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 Steel Breeze on May 17, 2018 at 5:05am

i'm all for any canidate who's positions and ideas will benefit American's......regardless of party,race religion,gender,etc.....

Comment by Rodney Roe on May 17, 2018 at 5:27am

I have voted for Republicans in the past, and will again if appropriate. It’s just even decades since it’s seemed so.

Comment by koshersalaami on May 17, 2018 at 5:47am

The 2016 election was about culture to the Republicans. The economy would have gotten out more of the Democratic vote. As you can see in the primaries now, Democratic voters are really sick of this degree of economic inequality and corporate control of government, which was Sanders’ central message. The problem with centrist Democrats is not that they’re terrible on minorities, it’s that they’re terrible on money and on who calls the shots in America. 

I’ve been saying for a while that the Democratic rank and file is well to the Left of the Democratic leadership and that taking over the Democratic Party makes way more sense than ditching it and starting from scratch with the Greens. I’m of course not alone in saying that by a long shot. The primaries are indicating exactly that. We don’t need a third party, we need Democratic candidates to stop behaving like more socially egalitarian Republicans. And that’s what we’re beginning to get. It’s a bad idea to let the DNC as it is currently structured and populated keep control of the Party, and you’re beginning to watch them lose that control, which is exactly what they deserve. 

My guess about the increased presence of women is that what it really indicates is a desire to overturn the current power structure. Women are more likely to be political outsiders than men are, particularly as you get to higher office, and the fact that the Democrats are favoring outsiders means by default that we’ll elect more women. 

Comment by koshersalaami on May 17, 2018 at 5:49am

You’re not likely to vote for Republicans any time soon. My first Congressional vote was for a Republican, Gilbert Gude of Maryland, because he was more liberal than his Democratic opponent. That’s not happening any more.

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on May 17, 2018 at 6:40am

"There was a left shift in Democratic candidates who won away from the center."

The Democratic party needs to get it.  Those of us on the left (both Leftist Democrats, Independents who did the DemExit thing and people who support the precepts of the Green Party) will NOT support the DNC's/DCCC's next version of Hillary-lite or any more Blue Dog Democrats like Heidi Heitkamp or that total douche Joe Manchin.  

We will also not let the "lesser evil"-ists lay the blame for Trump's reelection at our feet.  If the Republicans win in the midterms and/or the next Presidential election the Democratic Party needs to own their own stupidity. (and remember these are the same people who laughingly said last time that we weren't needed nor important enough to accept...  you saw how well that worked for them, right?)

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Comment by Maui Surfer on May 17, 2018 at 8:57am

We would most certainly benefit from more women in office. The way the men have been behaving, for decades and really maybe since day one, is pathetic and disgusting on both sides. It includes even those favorites like Joe Biden who, if you dig deep into the not so distant past, helped get Clarence Uncle Thomas on the Court- disgusting.

This post shifts from religion to politics. Sorry evangelicals, but, your hypocrisy has changed you from simply looking stupid, uninformed and uneducated on your own Holy Books, to being outright racists and bringing back the KKK, a supposedly Christian organization. Don't worry, Rapture Cat will rise up with you so there will be the comfort of pets along with a blond haired Yeshua up there.

I wrote the other day, and stand behind it, while I believe Ralph Nader to be a stain on America overall, he suddenly regained his footing and served up the Corporate Dems like Arthur Ashe- take our Third Party Planks, make us irrelevant, and make the Country whole and operative again for all, actually for all for the first time. He's right.

African American evangelicals have slowly moved away from the hate so many white adherents carry, but, the homophobic nature of the beast remains. Hispanic religious folk of every stripe are scary as the Devil himself. Catholicism destroyed the host cultures of their home countries, and, very very very sadly, they naturally lean conservative as a result, immigration rules aside as they don't even count in this case. Hopefully, the youth of those folks will continue the Rainbow of tolerance the rest of us have worked for and not cause a second round of these problems in 20 years when they become, for the second time, the majority in North America.

What is supposedly a liberal Dem Establishment is actually one of the most conservative and corporate wanker groups of sold out profiteers who can only be outnumbered by the Repubs. A cleansing of the top tier is essential, without it, we'll get more of the same or much to slow progress.

Our future lies where it ought to, with the Millennials and Y's ... luckily, they show little of the hate of the "Christian" Red States nor the kissing up to the Fortune 500 and Military Industrial Complex of those sell outs representing their parents.

But, bringing the beginning of this back to the end, luckily, Church is becoming obsolete in the USA. It set Hawaii back Centuries as the Missionaries used their "Holy" ways to steal our land and force Polynesians all over the Pacific into homelessness. As the old Hawaiian saying goes of those Protestant A-Holes, "They came to do Good, and did very well."

Comment by Rodney Roe on May 17, 2018 at 12:36pm

"We will also not let the "lesser evil"-ists lay the blame for Trump's reelection at our feet"

Amy, I think we need to elect the candidates we want in the primaries.  That is what I think is happening.  If we don't get the candidate we want does it matter whether they voted "safe" or voted for the candidate they really wanted?  If their choice is better than the alternative by any amount does it make sense to vote for the absolutely wrong person in order to protest the fact that we didn't get the candidate we wanted?  Arguing that Hillary was no different than Trump requires ignoring everything you see, and everything you can foresee. 

I have argued for years that Hillary has been a moderate Republican pretending to be a Democrat.  That doesn't mean that I should have voted for Trump or stayed home (which would have been a vot for Trump. 

The Democratic Party went off the rail when it adopted the "socially liberal, fiscally conservative approach.  It sounds good, but fiscal conservatism trumps social democracy.  "No margin, no mission"

Comment by Rodney Roe on May 17, 2018 at 12:57pm

Oh, and Amy, my "I voted for the first time" granddaughter felt the Bern so intensely that she stayed home.  She is and was an idealist who couldn't get past the persona of Hillary. My year older than her granddaughter may have stayed home because she thinks politics is all rigged and she' not going to play in that sandbox.

I have actually voted for a Republican for president twice and fortunately the Democrat won once.  I'm not telling you who the other was.  I lived to regret it nearly every day he was in office.  I think (it's been a long time) that I voted for Winthrop Rockefeller for governor of Arkansas in 1966.  He was the first Republican governor since reconstruction I believe.  He was great for the economy because he could attract manufacturing to Arkansas and did.  Everything was backward in the state then.  Democrats were the party with entrenched power and segregationist policies.  All of that changed with Johnson and the Civil Rights Acts when there was a tectonic shift in party affiliation in the South.  I switched from Republican to Democrat about then.

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on May 17, 2018 at 2:15pm

RR, I don't think anyone worth their salt endorses voting for the "other side" merely as a protest vote.  I personally don't agree with the people who "stayed home", either.  That's because, if you felt strongly enough about the "lesser evilism" that Hillary exemplified, then you need to get off your butt and start knocking on doors to support someone you DO believe in.

For example, if your granddaughter had done that in both the primaries & general election (along with the millions of other "Hillary sucks, but..."-ers) and had worked to drum up support for him and then wrote his name in (like millions DID do) then HE WOULD HAVE WON!  When you add up all of the disgusted Independents, the True Left (::Amy waves::), the DemExit-ers and the "Hillary sucks, but..."-ers you have MANY more votes than either the Democrats or the Republicans pulled in.  

The problems come from the lies from the right (Republicans) and the collusion & lies from the center (Establishment "Clintonista" Democrats).  They are BOTH selling their particular brand of Pepsi/Coke "same stuff, just different labels" lesser evilism and it causes people to give up....  which is EXACTLY what they both want.   

Comment by Ron Powell on May 17, 2018 at 3:38pm

" Specifically, it was about preserving the dominance of White Christian Evangelical culture."

No , it was about racism and bigotry.

Please stop trying to use euphemisms and platitudes to gloss over the simple fact that Trump’s victory was couched in racism and bigotry. 

There's no other logical or valid explanation for white people voting against their own financial and economic self interests....

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