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Buckeye Jones

The US Evangelical Vote

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Does anyone actually know any "evangelical" planning to vote for Trump in the US election?  I know that I've seen several articles (here, here, and here) that are about the evangelical voting bloc supporting trump in primaries, fears about the evangelical voting bloc, or calls from one evangelical or another to the evangelical bloc not to vote for trump.  But other than  Falwell Jr, and Pat Robertson, I hardly know any evangelicals planning to vote for Trump.  My circle of evangelicals, from my home church, to my Facebook feed, to my family, only 1 person is planning to vote for Trump. 

So I'm curious--who are these people?  How are they being defined?  Do you know anyone?  What makes them tick?  Are you an evangelical Trump supporter?  Can you share why?

My step-dad, a proud, conservative evangelical, plans to vote for Trump.  Mom's a Carson supporter.  But my stepdad is a semi-retired small business owner who served in Vietnam, worked hard all his life, believes America is a Christian nation, believes that abortion is evil, believes that drinking alcohol is sin, and is against divorce  and swear words.  He's a perfect target market for a Huckabee or a Carson.  But he supports Trump.  I'm going to ask him why.  I'm very curious how he reconciles his faith with this candidate who cheats on his former wives and sells vodka and doesn't ask anyone for forgiveness while cussing a lot.

Admins--I know we're not supposed to have political topics.  But this is a really interesting faith topic (at least to me).  Can we keep it unless it degenerates into ugliness (i can't imagine it will based on, you know, Trump).

Edited by Buckeye Jones

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Well, for starters, see Sarah Palin and her supporters.  See also Phyllis Schlafly.  See also Mike Murdock.

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There are folks in my family who are Limbaugh fans, so.

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The political preferences of U.S. political groups

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Rod Drehrer, who is Orthodox but writes frequently and with empathy for Evangelicals, has been blogging a ton about Trump. I don't believe he supports Trump, but neither does he reflexively dismiss him either. (This could have changed; I don't read his blog every day).

Here is a fairly recent letter he posted from an Evangelical who will probably vote for Trump. http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/letters-from-other-america-trump/

 

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I took the opportunity to ask my step dad this weekend on his support of Trump.  Its wavering--he's pretty "disappointed" by Trump's comments recently, but his inclination is still to vote for him because he'll shake things up that need shaken up.  He then listed his criteria:

1) Governor experience is better than legislative experience

2) Big states are better than small states

3) Military experience is better than none

4) I forget because I then asked why he wasn't voting for Kasich.

But, he was big on Trump as a successful business man, and as an outsider.  But when asked why he wasn't voting in line with his rational criteria, he didn't have much to say.  I think by that time my mom asked us to stop talking politics (after I said if it was Trump v. Clinton, I'd have to pull the lever for the latter).  He did feel that Christianity was under siege in America, and for instance, think of all the kids that get expelled/punished in public schools for writing about Jesus in essays that ask them to describe their most influential person.  I hadn't heard about that, but offered up my school age kids for an experiment.  The next time they're asked to write about an influential person in their lives, my kids are gonna write about Jesus and we'll see if the public school system punishes them.  

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Oh the other interesting rumor out there.  My kids go to a school thats ~50-60% African American, and many kids are saying that if Trump wins, he's going to re-start slavery.  So, I'm guessing he won't get many urban votes.

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Just look at the polls and surveys in recent years when it comes to the public's approval of Congress and other elements of the political "establishment." Usually the figures are in the single digits.

I think almost everyone would concede that Trump is a horror show. But I think most folks feel that all politicians are like that. Is Trump a racist? That term has been lobbed at pretty much every Republican candidate in recent memory. Is Trump a liar?  There's an entire cottage industry devoted to exposing Hillary's perceived lies. People like Trump because he doesn't try to hide behind a facade of respectability. He's the stereotype of a dirty politician amped up to 11, and yet he's not a politician, and he doesn't give a damn what anyone else thinks. Add to that the fact that no one seems to be able to "control" him, and suddenly he's a champion of American individualism.

That's my theory, anyway. Who knows?

 

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What I find kind of interesting is that Trump exposes the lie at the heart of the Evangelical voting bloc.   For years, we would vote because a candidate would espouse the correct(ish) doctrine, and then see little done (but at least it wasn't the agenda of the godless liberals).  But now, we have a candidate who fumbles through any correct doctrine (never repent, mister, it's a sign of weakness) and we say, screw it--I knew I was being lied to before, but now at least it's honest lying. 

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1 hour ago, J. Henry Waugh said:

Rod Drehrer, who is Orthodox but writes frequently and with empathy for Evangelicals, has been blogging a ton about Trump. I don't believe he supports Trump, but neither does he reflexively dismiss him either. (This could have changed; I don't read his blog every day).

Here is a fairly recent letter he posted from an Evangelical who will probably vote for Trump. http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/letters-from-other-america-trump/

That's an interesting article.  Essentially, "I'm voting for Trump because he will build a wall to prevent demographic shifts in the voting population".  But I could be reading it uncharitably.

Edited by Buckeye Jones

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morgan1098 wrote:
: Is Trump a racist? That term has been lobbed at pretty much every Republican candidate in recent memory.

No kidding. That boy has been crying wolf for a while now.

The idea that Trump would restart slavery when his primary campaign platform is to shut off the flood of cheap labour into the country is... interesting.

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1 hour ago, Buckeye Jones said:

Oh the other interesting rumor out there.  My kids go to a school thats ~50-60% African American, and many kids are saying that if Trump wins, he's going to re-start slavery.  So, I'm guessing he won't get many urban votes.

For a number of reasons, my wife and I make a point of not getting too political in front of our six-year olds, but they came home from school saying that Donald Trump is a mean man who shouldn't be allowed to say what he does. 

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Essentially, "I'm voting for Trump because he will build a wall to prevent demographic shifts in the voting population".  But I could be reading it uncharitably.

Those of us who live in the South see every day just how much overlap there is in the Venn diagram of "Evangelical voters" (as they've been loosely described by the national media in recent years) and "racists and xenophobes." Maybe those words are too strong to describe the guy who wrote that letter to Dreher, but I was really struck by the similarities between his comments and a conversation my wife and I had a few years ago with a dear, dear friend, who is an older, white, Southern evangelical. We were eating at a Mexican restaurant in a small Alabama town and out of the blue, she said, "I love this food, but y'all do want whites to remain the majority in the US, right?" Direct quote, I swear. I love this woman to death and, in a weird way, wasn't surprised to hear the words come out of her mouth because she was only saying out loud what's implied in nearly every gesture of daily life in the rural South.

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I also think the huge, concerted effort to stop Trump is actually helping him. The National Review tried to take him down. Religious leaders have denounced him. Great Britain wants to ban him from the country. There's this weird article in the Huffington Post about a meeting involving Republican leaders, Democratic leaders, and tech gurus like Tim Cook meeting together to figure out how remove Trump from the race. Consider this quote from Bill Kristol from that article:

"In general, there's a little too much hand-wringing, brow-furrowing, and fatalism out there and not quite enough resolving to save the party from nominating or the country electing someone who simply shouldn't be president."

If it were anyone but Trump, can you imagine how sinister that quote sounds? People do not respond well to this kind of "We, the cultural elites, are trying to save you from yourselves by taking away your candidate of choice." It will only embolden those who are already predisposed to Trump. And it kind of obliterates the idea of democracy in the minds of voters.

That's the really scary issue here. "Let the people decide"... and the results are going to be disastrous.

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1 hour ago, Darren H said:

Those of us who live in the South see every day just how much overlap there is in the Venn diagram of "Evangelical voters" (as they've been loosely described by the national media in recent years) and "racists and xenophobes." 

[nods] It's baked in, in some ways.

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Buckeye Jones wrote:
: Essentially, "I'm voting for Trump because he will build a wall to prevent demographic shifts in the voting population".  But I could be reading it uncharitably.

Apart from the wall, I don't see why that would be an *uncharitable* reading. "Demographic shifts in the voting population" is certainly why the *Democrats* take the position that they do on immigration. Why should it be so wrong for the Republicans to take an opposing position on that very same issue?

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I think the response to demographic shifts is not to attempt to prevent them (good luck with that), but to learn to appeal to the various people groups within the changing electorate.  I guess a charitable reading of the letters Dreher quotes would be, "Trump represents a candidate that brings to the forefront the conversation around what demographic shifts mean to the country".  But what's disappointing is the giving up on adapting the party to win with new people, the assumption that the new demographic will only vote Democratic.  If the GOP wants to remain a powerful player and not just a minority opposition party, it will have to win converts among the new electorate.  That assumption of Democratic appeal on the part of both parties should signal opportunity to win for the GOP, but this attempt to stave off the future is short-sighted at best and a death knell at worst.

I guess I should say the same for the US Evangelical church, too.

Edited by Buckeye Jones

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16 hours ago, morgan1098 said:

I also think the huge, concerted effort to stop Trump is actually helping him. The National Review tried to take him down. Religious leaders have denounced him. Great Britain wants to ban him from the country. There's this weird article in the Huffington Post about a meeting involving Republican leaders, Democratic leaders, and tech gurus like Tim Cook meeting together to figure out how remove Trump from the race. Consider this quote from Bill Kristol from that article:

"In general, there's a little too much hand-wringing, brow-furrowing, and fatalism out there and not quite enough resolving to save the party from nominating or the country electing someone who simply shouldn't be president."

If it were anyone but Trump, can you imagine how sinister that quote sounds? People do not respond well to this kind of "We, the cultural elites, are trying to save you from yourselves by taking away your candidate of choice." It will only embolden those who are already predisposed to Trump. And it kind of obliterates the idea of democracy in the minds of voters.

That's the really scary issue here. "Let the people decide"... and the results are going to be disastrous.

Michigan kinda plays that out, right?

 

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21 hours ago, J. Henry Waugh said:

Rod Drehrer, who is Orthodox but writes frequently and with empathy for Evangelicals, has been blogging a ton about Trump. I don't believe he supports Trump, but neither does he reflexively dismiss him either.

Dreher's position on Trump is pretty clear, given that he writes along these lines:

"I watched several times the entire NSFW 1:53 clip of Trump calling Ted Cruz a p**sy for having constitutional qualms about waterboarding. It doesn’t get any better when repeated. The thing that most people are talking about is his use of the vulgarity, which is pretty lowlife stuff coming from a man who wants to sit in the Oval Office. But by far the more disturbing thing was that he was calling Cruz this as a way of asserting his own willingness to torture people, and the Constitution be damned.

And here’s the thing: a mob in the audience started shouting, “Trump! Trump! Trump!” Cheering for torture, and this ridiculous man calling a U.S. Senator a p**sy for not being man enough to say to hell with the Constitution, we’re going to torture.

I’ve enjoyed the Trump show. I’ve enjoyed the way he’s shaken up the Republican Party, frazzled Conservatism, Inc., and put the state of the beleaguered white working class into the political conversation. I liked him when he was a threat to established interests. But now that he’s coming off as a threat to democracy, this isn’t funny anymore.

This guy is a hooligan. A man who talks like a mafioso while bragging about his lack of compunction for Constitutional niceties is not someone a democracy can afford to have head the executive branch of the US Government.  I believe that when it gets right down to it, most Americans will be unwilling to take a risk on a president with that kind of character. There’s something of the back alley to him. If America needs to shred the Constitution and embrace torture with gusto to “be great again,” then she will already be ruined."

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17 hours ago, morgan1098 said:

If it were anyone but Trump, can you imagine how sinister that quote sounds? People do not respond well to this kind of "We, the cultural elites, are trying to save you from yourselves by taking away your candidate of choice." It will only embolden those who are already predisposed to Trump. And it kind of obliterates the idea of democracy in the minds of voters.

That's the really scary issue here. "Let the people decide"... and the results are going to be disastrous.

I don't see how it's scary.  The theme of "leaving everything to the popular will being disastrous" is an entirely American sentiment.  It was expressed regularly during the conversations and debates of the Constitutional Convention (where they concluded that the Articles of Confederation was too democratic).  It's a point of view strongly expressed throughout The Federalist Papers (Alexander Hamilton, James Madison & John Jay).  Our system of government (and, arguably, our two party system and electoral college) were designed to distinguish our system of government from the examples of pure democracies and confederacies illustrated by history.  (Read John Adams, John Marshall & Joseph Story.)  From a Christian point of view, the belief in a sinful/fallen human nature requires the corollary that unobstructed democracy inevitably leads to disaster.

The historical nature of this election is precisely that Trump, as a populist demagogue, is running counter to the American caution against too much democracy.  His comments, plans and sentiments continually butt up against Constitutional law, but Trump doesn't care as long as he rallies popular support in favor of what he wants.  That is a very dangerous leader to give power to.  And history has a long long list of populist demagogues and what happens they they are put in power - a history, moreover, than particularly any Christian believer should have knowledge of.

Of course, that the establishment and elites are out of touch with the general populace is true.  It is further true that some of them, when discussing Trump, end up saying things that any PR tactician would advise against saying in public.  But what is interesting is that the elite/establishment opposition to Trump is merely evidence of the profound disconnect that resulted in Trump in the first place.  Good leaders pay attention to what is happening to the people and help use the instruments of democratic/constitutional government to at least address current popular problems.  It is when the leadership fails at this that the demagogue will grow in his appeal.  Unfortunately, his appeal seems to cut across the church as well, evidencing a further failure of church leadership (which has been obvious for a long time to anyone paying attention).

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Buckeye Jones wrote:
: I think the response to demographic shifts is not to attempt to prevent them (good luck with that) . . .

In general, I would agree, but specifically *illegal* immigration needs to be stopped because it is, you know, illegal. I know, I know: I'm asking for law and order, and good luck with that.

: . . . but to learn to appeal to the various people groups within the changing electorate.

That was the conventional wisdom after the 2012 election. Rubio fell for it. But perhaps "appealing to the various people groups" means appealing to the people who don't like illegal immigration, too? They are, after all, a people group, and if Romney had been only a few percentage points more popular with *that* group, the election would have been his.

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The thing is, the US has a long and ignoble history of demonizing and excluding the non-white "Other". There's a reason Sui Sin Far gets double-billing as an American author and a Canadian author: it's in part because the US didn't allow persons of Chinese ancestry to become citizens from the mid-19th C through WWII (to put this in context: the half-Chinese Leslie Charteris, creator the Saint, was denied citizenship for this reason). It wasn't until the US needed to get in good with Chiang Kai-Shek that the Chinese Exclusion laws were abolished. Contemporary concerns about undocumented immigrants are a continuation of that perspective, not a simple call for "law and order" (witness how much of the anxiety over illegal immigration--and I do mean anxiety, not the way in which the laws are applied--centers on non-white populations). 

And because this is a thread about why Trump appeals to evangelical voters with his xenophobia, it behooves us to point out that much of his appeal has to do with fears of a foreign culture--which, again, goes back to the Chinese Exclusion acts and before. Whole swaths of the evangelical church have bought into the clash-of-civilizations, culture-wars narrative and have historically done so: "white, Christian" culture is seen as necessarily the norm and everyone else is to be viewed with suspicion, be they Mexicans, Syrian refugees, Chinese workers, or Irish Catholics (anti-Catholicism--which is part of the inheritance of the evangelical church in the US, insofar as both are populist expressions of Protestant Christianity--doesn't view Catholicism as properly Christian, after all). All of these represent viewpoints diverging from the white, Christian viewpoint and therefore must be seen as the Other--which Other must be excluded. Again, it's not a worry about illegal immigrants--that sort of talk is mostly dogwhistle politics--it's about brown immigrants (see Darren H's account of the sweet little Christian lady who wants America to stay majority-white). And it's because Christianity is identified with culture and specifically with white, Western culture

Trump takes a hard line on that--not just by playing into the worst xenophobic stereotypes of undocumented workers (everyone I've spoken to who's worked with these people says that they're invariably hard workers who just want to support their families; Trump says they're rapists and murderers) but by actively arguing in favor of (yes) Hitlerian [or, yes, Rooseveltian] tactics against them--put 'em in camps, make Muslims carry special identification, etc etc etc. 

The thing here is that US evangelicals don't have a problem with that if it's done to the right people, and the right people are inevitably those who don't fall into the current definitions of white and Christian. And that's in part because American evangelicalism, as American evangelicalism, is deeply entwined with the xenophobic nationalism that has characterized much of populist thought in the US since its inception. My own feeling is that we're in the last throes of a white majority--nonwhite births have already eclipsed white births--and people who have historically felt "safe" because of their race--because their religion, culture, whatever, was on top--are starting to freak out. Combine that with the decline in churchgoing--the rise of the "nones,"--and what you have is a recipe for racial hysteria. Combine that with evangelicalism's fascination with authoritarian figures, and you have a recipe for Trump.

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20 minutes ago, NBooth said:

And it's because Christianity is identified with culture and specifically with white, Western culture

Well, yes, I can see that, seen in even as trivial an example of that ubiquitous portrait of Jesus all over the walls of American bedrooms in the 20th century.  But is a reaction to Christendom's demise driving evangelicals to Trump, or is it driving Falwell's ilk to him?  I'm torn between wanting something to not be true (big chunks of the US evangelical population sit mired in identifying Christian culture with whiteness), and the anecdotes and stories declaring it to indeed be so.

1 hour ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

That was the conventional wisdom after the 2012 election. Rubio fell for it.

I'm not sure what the GOP did to win party support from the non-white and lower income populations.  The group of 8 immigration reform?  But I don't think any real, sustained effort has been made.  So much of the last 5-10 years of GOP's world has been so poorly executed with quite terrible leadership.  And now, when the party counts on Evangelicals as a block, a big chunk are abandoning the party for the wolf in wolf's clothing instead of the wolf in sheep's clothing.

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33 minutes ago, NBooth said:

The thing here is that US evangelicals don't have a problem with that if it's done to the right people, and the right people are inevitably those who don't fall into the current definitions of white and Christian. And that's in part because American evangelicalism, as American evangelicalism, is deeply entwined with the xenophobic nationalism that has characterized much of populist thought in the US since its inception. My own feeling is that we're in the last throes of a white majority--nonwhite births have already eclipsed white births--and people who have historically felt "safe" because of their race--because their religion, culture, whatever, was on top--are starting to freak out. Combine that with the decline in churchgoing--the rise of the "nones,"--and what you have is a recipe for racial hysteria. Combine that with evangelicalism's fascination with authoritarian figures, and you have a recipe for Trump.

I'm skeptical that this holds true at the individual level.  But...

What do you think the role of "nones" is in this?  Not sure I see the connection.

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