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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

God and Trump

In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. In Divided We Stand, we discuss how these divides played out in 2020.  

 Thomas Edsall at NYT:

Trump, his family and his supporters have been more than willing to claim that Trump is ordained by God for a special mission, to restore America as a Christian nation.

In recent weeks, for example, the former president posted a video called “God Made Trump” on Truth Social that was produced by a conservative media group technically independent of the Trump campaign. He has also screened it at campaign rallies.


Jim Guth, a political scientist at Furman University and an expert on the role of religion in politics, published an article in 2019, “Are White Evangelicals Populists? The View From the 2016 American National Election Study.” The essay describes the basis for the strong affinity of white evangelicals for Trump’s conservative populism.

“White evangelicals,” Guth found, “are invariably the most populist: more likely to favor strong leadership (even when that means breaking the rules), to distrust government, to see the country on the wrong track and to think that the majority should always rule (and minorities adapt).”

Guth also found that
another salient trait of populist politics is the willingness to ignore democratic civility. We constructed a “rough politics” score from three A.N.E.S. items: whether protesters deserve what they get if they are hurt in demonstrating, whether the country would be better off if it got rid of rotten apples and whether people are “too sensitive” about political discourse. Here the usual pattern recurs: Evangelical affiliation, evangelical identity and biblical literalism predicts agreement with those assertions, while religious minorities, secular folks and progressives tend to demur.
The most common explanation [for evangelical support] , according to Guth,
is that white evangelicals have a transactional relationship with the president: As long as he nominates conservative jurists and makes appropriate gestures on abortion and sexual politics, they will support him.
“The evidence here,” he wrote, “suggests a more problematic answer”:
White evangelicals share with Trump a multitude of attitudes, including his hostility toward immigrants, his Islamophobia, his racism and nativism, as well as his political style, with its nasty politics and assertion of strong, solitary leadership. Indeed, Trump’s candidacy may have “authorized” for the first time the widespread expression of such attitudes.