In this article we begin to take on the challenge of trying to understand the man who will soon be leader of the free world, a man who has defied understanding for so many.
Who is this man?
What is his vision for America?
What are his strengths and what are his blind spots?
Why was he so vicious on the campaign trail?
Why is he walking back many of his campaign promises so quickly?
All of these questions can be answered readily if we really know the man. Thankfully the Bible as the source of all truth offers insights in every area of life, including how to understand people from the inside out.
“Man looks upon the outward appearance, but the Lord looks upon the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NASB)
Before we Begin
That will be our humble attempt in this series. I have studied hundreds of people in the context of Biblical insights on personality for the last 14 years. These articles will go right to the point of analyzing Trump’s leadership style because so many people are wondering why he is doing what he is doing right now. We hope you will find the enigma of Trump removed, that you will “get him,” and even begin to predict his next moves.
This series will do its best to offer analysis without judgment. When Trump is criticized, don’t assume that this series wants him to fail or is assuming that God can’t work around that flaw. And conversely when this series covers a likeable quality, don’t assume that the plan is to whitewash him. Every President needs to do well, if America is to do well. We should pray for each President, that they would hear God and walk in His ways, whether Republican or Democrat.
The Cornerstone Question
There is a question that – if answered – will get us going in the right direction in understanding Trump for the rest of this series. That question is: How does Trump see the World?
This is such an important question, because as God paints the picture of people in the Bible as He created them, He gives us clues about the world views through which people see things. I believe these frameworks are hardwired into each of us, even though they may be covered over by layers of learning and life experience. Underneath this view drives behavior.
How does Trump see the world?
Have you seen Trump as a builder? As a man who built great buildings, great companies, and his own personal empire? That’s how I originally saw him, but that is not the real Trump, even though that is a persona he likes to project.
Have you seen Trump as a fighter? As a man that will speak hard things and go after corruption, and drain the swamp, as a unique outsider unmatched in politics? Yes he will fight in a certain sense, and yes he is an outsider, but that is not who he is.
Have you seen Trump as a man of ideas? For instance, as a man who built his campaign around big ideas that were not being discussed by others, like immigration? Trump is not an idea man. And he is not even remotely an ideologue! On this point he is as different from Obama as he can possibly be. He has no defined vision of the nation or the world that guides his work. He probably never will. In other words, don’t expect that Trump believes intrinsically in your favorite idea that you already heard him forcefully express. Regarding immigration, for instance, Trump was just looking for a way to distinguish himself from all the other Republican candidates. The immigration focus was a calculated decision, not an intrinsic belief! Immigration was just a means to an end.
And now let us attempt answer the question: How does Trump see the world?
ANSWER: Trump’s world – the framework by which he views the world – is not a world that is defined by great problems that need to be solved, heroic or kind acts to be performed, insights to be gained, great exploits to be achieved, or even the compassion expressed – Trump sees the world as a huge collection of interacting PEOPLE to be influenced.
For Trump, the world is divided into many overlapping groups of people controlled by leaders of people. He interacts in the world of leaders to get things done.
Trump is, very simply, a populist. To the very core of his being, he is a populist.
And he is a populist in the largest sense of that word – his goal is to continually increase the scope of his popularity. (More on this driving force in another article).
For those of us that do not live and breathe in the world of people to such an extent, what does it mean to be a person who sees the world as a collection of people to be influenced? Here are a few examples.
First, if Trump has a big need or problem arise, his first reaction is to think: “Who can I get to help me solve this?” This reaction brings him no fear. He has great confidence in his ability to get what he needs through people somehow, some way. In his world problems are created and solved by people. Others might be first to think, “What is the root of this problem”, or “Can this problem be solved?” or “Is it the right problem?” but Trump will focus quickly on finding and influencing those who might be able to solve the problem and how to make that happen.
Second, regarding his advisors, Trump wants to have a large set of people around him who will not just advise him but bring comfort to him at the same time! People-influencers are like this. They see the world as “us” and “them,” but the “us” is expanded to a key set of people. The need for comfort won’t be voiced by Trump in any of the interviews of course, but that will be a key question Trump is asking himself silently! So while he will work to influence people outside of his inner circle, he does not want to have to influence those inside – he wants their undivided loyalty. (More on this dynamic in a future article).
For Trump, everything in this world revolves around people. He navigates skillfully in the world of people. He understands people. He motivates people. He gathers people. He sometimes fights for people. He sometimes fights people when he has to. He enters a room, reads a room and responds to the room as naturally as people sit down and eat a meal. When it comes to people, he is very intuitive. And over the years, he has developed a huge self-confidence in his ability to get what he wants FROM or THROUGH people. That is what he meant when he said at the Republican National Convention: “I will make this country great again.” He did not mean he would do all the work, but that he would be the “Influencer in Chief.”
Why does Trump have such great confidence in himself? Because of his command over communication and the use of words!
The next article will cover Trump’s use of words and whether it is right to consider Trump as a liar, a fascist and a racist.