Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

Open your Twitter account, follow any number of politicos, and you’ll see that Donald Trump is currently all the rage. His surge in the polls is one of the more fascinating political stories in decades. Even among evangelical voters, Trump has found a friend. If even a modicum of the polls are to be trusted, Trump leads in almost every major category for the GOP nomination. This leads naturally to a question: what has caused the rise of this Trump tower? Others have rightly stated that Trump is a stand-in for frustrations with current political standstills. He’s trying to fix problems, they say, and for many of the American populace frustrated with political gridlock, this is an alternative willing they’re willing to explore. Further, the billionaire’s raw, visceral, stream-of-consciousness is appealing to many because they see Trump as moving in some kind of direction. But governing is more than mere speeches and rhetoric. Leaders should take careful inventory of their life. There is a proper posture for those who seek a position of authority and Augustine once wrote about precisely that.

In a letter to Macedonius in 418, Augustine writes about the proper posture those who seek authority should assume. They understand that their authority is provided by God, and can only be properly appropriated when their own conscience has been examined. Political and judicial authority is, the Bishop of Hippo wrote, “mortals judging mortals, sinners judging sinners.” In sum, their exercise of power is principally drawn from humility. We should look for humility in our leaders. Humility is not weak or naïve, nor is it merely an attempt to be the “nice guy.” Humility, in this context is a characteristic expression of dependence on God. When Trump speaks, he exhibits the characteristics of a man who has had glory and wants more. He does not represent a man who has considered the weight of rule. At some point, Trump would move from behind the microphone and assume the role of Commander in Chief, and his solutions read like someone taking a sledgehammer to a nail. We should be weary of any leader that trades in such a scorched earth approach; humility does not follow the trail it leaves in its wake.