor and one who profusely displayed his Christian identity in speech and temperament. In contrast, by standards that many believe to be the essence of Christian character as expressed in the Sermon on the Mount, Donald Trump has been anything but meek, merciful, or peacemaking in his political rise. Some have likened him to a one-man wrecking ball. So what’s going on?

No one doubts that these are unusual times, with more forces pulling the United States down than at any other time in history. There is plenty of blame to go around for America’s spiraling state of decline, but at the top of the list are two things: First, we have had a culture captured and constrained by secular progressive political correctness. Second, we have an overbearing federal government that has corrupted both parties, the bureaucracies, and even the supposedly independent Federal Reserve.

At the grassroots, Republicans have tried to bring about a corrective, and they did succeed in getting many conservative reform candidates elected to congress in the last six years. Yet the stranglehold of political correctness and the corruption of Washington from special interests and lobbyists have proven insurmountable. Washington, DC -- a metropolis producing very little with limited industry and almost no manufacturing -- has become the richest city in the country, while driving the nation to the edge of financial ruin, as manifest in a national debt exceeding $19 trillion, 47 million people on food stamps, and a true unemployment rate that may be three times higher than the manipulated official rate released by the federal government.

Even as white Christians have diminished in their overall percentage of the population at large, according to the Pew Research Center, they still account for nearly seven in ten Americans who identify with, or lean toward, the Republican Party -- about the same percentage as in the 1980s during the Reagan years. The problem is the GOP -- despite its success in gaining majorities in both houses of Congress and controlling the power of the purse -- has been ineffective as an opposition party during the Obama years. 

The tipping point for many Christians came with a realization that the Republican Party was as incapable of protecting their rights and values at home as it was feckless in stopping an errant foreign policy that undermined trust with allies and emboldened enemies.  

Two unnerving breaches of protection prompted many to recognize compelling qualities in Donald Trump over other candidates. First, he exuded an unapologetic toughness about building a wall and stopping the wave of illegal immigrants flooding over the Mexican border. Second, he was unequivocal about obliterating ISIS quickly and decisively -- ending its wanton slaughter of Christians and other ethnic groups. And bridging both of these issues, in the aftermath of ISIS-inspired attacks in San Bernardino and Brussels, Trump unhesitatingly opposed Obama’s wish to take in undocumented Syrian refugees, “until we figure out what the hell is going on.” In that alone in the eyes of the majority, Trump demonstrated he was presidential, putting the protection of Americans as the top priority.

Political correctness and intolerance, which debilitates critical thinking, discourse and debate, has been shaping American culture for more than a generation. Throughout the seven plus years of the Obama administration, political correctness has driven domestic and foreign policy -- with disastrous results. Obama has gone beyond anyone in recent memory in assaulting the First Amendment, undermining both speech and the exercise of Christian religion. We now see among liberals and secular progressives operating in the Democrat Party an Orwellian power structure that seeks to advance a statist, socialist and globalist transformation of the U.S. by silencing opposing views through the courts, misinformation, and distortion of the truth. Call it “newspeak” as Orwell did or the successor term “doublespeak,” its purpose is the same: to shape the masses thinking and obfuscate what is really going down.

Political correctness has not only prevented development of an effective strategy to deal with Islamist terrorism. It has turned U.S. relations in the Middle East upside down. The Obama administration celebrated the ouster and replacement of Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak, a long-standing U.S. ally, with Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi. A similar glee was initially expressed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the news of Muammar Gaddafi being hunted down and killed, only to be followed by increased mayhem in Libya, leading to the tragedy and humiliation of the U.S. at the hands of terrorists in Benghazi.

But for many Christians, the bridge too far was Obama’s rebuke of Israel and his end run around the U.S. Congress, in forcing through a fundamentally flawed nuclear deal with Iran. Iran is both the top exporter of hate and the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism whose longstanding primary targets are the United States (often referred to as the “big Satan”), and Israel (the “little Satan”).  

Everyone recognizes that Donald Trump is a flawed candidate. His Christian supporters certainly know this as well or better than his critics. But they also recognize that sinners are all that there are to choose from and that America’s precarious position at home and abroad requires an unconventional leader with unusual characteristics -- some of which may not be aligned with a stereotypical Christian temperament.

One thing few could disagree with is that Trump deserves credit more than any conservative for fracturing the foundation of political correctness, upon which rests the entire liberal superstructure.

In fact, conventional conservatives may have reached a limit in expanding their audience. In contrast, it appears to be harvest time for Trump. His style of common sense plain talk has the potential to make huge inroads into both independent and liberal constituencies who are just now waking up to the absurdities of political correctness. While many still can’t see clearly, the fog is lifting, and the soul, spontaneity and humor of America is making an incipient revival, even in the midst of rancor.

If one can get past the braggadocio, narcissism and other negatives of Trump’s character, on the positive side he exudes confidence, ambition and a keenness to make good deals, get results and win. He is bold, direct and doesn’t shy away from confrontation. Mr. Trump is quite social and clearly likes to entertain, but he is also tough as nails, unrelenting and unpredictable with adversaries. He is unquestionably and refreshingly patriotic.

It turns out that some of these qualities are among those most vital to rebuilding relations with America’s allies and restoring respect -- even fear -- from adversaries. Mr. Trump’s directness also suggests he is the best-suited presidential candidate to take on America’s greatest threat -- insolvency. He could break the cycle of denial that completely engulfs the Democrat Party, and has hitherto prevented predecessors from doing much of anything regarding the nation’s out-of-control spending, deficits and unsustainable debt. Additionally, Trump’s toughness may be the key virtue needed to rule in a divided country and to successfully downsize and restructure federal agencies and get Washington out of the way of the American economy and its people.

Although the GOP believes it has a big tent, understandably many party members with well-established positions and values have great difficulty in accepting for the highest office in the land a newcomer candidate as fundamentally different as Donald Trump. To them I would say, unusual times with threats on every front at home and abroad call for an unconventional candidate. And it’s not so hard after all to recognize qualities in Donald Trump that make him in certain ways uniquely well-suited for our times.   

Scott Powell is managing partner of RemingtonRand LLC, a recruiting firm focused on finding partner legal talent for many of the top law firms in the world. Email him at scottp@rrand.com

One of the most extraordinary things about Donald Trump’s primary victory in the Republican Party is that he received more votes from people identifying as Christian than his closest competitor Ted Cruz -- the son of an evangelical pastor and one who profusely displayed his Christian identity in speech and temperament. In contrast, by standards that many believe to be the essence of Christian character as expressed in the Sermon on the Mount, Donald Trump has been anything but meek, merciful, or peacemaking in his political rise. Some have likened him to a one-man wrecking ball. So what’s going on?

No one doubts that these are unusual times, with more forces pulling the United States down than at any other time in history. There is plenty of blame to go around for America’s spiraling state of decline, but at the top of the list are two things: First, we have had a culture captured and constrained by secular progressive political correctness. Second, we have an overbearing federal government that has corrupted both parties, the bureaucracies, and even the supposedly independent Federal Reserve.

At the grassroots, Republicans have tried to bring about a corrective, and they did succeed in getting many conservative reform candidates elected to congress in the last six years. Yet the stranglehold of political correctness and the corruption of Washington from special interests and lobbyists have proven insurmountable. Washington, DC -- a metropolis producing very little with limited industry and almost no manufacturing -- has become the richest city in the country, while driving the nation to the edge of financial ruin, as manifest in a national debt exceeding $19 trillion, 47 million people on food stamps, and a true unemployment rate that may be three times higher than the manipulated official rate released by the federal government.

Even as white Christians have diminished in their overall percentage of the population at large, according to the Pew Research Center, they still account for nearly seven in ten Americans who identify with, or lean toward, the Republican Party -- about the same percentage as in the 1980s during the Reagan years. The problem is the GOP -- despite its success in gaining majorities in both houses of Congress and controlling the power of the purse -- has been ineffective as an opposition party during the Obama years. 

The tipping point for many Christians came with a realization that the Republican Party was as incapable of protecting their rights and values at home as it was feckless in stopping an errant foreign policy that undermined trust with allies and emboldened enemies.  

Two unnerving breaches of protection prompted many to recognize compelling qualities in Donald Trump over other candidates. First, he exuded an unapologetic toughness about building a wall and stopping the wave of illegal immigrants flooding over the Mexican border. Second, he was unequivocal about obliterating ISIS quickly and decisively -- ending its wanton slaughter of Christians and other ethnic groups. And bridging both of these issues, in the aftermath of ISIS-inspired attacks in San Bernardino and Brussels, Trump unhesitatingly opposed Obama’s wish to take in undocumented Syrian refugees, “until we figure out what the hell is going on.” In that alone in the eyes of the majority, Trump demonstrated he was presidential, putting the protection of Americans as the top priority.

Political correctness and intolerance, which debilitates critical thinking, discourse and debate, has been shaping American culture for more than a generation. Throughout the seven plus years of the Obama administration, political correctness has driven domestic and foreign policy -- with disastrous results. Obama has gone beyond anyone in recent memory in assaulting the First Amendment, undermining both speech and the exercise of Christian religion. We now see among liberals and secular progressives operating in the Democrat Party an Orwellian power structure that seeks to advance a statist, socialist and globalist transformation of the U.S. by silencing opposing views through the courts, misinformation, and distortion of the truth. Call it “newspeak” as Orwell did or the successor term “doublespeak,” its purpose is the same: to shape the masses thinking and obfuscate what is really going down.

Political correctness has not only prevented development of an effective strategy to deal with Islamist terrorism. It has turned U.S. relations in the Middle East upside down. The Obama administration celebrated the ouster and replacement of Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak, a long-standing U.S. ally, with Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi. A similar glee was initially expressed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the news of Muammar Gaddafi being hunted down and killed, only to be followed by increased mayhem in Libya, leading to the tragedy and humiliation of the U.S. at the hands of terrorists in Benghazi.

But for many Christians, the bridge too far was Obama’s rebuke of Israel and his end run around the U.S. Congress, in forcing through a fundamentally flawed nuclear deal with Iran. Iran is both the top exporter of hate and the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism whose longstanding primary targets are the United States (often referred to as the “big Satan”), and Israel (the “little Satan”).  

Everyone recognizes that Donald Trump is a flawed candidate. His Christian supporters certainly know this as well or better than his critics. But they also recognize that sinners are all that there are to choose from and that America’s precarious position at home and abroad requires an unconventional leader with unusual characteristics -- some of which may not be aligned with a stereotypical Christian temperament.

One thing few could disagree with is that Trump deserves credit more than any conservative for fracturing the foundation of political correctness, upon which rests the entire liberal superstructure.

In fact, conventional conservatives may have reached a limit in expanding their audience. In contrast, it appears to be harvest time for Trump. His style of common sense plain talk has the potential to make huge inroads into both independent and liberal constituencies who are just now waking up to the absurdities of political correctness. While many still can’t see clearly, the fog is lifting, and the soul, spontaneity and humor of America is making an incipient revival, even in the midst of rancor.

If one can get past the braggadocio, narcissism and other negatives of Trump’s character, on the positive side he exudes confidence, ambition and a keenness to make good deals, get results and win. He is bold, direct and doesn’t shy away from confrontation. Mr. Trump is quite social and clearly likes to entertain, but he is also tough as nails, unrelenting and unpredictable with adversaries. He is unquestionably and refreshingly patriotic.

It turns out that some of these qualities are among those most vital to rebuilding relations with America’s allies and restoring respect -- even fear -- from adversaries. Mr. Trump’s directness also suggests he is the best-suited presidential candidate to take on America’s greatest threat -- insolvency. He could break the cycle of denial that completely engulfs the Democrat Party, and has hitherto prevented predecessors from doing much of anything regarding the nation’s out-of-control spending, deficits and unsustainable debt. Additionally, Trump’s toughness may be the key virtue needed to rule in a divided country and to successfully downsize and restructure federal agencies and get Washington out of the way of the American economy and its people.

Although the GOP believes it has a big tent, understandably many party members with well-established positions and values have great difficulty in accepting for the highest office in the land a newcomer candidate as fundamentally different as Donald Trump. To them I would say, unusual times with threats on every front at home and abroad call for an unconventional candidate. And it’s not so hard after all to recognize qualities in Donald Trump that make him in certain ways uniquely well-suited for our times.   

Scott Powell is managing partner of RemingtonRand LLC, a recruiting firm focused on finding partner legal talent for many of the top law firms in the world. Email him at scottp@rrand.com