Saturday, September 28, 2019

An Evangelical Explains Trump

Why did evangelicals vote for Trump?
Thomas L. Johnson, July 18, [otherwise undated; presumably 2019]

NOTE: In order to do anything involving President Donald Trump -- from impeachment to presidential election defeat -- it is necessary to understand as much as possible about the man. There are a number of blog posts and columns in which I've taken a stab at it. For example:
"Intelligence Community's Inspector General and Impeachment," September 26, 2019
Understanding Trump: Know Thine Opponent," September 23, 2019
"Trump Won't Be Beat With Plans Alone," The Gazette, August 17, 2019, p. A5 (blog post title: "Marianne Williamson's Questions and Answers")
"Trump Will Lose? Don't Be So Sure," The Gazette, May 29, 2019 (blog post title: "Why Trump May Win") (a list of 13 categories of Trump's advantages)
• For a contrary view to the one presented here, see Anthea Butler, "White Evangelicals Love Trump and Aren't Confused About Why. No One Should Be.: Focusing on the Disconnect Betseen Trump's Actions and the Moral Aspects of Evangelicals' Faith Misses the Issue That Keeps Their Support Firm," Think, NBC News, September 27, 2019.
However, one perspective I have not, and cannot, provide is how the evangelical portion of his base rationalize to themselves their relatively solid support of the man, seemingly regardless of his violations in thought, word and deed of what one would assume to be evangelicals' beliefs and standards.

As Mayor Pete Buttigieg has put it, "I do think it’s strange, knowing that no matter where you are politically, the gospel is so much about inclusion and decency and humility and care for the least among us, that a wealthy, powerful, chest-thumping, self-oriented, philandering figure like [Donald Trump] can have any credibility at all among religious people. ... Your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. ... That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth." Sojourners. "For a party that associates itself with Christianity, to say that … God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents, that God would condone putting children in cages, has lost all claim to ever use religious language again." The Atlantic.

[Photo caption: "Members of Cross Community Church, an EA congregation in Berne, Indiana, pose for a photo published on the Evangelical Assocation's Desk Calendar." Photo credit: FatherRon2011, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0,]

The following piece by Thomas L. Johnson (no relation) provides some helpful insights:
# # #
As an evangelical who did not and never will vote for Donald J. Trump, I fully understand why many evangelicals voted for a man who is crass, mean-spirited, personally unethical, and embarrassingly self-serving. They felt that they had no choice and have every reason to feel that again in 2020:
• Trump gave them two Supreme Court justices who will vote their interests for the next thirty years. Given the reality that many if not most evangelicals have never come to terms with abortion, particularly later term abortion, that absolves Trump of his extramarital dalliances.
• Trump has evoked the sort of tribalism that evangelicals understand. They live in a world of us versus them; so does Trump.
• Like Trump, evangelicals do not allow science to compete with their preconceived notions in areas like global warming or perceived conspiracies.
• Trump has embraced Israel. Many conservative Christians see Israel as part of the end-of-times prophecies.
• Like Trump, evangelicals are not fans of social change of the sort that came out of the Obama years. They believe in two genders determined and defined at birth, in a biblical view of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and of a level of patriotism that rejects figures like Colin Kaepernick or Megan Rapinoe.
While Hillary Clinton’s campaign and personality were non-starters for evangelicals in 2016, often for reasons created or exploited by Cambridge Analytica, a Democratic candidate from the Medicare for All, open border, free education wing of the Democratic Party will present an even larger challenge.

Given their 25–26% share of the total electorate and their over 80% allegiance to Trumpism, evangelicals will more than offset the moderates who will move out of their comfort zone in the middle to vote for an Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders.

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