Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Identity, Dignity, and Trump

Written by: on October 7, 2023


In a world marked by increasing polarization and identity-driven conflicts, the quest for dignity and the role of identity politics has become central to our understanding of modern society. Well-known political scientist Francis Fukuyama has explored these themes extensively in his book Identity, shedding light on the complex relationship between identity, politics, and human nature.[1] In this blog post, I will express a modestly biased opinion of our political competitiveness and also explore Fukuyama’s ideas regarding identity and dignity and its role in Christian leadership.


Overall, I believe that a conservative, liberal, or anyone in leadership would benefit from this book. I enjoyed many of Fukuyama’s views on identity especially the recognition of human desire for dignity. Dignity is multifaceted and stands out in the reading. It is a recurring theme that drives human behavior regardless of our “theoretical identity” defined by our race, gender, workplace, education, affinities, and nation.[2]

Identity, or our perception of identity, is also versatile and drives us in ways that are both positive and negative. Fukuyama highlights many entangled identities and a corresponding demand for dignity that leads to resentment if not recognized.[3] Fukuyama states on page 46 that the modern concept of identity is “the universal aspect of human personality that craves recognition.”[4] Dignity is certainly unique and distinguishes itself as a fundamental driver of human behavior; regardless of the characteristics that identify us, “today.”


Recognition has become a personality trait of Donald J. Trump throughout the course of his career. Fukuyama makes this point clear and exaggerates claims about Trump in his opening preface and throughout this book. Considering the publication date of 2018, I’m assuming many of his opinions are shaped by his view of Trump’s history as a real estate giant, entertainer, or even a narcissist, with little time to evaluate his presidency. That being said, I was curious if he had modified any of his views in the present day following a statistically solid presidency. No was the resounding conclusion after searching multiple websites and writings on Fukuyama and his current view of Trump. He gives partial economic credit to Trump in a podcast but downplays any significant wins for the former president.[5] His greatest “compliment” if you will, was his delight to study him from a political science perspective.”

Fukuyama comments on Trump throughout this book and sets the stage for an anti-Trumpism view immediately. I agree that Trump is the easy candidate for the ‘butt of the joke’ and takes jabs from Fukuyama throughout this book, however, I was also turned off by the author’s perspective because of his biased opinion from the start.

Like many news outlets, there is a massive divide between either hating Trump or loving him. He makes headlines worldwide and is a common topic that will energize any read or broadcast. This blog is turning out to be boring so for that reason I want to briefly stir the pot and insert my personal feelings while reading Fukuyama’s book and also take one from the media’s playbook and insert Trump into this blog to hopefully make things more exciting.

Highlights in Trump’s Defense

In the past decade, it has been difficult to find a book, news article, or broadcast about politics and not talk about Donald Trump. Fukuyama is no different. Trump is a wildcard, to say the least, and definitely the most disrespected president in my lifetime. Some disrespect is well-deserved but a lot of his current legal wars, the Russia hoax, and impeachments, perhaps did more damage to the US than it did Donald Trump. To no surprise, once the former president entered the race for re-election and became the primary candidate, the “justice” system double-downed on the legal attacks and weaponized the system like some sort of banana republic and engineered devious plans to strip him of everything he has.

Although I disagree with a lot of his tactics early on in his political career, I must say he has come a long way and it’s a shame what the DOJ is putting him through currently. I am not an “all-in MAGA patriot” but I also do not mind sharing that my bank account preferred the last administration over the current one. During DJT’s tenure, “incomes rose in every single metro area in the U.S. for the first time in decades, jobless claims hit a 50-year low, middle-class family income increased by $6000 on average,” and interest rates and inflation were low.[6] Trump believes in the America Now philosophy and has a self-sufficient mindset. Considering just these few facts alone, leaving aside many of his other big wins, how could he also be identified as a man that is “nation damaging, or horrific,” according to Fukuyama?[7] How can we give credibility to any “words of wisdom” from this “renowned author” if he is obliviously biased and perhaps narcissistic himself?


Biden didn’t make it into Fukuyama’s book but I wish he had. I would like to analyze his identity or lack of identity for a brief moment since Fukuyama didn’t have a chance to. From my point of view, our current president appears to not be able to think for himself or get through a press conference or interview without scripted questions and answers. He has embarrassed our country in almost every public appearance he has made and is not allowed to talk off-script. I’m not trying to be disrespectful but I believe it’s elder abuse at this point. You won’t hear much about it in the media, but his dementia is obvious and could be diagnosed by any unbiased medical professional. I do not believe he will be in the running when the next campaigns get heated next year. I’m not sure he will even finish his current presidency. The bottom line, and sticking to the facts we all can feel with the current administration; “mortgage rates have hit a 22-year high and inflation is at a 40-year high despite the Fed’s best efforts to reduce it.”[8] The border is a disaster (3.8 million immigrants and counting[9]) and impacts major cities across the US. There also appears to be a strong emphasis on climate and a green agenda that I’m not sure holds any merit.

I ask the following questions with all honesty and respect from people and leaders I respect, you! Does anyone really believe that Biden is actually running our country? Does anyone believe that he is not corrupt and his son’s overseas business is something that he is not deeply involved in? I do not know how it will all end but I can’t figure out why or how any individual could own over 20 companies that have collected 24 million+[10] in money from foreign nations could actually be considered good business without being able to explain what any of the companies actually do? Why is money being sent to family members of the Bidens and why are democrats giving Biden credit when our economy is becoming increasingly harder to tolerate?


I believe it comes down to dignity and this is something I can definitely agree with Fukuyama on. I exceeded my word count and went down a rabbit hole in this blog. I apologize for that. I have more to say about Fukuyama’s book but the crux of it all in my opinion is that politics, division, racism, resentment, etc. all fall under pointless arguing. Paul states in Ephesians 6;12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”[11] I truly believe the devil is at work in our political systems and would have no chance if we find our identity in Christ first. I believe it would be easy to see how meaningless almost everything else is.

[1] Fukuyama, Francis. Identity: Contemporary Identity Politics and the Struggle for Recognition. London: Profile Books, 2018. Print

[2] Ibid, 164

[3] Ibid, 163

[4] Ibid, 46

[5] https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a23695274/francis-fukuyama-trump-democracy/

[6] White House Archives, https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/trump-administration-accomplishments/

[7] https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a23695274/francis-fukuyama-trump-democracy/

[8] https://www.forbes.com/sites/mayrarodriguezvalladares/2022/11/01/with-inflation-at-a-forty-year-high-all-eyes-are-on-the-federal-reserve/?sh=47f0e8b47f28

[9] https://nypost.com/2023/09/21/shocking-3-8-million-migrants-have-entered-us-since-biden-took-office/

[10] https://oversight.house.gov/release/comer-mountain-of-evidence-reveals-joe-biden-abused-his-public-office-for-his-familys-financial-gain%EF%BF%BC/

[11] Ephesians 6:12, ESV.

  • Biden Compilation of weird moments, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtYyfyr6Q-E

About the Author

Michael O'Neill

Director of Operations / Executive Pastor at Kinergy, Inc. Federal 501c3 Non-Profit Organization. An experienced entrepreneur, leader, father, wellness professional, and owner of a multi-location medical practice with my wife, Nicole O'Neill, MD.

20 responses to “Identity, Dignity, and Trump”

  1. Hi Michael, thanks for a great post.
    You did help me get into politics deeper, very good to see your views on the two leaders of our nation. I love how you concluded, “I truly believe the devil is at work in our political systems and would have no chance if we find our identity in Christ first.” Our identity in Christ will surely help us stand safe and secure regardless of who sits in Washington D.C.

  2. Jenny Steinbrenner Hale says:

    Hi Michael, Thanks for your post. That was a good read and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and opinions on our recent and current political climate. How do you think Biden and Trump personally have handled the rise of identity politics?

    I love your conclusion regarding finding our identity in Christ! We would be in such a different place in the world if we could do this consistently. Appreciated your post!

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      I think Biden has identity politics in a negative way. BLM, racism, abortion, pride and trans, vaccines, republican and democrat, etc. I feel like it’s getting worse as the years go on. I think Trump has also contributed to it but less guilty than the current administration in regard to all of the above. I realize how one-sided this post is but I am really displeased with the current state of politics and would love for someone to come in and wipe away all of the corrupt agendas. Thanks, Jenny.

      • Jenny Steinbrenner Hale says:

        Michael, Thanks so much for your response and for your honesty in sharing your thoughts. So appreciate the opportunity to engage on these issues. Hope you had a good week!

  3. mm Russell Chun says:

    Hello from DLGP 02. After reconnecting with your cohort at Oxford, I am convinced that that 2nd years and 1st years have much to learn if we take the time to engage with you all.

    You wrote, “I have more to say about Fukuyama’s book but the crux of it all in my opinion is that politics, division, racism, resentment, etc. all fall under pointless arguing.”

    So true, in 1992 I finished my Master of Arts in International Relations from Boston University. As a pre-requisite to getting promoted to Major, it was just a block checker. I was in the program during a huge paradigm shift caused by the fall of the Berlin wall and then the Soviet Union.

    When needed, I teach a Master’s course elective on International Peace and Conflict course at Dallas Baptist University.

    All that to say, that while I gravitate to International Politics (living 30 years overseas), I found political commentary is placed right up there with spitting in the wind.

    Yesterday I met with a Ukrainian Pastor (George Markey) and Ukraine Missionary (Bill Rigsby).

    I listened…here are some of the stories they shared.
    1) https://youtu.be/i4-rXA0uN8s
    2) https://youtu.be/_PXcr4BqIIw?si=oBCbxUupt5kJ6E8H
    3) https://vimeo.com/829563929/02cbfe727c

    Not shown are the pictures of the dead, kindergarteners in body bags. Sigh…..

    I feel that God is launching us (www.goodsportsinternational.org) into Ukraine. Not sure where we will land, but I found a Christian Soccer league (300 kids) called Penuel (God’s Face).

    Also a possibility for building a multipurpose field for a clinic that is working with wounded Ukrainian Soldiers. (www.ODUkraine.com)

    It is on these topics that I gain traction. Political discussions are a distraction for me and perhaps a waste of my time.

    Shalom…Shalom…(Perfect Peace)

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      Thank you, Russell. I agree we can all learn from each other and each one of us in the program offers a unique perspective. I love what you are doing through the sports programs. It was great to connect with you in Oxford and see how God is moving in your life and through these activities. As you know, I am in the same camp and use fitness as our common tool to help people reach Jesus. I wish I could somehow change the political landscape and incorporate Jesus more but I feel like our country and the world is moving away from it. It would be so easy if people would just wake up! The fight is not with people! There is so much unnecessary killing, unnecessary hunger, and unnecessary fighting. I hate it.

      I’m glad my identity is in Christ and so are the rest of you. Keep moving the kingdom forward, my friend.

  4. mm Daron George says:


    Thanks for sharing this post and I agree this could turn into an exciting blog post.

    If leadership could be measured solely by the size of a bank account, the concept of leadership might indeed be simpler. I concur that personally, my financial situation fared far better during the previous administration. However, my primary concern centers around the notion of dignity. It’s challenging for me to perceive a sense of dignity associated with Trump’s leadership, at least from my perspective. The first time this stood out in my mind was the events that transpired in Charlottesville, Virginia. During a white supremacist rally, violent clashes ensued, tragically resulting in the death of a protester. Trump’s response to these events ignited significant controversy. He stated that there were “very fine people on both sides,” a remark that implied a moral equivalence between white supremacists and the protesters. This response raised questions and concerns about the preservation of dignity within the leadership during that time.

  5. Michael O'Neill says:

    I’m with you Daron. I think people play Trump as a racist and I do not think he is. I think that statement was taken out of context but who knows. Anytime we’re talking about a death from a protest is insanity to me. Supremest of anything is where we really get into trouble unless its a supremest in Jesus. Fukuyama touched on the recognition for rights and dignity and the resentment that comes with it. I think that is what is bothering me so much. I would be less offended at a lot of these groups if they just weren’t so rude about anyone else’s views? Why can’t we disagree in peace and why can’t we work together?

    I think they are all guilty in many ways and leadership is not all economical although money plays a huge role in a lot of people’s decisions. Gas prices have soared which inflates everything and to me from talking to a lot of middle-class families, they can’t keep up. So where do find common ground? Why are identity politics so prevalent and how do we fix it? It’s not going to be Biden. Trump will bring controversy no matter what. So what do we do? I’m nominating Daron George…

    • mm Daron George says:


      I think that the ability to disagree in peace is a key factor. We have gotten to this point where if we disagree then we must hate each other. Which is further from the truth. Also, please don’t nominate me.. haha…I’ll go down in a spectacular flash as the worst president of all time.

      • Michael O'Neill says:

        I think you would be a great president. We need someone with an open mind, a heart for Jesus, and creativity.

        FYI, I’m not die-hard pro-Trump by any means but I’m definitely anti-Biden. I think if Trump wins so many people would be furious that I’d rather just start clean with someone new.

  6. mm Chad McSwain says:

    I appreciate that you went for it – sharing how you really feel about this conversation. While I didn’t think your post was “boring,” It certainly displayed your passion for the political conversation.

    One point that Fukuyama makes in terms of identity is the way that modern politics uses identity and resentment to stir the passions of a particular group to support their agenda and undermine institutions. Have you seen this tactic used by Trump or Biden (Republicans or Democrats) in a way that makes the average person a means to a position of power for a politician?

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      Thanks, Chad. I really think it’s time to get someone entirely new in there. Not Trump or Biden. If either one wins, the divide will continue. They are so Left or so Right that it makes me uncomfortable. I do think its a tactic and I do think they both make derogatory comments so often that it undermines their own character and class. Biden “these maga…..” Trump “Biden is an idiot.” Although I agree Biden is an idiot, I do not think it ever looks good to call names or insult people on the political stage. The debates between Hilary and Trump were embarrassing. It was solely about discrediting the other candidate instead of what they can do for our people.

  7. Caleb Lu says:

    Michael, appreciate you being willing to put your personal views up here knowing people probably disagree with some of them!

    While Trump probably has received a lot of vitriol, I think he was the president that kind of played the divisive identity politics game to the greatest degree. While it was a good political strategy, as he won the presidency in 2016, I think it highlights Fukuyama’s main plea that identity be used to unite rather than furthering and deepening divide.

    A personal pet peeve of mine is the idea that inflation is the current administration’s fault. Monetary policy lag, the idea that policy like the changes in interest rates don’t show their effects for long and variable amounts of time. With that being said, the previous administration kept rates artificially low for a long time that inevitably would push inflation up. If you look at a country like Japan for example, who had and still are keeping interest rates artificially low (-.1%), they also are dealing with inflation way above their targets.

    With that being said, I think Fukuyama wants to get away from this idea of looking at bank accounts, looking at broad economic or political talking points, and get to hearing people’s stories that bring people together. Again, I appreciate you for being willing to start a conversation by putting your views out there! I think sharing our stories and viewpoints helps to bring us together.

    • Caleb Lu says:

      I didn’t get to finish this because I realized I was late to our Zoom chat! But man I wish we were still in Oxford and we could hop over to a pub and talk about this over a beer.

      There’s also so much that I’ve kind of held on to that I blindly accepted because of what people told me was good. For example, I’ve thought that the unhoused crisis in Oregon was because of lack of affordable housing (and in part it is!) AND I’ve been challenged recently to consider that a large part of the crisis is more so a drug and mental health crisis. While Oregon has been hard at work trying to build more affordable housing, the infrastructure for drug and mental health treatment has fallen by the wayside.

      All that to say, I meant to include that I appreciate you putting your thoughts out here because I think I’ve been reflecting on the beliefs I hold and being challenged by others has been helpful for me. I hope we can continue to sharpen one another in openness and honesty!

      • Michael O'Neill says:

        Thanks, Caleb. I agree with you and as I’ve stated in a few of the replies. I’m not saying Trump is any kind of a savior. I just think the current administration is corrupt and that we need a fresh start. I’m hoping neither of these candidates will be the next president.

        As for inflation, I understand the artificial rates and the inevitability of rising, however, I believe the admin pushed an agenda that raised gas prices, which pushed everything higher and is affecting people hard. I don’t think inflation had to get this high and just like many administrations, there are ways to manage it. Covid was unexpected for most of us and and hurt a lot of businesses but I think it was insane to print money like it was going out of style and the government had an agenda in all of it. I also can not understand why we give away so much money to other countries like Ukraine and to illegal immigrants when we have so much debt and constant pressure of government shutdowns.

        We need some real Jesus-loving leaders in office that can’t be purchased. I don’t know what the answer is but I love talking about openly. Thanks for the comments, Caleb.

  8. Kristy Newport says:

    Mad respect for you!
    Thanks for being bold and sharing your perspective.
    Your blog was far from boring.
    What kind of candidate do you think we need as our next president? Do you have some nominees you hope will run for office?

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      I would vote for you or anyone replying to this blog for president if they would just run. I think the most important thing is we need a Christian in office and implement the Jesus model of leadership. I realize we’re the melting pot for the world but we still have a pledge of allegiance, money, and a constitution that honors God. I think we have missed the point and allowed money and “success” to control us and we have turned into a corrupt government system where people just buy who and what they want. I’m sick of it.

      I don’t know who I’m going to vote for but I really believe we need a fresh start. If Trump or Biden wins the divide will continue to grow and conflict will undoubtedly surface.

  9. Michael,
    Great post, we reep what we sow. Until we repent as a nation, the leadership will reflect the condition of our hearts as a nation. The problem is still on our side. Well done!

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      Thanks, Greg. Unfortunately, I think repenting is a long shot but perhaps if it gets so bad people are left with no choice. I agree that we reep what we sow and I think we have something coming, I just pray it’s a soft landing…

Leave a Reply