Has Donald Trump learned his lesson?
That’s what my husband Chris wondered the day after Trump’s talk to 2,700 people at the Renaissance Hotel in Montgomery on Friday, Aug. 4. What will he be like the second time around if elected?
Will Trump follow in Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill’s footsteps? Those two men failed significantly before sustained success, but both learned that failure is a peerless teacher. Perhaps Trump will allow failure to instruct his next steps.
Perhaps he will remember the lessons of Lincoln. Who doesn’t remember pouring over the long list below of that aloof-but-determined man’s failures in grade school?
“As President, he built the Republican Party into a strong national organization,” Lincoln’s White House biography reads. “Further, he rallied most of the northern Democrats to the Union cause. On January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy."
And then we have Churchill, who saved Western Europe during World War II. Before that, however, Churchill was also acquainted with failure. One article even lists “20 fairly serious … errors which got him into trouble.” In other words, he was far from perfect.
The man “despised school, was a contrarian and an outsider … and one of the greatest individualists of modern times,” Andrew Roberts, the author of “Churchill: Walking With Destiny” notes. In leadership, “some of Churchill's mistakes were major, too. In World War I, he led the disastrous campaign against Turkey. In World War II, he bungled the defense of Norway. And he thought the invasion of Italy would be easy. Churchill also underestimated the Japanese military.”
But Churchill overcame these missteps and “learned from his mistakes” Roberts writes. "Set against his failures is a far longer and more important list of successes, and he also learned from those."
If given the chance, will Trump do the same?
Because even if the whole election was stolen, Trump isn't the one sitting at 200 Pennsylvania Avenue. A man who nibbles on little girls' necks sits there. Someone who is Trumpier than Trump. Alleged theft of the White House still equals failure.
But Trump has other failures. He became too combative when dealing with the false allegations against him, such as fake news and Russia collusion. It turns out he was justified – and who wouldn't fight back? – but it didn't play well.
Weren’t those personality difficulties one of his Achilles heels?
And then, there’s Covid. Can Trump admit that Fauci was a diabolical maniac? (And the scarf lady was, too, for that matter.) Can he admit that milquetoast Mike Pence was perhaps not the right choice? (A guy who only recently seems to have pulled his robot mask off.)
And then, there's the Trump family thing. Raise your hand if Jared Kushner or Don Jr. make you feel a little dirty. Wouldn’t we prefer transparency when it comes to those two?
Will any of these things change?
I don't know.
But if he takes his cues from failure, as Lincoln and Churchill did, then it’s likely those failures could propel him to stratospheric heights, potentially taking the country with him.
And then there’s the regular people who support this man, but who cowered, all too often, about Trump. Will they allow failure to teach them, too, and stop apologizing for Trump's brawling braggadocio, telling others that it’s not really Trump who is dividing the country, pointing instead to the outcomes of his policies? Will they stop apologizing for a highly imperfect man?
Consider King David, the cheater; or King Solomon with 700 wives and 300 concubines; or even Moses, the man who killed a guy. Would these leaders pass muster with the “UNITY!,” “Jesus in 2024,” and the “Anyone but Trump,” crowd?
I haven’t yet decided which candidate I’m supporting.
But I do know I want a stable country.
A stable country with a thriving economy. Or one with a solid border – which means saving kids and women out of trafficking situations and ending wars and proxy wars. Or one which deals with drastic social issues like the LGBTQ nonsense and the Marxist ideology that has infested our schools and work. Or perhaps one that simply allows and encourages freedom of speech and supports parental rights.
I could go on, but here’s the situation: Trump went to war against that which was at war with us.
That's why people love him even if they don't like him personally or are tired of his antics, so it’s not improbable to think that he may attain the White House once again.
With that in mind, if Trump mimics the greats like Lincoln and Churchill and allows his failures or missteps to teach him like those men did, is it possible he could become one of the greatest presidents ever?
It looks like we're about to find out.
"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." – Colossians 2:8
Amie Beth Shaver is a speaker, writer and media commentator. Her column appears every Wednesday in 1819 News. Shaver served on the Alabama GOP State Executive Committee, was a candidate for State House District 43 and spokeswoman for Allied Women.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.
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