John Kenyon is an American. He is Executive Director at The Institute for Global Church Studies (IGCS) based in the United States of America. In 2016 he predicted Donald Trump would win the presidential election of the country against all odds. He based his position then on pure analytics. This time, he seems to have grown a thicker skin on this position. He insists Trump would win the elections which is around the corner again. Below are excerpts of his chat with Church Times’ Gbenga Osinaike
Donald Trump has been the President for about four years now. What, in concrete terms, is your rating of his government?
Trump made a plethora of concrete promises to the people of the United States, and unlike too many of the Presidents before him, he kept those promises. This, of course, out-raged his opponents even more than their unexpected loss to him. His detractors attempted to impeach him on substance, and they hate his style. His supporters love him wildly and turn out in the thousands to see him campaign. Analytically, I see him as a transformational President from the post-WW II obsolete world order into the era of a new world order yet to be defined with any clarity. There is more, but if only for this I assess his Presidency quite highly.
But seems his government has helped to demystify the big brother image of the US? Do you agree? What do you think of the rising profile of China in the new world order?
Tough call. Trump ran on an America First platform, which he was not the first to do. The tension he and former Presidents have always faced is a world (post-WW II) that demands American military protection of Europe, The Middle East and regions of Asia. And the investment of the US$ in their economies. Trump responded to a long-standing sentiment of many Americans that did not want to be the policemen of the world. But as we see, attempting to withdraw military troops and protection is no simple matter. I will say that he has also transformed the neo-liberal free trade (foreign direct investment) model into a fair trade model, which will carry weight for years to come. The Chinese Communist Party is and will be the opponent for global hegemony.
In what way from your observation has the media helped to mar or make Trump? Do you see him as somebody largely misunderstood?
Participants in the US free press are also businesses with profit-making objectives. The lines between hard news, objective analyses and opinion pieces have been blurred and left the question of how clearly they were drawn for decades before this. Add to this the addition of media on the internet, But on cable television, MSNBC and CNN tilt left of centre with anti-Trump coverage. FoxNews covers Trump with much more sympathy and advocacy. One way to predict his success and a chance for reelection is to follow their ratings. Last I looked, MSNBC got twice the audience of CNN. FoxNews got twice the ratings as MSNBC and CNN combined. Trump, I would say, is loved and hated because he is understood.
The Church seems to be sharply divided over a Trump going for a second term. His moral outlook seems to be a put off for some, while some have argued that he is a Cyprus that has come to rule at a time like this in the US. What is your own position on this?
The religious left and right in the USA have been divided over a number of issues that remain hotly debated and difficult to cast with reliable generalizations. Numerically, the left is bleeding out by the thousands each year from reducing theology to one of the humanities and from supporting the causes of LGBTQI equality. But Evangelicals suffer from theology that for generations suppressed involvement in politics and either actively supported Jim Crow or stayed wholly out of the Civil Rights movement. I personally tend very much toward ‘traditional’ theology and morality, which at times demands change. My reading of Trump is a shrewd politician that played for and won the majority religious right vote in the USA and note, too, how his opponents have been making meek and fruitless attempts to do the same with the voters on the religious left.
Looking back at the pre-Trump era, do you agree that Obama took the US backwards given his stance on some issues like the gay rights?
Yes, I do. I believe in the primacy of the heterosexual family sociologically as the bedrock of any society, and designed by our creator to that end. I do not accept crimes against LGBTQs, as I have had close friends that self-identified among them. On the whole, I view normalizing and equalizing their socio-political cause is harmful to them and others. Obama ran on a movement that added sex discrimination to racial discrimination, and I will likely get banned again from Facebook for saying so, but much information is now being gathered on the harm this cause is doing, which one day will get on the record for litigation in our courts of law.
It is believed that America has it all, good infrastructure, working system etc..how true is this?
Compared to the nations that I have visited, our infrastructure is fine but needs work. Major bills on improvement are getting held up by Washington DC politics.
How relevant is the campaign promises of politicians to the reality on the ground in the US?
I revert to question one. Trump is loved or hated for keeping his promises and going beyond them in many circumstances, such as the recent peace of the Abraham Accord and between Bosnia and Serbia.
There is a global reading of Trump as being racists and being averse to immigrants. How true is this?
I don’t give much credit to the charge of racism and xenophobia against Trump. This is standard rhetoric from the left that has been used against the right for many years and so often that it rings hollow. At Trump’s rallies when he boasts that he has done more for minorities than any President since Abraham Lincoln, the point is not his hyperbole or pomposity; rather, the resounding cheers from the crowds. As for immigration, he is for immigration reform, a bi-partisan cause for many years, too. But if passed, then he would get the credit as the President that signed the bill. Alas, Washington DC party politics.
The death of George Floyd in the hands of the US police raised so many issues about the Trump government. It seems to be the highpoint of politicking in the US. What is your reading of the post-Floyd era in the US?
The murder of George Floyd proved that Americans and the world rise up against a clear cut case, and this is encouraging. But as so often happens, the need for police reform/training in matters of race suffers more from those seeking political advantage than justice. We know that the USA will never regress to legalized racial discrimination, and is moving forward towards equality in education, housing, jobs, legal representation, prison reform and a safety net. The rioting and looting set back all goodwill efforts to address these issues. There is no justification for them, only shame for those that support them or ignore them.
The elections is just days away. The debate continues about the Democrat and the republicans. It’s difficult to predict the outcome given what happened when Trump won his first term against all postulations. Do you see that scenario repeating itself?
As pure analytics, I predicted a Trump victory in 2016 for a number of reasons, and, frankly got mocked for it. I’ve grown thicker skin since then. So, here is my prediction for 2020 (and with no ill will towards those that disagree, or, if I am wrong). Trump will win in a landslide, this time winning the popular vote, too. He will get a high percentage of the minority vote to make a Biden victory impossible, and if he does not win California, will get enough votes there to shock his political opponents.