Continuing to read The Great Revolt as the host has discussed so much these past few weeks. As you have undoubtedly heard, the book lists seven Trump voting archetypes. In the chapter devoted to “The Reliable Rotarians” is an astonishing quote from a business/community leader in Pennsylvania:
“People are still scratching their head about why people voted for Donald Trump. Well, here is the thing: we voted for ourselves, and that is the thing they missed. That is the thing they still miss. I turn on the television and they talk about how he brags, or this and that about him and they still don’t talk about us. They still don’t hear us. They still don’t get us. We are part of American too, and we want to be part of America that wants to be part something that takes everyone forward. Takes us all together,” he says.
That is truly remarkable. On first blush it sounds like the same old “you did not do that by yourself” claptrap that Obama spouted. But it is not because of the “we voted for ourselves” phrase. The Obama utterance was divisive, this is inclusive. The Obama formula was about taking from some to give to the other in order to “level the field.” This is about everybody working together to simply take the next step. Obama was about taking and getting, this is about earning and using.
This is deep stuff.
The Obama formula, by definition, divides. There are those that have, from whom your take, and those that do not have, to whom you give. Those that you take from will resent being taken from. Those that receive will resent having to receive and will be extension resent those they are receiving from because they are reminders of their condition. Is it any wonder that the nation grew more and more divisive during the Obama years.
Most frustrating is that Obama did this while claiming kindness and goodness and charity. Clearly it is anything but. The original English translation of the Bible translates verse 13 of the famous “Love Chapter” (I Corinthians 13) this way:
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
All modern translations now use the word “love” instead of that word charity. Clearly, at least in older understandings of the word “charity” it was synonymous with “love.” Even modern dictionaries fail to see this older understanding of the word. Nowadays charity is exclusively about giving to those in need. But this modern understanding is also, because of its detachment from the old understanding, devoid of motivation – devoid of love. Yet it would seem, given the roots of the word, for charity to be truly charitable it must be well motivated, else it be divisive.
The approach these people saw in President Trump is something quite different. In Trump they saw an opportunity to better themselves, not to be taken from or to receive. This is inherently a unifying approach. Each of us is trying to better ourselves. True, some of us may be trying to step from point A to point B while others are trying to move from point X to point Y, but if we are focused not on the beginning and ending points, but on the effort to make the step we are all in the same bag.
What these people saw in President Trump is truly conservative and deeply Christian. After all, it is the most Reaganesque of messages that, “government is the problem,” that it is about us bettering ourselves, not government making things better. Truly, can it get more conservative? It is deeply Christian in that Christianity does not promise equal outcomes, it only promises equal opportunity. The salvation offered in Christianity is indeed available to all, but not all choose to take God up on the matter.
It seems clear that when people look at Donald Trump they see one of two people. They either see the bombastic, vulgar braggart or they see the message about independence and conservatism. Clearly most of media sees the former and clearly Trump used his rallies and Twitter account to get around them and make the latter apparent to his voters. The question is will the rest of the nation see it what the Trump voters saw, or are we so divided that a little less than half of us are going to miss the boat altogether?