Trump - A controversial 2016 Presidential Candidate in America.
How did he get away with it?
By Claude R. Shema (Canada)
*Political Psychology is an interdisciplinary academic field dedicated to understanding politics, politicians and political behavior from a psychological perspective- Wikipedia See also Stanford University’s definition of political psychology at https://pprg.stanford.edu/what-is-political-psychology/
An international political psychology analysis and global peace perspective
Doubtlessly, the United States of America is the most powerful country in the world, mainly due to its mighty military power (https://www.transcend.org/tms/2016/05/usa-stop-threatening-russia-the-world-prevent-nuclear-war/), with solid socio-economic and political implications in the world. Therefore, whatever happens to this country, has immediate positive or negative impacts on the rest of the world. Some sources suggest that the US holds more than 662 military bases in the world, with the majority of these bases composed of special operation forces (SOFs) ready to be deployed in 70-90 different countries in the world at any given time. As of 2016, USA was actively (and “Drone fair wars”) involved in more than five wars including Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan (J.Albertini in Transcend Media Service, May 23rd 2016). Through different international development agencies such as USAID, the US is also heavily economically/financially involved in supporting many countries in the world, and is planning even to do more so in coming years. As a matter of fact, the US budget for foreign aid for the 2017 fiscal year was set for 34,000,000,000 US$, and main sectors of spending are peace & health, security, humanitarian assistance, economic development and democracy/human rights/good governance (www.foreignassistance.gov). Therefore, whatever happens to this country has immediate psychological or physical positive or negative impacts on the rest of the world.
As presidential campaigns raged with a variety of rhetorical statements by candidates, the international community was watching so closely possibly closer than never before, with a high level of psychological anxiety regarding what the 2016 USA presidential campaigns would unfold: a smart politician with articulated and calculated political friendliness or a vicious unpredictable and unexperienced ambitious billionaire? How does political psychology describe the massive rallies at Trump’s campaign events, extremely enthusiastic millions of American voters who voted for him and the world political and psychological anxiety associated with possible unwanted outcomes for whoever wins the 2016 US presidential race?
Trump’s conservative credentials and evangelical voters split behavior
Trump’s presidential campaigns surprised many and defied the rules of gravity. Polls after polls showed him wining with evangelicals, which was a stunning point to many, due to incompatibility of Trump’s past, present or current behavior and unevangelical personal values that Mr. Trump exhibited. However, the definition of “evangelicals” has always been overshadowed by the beliefs of the evangelical concept and its solid traditional conservatism base, forgetting that evangelicals have different categories, including die-hard conservative evangelicals, moderate, and liberals, or cultural and millennia’s evangelicals.
Understanding Evangelicals and Trump’s Rocket-like Rising
During his presidential race against 16 others, Trump as usual claimed that he had supporters from across the spectrum of voters and from a variety of demographic aspects, including evangelicals. Some shook their heads and disagreed with Trump due to his behavior, his dirty and sketchy past personal life including women issues and his dirty business-like Casinos which he bankrupted afterwards, or his eminent domain issues in the past against Mrs. Vera Coking (http://ij.org/case/casino-reinvestment-development-authority-v-coking/). Furthermore, as far as we all know, Trump hasn’t been evangelical throughout his entire life, nor does has he possessed any single fundamental evangelical value per se as many suggested including those who know him and (of course) his former political rivals (http://ij.org/case/casino-reinvestment-development-authority-v-coking/). Can Donald Trump cite at least one verse of the Bible beside “Two Corinthians”? Has he ever even touched or talked about the Bible except during his early presidential campaigns (http://religionnews.com/2016/01/31/donald-trump-religion-bible-evangelicals/)? And not to mention - Trump hasn’t been even Republican any longer than a few years before he launched his presidential campaigns. How about his KKK endorsement?
However, to be able to understand why Trump had some of the evangelicals’ support, if not many, we need to do some analysis and dig deeper regarding the evangelical categories and their attribution to Trump’s unstoppable candidacy.
Evangelical Categories in USA
As D. Burke (CNN, 2016)suggests, evangelical blocs in USA can be summarized into seven different blocs, and each bloc has its own distinctive fundamental beliefs and few other aspects and perceptions when it comes to the presidential races in America.
Old Guard Bloc
The old guard bloc of evangelicals is made of the most conservative personalities, with strong and untouchable irreversible positions like abortions, same sex-marriage issues, strongly disregarding LGBT communities and believing in man-women marriage only. The Old Guard evangelicals also are more regarded as strong activists of religious liberty. Therefore, based on the Old Guard bloc of evangelicals in the USA, the hypothesis suggests that voters in this category would vote for Ted Cruz. However, their number may not be wide enough to deter Donald Trump from snitching the GOP nomination over Ted Cruz or any other highly regarded evangelical with strong conservative values like former candidate, retired neurosurgeon specialist, Dr. Ben Carson.
Institutional Evangelicals’ Bloc
This bloc is characterized by strong evangelical leaders of mega churches, charity organizations on national and international levels, affiliated with various associations like National Association of evangelicals (Burke, 2016). Although the institutional evangelical leaders are strongly involved in preaching and counseling for their followers (Christians), they also intend to follow politics closely and eventually get involved and contribute to the GOP candidates who reflect or share their core values. In the 2016 presidential race, their tendency wasn’t Donald Trump for president, but Marco Rubio instead, where some of the most popular in institutional evangelical bloc like renowned Pastor Rick Warren and Albert Mohler joined Marco Rubio as part of his political adversary board members.
Entrepreneurial Evangelical Bloc
The entrepreneurial evangelists don’t really share much of theological core beliefs and practices with the previous two blocs mentioned in previous paragraphs. They focus more on the business model instead. Within this evangelical bloc, we can mention some of the best know influential leaders such as Paula White, Kenneth Copeland and Jerry Falwell (Jr.). Jerry Falwell was among the first famous evangelicals to endorse Donald Trump despite Trump’s rhetoric and unevangelical behavior, and this endorsement gave Trump a strong stepping stone in showing off his [otherwise criticised ] evangelical roots. However, the Jerry Falwell Jr. political endorsement to Trump didn’t stop Trump from showing his little-to-nothing knowledge about the bible when he misquoted “Two Corinthians” while reading the verse from the Holy Bible, and he blamed this on Rev. Jerry Falwell. But again, this misstep didn’t hinder Trump’s endeavor to win the most contested states and eventually to become the GOP nominee because evangelicals and Trump die-hard supporters could care less about his Biblical knowledge and conservatism or evangelical credentials; they weren’t electing the “Preacher-in-chief” but the future commander-in-chief instead.
Arm’s-length’ Evangelical Bloc
These are described as “don’t sell your soul” type evangelicals (Burke, 2016), and they focus more on teaching and talking about Christ than politics. They try to be more focused on criticising both sides (GOP and DEMS), and during the 2016 American presidential race, the evangelicals from this bloc would likely lean toward Marco Rubio.
Millennial Evangelical Bloc
Although millennial evangelicals are direct descendants of the hard-liner “old guard bloc” evangelicals, millennial are more moderate and open to embracing diversity. They have moderate views on various conservatism issues, such as abortion and same sex marriage, even though 60% of them still do believe that abortion or same sex marriage should be seen as illegal acts. Their tendency is a little bit hard to tell, but Trump seemed to appeal more to them even though he remains unpredictable and flip-flops in many cases. However, they do share with Trump some of the views pertaining to moderate political aspects of the GOP party.
Liberal Evangelical Bloc
Among the most popular and influential among evangelical bloc members, such as Jim Wallis, Jimmy Carter (former US president) and William J. Shaw represent about 13% of liberal Protestants and they tend to support the Democratic Party in general elections. Demographically, the Afro-American population is more likely to be members of this bloc. The beneficiary of the most votes from this bloc on the GOP presidential side in 2016 again, was Trump.
Cultural Evangelical Bloc
The Cultural Evangelical Bloc is a little bit different from the previous ones. The majority of them were born Christians but do not routinely practice religion like their parents or ancestors. They identify often as born again Christians. Some of them do attend church on a weekly basis, with a tendency for conservatism aspects, and those who are more conservative are believed to have Iowa as a stronghold, while the rest of more liberal cultural evangelicals are dispersed in other states, which has benefited Trump during the 2016 presidential race. However, the cultural evangelicals who have deeper religious practice roots on weekly basis are believed to be more keen on conservative values, mainly in the state of Iowa, and they perceived Trump as non-evangelical indeed, since he was unable to even mention one single verse from the Bible, and his comments about “little cracker and wine”, and his comment that he never ask for forgiveness from God, or his multiple divorce/marriage and past comment on his biological daughter whom he said that he’d married (although it was a joke on reality TV: http://www.today.com/id/11714379/ns/today-today_entertainment/t/trump-jokes-hed-date-daughter/), or veterans’ financial support he claimed to have provided, while numerous reports suggest that the veterans didn’t get any of what he claimed (Griffin et al.,2016 retrieved at http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/03/politics/donald-trump-veterans-donations/) . This would translate also to the unwanted loss of Mr. Trump in Iowa, where he lost to Ted Cruz during the GOP presidential race, and this loss is believed to be associated with an insult Trump had made prior to the Iowa people, by calling them “stupid”: ‘‘How stupid are the people of Iowa?’’ declared Trump during a rally at Iowa Central Community College. ‘‘How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?’’ (Boston Globe, 2015).
Conclusion in Trump’s “unstopability” political success and his high speed in dominating the presidential race in 2016 and unexpected evangelical support, can be rooted in different aspects including his celebrity persona (his towers, golf courses, TV…), media (50/50 as he rises and falls due to media), but the main root here is the psychological feelings of the voters including evangelicals, and status quo of political trend in Washington, which reflects “anger” among voters, and “bargaining” among evangelicals. Based on Swiss psychiatrist, Dr. Kübler-Ross model (Kübler, 1969), there is a greater aspect of grievance and feeling of loss among evangelical voters. Like some other “angry” Americans, evangelicals were looking and hoping for change. If you look at the Kübler-Ross model, the angry behavior is aligned to stage two of the five stages: Denial, Anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance (see the picture below):
As I stated in the beginning, the United States of America has power in different aspects of humanity. Its power and imperialism translate into relevant implications in world political matters, and it is what makes people talk about “America”, dream about “America”, curse evil “America and allies”, praise “America” especially when we need their support, and fight against “America” whenever we are fed up with “America”. Therefore, we pay more attention to “American” presidential races than in any other country in the world, and Donald J. Trump has entertained (he still does) many of us, scared the hell of many of us, and excited many of us, because of his populous persona and celebrity advantages, and his tone that reflects the angry American voters who believe in Trump as if he is a “Messiah” although Trump admitted that he has become a political savvy and better commander in chief by watching “shows” on TV, but failed numerous time the reality check in which he has constantly classified himself as “pants on fire or Pinocchio” (http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/) .
However, whatever he wants to do for American people will be “quickly” and “beautifully great”. As ISIS was on the move, he promised American people to “Bomb the Hell/Sh***t out of those suckers” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWejiXvd-P8) which eventually resonates so well in the ears of those who are scared of ISIS and its propaganda.
Thus, whatever results unfold from the 2016 presidential race, the entire world has been watching closely, praying for Trump’s defeat, or Trump victory (Only Russian President Vladimir Putin’s prayer). The entire world behavior Vis a Vis the presidential campaigns in USA are based mainly on the political perceptions and personal or collective interests associated with political psychology expectations, and implications on the values of our daily lives. Unfortunately, it brings anxiety, uncertainty, and an unclear future of political landscape that might be caused by the change a new USA president will bring to us, and how foreign nations will handle the consequences, or how a new American president’s behavior will affect us as individuals.
Regardless of who supported Trump and who didn’t, the bottom line is that evangelicals were eager to see change in Washington, since there was already a clear internal conflict between GOP representatives in Washington and those who wanted change. Therefore, evangelicals didn’t care much about Trump’s evangelicals credentials (that he didn’t have at all), and their argument is that they were looking for a “commander-in-chief” not a “priest-in-chief”.
To better grasp this dramatic urge, and unusual political trend, we need to look at it the possibly through the theory of loss and grief and its five stages. It is clear that some of the evangelicals if not majority, were fed up with Washington, they had LOST trust and in the GOP representation in Washington, and they were BARGAINING for change, and regain the political power they once had, thus ready to take whoever appeared to bring about CHANGE to Washington, and ultimately an OUTSIDER with no close ties to political arena, nor ties with establishment: TRUMP!
Disclaimer: the view and comments used in this article are based on the compilation of the news and fact sheets that resulted a political psychology review and analysis, and not intended for any professional or political implications whatsoever! Please read carefully all the “references” provided at the bottom of this article for own judgements.