Recap of the ongoing series: Politics is unimportant of itself, but Torah does give us instructions on how to pick leaders, so we should look to follow, not look to ignore.
I’ve been basing my conclusions on the following:
1) The president must be a brother. Devarim/Deuteronomy 17:15 says when we set up a king, he is to be someone whom YHVH chooses. He is to be a brother (or by interpretation sister), and not a foreigner. I take this to mean not a blood brother, but someone who has the same Father, namely YHVH.
2) A judge ought to be able, god-fearing, truthful, and hating covetousness/dishonest gain (Exodus 18:21). This is fairly straight forward, but I note that it doesn’t say “knowing Torah”. These characteristics when confronted with truth found in Torah would be inclined to obey it, but there have been god-fearing truthful people in scripture who did not know Torah. David and Yoshiyahu, for example.
Since the Torah gives us qualities to seek, judging fruit is an obvious necessity. This is not to say that I presume to know a soul’s destiny, but YHVH expects us to act upon what we know, not what we can’t know. Conclusions so far, based on a command to find POSITIVE evidence of each quality?
Jim Webb (D): No evidence he’s a brother: no vote.
Martin O’Malley (D): Some evidence that he’s a brother. Some evidence that he is able. No evidence that he’s god-fearing; conclusion: no vote.
Lawrence Lessig (D): No evidence he’s a brother; conclusion: no vote.
Lincoln Chaffee (D): No evidence he’s a brother; conclusion: no vote.
Hillary Clinton (D): Some evidence she is a sister. Some evidence she has ability. No evidence she is god-fearing. No evidence she is truthful. Some evidence she hates covetousness/dishonest gain. Conclusion: No vote.
Bernie Sanders (D): Does not look like a brother. Has some ability. Is not godfearing. Somewhat truthful. Somewhat anti-covetous. Conclusion: No vote.
Current Candidate: Donald Trump (R)
Brotherhood? The Christian Post (http://www.christianpost.com/news/6-interesting-facts-about-donald-trumps-christian-faith-140522/) quotes Donald as being a “believer” and a Presbyterian member/attendant. Religionnews.com (http://www.religionnews.com/2015/06/16/5-faith-facts-donald-trump-presbyterian-collects-bibles/) says similar things, but I notice the . . . segregated language: “I’ve had a good relationship with the church…” “I think religion is a wonderful thing . . . I think my religion is a wonderful religion.”
Making it more muddy, Ben Carson, in a CNN article (http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/09/politics/ben-carson-donald-trump-faith/) questioned Donald’s faith on the grounds basically that Trump lacks humility. A concern I share with Mr. Carson with no response from Donald. Later in the article, there is a quote that during a Family Leadership Summit, Trump was asked directly if he ever asked God for forgiveness, to which Trump replied, “I am not sure I have.”
Say what? How do you have anything like a Protestant, Presbyterian, or ‘Christian’ faith and not be sure if you’ve asked for forgiveness?
That’s a big problem to me.
Again, while I have given the benefit of the doubt to several candidates because they “claimed” to be brothers or sisters, I more and more lean toward the men/women who are known. There has to be a commonsense (as in a “sense” held in “common”) that such a thing is so. That is really what made God’s way so amazing. Why could you an I both go to the same judge? Because the judge is known by each of us to be a brother, capable, god-fearing, hating covetousness, truthful.
So is it enough to ‘give’ the benefit of the doubt? Or should I be able to point to something positive? I think it’s the latter. As such, do I get the sense or is there substantial evidence that Donald Trump is a follower of Yeshua? The Mashiach of the God of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’acov? For me I find no evidence that he is.
Able? Because, Trump is the front running Republican, I feel I should give more than a summary judgment. Is Trump able? Well, he has the ambition. He appears to demonstrate an ability to learn new material. And his experience is fairly well established by his business record. Running a country could be considered to be like a company, so it seems he is capable. Most of the critiques I have seen relate to his depth of experience or his controversial opinions, but I’ve seen nothing that questions his mental capabilities or determination or leadership. Certainly, his poll numbers would indicate that he can move people and that is a sign of leadership. So I have to say the is substantial evidence that he is able.
God-fearing? Referencing his earlier comment about not “not being sure” he’s ever asked God for forgiveness, being God-fearing, seems doubtful. He also has an inflammatory personality. And while that isn’t wrong, consider how often his loudness takes the form of insulting people? The comments toward John McCain come to mind. Does he have a point? Does being captured make you a hero? No, but not giving into torture does make you something to be respected. Plus McCain is older, and thus under Torah is due a little more respect from a youngster like Trump.
According to ontheissues.org (http://www.ontheissues.org/donald_trump.htm), Donald is pro-life except when it comes to rape, incest, and health. And while I have struggled with whether or not to save the mother’s life was a legitimate reason for abortion (as an act of self-defense), I can’t see any way in scripture to suggest this would apply to rape or incest. As for the self-defense issue. Studying it further, I came to this conclusion. Scripture allows for self-defense, in the face of a crime (Shemot/Exodus 22:2). But the baby is committing no crime. Is self-defense viable in the face of unknowingly threatening someone? If you found yourself wandering into the wrong hotel room and the occupant pulls a gun on you, if in that split second you realized your mistake, would you be justified in killing them? Or if there are two people in the water, but only one vest, would it be right for you to take the vest by force to preserve your life at their expense? I think the continually self-sacrificing narrative of Torah would tell you no. How can you love your neighbor (the baby) as yourself, and choose to save your life over theirs?
On immigration, Trump (https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/immigration-reform) is all about enforcing our laws and making it our economy and benefits focused on citizens. While this is somewhat correct, Torah is clear that the immigrant is not to be vexed. “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the YHVH your God.” (Vayikra/Leviticus 19:34). While laws should be enforced, should an unjust law be enforced? Didn’t we condemn the Nazis and a thousand others for upholding unjust laws? Was southern slavery right because it was legal? Is abortion to be protected because its legal? I understand those are difficult questions. How do we respond to godless laws? But what should be clear is that if there is a movement of people to stop upholding an unjust law, we should not be blindly upholding it! The immigrant must keep out laws, but the laws that make it difficult for immigrants to come to safety are wrong. Devarim/Deuteronomy 23:15, tells us that the slave fleeing from a harsh master is to be given a place to live among God’s people. Not to be sent back. And if the slave from a harsh master, who has an obligation to serve, why would you not extend the same to someone fleeing oppression who was not obligated to serve? We are commanded to open out hearts to the stranger, but Trump’s view seems to be “what good will the immigrant do for us?”
And where in all this, does Trump show that it’s because of God? In “ontheissues.org”, when stating why his abortion views changed, does he say it’s because of God and his word? Or because of ‘personal stories’? Does he view immigration as a economic thing or a moral thing? Does he view same-sex marriage as a states-right thing, or an issue of upholding God’s design for man and woman? In each case, the reason for his views, seems to have no connection to conviction over what YHVH has said. I must conclude there is no evidence that Trump is a god-fearer.
Truthful? MSNBC (http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/does-donald-trump-have-truth-problem) finds fault with Trump on a number of claims such as being “self-funded” saying that his latest federal filing shows only 33% of his campaign’s financing is from his own pocket. Politifact (http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/) gives him only 8% “mostly true”. Fibs include “embellishments” of his accomplishments in negotiations, discreditings of Kasich, etc . . .
In defense of Trump, a lot of what they call “lies” appear from a plain reading to be hyperbole. Which seems to describe a lot of what he says. He’s saying larger than life things, but does that make them lies? Some people (like myself) talk in this way for comedic effect, because we like to entertain people. So some of this I think should be taken that way.
However, if you are ‘able’ to do the job of leading a nation, the nation has to know who you really are. They have to know you can be serious and truthful, so wouldn’t someone tell Trump, “Hey, people can’t tell when you’re joking!” I would take extra care not to joke, and simply admit that I’d used hyperbole. “Is Bernie Sanders really going to tax at 90%? I don’t know, I’m not Bernie Sanders! But is he going to tax a lot more? Yes, so what I said was substantively true, with a little dramatic embellishment, but that’s what it will feel like.” I’d have not problem with that. But left as it is, is to leave it in doubt about whether dramatic flair was the case or just a disregard for truth? I have to conclude no evidence of truthfulness.
Hating Covetousness? . . . portion of his wealth comes from casinos. Now . . . I don’t think Torah forbids gambling anymore than it does drinking. However, if you love your neighbor as yourself, are you going to let them drink themselves into oblivion? By the same token, did Trump have special protections in place to keep people from gambling what they didn’t have? Or did he just let them take their chances?
In 2011, in American Business Mag ( But I just loved my lifestyle and I didn’t want to give that up. I figured the best way not to change my lifestyle was to cut back where I had to and, secondly, keep making lots of money. A lot – See more at: http://www.americanbusinessmag.com/2011/01/donald-trump-exclusive-insight/#sthash.5TFifYHF.dpuf), Trump said in an interview that the reason he didn’t quit business was ”But I just loved my lifestyle and I didn’t want to give that up. I figured the best way not to change my lifestyle was to cut back where I had to and, secondly, keep making lots of money.”
But how do you quantify hating covetousness? It’s like honesty and many of these questions. How do you see what someone’s motivation is? Is merely wanting to make money covetousness? It can’t be because the laborer is worth his reward is in the Torah. God tells us not to delay paying our employees because his heart is set on it. The desire for the reward of your labor is not covetousness. But rather a desire for what isn’t yours. Now some would argue that wanting to do well in business is a virtue all in itself. But Torah teaches us to look on the wellbeing of one another. We are to help each other succeed. Not only that, Torah comes with the perspective that God gives shares to people that are not to be taken away permanently. We see this in the Yovel year (jubilee year).
So it is not a godly (god-like) thought to want to drive anyone out of business. So our business efforts must be tempered by the desire to help even our business rivals succeed. The idea of taking business from another, just because you can (even if you’re ‘better’) is not amoral. So has Trump pursued business in a way that disregards the success of his rivals? Does he use his deal making skills to get more than a fair deal in negotiations?
I’d suspect he does, because so much of his talk revolves around money. This would seem consistent with his apparent conceit as well.
However, that’s just an assumption, so I’ll say that I find little evidence that he is against covetousness.
Conclusion: No Vote.
[On a side note . . . just academic. I can't help thinking that a white male, business man, who voices the most offensive views of conservatives, is almost a dream come true for someone like Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. None of those qualities are bad, but I just can't help thinking he seems made to order as a boogeyman for liberals. If he wins it could be like Abraham Lincoln and the south's reaction. If he loses, it could be the same. I don't know . . . ]