In their eyes, religious conservatives aren’t making a cynical bargain by embracing a president with dubious religious bona fides. They finally have the street brawler they’ve always wanted.
they all centered on returning the country to a better and more comfortable time.
To economic nationalists, it meant going back to an era of high tariffs and buying American. To defense hawks, it meant returning to a time of unquestioned military supremacy. To immigration hard-liners, it meant fewer jobs for foreign-born workers—and, for some of those voters, fewer dark faces in the country, period.
But for many evangelicals and conservative Catholics, “Make America Great Again” meant above all else returning to a time when the culture reflected and revolved around their Judeo-Christian values. When there was prayer in public schools. When marriage was limited to one man and one woman. When abortion was not prevalent and socially acceptable. When the government didn’t ask them to violate their consciences. And, yes, when people said “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.”
.. the president recalled the Founders’ repeated reference to a “Creator” in the Declaration of Independence. “How times have changed,” Trump said. “But you know what? Now they’re changing back again. Just remember that.”
The audience roared with a 20-second standing ovation.
.. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council .. Trump’s greatest impact is legitimizing those people and views that have been marginalized. “Barack Obama used the bully pulpit and the courts to demonize those who held to the very values that made America great. And Trump is doing the opposite,” Perkins says. “What the president and his administration can do is once again make people feel like it’s OK to stand up and talk about these traditional values, and engage in these conversations. Then we can win hearts and minds, and that’s where the transformation begins.”
.. When Moore spoke to a Friday luncheon sponsored by the American Family Association, he was introduced unapologetically as someone who would put Christianity ahead of the Constitution.
.. He raised eyebrows by inviting former White House aides Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, the polarizing promoters of Trump’s “America First” message, to speak at the event, despite neither having any roots in the Christian conservative universe.
.. This shotgun wedding resulted in some predictably awkward moments. Bannon, emphasizing the importance of grass-roots politics in winning elections, raised the 44th president’s former job title. “What’s a community organizer? I’ll tell you what it is. Somebody that could kick your ass—twice.” There were crickets from the audience; it was almost certainly the first time someone had ever used a curse word during a speech to the Values Voter Summit.
.. Erick Erickson, a frequent Trump critic, tweeted, “Sad to see this said at a Christian conference. Where is the grace? Where is the mercy? Where is the Christ?”
.. Many Christian voters embraced Trump not despite his provocative style but because of it, betting on a brash street brawler to win the culture battles they had been losing for generations.
.. And their faith has been rewarded: From abortion policy to religious liberty to judicial appointments, Trump has delivered for social conservatives more than any other constituency, making them the unlikely cornerstone of his coalition.
.. With political victory, however, has come the loss of moral high ground
.. If he wins the Senate seat, a spiritual renaissance in America is unlikely to result. But something else will: a deepening alliance between economic nationalists and social conservatives, two distinct tribes that are growing codependent in the era of Trump. As Perkins now sees it, Republicans will win elections only by merging these factions—hence his inviting Bannon and Gorka to speak.
Political caricatures don’t come much broader than these. Strange was the establishment incarnate; Moore was the Republican electorate’s id made ruddy flesh, an avatar of the latent nativism and conspiracism that Donald Trump’s detractors inside and outside the Republican Party blamed for his rise.
.. This was a “Jurassic Park” vision of the Republican base, in which party leaders, after fecklessly creating and nurturing a monster, find themselves powerless to stop it once the electric fences go out on the island.
.. Reagan’s 1980 campaign won seven percent more of the labor-union vote than Gerald Ford did in 1976, but he won just 10 percent of the nonwhite vote, significantly less than Ford.
.. Many of the major contenders for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination ran explicitly on the idea of bringing nonwhite constituencies into the party — none more enthusiastically than Representative Jack Kemp of New York.
.. Kemp believed that his vision of racial outreach could bring the party control of Washington.
.. Kemp lost to George Bush — himself a self-identified base-broadener, but one whose candidacy was marred by the race-baiting “Willie Horton” ad
.. Lee Atwater, Bush’s campaign manager, vowed — and later apologized for vowing — that “by the time we’re finished, they’re going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakis’s running mate.”
.. It was a testament to the party’s cynicism, naïveté or both that Atwater, in taking the helm of the Republican National Committee after Bush’s victory, was tasked with improving outreach to black and Hispanic voters.
.. The base had, in Gingrich’s formulation, become something new: not a coalition to be expanded but a force to be propitiated or crossed at Bush’s peril. It was not there to be molded by politicians like Jack Kemp. It was there to give orders to them, through mediums like Gingrich
.. When Bob Dole — who had campaigned for the 1988 nomination on, as his spokeswoman put it, the “need to broaden the base of the Republican Party” — said he had no “litmus test” for the abortion views of his running mate in 1996, he drew harsh words from James Dobson
.. It implies that the Republican Party is not a coalition of interests but the tribune of an essentially unified tribe.
.. Conservatives often point out, correctly, that today’s Democratic base is, if anything, more monolithic in its policy views than its Republican counterpart, with more uniform positions on issues like abortion, immigration and taxes.
.. Republican voters, meanwhile, passed over candidates with actual fiscal-conservative and evangelical bona fides, like Ted Cruz, in favor of one whose only sustained and consistent point of contact with past Republican practice was the winking subtext of the party’s white identity politics, delivered without the wink. One party’s base knew what it believed; the other’s knew who it was.
The Supreme Court will soon consider the religious liberty of Jack Phillips in Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The state of Colorado has said that Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Phillips’s refusal to create custom wedding cakes celebrating same-sex wedding ceremonies violates the state’s law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation — despite Phillips’s policy of refusing to create other confections that collide with his faith, including cakes contain
ing alcohol or celebrating Halloween or atheism... In the view of these voters, elites believe every knee must bend to their secular creed, not just on matters regarding sexual intimacy but also on issues of when life begins and when death ought to be optional... They hear themselves routinely — and unfairly — compared to racist bigots. They know that racial bigotry in the marketplace is illegal; indeed, they agree with the laws that make it so, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and believe those laws are righteous and, more to the point, constitutional... And they expect that, absent a new “test” emerging from the case now before the court, their civil right of free exercise of religion will be erased, quietly and quickly, from the constitutional canon.That fear drives a lot of politics these days, though it is only dimly perceived by political and media elites for whom the underlying variants of religious belief are at best unusual and sometimes unthinkable. I think that fear explains so much as to be almost too obvious an answer to too many current dilemmas.
Why did Roy Moore win the GOP Senate primary in Alabama? People of faith may not agree with his positions — and most probably don’t — but they can count on him being on their side in free-exercise disputes. Why do evangelicals hang in with the president despite his all-too-frequent un-Christian bouts of public disdain toward others, attacks that are at odds with the gospel? Because his judicial appointments — the source of the ultimate protection of faith and the free-exercise clause — are not only solid, they are also better than those of either President Bush.
.. This remains a deeply religious country, and many of its most ardent believers distrust the federal courts and elite opinion-makers to such a degree that they will make common cause with those who will protect their freedom of conscience. The right to “free exercise” isn’t just one of many important rights to them; it is the central one by far. Figure that truth into your political analysis, and a lot more becomes clear.
Saturday on MSNBC, author Frank Schaeffer claimed former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore pulling a concealed handgun out of his pocket while speaking at a rally Monday in Fairhope, AL, one day before his election against Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), was not only a “threat” but also “the act of a fascist.”
“When you see Judge Moore pull out a gun at a public rally, that is a threat,” Schaeffer told MSNBC “AM Joy” host Joy Reid. “This is the act of a fascist. This is not American. People don’t do this.”
“We’re in new territory here,” he later added.