Evangelical voters are those outward Christians that everyone else finds so strange about America. Few outsiders get them, and with our infamous culture wars like abortion and gay marriage, most outsiders assume that these voters are issue voters. Since Trump is not with them on the issues, they won’t vote for Trump.
The connection between religion and politics in America is more fundamental than issues. The American political system is the secular parallel to Protestantism. The road to “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal…” starts with the crucifixion, and the 95 Theses. These milestones in individual responsibility get lifted out of religious thought in the Enlightenment and eventually become the popular sovereignty of the US Constitution.
But US Christianity has changed. For decades our churches have been filled with the Prosperity Gospel. It tells people that if they pray hard enough, the right Way — if they have enough faith — then God will do for them. They will have rich and prosperous lives of good health and peace. It’s a horrible theology, one that leaves people to despair when they pray and act just as they were told but still don’t get what they expect.
This is the evangelical voter today. They’ve done everything they were supposed to do for Uncle Sam. They were the good patriots, working hard, raising families. Yet life isn’t going their way. From terrorism to taxes, jobs, budgets, public safety, insurance, family law, mortgages, small business regulation — all of it goes wrong. They reached despair. They feel forsaken.
Trump’s principles don’t hurt his vote percentages because they aren’t looking for principles. They’ve lost hope in principles. They are looking for the strongman. If we must have a government that quashes people, then they’d like one that quashes the other guy.
Some observers noted this strongman theory for general Trump supporters, but I don’t think anyone expected it among the evangelical voters. Christians are issues voters. Everyone knows that.
And that has been the one thing that has remained reliable and true this election cycle: the media and elites know precious little about the emotional lives of Christians.
That many have soothed their worry, regret, or guilt over his record since taking office by pretentding that Trump is a principled leader sacrificed by terrible others — well, your cartoon covers that better than my words have. Oh, and the cell phone in his right hand, nice touch.