Monday, April 23, 2018

Ed Kilgore: "If You Take White Evangelicals Out of the Picture, Trump's Standing with the Rest of the Population Is Really Low"

Trump's favorability ratio among white evangelicals now, says PRRI, is 75-22, as compared to 42-54 among the American population generally. And his popularity is just insanely high among men (81 percent) and the non-college-educated (78 percent) within the white Evangelical universe. 
Staring at these numbers, I got to thinking: I bet if you take white Evangelicals out of the picture, Trump's standing with the rest of the population is really low. So I emailed the PRRI, and got the non-white-Evangelical numbers from the very same poll. 
They're pretty compelling. Among Americans who are not self-identified white Evangelicals, Trump's favorability ratio is 36-60, with 41 percent expressing very unfavorable views of the president. Among women who are not white Evangelicals, the ratio is 29-69, with about half — 49 percent — harboring a very unfavorable view of Trump. How about college-educated Americans who aren’t white Evangelicals? Trump's at 32-65, with 47 percent holding a very unfavorable opinion of him. And outside the ranks of the white Evangelicals, even non-college-educated Americans have a dim view of the MAGA man, disliking him by a 39-58 margin (this obviously includes minority folks), though a mere 38 percent dislike him strongly. 
There are two takeaways from this data, one obvious and one a bit less obvious. First of all, Trump is really, really dependent on the good opinion of white Evangelicals. Considering how many rationalizations he’s forced them to conduct on his behalf every time a fresh example of his heathenish attitudes and conduct emerges, he owes them immensely. And you do have to wonder if there’s some tipping point — a hypothetical fifth adult-entertainment figure claiming he’s pawed or slept with her? The sixth? — after which these fine church folk freak out and head south on the president. There’s no evidence of that so far, but it could happen, and if it does Trump is politically going to be toast. 
There's another thing to consider as well. Perhaps Americans who dislike Donald Trump aren't just living in some coastal elite bubble separated from the Real America, where the president is taken seriously but not literally, and is warmly admired. Perhaps Trump's most avid fans are living in their own bubble of white Evangelical culture, while disdain for the mogul is so common elsewhere that it's the prevailing (if hardly unanimous) sentiment. 
That's a different way of looking at it, isn't it? Trump-disparagers aren't necessarily elite, aren't necessarily secular, and aren't necessarily minorities, either. What they most have in common is that by and large they do not identify with religious communities where the Bible is regarded as the literal, inerrant truth about all of its content; where it's taken for granted that abortion is murder and that homosexuality is an offense to God; and where servant-leader men walk tall and women know their subordinate place; and where white folks try to exhibit some rhythm while singing folk and soft-rock songs about Jesus. Yes, there are anti-Trump people in white Evangelical circles and pro-Trump people elsewhere, but the patterns don't follow the conservative meme of the Trumpian masses versus the anti-Trumpian classes, at all. 
Non-white-Evangelical America is a pretty big part of this great big country, and it's a place where Donald Trump is really unpopular. Get used to that idea.

I think Ed Kilgore is right. I'd point out, though, that more than half of all white Christians in the U.S. cast their votes for the moral monstrosity in the White House. America has a white Christian problem, not just specifically a white evangelical problem. America has a deeply embedded racism problem that is deeply intertwined with its white Christianity. And that's problematic for American democracy.

And this deeply embedded problem has resulted in longstanding gaming of American democracy through voter suppression and gerrymandering that allows a minority — notably white evangelicals — to assert minority control over all the rest of us. We may like it or we may lump it: they don't care, as long as they can demand Supreme Court seats that serve their ends, while denying legitimately elected presidents who represent a majority of voters the right to name moderate-centrist candidates to the Supreme Court.

And ultimately, though white evangelicals (and white Christians in general) are a useful tool for those who need to dismantle American democracy, they are not the ones really driving this process, though they imagine they are. Those driving the process are the nation's economic elites, who are intent on shifting as much wealth as possible into their hands, removing it from the rest of us by hook or by crook, and keeping that wealth hermetically sealed among themselves.

As Arwa Mahdawi pointed out recently, as long as those folks are happy with what's taking place under the moral monstrosity (fie on those silly porn star adulteries, his incessant lies, the vulgarity that he enacts when he combs his hair and takes any step on the sidewalk, and what's a little treason and Russian collusion between friends, after all?) — and they are happy, very, very happy — he'll remain in office. Because they have the power to make that happen, and they bought that Supreme Court seat the white evangelicals imagine they own. For themselves, they bought it.

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