Donald Trump to appear in federal court today: What his poll numbers say about our culture

Donald Trump to appear in federal court today: What his poll numbers say about our culture August 3, 2023

Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to appear in a federal courtroom in Washington, DC, at 4 p.m. ET today to face charges that he conspired to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election. Tuesday’s forty-five-page indictment included four federal charges.

He is also facing thirty-four felony counts of falsifying business records in a case brought by the Manhattan district attorney and forty felony counts in the Justice Department’s classified-files case in Miami. In addition, he could be indicted in Georgia, where a prosecutor is investigating the effort to overturn the election there.

And yet, the latest New York Times/Siena poll of registered voters reports that Mr. Trump is tied with President Joe Biden as candidates for the 2024 presidential election, with 43 percent each. In the poll, 41 percent of respondents have a favorable view of Mr. Trump, while 55 percent are unfavorable. These numbers are virtually unchanged from October 2022, when they stood at 42 percent and 52 percent, respectively. This despite the charges brought against him by the Manhattan district attorney on April 4 and the Justice Department on June 9.

In the same poll, 54 percent of Republicans supported Mr. Trump in the 2024 election, followed by Ron DeSantis at 17 percent and other candidates at 3 or 2 percent. According to the New York Times, the former president “held decisive advantages across almost every demographic group and region and in every ideological wing of the party.”

“People generally see what they look for”

“Motive attribution asymmetry” is a term scholars use for a fundamental bias that drives “seemingly intractable human conflict.” Research shows that “in political and ethnoreligious intergroup conflict, adversaries tend to attribute their own group’s aggression to ingroup love more than outgroup hate and to attribute their outgroup’s aggression to outgroup hate more than ingroup love.”

So, Mr. Trump’s supporters love him and believe his opponents hate him, while his opponents do the opposite. But why?

Many of the former president’s advocates believe that the “left” will do anything to “get” him and therefore see the recent indictments against him as evidence of such a conspiracy. The more charges he faces, the more “proof” they find for this assertion.

In addition, many of his supporters separate his policies from his person. Even if they believe that Mr. Trump is guilty of some or all of these charges, they do not consider such character issues to disqualify him from office in light of his policies they support.

By contrast, many of his opponents view these charges as objective proof that he is guilty of criminality and disqualified for office. And many consider a presidential candidate’s personal character to be an essential component of their public service.

Neither side is likely to persuade the other through empirical or logical reasoning. The allegations being made against Mr. Trump are “smoking guns” to his opponents, but many of his supporters dismiss them as “fake news” or consider them irrelevant to his candidacy. If a “smoking gun” were discovered in which President Biden ordered his Justice Department to “get” Mr. Trump, the former president’s critics could dismiss this discovery as “fake news” or claim that Mr. Biden is discharging his office in bringing a criminal to justice.

As Harper Lee noted in To Kill a Mockingbird, “People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.”

Speaking English in Cuba

Let’s apply our discussion to an issue of even greater significance than America’s political future. For reasons I have discussed frequently over the years, many in our secularized culture view biblical morality in the same presuppositional ways that many of Mr. Trump’s supporters and opponents see him.

For example, LGBTQ activists believe theirs is the civil rights crusade of our generation and consider biblical evidence to the contrary to be irrelevant or misinterpreted. Some are even convinced that the Bible is on their side. By contrast, those who support biblical sexual morality believe themselves to be on the side of God and his word. Many consider claims made by the other side to be irrelevant, misinterpreted, or simply wrong.

For biblical Christians to change our secularized culture, we cannot keep doing the same thing while expecting different results. When I went to Cuba on various mission trips, it would have been vain for me to speak in English to people who only understood Spanish. Talking louder would do no good. I needed to speak their language to impact their lives.

The good news is, God’s Spirit knows the spiritual condition of every soul on this planet. It’s as though he were an attorney persuading the jury to choose his client. He calls us as witnesses to the stand when we fit best into his strategy. Then he leads us to give the testimony he can best use to win the case.

Four biblical steps

Our job is to be ready. How?

One: Prepare now for the day you are called to testify. Be ready to share your salvation story. Learn why our secular culture thinks as it does and become equipped with resources that will help you declare and defend your faith (1 Peter 3:15–16).

Two: Submit your day fully to the Spirit of God, making yourself available to him right now (Ephesians 5:18). In my wife’s latest blog, she quotes Henry Blackaby’s powerful assertion: “We don’t choose what we will do for God; he invites us to join him where he wants to involve us.”

Three: Listen for the prompting of the Spirit as you walk through your day. He will nudge you when he wants you to speak to someone, meet a need, send a text or an email, or make a call. And he will guide you in what you are to say (Luke 12:11–12).

Four: Trust the results to God. A witness may not be in the courtroom when the jury renders its verdict. Your job is not to win the trial but to be faithful to your Lord (Galatians 6:9).

The day we “start living”

The highest purpose in life is glorifying God by helping others experience his transforming love and grace. This purpose will matter ten thousand millennia after this universe is gone. This calling changes eternity, every day.

Mark Batterson writes: “We start dying the day we stop dreaming. And ironically, we start living the day we discover a dream worth dying for.”

Have you made such a discovery yet?

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