Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Roy Moore Defeated, But Polling Data Tell Us Why We Have Miles and Miles to Go Before We Jubilate — Fusion of White Nationalism and White Christianity Remains Potent Toxic Challenge

Ezra Klein, "Why Doug Jones’s narrow win is not enough to make me confident about American democracy":

Tonight, Alabama did not elect a man accused of preying on children who thinks Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress. That's not the highest bar I can imagine for a democracy to clear, but I'm glad we cleared it. 
But tonight's election results do not leave me comfortable with the state of American politics. If Moore had merely been a candidate who believed Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to serve in Congress, that the laws of the United States of America should be superseded by his interpretation of the Bible, that homosexuality should be illegal, he would have won in a landslide. Even multiple credible reports that Moore serially preyed on teenage girls were barely enough to lose him the election. 
Like Donald Trump before him, Moore is proof that there is no depravity so unforgivable, no behavior so immoral, that it assures a candidate will lose his party's voters. What cannot be condoned will be denied. What cannot be denied will be ignored. What cannot be ignored has not yet been discovered.

Perry Bacon, Jr. "What Tonight's 'Evangelical Vote' Doesn't Mean":

White evangelicals are likely to vote overwhelmingly in favor of Roy Moore tonight. They’ll represent a huge percentage of his backers whether he wins or loses the Alabama Senate race. But we should be careful about mistaking those voters for religious voters generally. Indeed, Moore's backing from that segment of the electorate likely doesn’t tell us much about American religion at all. 
First, there's the obvious: White evangelical Protestants don't represent all Christians. White evangelicals are the largest bloc of religious Americans, but they are only about 17 percent of Americans overall and they’re a minority even among religiously affiliated Americans. 
Data from the Pew Research Center suggests that about 40 percent of Alabama adults are white evangelicals, but an equally large bloc is composed of people who belong to predominantly black Protestant churches like the African Methodist Episcopal Church (16 percent); members of "mainline," non-evangelical denominations such as Lutherans and Methodists (13 percent); Catholics of all races (7 percent); and black evangelicals (4 percent). 
And a recent Washington Post poll breaking down the Alabama electorate along religious lines found that Moore was ahead by 59 percentage points among white evangelicals, but trailed Jones by 15 points among white non-evangelicals and by 84 points among black Protestants. 
This generally tracks with religious voting patterns in national politics: White evangelical Christians overwhelmingly back Republican candidates, while white Catholics and Christians overall are less Republican. 
Secondly, "evangelical" may tell us less about voters than we think it does. The term evangelical has a precise meaning. The National Association of Evangelicals defines evangelicals as people who "agree strongly" with four beliefs: The Bible is the ultimate authority governing their lives; Christians should try to spread their faith to others; Christ is the only path to eternal salvation; and "Jesus Christ's death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin." 
But in political discourse, "evangelical" has become associated with a fifth belief: a conservative ideology. Pete Wehner, who was a senior adviser to President George W. Bush but is strongly anti-Trump, recently wrote a column saying that he would no longer describe himself as an evangelical, despite sharing the religious beliefs connected with that term, in part because other self-described evangelical voters had embraced Trump and Moore. I don’t know how many Pete Wehners there are in America, but we have other evidence that, at least in political contexts, 'evangelical' has lost much of its religious meaning. 
recent survey by LifeWay Research found that among people who described themselves as evangelical, about 70 percent are white, 14 percent are black and 12 percent are Hispanic. But when LifeWay asked people whether they strongly agreed with the four evangelical beliefs I listed above and used that metric to define who is an evangelical, they found that about 58 percent of evangelicals are white, 23 percent are black and 14 percent are Hispanic. 
So it's worth considering whether "white evangelical" is a term that has lost much of its religious context and has come to mean essentially, "white conservatives who are Christian and not Catholic." In that case, saying that these voters back Moore and Trump is somewhat circular: most white, Christian conservatives back Republican candidates, after all.

Andrew Whitehead, quoted by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, "'A spiritual battle:' How Roy Moore tested white evangelical allegiance to the Republican Party":

[With white evangelicals at present] [i]t's all about a quest for power and what serves the purpose in the political moment.

Jonathan Freedland, "The defeat of Roy Moore in Alabama is a rare moment to lift the spirits":

As you can see, it's easy to get carried away. But, without wishing to spoil the party, there are reasons to be cautious too. 
The first is that Moore came very close to winning, taking 48.4% of the vote. That's despite allegations of paedophilia. It suggests that in the absence of those claims, he would now be on his way to the US Senate. His espousal of theocratic and homophobic views would not, on its own, have been enough to keep him out. That is a troubling thought when contemplating future contests elsewhere. 
Look closely at the breakdown of votes. Moore retained the backing of 91% of Republicans who turned out. Those loyalists were not sufficiently repelled to switch parties. More astonishing, 63% of white women and 72% of white men in Alabama voted for Moore, despite everything. Had it been up to the state’s white voters, Moore would be a US senator today. 
Roy Moore's stunning defeat reveals the red line for Trump-style politics
Put another way, it's only thanks to the solid and energised support of Alabama's black voters that the United States avoided what would have been a moment of global shame. That it avoided this fate so narrowly should prompt as much reflection as celebration.

John Fugelsang on Facebook

Richard Wolffe, "Roy Moore's stunning defeat reveals the red line for Trump-style politics":

Charles Chamberlain, as quoted by John Queally, "Trump, Bannon, and Roy Moore Rebuked as Doug Jones Claims Victory in Alabama":

This historic win is more than just a crushing blow to Donald Trump's agenda of bigotry, hate, and division. It's also a powerful reminder that progressives can win anywhere and everywhere if we stand up for an inclusive populist political agenda and build campaigns that welcome, energize, and mobilize the new American majority of Black, brown, and progressive white voters.

No comments: