I'm an Evangelical, and Here's Why I Will Never Vote for Donald Trump
Is there anything worse than a tyrant?
To my conservative friends ... yes, I do agree with you that either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would prove to be an aspiring tyrant. Both of them want to build a utopian society, and are willing to resort to tyranny to do it. No attempted utopia built by people has ever worked out ... they all end up as tyranny at best.
Yes, a utopia-building tyrant is a fearsome thing indeed. And there are many, including commentators whom I respect, who believe that nothing could be worse for America, at this moment, than such an aspiring tyrant. But there is. I'll tell you what.
Under tyranny, life may be increasingly circumscribed, unfair, and hateful, but it is at least somewhat stable and predictable. Not so when ruled by a fool. A fool is, in some ways, much more dangerous than a tyrant. In fact, he doesn't even have to come to power in order to start inflicting damage. Merely being around a fool is dangerous. We are seeing this already with the effect that Trump has been having on debates, events, and public discourse (which, granted, was not so great in the first place, but is now way worse).
Donald Trump is not dangerous because he's a right-winger, or because he's a closet liberal. He would be dangerous whatever his policies were, simply because of his character. In this article, I will show that Donald Trump is a textbook fool, taking the technical definition of "fool" from the book of Proverbs in the Bible.
The Proverbs of Solomon
The Biblical book of Proverbs, compiled around 700 - 600 BC, is an example of Ancient Near Eastern "wisdom literature." Though they are called the proverbs of Solomon, others contributed as well, and they are even cited in the book, with sections like "the saying of Agur." There is even a section attributed to the mother of one King Lemuel.
Though a part of the Bible, the proverbs do not deal exclusively with man's dealings with God. Many of them are there simply to help the reader become savvy and avoid trouble. As you will see, they are strikingly relevant even today.
Addendum: The examples of Trump's words and behavior that I used in this article are now sorely out of date. Sadly, Trump keeps adding new examples to all the categories below. I don't have time to keep updating this article, but you can easily supply new examples yourself.
Fools, as described by Proverbs, illustrated by Donald Trump
- Fools think they are the greatest. He who trusts in himself is a fool. Prov. 28:26. You only have to listen to Donald Trump for five minutes to hear him call himself, or something he has made or done, "great" or "the greatest." It's either that or "tremendous."
- Fools think they know everything. A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinions. Prov. 18:2. "I was a very smart guy, good student, all that stuff," says Trump. He thinks that his business experience qualifies him as an expert on governance, health care, and international relations.
- Fools love to run their mouths. A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly. Prov. 14:23. Obviously.
- Fools do not have a good sense of what is appropriate and what is not. The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse. Prov. 10:32; Like a madman shooting firebrands or burning arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, "I was only joking!" Prov. 26:18 - 19. "You could see she had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her - wherever." (Trump later claimed he meant "her ears and her nose.") This is the most infamous example, but there are many others.
- Fools love to slander others. A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue. Prov. 11:12. Trump derides other Republicans, "the establishment," protesters, China, The Des Moines Register ...
- They love to quarrel. Every fool is quick to quarrel. Prov. 20:3; He who loves a quarrel loves sin; he who builds a high gate invites destruction. Prov. 17:19. (Can you believe "builds a high gate" is in there? How about building a high gate and "making" the ... um ... gate-ee pay for it?)
- Because they think they know everything, fools react with rage when others correct them. A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise. Prov. 15:12. See Trump's enraged pursuit of Megyn Kelley when she challenged him about sexist things he had said.
- Consequently, they are unable to learn what they need to know, and end by being uninformed, even if they have a high IQ. Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. Prov. 12:1. This one has yet to become fully manifest, but the vagueness of Trump's stated plans on many topics (e.g. health care) and the impracticability of others (a 40-foot wall?) give the impression that he has not spent a lot of time researching or coming up with a detailed plan. Trump's know-it-all attitude leads me to conclude that he in fact does not know what he's doing and will be out of his depth if he makes it to the White House.
- Even a very severe comeuppance is often lost on them. A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool. Prov. 17:10. Trump has filed for business bankruptcy four times but still thinks he's a great businessman. His reputation is in tatters but he doesn't know it.
- Even a fool may occasionally say something that is true. Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning, and even among fools she lets herself be known. Prov. 14:33. But fools may do more damage when they are right than when they are wrong. Like a thornbush in a drunkard's hand is a proverb in the mouth of a fool. Prov. 26:9. Almost whatever your political position, Trump has probably said something at some point that you would agree with. Unfortunately, when Trump adopts a position, he doesn't adorn it with the greatness of his touch. Rather, he makes it ugly.
- A rich fool may confuse wealth with intelligence or worth. The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall. Prov. 18:11; A poor man pleads for mercy, but a rich man answers harshly. Prov. 18:23. Like the self-confident rich men of ancient times, Trump equates wealth with success.
- But money cannot solve everything, and can often betray a person when he needs it most. Whoever trusts in his riches will fall. Prov. 11:28; A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare. Prov. 21:6. A fortune built on casinos and beauty contests, though legal, is arguably made by a lying tongue. In any case, it will not be nearly as easy to find tons of (legitimate) money to fund the U.S. government.
Fools are DANGEROUS
A person who has all these characteristics is a menace to himself and to everyone around him.
Like cutting off one's feet or drinking violence is the sending of a message by the hand of a fool. Prov. 26:6
Like an archer who wounds at random is he who hires a fool or any passer-by. Prov. 26:10
We can see why this would be so. And if it is dangerous to simply hire a fool, or ask him to carry a message for you, how much more damage could be done if you make him your leader? If you send a message by his hand to the leaders of countries around the world, your allies and your enemies? The mind boggles.
So, who is more dangerous, the fool or the tyrant? Proverbs gives us our answer: Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his folly. (17:12)
Wait! Would King Solomon call ME a fool?
Perhaps you will say to me, "Physician, heal thyself! Isn't it a little bit ironic to write a political op/ed which chides others for running their mouths?"
Ah, you got me. It certainly is.
More than that, most of the bullet points above were scarily accurate descriptions of me in my high school and college years. So this is a definitely a case of It takes one to know one.
As a recovering fool, I have become adept at recognizing my brethren.
Update as of July 2019
Readers will note that I wrote this Hub in August 2016, almost exactly three years ago. At that time, all I had to go on about Trump were his public statements. These fit (and still fit) the Proverbs definition of fool with unbelievable precision.
I did not vote for Trump in the 2016 election. I voted for a third-party candidate whose platform looked good to me. I was secretly hoping that enough Americans would do this, that the election would be split. When Trump was elected, I had an exquisite mix of feelings. I was relieved we did not get Hillary, but depressed that now I was going to have to listen to Trump for years to come. I was also fearful that with his sloppy way of speaking, he would get us into ill-advised war. The thing that really smarted was that the Republican party had started out with so many terrific candidates, any one of whom I would have voted for, and the presence of Trump in the primaries had torpedoed all of them.
In the years since, I have been greatly relieved. I still hate the things that Trump says and tweets, and can hardly stand to listen to his voice. However, his policies have been good. I suppose this is because he listens to his advisers. His foreign policy has been the biggest pleasant surprise. It turns out that his crude, shrewd, flattering, threatening method of dealing-making is better suited to international diplomacy than the more idealistic approach that most presidents take.
Andrew Klavan has said that Trump has the instincts of an insult comic, and I think this a good description. Klavan has also pointed out that in the current callout culture, where shaming is the main method of debate, only a shameless person can remain in public life. In the current environment, Trump's "fool" qualities are kind of like a superpower. I now think of him, less as fool and more as a trickster character like Bugs Bunny. Someone aims a gun at him (metaphorically), he plugs it up with his thumb and it backfires in the face of the person aiming it. I still don't like him personally and would not want to spend time in a room with him, but his trickster methods have done surprisingly well at foiling all the Yosemite Sams of the present age.
I will vote for Trump in 2020. I'm not going to explain my reasons here, because they have been well articulated in recent months by both Andrew Klavan and Ben Shapiro. If you are interested, look up their most current positions on Trump, which are more or less my own. (Not because I got my opinions from those guys, but because we share the same values and thought processes, and professional commentators have a lot more time than I do to do research and to craft their words.)
I hope this update makes things clear. I was not going to bother updating this Hub, but lately it has started picking up a little bit of traffic and a few comments so I thought I'd better clarify. If anyone else leaves a comment, it will be easy to tell whether or not they have read this update section.
My best to you all.