An August 9th front-page story in The New York Times, by Elizabeth Dias, entitled “Christianity Will Have Power” – How a Promise by Trump Bonded Him to White Evangelicals,” was both elucidating and disturbing. The article details how and why “a boastful, thrice-married, foul-mouthed star of The Apprentice,” has deep-seated support in Sioux Center, Iowa, “one of the most conservative Christian communities in the nation, with its 19 churches in a town of about 7,500 people.”
The love-affair with President Trump began in January 2016 when he gave a campaign speech at Dordt University, a Christian college in Sioux Center. The speech was a call to arms to White Evangelical Christians (WEC). “I will tell you, Christianity is under tremendous siege, whether we want to talk about it or we don’t want to talk about it,” Trump said. He went on to note that Christians make up the overwhelming majority of the country “and yet we don’t exert the power that we should.” He emphasized that “Christianity will have power if I’m there.… You’re going to have someone to represent you very, very well. Remember that.”
WEC responded to his pledge in a big way. In the 2016 election, the President garnered 81 percent of the votes of WEC in Sioux Center as well as nationwide.
WEC historically have self-identified as value-voters, yet they have been willing to overlook many of the values they had identified with over the years – strict adherence to Bible, stringent sexual morality and love of your neighbor as yourself – to support Donald Trump.
WEC recognize that Trump holds viewpoints and demonstrates behaviors that are diametrically opposite to those they profess to hold dear. Dias writes, “He bragged about assaulting woman. He got divorced twice. He built a career off gambling. He cozied up to bigots. He rarely went to church. He refused to ask for forgiveness.” WEC are willing to overlook and ignore Trump’s actions and words that belie their beliefs.
The vast majority of WEC see the appointment of conservative Christian Right justices to the Supreme Court as paramount. They are looking for the Court to reduce the role of government in their lives, support gun rights, allow prayer in schools, preserve traditional family values, and most importantly, end legalized abortion.
WEC desperately want America to continue to be a Christian nation for their children – they want our nation to return to its roots. They want to go back to the past when they felt in control and were running the country. They see their "way of life" disappearing and yearn for a future that resembles the “good old days.”
WEC hypocritically support Trump because they see him as strategically advancing the issue they are most concerned about – ending legalized abortion. Their support is purely transactional and not ideological.
WEC are the one group that President Trump can not afford to lose. This explains why he continues to use every opportunity he can to reinforce his commitment to traditional values. Posing with the Bible in front of the St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., which had been boarded-up after days of demonstrations against police brutality, railing about NFL players who kneel during the playing of the national anthem and attacking the Black Lives Matter movement for racial justice as a symbol of hate are all attempts to reinforce his appeal among WEC.
Hypocrisy is, unfortunately, not unique to WEC. It is pervasive in politics across-the-board.
Liberal Democrats have for years vigorously supported Israel’s right to exist but have not drawn swords with Israeli leaders who expanded Israel’s territory in lands occupied by the Palestinian. Liberal feminists looked the other way when President Bill Clinton had a totally inappropriate relationship with a young female intern in his office. And most Liberals looked the other way when President Clinton, in a blatant example of triangulation, “ended welfare as we knew it” by making it a block grant program that callously gave states wide latitude as to whom should get help and imposed an arbitrary five-year lifetime limit on welfare benefits regardless of one’s circumstances.
And one of the principal planks of conservative Republican policy for decades has been dramatically reducing the federal deficit. Yet invariably Republican “deficit hawks” turn into “deficit doves” once they take office and vote to expand the military budget and provide tax cuts to business and wealthy Americans. Witness the enormous growth in the deficit under both Presidents Reagan and Trump. It is ironic that the only time in recent years that significant progress was made in deficit reduction was under President Obama when the deficit was shrunk by $1 trillion. That’s “trillion,” with a “t.” In addition, the only time from 1970-2019 that the country had a balanced budget was Bill Clinton’s final four budgets.
The worst hypocrite in our nation’s political history currently resides in the White House. As Ed Note recently pointed out in a response to a reader, a day doesn’t go by where our President, isn’t “calling other people out for things he has either done or done worse than."