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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Christians, Troops, GOP

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.  

"I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad." -- Donald J. Trump, March 13, 2019

Ruth Graham at NYT:
As a core faction in the Republican coalition, conservative evangelicals have long influenced the party’s policy priorities, including opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. And the influence extended to conservative culture, where evangelical norms against vulgarity were rarely challenged in public.

In some ways, they remain intact. Most pastors don’t cuss from the pulpit, or at all. Mainstream conservative churches still teach their young people to save sex for marriage and avoid pornography.

Yet a raunchy, outsider, boobs-and-booze ethos has elbowed its way into the conservative power class, accelerated by the rise of Donald J. Trump, the declining influence of traditional religious institutions and a shifting media landscape increasingly dominated by the looser standards of online culture.

Others see the cause as partly technological. Evangelicalism is a decentralized movement, and has always embraced new technology as a way to reach more people. But the old institutions and personalities that defined the culture are fading: Church attendance has declined at the same time that several lions of the movement have died, retired or been felled by scandal. Influencers and outsiders have filled the vacuum.

Risa Brooks at Foreign Affairs:

Perhaps the most sobering example of the effort to inject partisan politics into military appointments is the right’s treatment of Charles Q. Brown, Jr., an air force general who now serves as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Prior to becoming chairman, Brown was confirmed as air force chief of staff in 2020 in a Senate vote of 98-0. Then, last July, leaders of 30 political groups on the right signed an open letter opposing Brown’s appointment as chairman. Despite his accomplished career as fighter pilot, 11 Republican senators voted against him when he was confirmed as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last year. The number of “no” votes for the chairmanship was unprecedented, as were the stated reasons for them. Tuberville attributed his “no” vote to the general’s support for “equal opportunity” in the military. Senator Mike Braun, an Indiana Republican, asserted that the general, who is Black, had favored “woke policy initiatives” over effectiveness in the air force.


 If elected, Trump may seek to appoint a pliable general to replace Brown as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It is customary for secretaries of defense to compile a list of potential candidates from which a president chooses a chairman. A healthy rapport between the president and a candidate for chairman is usually an important criterion for selection. The candidate’s party affiliation is not. That norm might be one of the first to go.