By Thomas Ertl
March 18, 2016
(Originally posted in NewsWithViews.com)
On February 29, 2016, the day before Super Tuesday, I attended a Trump rally in Valdosta, Georgia. I was not prepared for what I was to see. I have followed presidential races since 1964, in the days of Johnson and Goldwater, and I must say I have never seen anything like what I witnessed at the Valdosta Trump rally.
8,000 south Georgians were packed into a 5,000 seat arena two hours before the time Trump was scheduled to speak. Another 12,000 were outside and could not get in. For two hours, I was watching a new wave of American political history as it flowed through this state, a populist insurrection. It is a movement fueled by the indignation and frustration of middle class people against the established ruling order, a movement that has found its mouthpiece in the newly ordained political persona of Donald J. Trump.
How can a brash New York City businessman become embraced and adored in 2016 as the national political leader of rural south Georgians?
The answer to that question is not hard to understand. After several decades of failed representation and disillusionment, the people see in Trump a political candidate who finally appears to be willing to represent them and take their values to Washington. Here is a man who gives them some hope for the representation of their 30, 40, 50 years of built-up frustration against America’s political class and their tearing down of this once great nation.
I will attempt to examine Donald Trump as an option for Evangelical Christians in the 2016 presidential race. But the question of a Trump candidacy cannot be effectively answered or understood without first explaining some political fundamentals. These have to do with the national and geopolitical situation and the place the Christian Church has in modern America.
HOW THE WORLD WORKS
It is generally believed by Americans across the political spectrum that elected federal politicians in the legislature (House and Senate) and in the executive (President and Cabinet) hold the true authority and real political power in the United States.
This statement could not be further from the truth. Western countries are, in fact, dominated and run by private central banks and multi-national corporations. This fact is not difficult to discover considering the tremendous amount of information available. Yet, because of the banking and corporate control of the media, Americans are led to believe that the elected federal politician holds the authority and that their vote actually counts for something.
Since the end of 1913, with the passing of the Federal Reserve Act, where Congress gave the issuance and control of the US currency over to private European bankers, the United States has lost its economic sovereignty. One hundred years later, it has also lost much of its national and political sovereignty.
Instead of a government for and by the people we have a government for and by the central bankers and their multi-national corporations.
Thomas Jefferson’s warning has never been more pertinent.
If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered… I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies… The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.
It is interesting that Jefferson feared central banks more than foreign armies.
Much more could be written here, but for the sake of space, I will label this globalist control grid and call it the Establishment.
The Establishment not only determines most aspects of American economic life, but also controls all federal regulatory agencies (for example, Monsanto has 21 executives in the Food and Drug Administration). Not only is the federal government run by the Establishment, but it also rewards the Establishment with a state monopoly maximizing their profits.
With this understanding, we realize that the purpose of elected politicians is to serve the banking and corporate establishment. The modern American politician is there to serve the money oligarchy (which is why the term “crony capitalism” was coined). Without this basic understanding of the American political power structure, all political analysis is skewed.
LIFE IN BABYLON
The other fundamental fact that is highly important for the Christian to understand is that America is no longer a Christian country. The United States of America in its public institutions and government is not Christian. Though many of its people are Christian, the nation has been secularized.
Practically, we do not have enough of a national Christian consensus to elect a Christian candidate with a pure biblical ideology. The Church is living in a form of internal exile – a modern type of Babylonian captivity – in which the people of God have very little influence in the public affairs of the country. The Church is on the outside looking in to a country their spiritual ancestors once created. This is another important fact for Evangelicals to appreciate when considering a Trump candidacy.
In our current context, it’s worth noting the captivity of Israel in ancient Babylon and the call of God on Cyrus, King of Persia. Cyrus was a typical idolater in antiquity who built pagan temples to false gods, yet God calls him His “shepherd.” Isaiah 44:28:
Who says of Cyrus, “He is My shepherd,
And he shall perform all My pleasure,
Saying to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be built,’
And to the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid’.”
Looking back, we see in God’s providence the raising up of a pagan ruler at a critical time in Israel’s history to protect and bless the people of God. The lesson here is for the church to be open to God’s providence that may be very different from our own spiritual expectations including the kind of leaders he may raise up in unusual times.
We live in a time and are witnessing before our eyes a historic pushback and outright rebellion against the Establishment and all of its controllers, especially those within the Republican Party hierarchy. The rebellion is not so much one of political ideologies but more of the middle class rejection of the rule of the Establishment.
Peggy Noonan, Reagan’s speechwriter, stated in a February 13-14, 2016 Wall Street Journal article on the “American Rebellion”:
What is happening in American politics? We’re in the midst of a rebellion. The bottom and middle are pushing against the top. It’s a throwing off of old claims and it’s been going on for a while….There’s something deep, suggestive, even epochal about what’s happening now….Yes, it is about the Democratic National Committee, that house of hacks, and about a Republican establishment owned by the donor class.
Laura Ingraham, after the South Carolina primary, said:
The establishment GOP is lying to itself. This election at its core is a rejection of their globalist economic agenda and failed immigration policies — and of rule by the donor class.
Roger Stone, the 45-year GOP insider, in discussing the Primary domination by Donald Trump, said:
The anti-establishment vote…is repudiating the foreign policy, immigration policy, trade policy, fiscal policies of the Bush wing of the Republican Party.
The rebellion is quite extensive. It has found its way into criticizing what a decade ago was considered acceptable and even untouchable in conservative and Republican circles. This includes the Bushes, Fox News, Neo-Cons, The Weekly Standard, National Review, Rove, McCain, Graham, Romney, Boehner and Ryan.
In this year’s Primaries, the Republican electorate is repudiating 40 years of Republican bipartisanship in the economic and cultural dismantling of America.
This revolt against the established order is truly historic and it did not begin with Donald Trump, but Trump recognized what was going on and positioned himself to represent this Movement in the current presidential election race and, because he did, he is seeing his popularity soar. The people see in him a leader who represents them, and who is quickly earning their trust because he speaks their language and seems to have the track record and strength of personality to bring them and their principles out of 40+ years of political wilderness. Especially with a strong leader, this rebellion by the conservative rank and file has the potential to change the political landscape for a very long time.
REPUBLICAN ESTABLISHMENT IMPLOSION
The Republican Party has launched a full-frontal attack on Donald Trump and, therefore, also against its own Republican voter base. They behave as if they hate their own base. Reports even surfaced about the Republican Party Establishment wanting to resurrect Mitt Romney as a preferred alternative to Trump as the Party’s presidential nominee.
The Republican Party is in the process of committing political suicide as it rejects the people’s choice for president. If they are successful, the ramifications of their arrogance will be felt for a generation. This may well involve the introduction of a new federal conservative party to replace the dying husk of the 162-year-old GOP.
Over the past four decades, the Republican base has voted dutifully for the Party’s candidates and has sent their sons off to fight Republican Neo-Con wars, and what have they got for it? Political civil war by Party leadership that is willing to go to great lengths to exploit these foot soldiers of the party to advance their own interests. Amazing!
The Republican Establishment would prefer a Hillary Clinton presidency than Trump’s victory. That is where their ideological loyalty lies. Trump, to his credit, is smoking out of the Republican tent, the Neo-Cons, and liberals who really belong in the Democratic Party. As he wins more races, the curtain will be pulled back further on the Party bosses. They are no friend to our Christian faith.
VOTING FOR THE RESISTANCE
In the selection of their civil leaders Christian people often use a somewhat narrow “spiritual” standard for making their decisions. If a candidate declares he is “born again” or verbalizes some acceptable religious lingo, he can capture a huge block of Evangelical voters. The man may be incompetent — or worse, a tyrant — but he passed their self-styled spiritual test.
Sixteenth-century Swiss Reformer Pierre Viret wrote that there were certain “detestable, villainous” rulers who “pretended the Christian religion” for social and political reasons. That tactic is nothing new.
I agree with Viret that “the best magistrates are Christian magistrates,” and we must always aim for such a time when this is the norm. However, considering life in Babylon, a much more important requirement than a surface spirituality would be a candidate’s commitment and ability to preserve personal liberties and limited government in the battle against the Establishment.
Dick Knodel, an Ohio pastor, writes,
Many Christians don’t seem to have the capacity to think broadly and strategically (philosophically). They only think morally, or theologically. The problem with that kind of thinking is Genesis 4:16-26, where such thinking would accuse the Living God of promoting the world of unbelief. God uses the many facets of creation (culture) to accomplish his ends, not just theology and personal morality. And right now, he’s promoting Donald Trump — for our nation’s good. It’s a mercy. I don’t pretend to understand it, but I can see it.
This presidential election is very unique in comparison to any federal election in the last half century. Everything in national politics has changed. The traditional method of selecting the best candidate based on a precise evaluation of character and political positions, though important, is not as relevant as it once was.
The reason is the change in the American electorate and of their massive pushback against the Establishment and Republican Party. It is a historic revolt of the middle class against its ruling elites.
So, it is not so much a battle of ideas as it is a battle of authority and control of the federal government and the people looking for representation against the moneyed institutions that have ruled them for a century.
Instead of promoting the politician with the purest of ideas, the nation is in greater need of a president to lead the resistance against the ruling national and global oligarchy which is directly responsible for the devastation of much of the country.
The approval of today’s candidates is more based on which candidate has the courage, spirit, and will to fight to represent the American people in this historic political battle of authority.
The Christian must understand the times and respond in a proper and new way: “And the children of Issachar, who were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do…” (1 Chronicles 12:31).
KEY POLITICAL ISSUES OF OUR TIME
Knowing the real source of political power, we can have a clearer view of what are the primary and critical issues of our day.
The primary political issues are not homosexual acceptance, the definition of marriage, pornography, educational decline, family breakdown, or even socialism, the Democratic Party or liberalism. These are all symptoms and downstream manifestations of the political beast, not its core or head.
This is why the 50-year effort of the Conservative Movement and the Christian Right has experienced limited success: its activism has always aimed at the symptoms and manifestations of its enemy, not at the foundation or the head. This mal-informed, defensive, rear-guard action has produced failure after failure in what has become known as “Culture Wars,” conserving nothing.
The head of the leviathan is the international banking cartel’s control of the money supply, political parties, media, American military, foreign policy and immigration policy, and the control of multi-national corporations over public and private life. These represent the key elements of Establishment control, and they form the head of leviathan that is the enemy of America and of Western Christian civilization in the 20th and 21st centuries.
It is critical for Christians to recognize the times in which we live. We are seeing in the political realm a historic awakening and monumental shift that is far greater than one personality, and yet Donald Trump has become the political figurehead and catalyst of this movement at this time because he has tapped into this populist spirit of dissatisfaction and fomented it with hope and expectation for a better America. In this upheaval and insurrection against the failed old guard, Christian people must see the bigger picture of the Establishment power base and aim their political activism at this source. This is the way the American population is moving, if Christians don’t figure out what’s going on, they will be playing catch-up once again instead of exercising leadership in the next stage of American history.
TRUMP THE MAN
Donald Trump’s personality, as well as some of his business issues, have made it difficult for many Evangelicals to support him. He is often crass and uncouth, disrespectful and abrasive. There’s his cursing and arrogance, his casino ownership, three marriages, and questions of personal faith. He is what he is and his shortcomings are obvious to all.
Trump is a brawler; when attacked he will attack back. His fighting spirit is not something we have seen much in recent political figures, especially on the national stage. This may be an unfamiliar and an uncomfortable characteristic, but is it objectionable?
But we have to remember that in life in Babylon we are not going to get many faithful Christian candidates for federal office. We also have to remember we are not voting for a national pastor but for a civil office.
Most Evangelicals probably have not seen an “alpha male” like Donald Trump in operation very often. Western men, since the emergence of feminism in the early 60s, have been weakened and feminized.
An “alpha male,” by definition, is a man who assumes a dominant role in his affairs. He is an assertive, persistent and purposeful man. This defines Trump and his lifestyle of a 20-hour work day. With Trump, you have a man who is similar to his peers of three generations ago. Today, the “alpha male” character type is actually still very highly esteemed – but only when it’s exhibited by women!
TRUMP AND CONSERVATIVE IDEOLOGY
Movement conservatives complain that Trump does not have a pure conservative ideology. That may be so. He certainly has some views that are contrary to my conservative liberty ideology.
I disagree with him on eminent domain, subsidized ethanol and in some areas concerning the role of the Federal Government. Cruz is better on some of these traditional conservative issues. I would differ with Trump on the partial defunding of Planned Parenthood. He, like Reagan and the Bushes, has come late to the correct side of the abortion issue. Some of his views are still in the process of development. Trump only entered the political stage nine months ago. These issues are much more important to a politician than to a businessman. But these areas of disagreement are matters of secondary importance on today’s political battlefield. Trump is setting his sights on primary issues. Matters like eminent domain and transgender rights are not critical until the Establishment is exposed and judged, and a law-order and a framework for liberty and justice are re-established in a functioning Christian republic.
The GOP Establishment is not made up of purist conservatives either, but they have established litmus test issues or have learned how to answer correctly those issues that have become litmus test positions by interest groups, including Evangelical organizations. They have also put forward their political candidates who would successfully champion these issues and advance their reforms. These conservative leaders apparently have a great product, but they can never get it to market. The people never see and benefit from all this great and true conservatism.
Trump calls it “all talk and no action,” but it is really worse than that because these so-called “Movement Conservatives” end up backing politicians who are subservient to the corporations and the money elites who bankroll them. So the middle class never gets any practical delivery of their ideas via the candidates screened by the Republican Establishment. Instead, the government money trucks seem to flow to Georgetown and the suburbs of Northern Virginia where the donor class live, and especially to Wall Street. These deliveries never seem to be interrupted no matter who is in office.
© 2016 Thomas Ertl – All Rights Reserved
Tom is a home builder in Tallahassee, Florida and is a member of a local congregation in the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA). He is a publisher of Christian theological works and has sat on the boards of several Evangelical Christian organizations.