What is the appeal to Donald Trump?

Donald Trump is an interesting phenomenon (no, this blog is not an endorsement.  I am a self-described independent).  Rarely does a day go by when he is not in the news.  Apparently, he does not have to spend massive amounts on the campaign trail because he enjoys free media through news coverage.  He has attracted large crowds.  He continues to lead the Republican polls.  He makes bold and controversial statements.  For many, his appeal is perplexing.  Yet, in many respects its makes perfect sense.

He is authentic.  This is neither good nor bad.  It is simply a statement.  A person can be authentically bad by being crass and rude, e.g. “this is who I am so live with it.”  Or, a person can be authentically good by sharing honest struggles in their life.  Donald Trump is a bit of both in my opinion.  Yet, I think this is one reason people are attracted to him.  We all have opinions.  Yet, we rarely fully express those opinions.  We think them but we don’t divulge them.  Yet, here is a person who simply says what he thinks.  I think there is an attraction to this as most people wish to have such a freedom to be brutally honest.  People wish they could just tell his or her boss, coworker, or neighbor exactly what they think about that person.  Yet, we are not in a position of authority to say such a thing so we remain silent.  Donald Trump has no such limitations due to his wealth and status so he just says it.  However, this is not a good thing.  Scripture challenges us to be “slow to speak” (James 1:19).  A wise person carefully considers his or her words.  Opinions can be hurtful, mean, and reckless.  Should we share them at times?  Yes.  Should we restrain ourselves most of the time?  Absolutely!  Someone who shares every thought in his mind is not to be envied.

He is not a people-pleaser.    This is connected to the previous point.  Donald Trump does not care whether people agree with him or not.  I am sure he is concerned about the polls; however, he is not your typical politician who is obsessed with public opinion.  He marches to the beat of his own drum in this regard.  If people like him, great; if people hate him, oh well.  This is clearly evident by his response to other candidates, politicians and reporters.  Most people in life are people-pleasers.  We want those around us to think well of us.  We want to give a favorable impression.  As a result, we sometimes get consumed by living for other people.  Internally, this drives us nuts as we end up chasing the approval of others which oftentimes never comes.  Many of us wish we didn’t care what others thought about us.  We wish we could simply be ourselves.  There is a necessary balance between thinking of other’s opinions and not being consumed by it.  Jesus challenges us to love “your neighbor as yourself”.  This is the balance.   Love your neighbor enough to not lay into them every time you have an opinion.  Love yourself enough to share your thoughts when it is necessary for the good of the other person or the relationship.

He is entertaining.  Everyone enjoys being entertained.  We have grown tired of the same old political games.  Here is someone who acts different and responds differently.  This lack of predictability appeals to us.  We can sit back and see the fireworks.  We can chuckle and shake our heads.  We turn the news on to see the latest antics.  Honestly, we enjoy being entertained.  It breaks up the boredom of life.  It gives us something new to talk about.  Yet, we should not live for entertainment.  It is enjoyable yet it should not be what inspires us.  We should be inspired by “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (Philippians 4:8).  Entertainment can be a fun but is should not direct our thoughts or motivate our lives.

When we consider public personalities, there are always things that attract us to them.  When this occurs, it is important to ask if those qualities measure up to God’s standards.  Are the qualities Biblical?  Are the particular personality traits we see in celebrities good ones to pursue?  Are the qualities reflective of Christ?  We should not be persuaded by charisma but character.

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