To get out of the mess we’re in, we need a new story that explains the present and guides the future, says author George Monbiot. Drawing on findings from psychology, neuroscience and evolutionary biology, he offers a new vision for society built around our fundamental capacity for altruism and cooperation. This contagiously optimistic talk will make you rethink the possibilities for our shared future.
Roy Mooreism was distilled Trumpism, flavored with some self-righteous moralism. It was all there: the aggressive ignorance, the racial divisiveness, the disdain for governing, the contempt for truth, the accusations of sexual predation, the (just remarkable) trashing of America in favor of Vladimir Putin, the conspiracy theories, the sheer, destabilizing craziness of the average day.
.. Most of the party remains in complicit silence. The few elected officials who have broken with Trump have become targets of the conservative media complex — savaged as an example to the others.
.. This is the sad logic of Republican politics today: The only way that elected Republicans will abandon Trump is if they see it as in their self-interest. And the only way they will believe it is in their self-interest is to watch a considerable number of their fellow Republicans lose.
.. In the end, the restoration of the Republican Party will require Republicans to lose elections.
.. It will require Republican voters — as in Alabama and (to some extent) Virginia — to sit out, write in or even vote Democratic in races involving pro-Trump Republicans.
.. victory for Republicans will look like: strategic defeat
.. Trump and his allies are solidifying the support of rural, blue-collar and evangelical Christian whites at the expense of alienating minorities, women, suburbanites and the young. This is a foolish bargain, destroying the moral and political standing of the Republican Party
.. It is the emergency method for Republicans to detach themselves from Trump, create a new party identity and become worthy of winning.
.. Trump’s Republican opponents will not be to blame. It would be Trump and his supporters, who turned the Republican Party into a sleazy, derelict fun house, unsafe for children, women and minorities.
.. A healthy, responsible, appealing GOP can be built only on the ruins of this one.
Trump’s core constituency covers about 39 percent of prospective voters; and this raises certain questions about whether this percentage is coextensive with the entire “people.” Do the 4 out of 10 college students who would silence “hate speech” (that is speech from the Right) belong to “the people”? Do the 60 percent of those polled in a recent CNN survey who disapprove of Trump’s criticism of NFL players who took to their knees during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, belong to this mystical whole known as “the people”? What about the more than 60 million individuals who gave their votes to Clinton in our most recent presidential election? Do these voters belong to “the people”? If not, why not?
.. The Revolt of the Elites by Christopher Lasch—a work that tries to dissociate “the people” from the vile, transnational “overclass” that Lasch blames for the decline of the family and a traditional sense of community. Lasch studiously ignores a major reason that the entertainers, authors, and other celebrities whom he deprecates have done so remarkably well. It’s because “the people” adore them and their cultural products and have made them what they are. Without Lasch’s “people,” the overclass that he despises would not be prospering.
.. Lasch, a defender of settled communities, typically holds up as his paradigm a mid-twentieth century working-class family, featuring very traditional gender roles. Lasch’s ideal mommy packs a lunch pail for his ideal blue-collar dad, who goes off to work in a factory.
.. By contrast, most of those who I hear celebrating Trumpian populism—like Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich on Fox News—are not about to restore “the people” as they used to be, or at least how they were perceived to be
.. Our self-advertised populists do not therefore attempt to take us back to mid-twentieth century communities, lest they be accused of praising the bad old times. In any case, Trumpian populists have different priorities. For example, Hannity and other pundits on Fox News want to mobilize their viewers against the Democrats and in favor of Republican political candidates.
.. Reading Breitbart, one gets the impression that their staff’s understanding of populism is simply to support Trump at every turn, except when Steve Bannon decides to break ranks (such as on DACA).
.. These would-be populists were disciples of Strauss’s student, the late Harry Jaffa, or in some cases of Jaffa’s student Charles Kesler at Claremont University, and are promoting their trademark views about the United States as a propositional nation founded on natural rights theory. Jaffa combined his view of America’s founding with obligatory worship of certain democratic statesmen and heroes, including Lincoln, Churchill, and Martin Luther King Jr. For more than 50 years, “West Coast Straussians” have been feuding with more mainstream Straussians, who are centered mostly in Chicago or else on the East Coast. Not surprisingly, this second group of sectarians has come to be known as “East Coast Straussians.”
.. I would be delighted if these websites simply stated some of their signature positions, such as criticizing judicial activism, without claiming to represent an entity called “the people.”
.. All that seems left of populism, a movement that arose in late 19th century America among rural and small-town populations, are a political style and distrust of elites. Unlike those who today appropriate this identity, American populists historically desired to return all domestic politics to the states and to create public utilities.
Jerry Falwell Jr.: No other president “in our lifetimes has done so much that has benefited the Christian community” so quickly as Trump.
.. Third, without really knowing it, Trump has presented a secular version of evangelical eschatology. When the candidate talked of an America on the brink of destruction, which could only be saved by returning to the certainties of the past, it perfectly fit the evangelical narrative of moral and national decline. Trump speaks the language of decadence and renewal (while exemplifying just one of them).
In the Trump era, evangelicals have gotten a conservative Supreme Court justice for their pains – which is significant. And they have gotten a leader who shows contempt for those who hold them in contempt – which is emotionally satisfying.
The cost? Evangelicals have become loyal to a leader of shockingly low character. They have associated their faith with exclusion and bias. They have become another Washington interest group, striving for advantage rather than seeking the common good. And a movement that should be known for grace is now known for its seething resentments.
.. the idea that the robustly vulgar, fiercely combative, and morally compromised as Trump will be an avatar for the restoration of Christian morality and social unity is beyond delusional. He is not a solution to America’s cultural decline, but a symptom of it.
.. There is first the temptation to worship power, and to compromise one’s soul to maintain access to it. There are many ways to burn a pinch of incense to Caesar, and some prominent pro-Trump Christians arguably crossed that line during the campaign season. Again, political victory does not vitiate the vice of hypocrisy.
.. to believe that the threat to the church’s integrity and witness has passed because Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election is the height of folly.
One reason the contemporary church is in so much trouble is that religious conservatives of the last generation mistakenly believed they could focus on politics, and the culture would take care of itself.
.. if Trump’s presidency collapses, that Christians in general and Evangelicals in particular are going to be the scapegoats.
.. These diehard Trump-backing Christians will have provided progressives, as well as factions within the GOP who are sick of Christians’ influence in the party, with the pretext they need to crack down. Good luck defending religious liberty when it is associated with Donald Trump
.. He has given no evidence of humility or dependence on others, let alone on God his Maker and Judge. He wantonly celebrates strongmen and takes every opportunity to humiliate and demean the vulnerable. He shows no curiosity or capacity to learn. He is, in short, the very embodiment of what the Bible calls a fool.
Some have compared Trump to King David, who himself committed adultery and murder. But David’s story began with a profound reliance on God who called him from the sheepfold to the kingship, and by the grace of God it did not end with his exploitation of Bathsheba and Uriah. There is no parallel in Trump’s much more protracted career of exploitation. The Lord sent his word by the prophet Nathan to denounce David’s actions—alas, many Christian leaders who could have spoken such prophetic confrontation to him personally have failed to do so. David quickly and deeply repented, leaving behind the astonishing and universally applicable lament of his own sin in Psalm 51—we have no sign that Trump ever in his life has expressed such humility. And the biblical narrative leaves no doubt that David’s sin had vast and terrible consequences for his own family dynasty and for his nation. The equivalent legacy of a Trump presidency is grievous to imagine.
.. Important issues are indeed at stake, including the right of Christians and adherents of other religions to uphold their vision of sexual integrity and marriage even if they are in the cultural minority.
But there is a point at which strategy becomes its own form of idolatry—an attempt to manipulate the levers of history in favor of the causes we support. Strategy becomes idolatry, for ancient Israel and for us today, when we make alliances with those who seem to offer strength—the chariots of Egypt, the vassal kings of Rome—at the expense of our dependence on God who judges all nations, and in defiance of God’s manifest concern for the stranger, the widow, the orphan, and the oppressed. Strategy becomes idolatry when we betray our deepest values in pursuit of earthly influence. And because such strategy requires capitulating to idols and princes and denying the true God, it ultimately always fails.
Enthusiasm for a candidate like Trump gives our neighbors ample reason to doubt that we believe Jesus is Lord. They see that some of us are so self-interested, and so self-protective, that we will ally ourselves with someone who violates all that is sacred to us—in hope, almost certainly a vain hope given his mendacity and record of betrayal, that his rule will save us.
.. If — if — we learn that Trump did what he is alleged to have done, and you stand behind him even so, how do you answer the charge that Christians care so much about access to power that they will turn a blind eye when the president they support blabs extremely sensitive national security secrets to the Russians? Are we really idolaters who would sell our souls to stay in the king’s good graces?
.. There was a time when we condemned Democrats and liberals for standing by Bill Clinton, despite how he disgraced the Oval Office. We accused them of caring more about power than principle — and we were right to. Remember when the liberal journalist Nina Burleigh said in 1998, amid the Lewinsky scandal, that she would fellate Bill Clinton to thank him for keeping abortion legal? Are conservative Christians really prepared to walk a mile in her kneepads for Donald Trump? And for what?
God is not mocked.