Thursday, August 24, 2017

About that "base"

Don't bother setting that cross on fire: it will serve well enough as-is.

There is a segment of America that fiercely supports Tr*mp no matter how badly or insanely he behaves.  That "base" is estimated to be about 30% of the population.  Who are they?  Some are Klansmen or Neo-nazis, but those are relatively tiny splinter groups.  The noisily Ayn-Randian "alt-right" internet trolls are even fewer in number.

The bulk of Tr*mp's base consists of white Evangelical Christians — the people who used to be called "fundamentalists."  Best known for their reactionary stance on social issues and disdain for science, their  loyalty to a lying, self-serving, egomaniacal sexual predator certainly seems misplaced — but Tr*mp embodies their desires and ambitions better than any conventional politician ever could.  (If he turns out to be the Antichrist, that's fine too.)

Basic to Tr*mp's appeal is his promise to restore an imagined "golden age" of America — that mythical time before rationality beat so hard at the bulwarks of ideology, before their God-given right to define the parameters of truth was challenged.  Tr*mp is waging a holy war on the political and intellectual "elites" who either belittle or ignore them.  It's all about self-esteem — economics doesn't even come into the picture.

While black Evangelicals and more mainstream Christians reject the President for his moral bankruptcy, white Evangelicals seem to be taken with what theologians call antinomianism — the idea that those who have been "saved" by faith are no longer bound by earthly moral codes.  Tr*mp really could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue, and they would be unfazed.

Democrats can stop worrying about "winning back the white working class" — the Evangelicals won't budge, and the rest of the white working class will come home once the Republicans are finished screwing them.  To win elections, Democrats have to mobilize their own base voters by generating some excitement.  They did that with Obama in 2008.  Can they do it again?