A recent article in the Washington Post offers thought-worthy commentary for folks who still believe in thinking, as opposed to cruising through life on gut-level emotion.

Columnist Dana Milbank noted that the Republican presidential primaries — which anyone can see have DickJanedevolved to the lamentable level of schoolyard bullying and name-calling — have been dominated by the one who relies on primary school language. An analysis of speech patterns in the February 25 debate showed that Ben Carson and Marco Rubio used language typical of a high school comprehension level, while Ted Cruz and John Kasich spoke at a middle-school level. Donald Trump, whose  bombastic speeches are typically devoid of serious thought, spoke on a third-grade level.

Milbank illustrated with a typical quote from the front-runner, who got famous by getting rich at others’ expense, living by his own rules, and firing people: “We don’t win anymore. We’re going to make a great country again. We’re going to start winning again. We’re going to win a lot. It’s going to be a big difference, believe me.”

Shades of “Look, Dick, look. See Spot run. See me jump.”

It’s no surprise that many of Trump’s strongest supporters are those who have the least education. Others who support him are knowledgable people, but for some reason have chosen to remain “unencumbered by the thought process,” a state of mind Tom Magliozzi of “Car Talk” used to joke about having. Some have even believed Trump’s pandering pretense that the Bible — which clearly has had no influence on his lifestyle — is his favorite book.

Any number of people have observed that Trump appeals to the fear, anger, and suspicion that many poorer white Americans feel, tapping into a broad streak of racism and bigotry by appealing to the notion of “making America great again,” code words for a fantasy-based return to the 1950s when white people ruled, immigration was not an issue, gay people were in the closet, and “religious” terrorists (other than the white-supremacist Ku Klux Klan) had not emerged.

Trump speaks as if he can accomplish anything from reigning in ISIS to charging Mexico for a border wall, and do so on the force of his supreme self-confidence — but swaggering bloviation can’t turn back time or make fantasies come true.

Even third graders should know that.

Tony Cartledge

About Tony Cartledge

Tony W. Cartledge is contributing editor of Baptists Today, in addition to teaching Old Testament studies and various ministry courses at Campbell University Divinity School. He formerly served as editor of the Biblical Recorder, newspaper of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and as a pastor for 26 years. Tony is a graduate of the University of Georgia, Southeastern Seminary and Duke University, where he earned a Ph.D. He is the author of several books including the Smyth & Helwys commentary on First and Second Samuel and Telling Stories: Tall Tales and Deep Truths and several Bible study books for Nurturing Faith.