It Was Never About the Economy, Stupid

 This is what White Evangelical Christians would like to think they believe in, but is it really? 

  • Following the victory of Donald Trump in 2016 one criticism offered in the postmortem analysis was that Clinton and the DNC made the mistake of engaging in identity politics when the real issue was the economy. Bill Clinton’s famous line was, “It’s the economy, stupid” and it probably was then.  In the 2016 go-round, however, it was about culture.  Specifically, it was about preserving the dominance of White Christian Evangelical culture.  Individuals who identify as Evangelical Christians overwhelmingly voted for Trump according to Pew exit polls.  The reason for this voting behavior is that fewer than half of states are now predominantly occupied by white Christians, and both Christianity and Evangelical Protestantism are in decline.
  • Christopher Wylie, the whistle blower who exposed the use of data taken from Facebook by Cambridge Analytica, claims that the parent company of Cambridge Analytica was approached by Steve Bannon to design a “weapons arsenal” to change the course of the election. He said, that Bannon, "saw cultural warfare as the means to create enduring change in American politics."   In the process of analyzing data the firm discovered phrases that resonated with what became known as the Trump base.  Phrases like “drain the swamp” and “string her up” were found to resonate.  Furthermore, the firm identified ways to suppress voting.
  • There are some rays of hope, however. There is trouble in “Evangelical Land”.  Self-described Evangelical Christians account for about one fourth of the U.S. population.  There has always been a divide between those who are aligned solidly along the lines of preserving white status – Trump’s base – and those who have more liberal ideas on race and inclusiveness in the interest of growing as a Christian movement.  That divide appears to be growing.  There are two reasons for this trend.  White Evangelical numbers are falling simply because they are older, and the number of non-white Evangelical Christians are growing.  The non-white faction is made up of blacks who identify as Democrats, and Latinos who identify as independent leaning toward the Democratic Party.  The Latinos are much more liberal on issues such as immigration.   A religious research group has found that the portion of Evangelicals who are non-Hispanic white has fallen from 68% to 64%.  That is not a huge percentage, but it illustrates the trend.
  • There is some evidence that the influence of those intent on preserving white culture may be waning. Elections to fill congressional and senate seats vacated by conservatives picked by Trump for various positions have- not surprisingly – gone primarily to other conservatives.  There have been exceptions like the loss of Luther Strange to Roy Moore and then the loss of Roy Moore to a moderate Democrat to fill Jeff Sessions senate seat.  Given the deep red color of politics in areas where positions were vacated it is surprising that all did not go to Republicans.  More interesting have been the results of early primary elections. 

Trends in early primary elections have been discouraging to both ultra conservative Republicans and moderate Democrats.

In Democratic primaries, moderate Democrats supported by the party have lost to more liberal candidates.  In Republican primaries far right factions have been unable to get their candidates elected.

Another surprising trend is that women have been winning over men.

The Democratic candidate for governor of Idaho will be Paulette Jordan who will almost certainly lose to the Republican, Brad Little.  There has not been a Democratic governor in Idaho since 1990, and Trump won in Idaho by 30%.

In Pennsylvania “Madeleine Dean, (a) state House member; Chrissy Houlahan, (a) veteran; and Mary Gay Scanlon, (a) lawyer, each won in Philadelphia suburban districts that they are now favored to carry in November” according the Associated Press poll.  A fourth woman, Susan Wild, another lawyer, won the Democratic primary in Lehigh Valley, but that district is heavily blue collar and will be a tough district to win.  Still, chances are good that the all-male congressional caucus will have one or more women after November.

Nebraska is a deep red state with Republican incumbents running for reelection for Senator and Governor.  Both are likely to be reelected.

Winners in Oregon were no surprise as well.

What is noteworthy across the board, however, is the nature of the candidates who have won.  Women have won in a big way.  There was a left shift in Democratic candidates who won away from the center.  In Republican elections there was a resistance to the candidates favored by conservative groups like the Freedom Caucus. 

posturing as moderate Republicans?

Primaries in Georgia are held later this month.  Friday is the last day for early voting and I’ve already cast my ballot.  Georgia, of course, is a red state, but it has been tinging purple due primarily to voters in Athens (University of Georgia) and Atlanta, which has a cosmopolitan face.

Both Democratic candidates for governor are named Stacey, and the candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Sarah Riggs Amico is a businesswoman who has owned, and then after the company went public, run a large trucking company.  Other positions for state offices have Democratic Party candidates who are strong women.  In Georgia all we can hope for as Democrats are miracles, but in other states like Pennsylvania there promises to be a real shift in political positions and in gender.

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Comment by J.P. Hart on May 17, 2018 at 3:59pm

"Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward."*

*Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

Readers may also be interested in Michael Gerson's Atlantic cover essay April'18 How Evangelicals Lost Their Way (And Got Hooked by Donald Trump)
The article replete with outtakes such as: 'FOX NEWS AND CONSERVATIVE TALK RADIO ARE VASTLY GREATER INFLUENCES ON EVANGELICALS' POLITICAL IDENTITY THAN FORMAL STATEMENTS BY RELIGIOUS DENOMINATIONS'

.:poem:.

boot heel,
boot soul:
nothing's
real

Comment by Maui Surfer on May 17, 2018 at 4:02pm

I recently pointed out all the things Gore would never have done (Iraq comes to mind) that Shrub did that not just collapsed the US and by extension global economy, but also resulted in the killing or just plain suffering (and making enemies out of) millions of people. By comparison, there is a statue of Bill Clinton in Kosovo, it is on Bill Clinton Boulevard. I worked at Pearl Harbor at the time and am unable to share a number of reasons why it is there. Despite this, I feel betrayed by Clinton for the personal things he did that disgraced the office and country, but, the idea he would move the Embassy to Jerusalem and see the resulting Palestinian deaths, and the renewed calls in Tehran for Death to America, is ludicrous.

To say Hillary is just as bad as Trump and would have done any of the things the Traitor Confederate shows someone has a problem with the truth, and that they won't admit to being cowards for making others suffer for their so called idealism. Hillary colluding with our sworn enemies of 70 years who killed tens of millions under Stalin!- hahahahahahahahahaha, what kind of stupidity would it require to imagine that?

Further, I went to easy earlier here on the Klan side --- Trump Voters by and large are racist assholes, and ANYONE who votes for someone who call Mexicans rapists is racist piece of dung.

Comment by Maui Surfer on May 17, 2018 at 4:05pm

*too easy ; *is a racist piece of dung

Comment by Maui Surfer on May 17, 2018 at 4:07pm

*and more typos, man, this rejection of the lesser of two evils when it means the people you claim to support suffer and die while you yourself get a free pass to yak yak yak about how right you are really makes my blood boil, and thus hit the old keyboard too hard ...

Comment by Ron Powell on May 17, 2018 at 4:09pm

Now he's calling undocumented immigrants "animals".

Who do you think that "resonates" with???

Comment by Maui Surfer on May 17, 2018 at 4:10pm

The Klan, his main supporters, who else?

Comment by Rodney Roe on May 17, 2018 at 4:37pm

kosh, not to put too fine a point on it, but what Bernie was talking about was not the economy.  He was talking about fairness and social justice.  He was talking about the disappearance of "the dream".  We have a robust economy now in terms of company profits.  What we don't have is an opportunity for those who aren't owners/shareholders of the companies to have any means for home ownership, or medical or retirement security.  We need a social contract that allows anyone willing to work to do so and be rewarded to a degree that supplies those needs.

Comment by Rodney Roe on May 17, 2018 at 4:54pm

Anyone who has a chance should watch "Human Flow" about the worldwide refugee crisis.  It is a two hour, twenty minute long documentary by Ai Wei Wei produced by Amazon. 

HUMAN FLOW – Official Trailer [HD] Amazon Studios from Mill Valley Film Festival on Vimeo.

Comment by Rodney Roe on May 18, 2018 at 3:44am

The process leading to genocide has as its LAST step dehumanization.  Steps up to that include projecting one's own faults onto the other "enemy" group making them appear as evil.  Deindividualization also precedes dehumanizationn.

Trump has already made them all rapists and murderers in his campaign speeches. Branding all Hispanics as illegals along with the threat of deportation of those that are has made Hispanics unknowable by many due to voluntary and involuntary isolation.

Now they are branded as animals and political refugee families are being split up with the children placed in camps and their parents sent back to face the oppressor they fled. 

It's all text book.

Comment by Rodney Roe on May 18, 2018 at 4:30am

J.P.Hart, we try to predict the future based on the past, but it's an imperfect process at best as Steve Jobs pointed out, and completely and dangerously misleading at worst.  It's just all we know to do.

I saw a video made by/about a Sami reindeer herder the other day.  The Sami react to the present and don't plan much for the future because they consider it unknowable.  At first blush you would think a reindeer culture would be the perfect place to predict the future from the past.  You just have cold and not so cold; dark for a long time and light for a long time; and reindeer migration patterns to consider, but the reality is different and more varied.

I'll try to find the article by Michael Gerson.  As with reindeer herding things are not as simple as they seem.  How much does understanding how Evangelicals are dividing according to race/ethnicity requires know why the Evangelical movement began?  How much does knowing why the Evangelical movement began require knowing why the protestant reformation began and in turn Christianity and ultimately religion of any kind?

It seems to me that human cultures are chaotic systems that become increasingly unpredictable as we look into the future.

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