Trump speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland, February 2015/Wikipedia photo by Gage Skidmore

Despair Powers Trump

By Ernesto Tinajero

Henry David Thoreau famously observed that most humans live lives of quiet desperation. Despair comes from living without hope. When someone loses hope, despair grows in them.

Riding the bus everyday, I observe this same phenomena of a growing despair. We can see this despair as the power behind the whole Trumpism experience. Trump’s triumph comes from being able to point to the cause of the growing despair of the working class and say it was Mexicans taking jobs, Muslims are coming to kill us, and the Chinese are beating us because our leaders are stupid. Soon, people who are dead to life find a poison spark of passion. They can feel again. 

People who have been left behind by a winner-take-all economy and have become dead inside. Trump tells his crowd that he loves them and they believe it, because without hope, they reach out. He gives them a place to put their frustrations and anger. They can breath and have passion once more. The cost of such a con is, of course, immense and dangerous.

We are currently paying the price for not addressing the despair that has spread so widely. Despair arises in the human spirit when the person loses the sense of mattering. When our lives seem not to matter to others, then we grow weary and then the tide of despair washes over us. This should be a place for the Gospel, for throughout the history of the church, the Gospel has been able to answer the human despair. Why has the Gospel that has long answered the human despair and fill humans with passion and living giving purpose? The truth is that when Christianity is stripped of its power by only making it a way of making others behave, then the Gospel is lost. St Paul view such moralism as the greatest threat to the Gospel.

Only when the Gospel is revived its answer human despair can than church live again. Only love can we revive. Those that find a missing passion in following Trump will find that is a poisoned well for it can’t be sustained. Passion that is created by a negative force of hate, of hating politicians, Mexicans and Muslims will end not in life, but death. Follow Jesus to love others and God and the passion is rooted in the living water. 


About Ernesto Tinajero

Art, says Ernesto Tinajero, comes from the border of what has come before and what is coming next. Tinajero uses his experience studying poetry and theology to write about the intersecting borders of art, poetry and religion.

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  1. This is why Kierkegaard called despair “the sickness unto death.”

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