Maybe it was a surprise when Donald Trump Jr. told a group of young conservatives last week that, from a political standpoint, following the teachings of Jesus has “gotten us nothing.”
It was, however, a definite disappointment that the former president’s son would lay his cards on the table so boldly. He eagerly dismissed the Scripture that has served mankind so well for 2,000 years.
Here’s what Trump Jr. said Dec. 19 to an audience at the Turning Point USA conference:
“If we get together, they cannot cancel us all. OK? They won’t. And this will be contrary to a lot of our beliefs because — I’d love not to have to participate in cancel culture. I’d love that it didn’t exist. But as long as it does, folks, we better be playing the same game. OK?
“We’ve been playing T-ball for half a century while they’re playing hardball and cheating. Right? We’ve turned the other cheek, and I understand, sort of, the biblical reference — I understand the mentality — but it’s gotten us nothing. OK? It’s gotten us nothing while we’ve ceded ground in every major institution in our country.”
Where to start? First of all, if Trump thinks that conservative Republicans don’t know how to play political hardball, he’s dreaming.
In 2016 and 2020, Sen. Mitch McConnell used the rules to get two conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court. As far back as 1988, ruthless GOP operatives like Lee Atwater attacked Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis with nasty ads on the Massachusetts governor’s record. There are dozens of other examples.
But the most disappointing thing about Trump’s comments is that a large number of conservatives who heard it probably agree with him. Assuming that his audience included a number of evangelical Christians, how do they square “it’s gotten us nothing” with the teachings of Jesus that many of them try to uphold?
On the Relevant Magazine website, Tyler Huckabee had a fine observation:
“Trump is more correct than he probably knows here. Christianity is a poor device for gaining worldly influence. Nearly every page of the Gospels has stories of Jesus refusing earthly power and exhorting his followers to do the same. In fact, there are few things Jesus talked as much about as the upside down Kingdom of God where ‘the last shall be first’ and ‘blessed are the meek.’
“Moreover, he cautioned against seeking earthly influence, going so far as to proclaim ‘woe to you who are rich.’ The most cursory reading of Scripture would leave anyone with the sense that this is not a manual for getting stuff.”
Besides, Trump is wrong when he says that trying to follow the teaching of Jesus in politics has gotten conservatives nothing.
If he’s still mad about his father’s loss to Joe Biden last year, then show a court some evidence of enough fraud to change the results. The former president is something like 0-for-60 in that regard, including several defeats at the Supreme Court, where a majority of the justices said they would not hear his claims.
Other than 2020, Republicans continue to do fairly well in politics. The party controls legislatures and executive branches in many states. In Congress, despite President Biden’s victory last year, Democrats are operating with the slimmest of majorities that is likely to disappear in 2022. (Question: If Democrats were such cheaters last year, shouldn’t they have won much larger congressional majorities? What does it say that they didn’t?)
“It’s gotten us nothing,” Trump Jr. said. Seriously? With Roe v. Wade likely to be struck down or sharply curtailed, he really thinks conservatives have gotten nothing?
Encouraging conservative evangelicals to ignore the teachings of Jesus is a horrible strategy.
Jack Ryan, Enterprise-Journal