Republicans render unto Trump that which is God’s

Photo by Brad Dodson on Unsplash

Scripture is replete with warnings about placing faith in political leaders above God.

God repeatedly calls the faithful to reject kings and idols, to disperse power away from any singular charismatic personality.  “Ye shall have no king nor ruler, for I [God] will be your king and watch over you.”  (D&C 38:21). 

Why?  Because we know from sad experience that as soon as men “get a little authority, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”  (D&C 121:39).  Kings, with their greater authority, wreak greater unrighteousness.  

God warns that kings tend to demand submission to their authority over humble submission to the divine.  In their egotism, kings pursue violence and corruption (1 Samuel 8).  They “tear up the laws of those who have reigned in righteousness” and “trample under their feet the commandments of God.” (Mosiah 29:22).  Wicked kings, like false prophets, “profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”  (Titus 1:16).

The last four years have featured a series of maneuvers to crown President Trump as King.  This week’s Republican convention embraced that coronation, proving a willingness to jettison prophetic warnings.  The GOP wrote no platform other than to express their “unanimous agree[ment] to reassert the Party’s strong support for President Donald Trump” and “enthusiastically support the President’s America First agenda.”

For all Mike Pence purports to be a “Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order,” Pence this week literally substituted the American flag for Jesus while mis-quoting Hebrews in support of Donald Trump.  Pence implied Trump, not Christ, is the “author and perfecter of our faith – and freedom.”

The GOP now reveres Trump above Christ as their King.  Trump’s assertions of “total” and “magical authority” are unmoored from any other democratic, christian, or even moral principle. 

To borrow a page from Pence’s blasphemy: the GOP “shall not live by the Bible alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of Trump.”

This is the only way I’ve figured out how to understand Trump.  He’s not just a political leader, he’s become a religious one.  Trump is the central authority of his own nascent faith.  

From that vantage, Trump’s ignorance of Christianity and amoral behavior is rendered irrelevant.  It’s not hypocritical that Trump does not attend Church because he’s not bound by Christian rules.   Why would Trump need to ever seek forgiveness from God for his sins when he is his own font of truth?  If Trump is Lord, Trump’s enemies must beg and seek forgiveness from him

Latter-day Saint scholar David Campbell has often remarked: “when politics is put ahead of religion, it corrupts religion.”  I would argue even further: when politics is put ahead of religion, it preys upon tribalism instincts until it supplants religion. 

Religion is what Trumpism has become. 

Photo by Lenny Kuhne on Unsplash

Trumpism as a Political Movement

For the last five years, “Trumpism” as a political movement has both captivated and baffled pundits.  The persistent question is whyWhy are core Trump supporters willing to vote against both their own economic interests and their professed moral beliefs?

Most popular political analysis has failed to capture the essence of Trump.  In part this is because political science, in recent decades, has trended toward empirical models reliant on economic indicators.  “It’s the economy, stupid” has become a tautology.  Yet Trump confounds these models.

Economic-based models rely on an assumption that people have limited time and attention.  Voters will therefore cast ballots primarily based on their rational economic self-interest.  They want steady jobs, safe communities, higher wages, and access to affordable education and healthcare.  From that lens, most cultural and emotional factors are cast off  as secondary.

Emphasizing economic rationales for political votes has led to a multitude of analyses portraying Trump voters as rural farmers and rust belt workers left behind in a globalizing economy.  In this narrative, President Trump’s persistent support signifies the deep disaffection of the working class in a nation of rising wealth inequality.  Voters are drawn to Trumpian promises of putting “America First” by reducing immigration while rebuilding infrastructure, restoring Midwest manufacturing, and increasing middle class wages (which have stagnated since the 1970s).

There are a few well-documented problems with this narrative. 

First: it applies only to whites.  Black Americans experience far more wealth inequality, but resoundingly (+82%) reject Trumpism.   

Second:  Trump voters are richer than stereotyped, more upper-middle-class than working class.  They are wealthier (+$17,000/year) and better educated (+0.84 years of school) than the national average, as well as the average person in all 50 states.

Third: Trump’s actual economic actions while President have sent most gains to the top 1-10% while harming farmers and manufacturers.  

And yet, despite the economic chaos wrought by Trumpian trade wars, crushing unemployment, and an uncontrolled pandemic, 35-40% of Americans continue to support Trump.  This is Trump’s “Fifth Avenue” voting base

Trumpism as a Religious Movement

Who is this 35%? And why do they persist in their fervid support?   

Trump’s base is largely comprised of white Christians, particularly white evangelical Protestants (+61%), Mormons (+53%), and white Catholics (+19%).  Their support endures because Trump has latched onto their pre-existing religiously-tinged conservative political opinions, and supplanted them with his own vision of American exceptionalism. 

In short, Trump has become the new charismatic leader of a religious movement. He has rejected the authority of existing institutions and supplanted all of them with unique truth centered in himself. 

I recognize that the lines between political and religious identity are fluid; both are rooted in humanity’s drive to tribalism.  People use the same mental evaluation tactics to build community, assess loyalty, and evaluate truth claims in each. 

But we cannot ignore that the rise of Trumpism has wrought a uniquely religious effect:  his political supporters have become more religious; while his political opponents have become more secular.  During this Administration, white evangelicals and Republicans have flipped from +58% valuing presidential morals over political agendas, to +30% valuing political agendas over presidential morals. 

Trumpism has corrupted religion.  Trumpism has become religion.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Trump is Truth

Trump, the self-described expert builder, has constructed for his supporters a new factuality. As an expert in everything and “a very stable genius,” they believe that Trump “alone can fix it.” 

Trump has thus become the ultimate arbiter. As Trump has explained:  “If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead,” so “deny, deny, deny.” Trump’s denials become the new truth.

He defines “fake news” entirely by reference to what flatters him.  Lies disseminated by trolls and foreign actors are true, if they support Trump’s election and power.  Facts disseminated by American media institutions are lies, if they criticize Trump.  Even weather maps about hurricanes are lies which Trump has the power to alter with sharpies

Trumpists tag along for this roller coaster ride of alternate reality.  Where Trump blasts global warming, his supporters become much more skeptical of climate change. Where Trump hates vaccines, the anti-vax movement spikes.

The substitute reality extends to the pandemic.  Even though COVID-19 is a viewpoint agnostic virus raining 180,000+ deaths upon blue states and red states alike, Trumpists back the President : “the intense pressure of the pandemic appears to be fortifying, rather than fracturing, the long-standing divisions in the electorate that Trump has already widened.”

Across the board, Republicans do not view COVID as a serious health risk (+39% ).  They are more likely to embrace COVID conspiracy theories (44%).  Trump’s repeated endorsement of hydroxychloroquine means +30% Republicans still favor its use – despite warnings from world health authorities.  And Trump’s longtime refusal to wear masks accounts for a +31% difference between Democrats and Republicans regarding mask mandates. 

Where Trump leads, Trumpists follow.  Pointing out Trump’s 20,000+ lies, his empirical falsehoods, and his blatant hypocrisy accomplishes nothing.  They have afforded his words the weight of scripture.

This includes words directed against their own religious leaders.  Trump quarrels with the Pope, attacks the head of the Southern Baptist Convention, and demeans the evangelical magazine Christianity Today.   Trumpists accept these insults — all of these people committed the universal offenses of sinning against Trumpism. In the end, they are quicker to fire a pastor for not being Republican than they are to condemn Trump for immorality

Photo by the White House

The Bible is Subservient to Trump as Scripture

Trump does not rely on the Bible itself as scripture – he has not read it and cannot recite its verses.  Rather, Trump realizes that if he couples his own charisma with the Bible, he can achieve great manipulative effect.  It’s the philosophy of Trump, mingled with scripture.

This is what Trump signaled in Lafayette Square. Bill Barr ordered police to violently evict peaceful protestors, including Priests from the portico of St. John’s Church itself, for a photo-op.  Trump never opened the Bible, which Ivanka Trump had hid in a $1500 Gucci handbag.  He never preached the peaceable gospel of Christ.  He never said a word.  He literally took a photo with a Bible and left.  The photo-op itself, in the context of the violence which preceded it, was Trump’s desired message.

When Trump invokes the Bible, it is not to demonstrate how the Bible guides Trump’s actions, it’s to demonstrate that he’s willing to advance whatever agenda his supporters want to attribute to the Bible as a way to solidify his own power.  That’s why he picked Mike Pence as Vice President – Pence is just a carrot to dangle in front of evangelicals.  That’s why he flipped stances on abortion, not because he has any respect for sexual morality, but because it checks a box to win over “single-issue” voters.

Similarly, Trump does not care about “religious freedom,” he cares that using those buzz words earn him evangelical devotion.  It’s so easy to curry that favor! All Trump has to do is appoint Justice Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and perform a few talking points about being pro-life and pro-cake.

This is par for Trumpism.  At the end of the day, he only spouts conservative Christian talking points to support Trumpism’s greater truth.  It does not matter that the Supreme Court consistently rules for religious freedom for Christians (while upholding Trump’s Muslim Ban).  What matters is whether the Supreme Court votes for him.

Earlier this summer Trump whined “Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?” Notably, this remark was prompted not by a First Amendment decision implicating Christian grievances in the culture wars, but rather an arcane administrative law decision faulting his Administration’s sloppiness over immigration policy. 

Despite consistently ruling for Christianity, the Supreme Court had dared to rule against Trumpism.  Trump expected loyalty from Justice Gorsuch and is furious at not receiving enough of it.  Sinning against Trumpism is unforgivable.

Photo by Sean Lee on Unsplash

Trumpism Embraces the Ethics of White Nationalism

Although Trumpism wields the forms of Christianity, his actual substance is ethno-nationalism.   Social scientists have long documented a link between fundamentalist faiths who champion inerrancy and political right-wing authoritarianism.  Unsurprisingly, a notable predictor of Trump support has been voters who trend authoritarian, including by supporting strong police powers to be used against minorities. Anti-immigrant nativism and fear heavily correlate with support for Trump. 

The cruelty is the point.  Norm violations are his appeal.

One popular Trumpism catchphrase is “Law and Order” – code for promoting white America and punishing the “other.” In advance of that agenda, Trump offered pardons for federal officials who committed violence against Mexican immigrants. Anti-immigrant, anti-minority, anti-democratic views are Trumpism’s ethical code.  This is how Trump’s words stoke hate crimes; they’re heard as moral justification to preserve the true nature of America.

Trumpism’s substitute theology of white nationalism now trumps any other classical Christian teaching of “love your neighbor,” “visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction,” “invite in the stranger,” “execute justice for the oppressed, and give food to the hungry.”

His convention speech last night is prototypical:  while referencing God and the Bible in passing, most of the text is steeped in virulent racism, decrying China, Mexico, Europe, NATO, foreigners, asylum-seekers, Muslims (“Jihadists”), illegal immigrants, “anarchists, looters, and rioters.”  The nationalism was clear:  “Your vote will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists and agitators and criminals who threaten our citizens.” 

His supporters revere this endless stream of dog whistles.  Ever since George Floyd’s asphyxiation and Trump’s threat to Minneapolis to shoot protestors, 20% more Republicans now oppose Black Lives Matter (+67% opposition over Democrats). 

Racist and sexist (+46%) attitudes are one of the strongest predictors of support for Trump.  Trumpists see the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern pride, not racism (+55%, Republicans).  They condemn kneeling during the national anthem as inappropriate (+55%, Republicans).  They mock the existence of “implicit bias.”  The LGBTQ community is viewed unfavorably (+56%, Republicans).  And Trump voters are not ready for any woman to be President (+60%, Republicans).

Photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ

Trumpism in Symbols: Make America Great Again

Trumpism has developed symbols to capture its white Christian nationalist doctrine.  Nothing encapsulates it better than “Make America Great Again” hats.  In just four words, the phrase posits an alternative reality to which Trump’s supporters can escape.

Make America Great Against is a campaign slogan turned into a proclamation of social identity. That identity depends upon a fundamentalist idea:  America used to be great, but lost status.  Only Trump can enable the return.  But a return to what?  What changed that must be restored?

Trumpists don’t hide their answers.  They want to go back to the idealized 1950s: when manufacturing reigned, the “suburban lifestyle dream” was created, immigration was low, only whites benefited from the GI Bill, and strict gender roles prevailed.  To them, the subsequent generations of social change are the national problem.  This is what “Make America Great Again” pithily communicates, to both Trump’s supporters and his opponents.

Photo by The White House

Trumpism in Symbols: Build Walls

Making America Great Again means expelling the foreigners. It means rewriting the Statue of Liberty to ban anyone poor or non-white.  “Build the Wall!” has become one of the great unifying symbols of Trumpism – with +83% Republican support over Democrats.  White children use the phrase to bully classmates of colorKids in cages are an acceptable consequence of imposing law and order; Republicans are +57% in favor of deportation.

Trump supporters likewise fear Middle East refugees. (+69%).  Before Trump’s infamous call in 2015 for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” the difference between Democratic and Republican fears of Islamic violence was +11%.  Immediately after, the difference spiked to +46%, where it has since remained.

Photo by Matt Chesin on Unsplash

Trumpism loves Televised Ritual

The only thing Trump worships is television coverage of himself.  He measures success by TV ratings and crowd sizes, caring more about coverage of his coronavirus press conferences than about the coronavirus itself.   Gunning for Trump’s approval, Fox News has recast its programming for an audience of one.  White House correspondents have learned they can earn screen time by centering their attention on Trump even when he is off stage.

Trump’s love of television has made television appearances the central ritual of Trumpism.  It started with the campaign rallies, as thousands chanted his name while the press live streamed every hour of Trump’s unscripted chaos.  It continued yesterday, as Trump violated federal election law to achieve the visual effect of promoting his candidacy with the White House as a backdrop and fireworks over the Washington Monument.  Trump inserts endless theatrical drama into his televised events

Before his televised speeches and press conferences, it’s often a toss-up whether his remarks will be delivered impromptu or off of a teleprompter.  Teleprompter speeches are more boring (except when he can’t pronounce words the teleprompter feeds him, like “Yosemite.”) Unscripted Trump is more exciting.

The difference is not lost on his supporters. Trumpism revels in the impromptu questions at press conferences and while boarding planes, the moments where Trump is at his most unscripted.  These unscripted remarks are more revered than scripted ones. Followers know Trump’s unscripted first and third responses to the 2017 Unite the Right events in Charlottesville – not the scripted second – are the authoritative ones.  

Meanwhile, Trump’s supporters are happy to quote the scripted versions to liberals who accuse Trump of racism.  For example, amidst the racism of last night’s speech, Trump also kept asserting “I have done more in three years for the Black community than Joe Biden has done in 47 years.”  This is all the plausible deniability his voters need – the doublespeak is how they both publicly wield “political correctness” against their enemies by citing Trump’s “presidential” statements , and privately unpack the white nationalist mysteries of Trump’s true Twitter meanings in QAnon-fueled gatherings of friends.

Trumpism as an Aggrieved Community

Above all else Trumpism demands loyalty.  Supporter loyalty is a litmus test – no one can say the President is wrong, you can at most posit that he presented “alternative facts.”  On morning talk shows, loyalists know to stick to Trumpian lines, because obsequiousness alone rewards them with White House prestige. 

To condemn Trump is to incur instant, devastating wrath.  This is why even otherwise principled Republican representatives don’t dare contradict Trump.  Trump and his supporters turn on anyone who offers even mild criticism.  Any criticism implies Trump can be wrong, a concept an infallible religious leader cannot countenance.  Any perceived lack of loyalty is betrayal, and betrayal is persecution. 

Trumpism has a persecution complex. One well-documented religious phenomenon is that adherents often counterintuitively embrace their own pain.  Shared sacrifice builds faith communities.   “Cancel Culture” binds tribes together.  Martyrdom is victory.  When Trumpism is perceived as being persecuted, believers accept its tenets as more true. 

The parables which result are predictable: Trump’s acceptance of Russian interference is proof that secular enemies don’t accept the divine provenance of his election.  Trump’s impeachment was a bitter liberal reaction against his success at Making America Great Again.  Every negative media story is Presidential Harassment.  If only Trump had fewer Deep State enemies, his victory would be complete.

To once again borrow from scripture, Trumpists are prone to believe that when liberals “revile and persecute” them, they should “rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” 

By casting both Trump and themselves as victims – even when Trump is the one causing the harm, even when they are privileged and wealthy perpetrators of America’s majoritarian race and religious status quo and in control of all three branches of Government – the GOP energizes its commitment to Trumpism. 

* * *

This is the 35% of loyal Trumpists. Their only sin is not loving Trump enough. Only greater adherence, only doubling-down on “four more years” will “Make American Great Again, Again.”

Trumpism is a religion. Trump 2024 is not a joke. Because only if Trump is crowned their theocratic King can his vision for America be fulfilled.

Comments

  1. This is the first time I’ve commented here.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this.

  2. I look forward to the second installment where you dissect the idols worshipped by the left :abortion, sexual perversion, elimination of family and religion, and government forced group-think, for starters. The list is much longer,so don’t be shy about adding others.

  3. Abortion is a fair point; the polling data supports it. Everything else isn’t. If you want to supply empirical data on those points for me to consider, be my guest.

  4. Wondering says:

    Seems a good description of some of the Trumpists I have heard and read. And yet I still wonder how much of his reported 35-40% of approving Americans really gives him “fervid support” and how much of that group merely sees him as the lesser of two evils in the upcoming (or in the past) presidential election. As to some of those I know who plan on voting for Trump, theirs is definitely not “fervid support” but extremely reluctant support motivated by their assessment of the alternative.
    I have also wondered whether fervid support of whoever is nominated by the Democrat party is also a religion, though likely not currently placing a particular person, but only a party, in the role of God. I know some whose dedication to anti-Trumpism seems to lead them to support anything at all that opposes Trump, without regard to weighing alternatives. That approach seems to demand religious loyalty to the cause of anti-Trumpism on a par with religious Trumpism.
    I can wonder, but, in my state, it makes ultimately no difference how I might weigh the November 2020 alternatives.

  5. The author of this seems to only know how to regurgitate the radical left. It is a nice summary of the past four years of attacks on Trump. The author need to escape from their leftist bubble, but I realize that is difficult for the coastal elites.
    This post reminds me of similar posts written in 2008 by many leftists. They offered the same deranged criticisms about Bush 43. Bush Derangement syndrome looks a lot like Trump Derangement. Trump was accepted and allowed in many democrat circles and Hollywood parties. We all seen the pictures of Trump hanging out with the Clintons and other prominent democrats. Trump is doing that much damage to our government, it only seems that way because past presidents have taken appropriated more authority as congress refuses to push back. I celebrate Trump not starting new wars, and not having kill lists of Americas enemies.

  6. There’s one point you and I can agree on Mark: I desperately want Congress to pass a massive executive power reform bill, as soon as possible. I don’t want any President of any political party engaging in these shenanigans, or as you put it “appropriating more authority as Congress refuses to push back.”

  7. I could not agree with you more. I am so glad that someone with your credentials published this article. I have been asking myself for four years how members of the LDS church could have supported such an unqualified and (unhinged) candidate with their votes. Now that he has a new plan to deplete social security within three years due to permanent payroll tax cuts I am hoping voters wake up!

  8. Geoff-Aus says:

    I read a lot of members saying they have to vote republican (even trump) because they are pro life.
    Republicans have been selling this line for 47 years, and have delivered nothing. If they succeeded in making it illegal would there be no more abortions? There were twice as many abortions in 1972, as there are now.
    https://qz.com/857273/the-sharpest-drops-in-abortion-rates-in-america-have-been-under-democratic-presidents/
    The abortion rate has been halved since 1972, but only by Democrats. The way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. Sex eduction, affordable birth control, and respect for women, are the solution, which is why abortions reduce under Dems. 70% of abortions are for women living below the poverty line (cant afford birth control). Universal healthcare would reduce abortions further. Late term abortions are due to the health of the mother or feoutus.
    If you want to reduce the number of abortions vote Democrat. The Republicans just lie about it.

  9. blessed_are_the_peacemakers says:

    This excellent post also made me think of Jana Riess’ book and what I think is the obvious long term consequence of making partisan politics a religion or just making politics/religion more conterminous: a continued exodus of young people from the church. This sometimes seems that the goals of the church have become confused with the goals of non-church organizations in which some members of the church participate and we are now tied to a sinking ship. Before the pandemic, my stake had asked wards to distribute flyers announcing a series of Rafael Cruz events in Southern California. Before that, it was opposition to legalizing marijuana. Before that, it was Proposition 8. This is obviously a tangent to the author’s point. But it’s worth considering what the long term ramifications are. Nearly half of all millennials born in church have left at this point. Maybe decoupling the church from the culture war, war on drugs, and so forth could stop the bleeding? Anything at this point is worth a shot.

  10. Carolyn, this is the best description or sense of the Trump-supporting world that I’ve seen.
    Of course my politics and preferences bias my view, making it a painful read but easy to accept.
    The one other analysis I have seen that I would put up for comparison is Amy Chua’s “Political Tribes.” Of course there is a significant overlap in the characteristics of a tribe and the characteristics of members of a religion.

  11. An interesting example of how Trump corrupts is Utah’s Senator Mike Lee. He blasted Obama for various executive orders but asserted Trump’s recent ones were appropriate. Too many Republicans throw principle out the window when it clashes with Trump’s whims and actions.

    How can any LDS person back the single sleaziest person to ever slink into the White House?

  12. There are few things I’ve found more tiresome than ardent Trump opponents, the same people who were marching in the streets the day after he was elected, pretending to objectively assess his presidency and his followers. Look in the mirror. Bashing Trump and his followers has become its own religion, pursued with frightening fervor.

  13. RobL,

    I am a longtime GOP activist who strongly supported the Clinton impeachment. Trump is far worse. He is inept, weird, and utterly unprincipled. Once he gone cleansing the Republican Party of those who empowered him will be job one.

  14. What is happening says:

    I’m with you on all of this, OP. I’m not sure how congress can pass an executive power reform bill given the separation of powers issues. If this is a serious proposal, how do you think it would work beyond the existing congressional oversight powers? I think this is the problem- congress and the executive have worked together contentiously and reluctantly on oversight issues before the Trump administration but now it seems they are incapable of working together at all. Hence Justice Roberts’ scolding about this in the Mazars case.

  15. What is happening says:

    I’m with you on all of this, OP. I’m not sure how congress can pass an executive power reform bill given the separation of powers issues. If this is a serious proposal, how do you think it would work beyond the existing congressional oversight powers? I think this is the problem- congress and the executive have worked together contentiously and reluctantly on oversight issues before the Trump administration but now it seems they are incapable of working together at all. Hence Justice Roberts’ scolding about this in the Mazars case.

  16. I think you’re overestimating Trump’s individual control. He’s more of a symbol adept at tapping into a growing anxiety. A culture war has been ramping up over the last decade, and there’s been a growing resentment against feminists, LGBT advocates, and the idea of political correctness. This began long before Trump (see the misogyny and racism of Gamergate as well as the rise of the men’s rights movement). Trump projects an old-school version of masculinity (some would call it toxic) that appeals to anti-feminists and those nervous about growing LGBT rights. His “America First” ideas appeal to anti-globalists as well as those scared of the shadowy “other” figures that are threatening not just our “traditional way of life” but also our very lives. In 2016 and 2017, it was the threat of immigrants and refugees. Now he’s tapping into that same fear by playing up the violence of the BLM riots and trying to “save” white suburbia from integration. The white couple brandishing guns in St. Louis to “protect” their home from the BLM protestors perfectly encapsulates this idea.

    It’s not a cult of Trump. It’s a reactionary movement against political correctness and the shadowy conspiracies (deep state, lizard people, commies, socialists, the swamp) that have infiltrated our previously trusted institutions (government, schools, mainstream media, big pharma, big companies). And those “conspirators” have the satanic aim to take down capitalism, the traditional family, and religion. Hence all the quotes by Ezra Taft Benson that are suddenly becoming popular again…

  17. I can’t find it right now, but on gocomics a few months back, one of the political comics had a reporter interviewing a Trump supporter and the Trump supporter answered why they supported Trump: “He hates who I hate.” I honestly think that’s what makes up his ardent supporters who are willing to cut off their own nose to spite their face.
    This is a very good blog post.

  18. Geoff-Aus says:

    Not enough flags in the picture. Got be at least 60 to be a real Trump American.

    If Utah votes fot Trump in November, we might as well not send missionaries to first world countries. The church will have no moral authority, at all. Complicit.

    If our church prophet, remains neutral, while prophet Trump destroys democracy, and America?
    On conservative church blogs there are articles on socialism, inferring that thats what Democrats want. Lies, and more lies. What happened to truth? Alternative truth. Christ teachings where?

    I fear for the future of America. If Trump wins I can’t imagine the destruction. And if he looses his followers have been told it was crooked; will he go, will they accept a new pres? 17 year olds with guns?

  19. I have prayed for months trying to understand why members of my faith have so easily given into idol worship of Donald Trump. Your blog has so accurately articulated what I couldn’t form in my own mind. Thank you!

  20. I have prayed for months trying to understand why members of my faith have so easily given into basically idol worship of Donald Trump. Your blog is the first literature that accurately articulated what my mind could not form into words or thoughts. Thank you!

  21. I have come here for years looking for fresh perspectives and insights into our shared faith. I have appreciated the lack of partisan conflict that infects so much of the online world. Sadly, it appears one of my last remaining refuges from political discord has finally cast itself into the inferno. I guess it was too much to hope for….

  22. 100% agree!
    Thank you

  23. Yep.

  24. As a British person I can never understand Trumps appeal to the American masses and especially to Latter-Day Saints. He is known to have very little , if any moral compass so why to faithful LDS people support him. Its beyond me. Thank you for writing this very interest blog post. I will share it on FB.

  25. Dumbstruck says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this incisive summary of Trumpism. I’m a longtime lurker who’s likely to disappear after posting, but I had to speak up.

    I have weathered, to varying degrees, multiple waves of faith crises over the typical church thorny issues. Nothing has shaken me like the full-throated embrace of Trump and Trumpism by so many Saints, including family, friends, and ward/stake members. My politics are slightly center-left, but even so I learned a long time ago how to navigate my political differences with many others in the church by picking and choosing which battles were worth having, and agreeing to disagree on the rest. These disagreements never impacted any of my relationships.

    Until the past four years.

    I watch leaders charged with teaching my children chastity dismiss the Access Hollywood tape as “locker room talk.” I hear applause in response to comments about immigration from s—hole countries from friends who served missions in those places. I listen to testimonies at church praising Trump’s religious devotion and claiming that he is a choice servant of the Lord because of his Israel policies and supposed efforts to “save” religious freedoms. I see relatives consumed by QAnon conspiracies as evidence of “secret combinations” unleashed by Satan ahead of the Second Coming. I have a faithful relative who virtually disowned her son for marrying an undocumented immigrant in the temple. I’m still floored by the person I encountered on Facebook recently with a “Light the World” profile pic who called Kamala Harris a “mongrel” because of her mixed parentage. I’m horrified by the number of Saints I see boasting about their ammunition stockpiles and what they’ll do if Democrats steal the election — which is the only way Trump can lose, right? There are no political platforms or principles, only a need to anger and insult and hurt people they don’t like. I just…. I can’t deal with it. Who are these people? My brothers and sisters in Christ, it turns out.

    The “Trump is Truth” section of the OP hit closest to home for me. Trump lies like he breathes, but his supporters hang on his every word. It is so hard to hear someone bear testimony of the Spirit on Sundays, and then see them claim on social media that they have a spiritual witness to patently false information peddled by Trump, or to absurd conspiracy theories. They “know” these things are true in the same way that they “know” the Gospel is true. We place such a premium on seeking and finding Truth as affirmed through the Spirit, but when members weaponize the Spirit to insist on the veracity of their political beliefs (no matter how nutty or patently false), it takes an unavoidable spiritual toll. Truth is far more relative, far more malleable to our political interests than I’d been taught to believe, apparently. It’s increasingly difficult for me to see Truth as anything other than what we want to be true, regardless of evidence.

    And I ask myself how long I’ve been living in an alternate reality from so many who sit in the same pews as I do. How are we so far apart from each other? Have they changed? Have I? Or did these disparate realities always exist, but now I finally have eyes to see it?

    If someone claims to have spiritual witness that Trump is God’s servant, how can I avoid skepticism or cynicism regarding their testimony of spiritual things? If others bear sincerely-held testimony of things that I find nonsensical, like the friend proclaiming personal revelation that masks are part of Satan’s plan to strip away our freedoms, what else have they been testifying of that is nonsensical? For that matter, how much of what *I* have born sincere testimony of is nonsensical? How do *I* know anything without evidence? Where is the line between religious faith and fanciful thinking? *Is* there a line?

    Having seen unquestioning devotion to a charlatan, no matter what outrages he commits, what should I make of Joseph Smith and the Saints who devoted themselves to him and his teachings, including outrageous ones like polygamy?

    “What is truth?” Pilate scornfully asked. His question haunts me in ways it didn’t before this hideousness came upon us.

    Sorry if this is rambling and muddled. I’m still sorting these questions out and hoping that I can come out of it in a better place with my faith intact. But as I work through it all, it helps tremendously to see other Saints who share my horror at what is happening and who can lay out a damning indictment such as this. So again, thank you.

  26. Sadly, the 2020 presidential election is exactly like 2016 – a choice between the lesser of two evils. Pick your poison thoughtfully.

  27. When I was in college I was invited to attend a rally for President Reagan. I went with my friends family and we had an assigned spot right up front with her father up on the stand as he was running for senator. It was quite exciting until someone from our church started a chant. It went like this, “Declare him King! Declare him King!” Everyone took it up and it went on for a very long time. I was shocked and really creeped out, because even I knew that our scripture doesn’t support kings.

    I think for many members it not the candidate that is God, but the political party.

  28. Wondering says:

    Todd, I can imagine some taking the same approach I heard from a very conservative, well educated Chicago professional in 2008. He reported that he and other conservative acquaintances voted for Obama because they preferred a person and platform they did not like to McCain’s health and the risk of Palin becoming president. There are also those who in 2016 preferred the risk of Trump, whom they did not like, to what they felt was a certainty of Clinton whose platform and prior behavior they liked even less. I’m reluctant to cast any of those folks as Obama-supporters in the first case, or Trump-supporters in the second.
    Whether or not one agrees with those peoples analyses or the facts/opinions behind them, weighing the risks of bad alternatives is not particularly uncommon. But, still there are many (a majority of those I talk to — whether liberal or conservative) who vote on bases other than that kind of analysis..

  29. Elwood Blues says:

    I was discussing Trump with a couple of my Elders Quorum Presidency. I made the comment that Trump mirrored King Noah in th Book of Mormon. You would have thought I cussed their Mothers. That’s when I realized Trumpism is a cult. You can’t be critical of the Dear Leader. This is a great article.

  30. mikeinweho says:

    Trumpism is the apotheosis of societal trends that have been building for decades. We have become two cultures residing in one nation: European-style secular liberalism and conservative religious nativism. I live in the bluest of the blue areas but my family is in a red area. I’ve watched the divide widen for twenty years. In fact, a long time ago I asked “Will Texas and California go to war someday?”

    Now we are on the brink. Fueled by Russian interference, we have what amounts to armed militias facing off in our streets. I am very scared.

  31. Thanks for this post, Carolyn. I agree that Trump seems best understood as a cult leader. Comments like Mark L’s I have a hard time processing. So you’ve heard these points made for *years* about, for example, how Trump is setting himself up to be a dictator, and you *still* aren’t concerned? Why?

    I wish more ardent Trump supporters realized that an autocrat has no party. It doesn’t matter if he was elected with an (R) next to his name when he becomes president-for-life. You might have liked that he appointed the judges you liked, but what happens when he subverts the entire judiciary because he’s tired of checks on his power? Is the writing on the wall not clear enough?

  32. mikeinweho, I don’t think that you need to worry about California and Texas going to war. My reading of internet comments does show that those who would identify as “Texan” do make comments along the lines of hoarding ammo and can’t wait to go to war with Liberals and to kill them. Whereas those who would identify as “Californian”, just want to not have to live under rules made by Texans (not Texans specifically, but that’s the example in your statement). So most likely, the West Coast states would leave the Union and form Pacifica, and then some North Eastern states would leave to form Atlantica, and then each of the three groups could go on in their own peaceful ways.

  33. Robert Holt says:

    People in the country felt the same way about Obama.

    It’s sad to see the leftist and far right take similar stances when they are not in power.

    Shoot we have health care called “Obama” care.

    Good grief.

    Trump will leave office just like Obama did. There is no desire to be king.

    Vote your conscious.

    Pray

    Take care of your own

  34. I have to address one strand I’m seeing here, and I see everywhere on the internet, of “whatabout Obamism.” It’s absurd. And let me tell you why:

    Did people love Obama? Yes. Why? Generally, because he was compassionate and gave solid speeches. But he wasn’t ever cast as “perfect.” Both the right and the left could criticize Obama, and did. All the time. The right criticisms we’re all familiar with; it’s the “Kenyan Muslim” and “arugula” and “flag pins” and “bowing to the Saudi’s” and “death panels” and “Obamacare” (that was a pejorative; not a Messianic gift) what fueled the rise of the Tea Party and the rise of Trump. But there were serious criticisms too; where Christians asked him to acknowledge the nuance of abortion viewpoints, and Obama listened. Where Republican representatives asked him to come speak to their convention — and he did, with good faith dialogue.

    But the pressure from the left was there, too. if you didn’t see the left telling Obama he was off-base or too moderate or even too conservative, you weren’t paying attention. I was involved in lawsuits against Obama, too. I protested his national security overreach, too. I raised all sorts of concerns about intelligence agencies, the Snowden leaks, uses of drones. I demanded executive power refer during his time, too. I called attention to the fact that he increased deportations compared to Bush. I thought striking a deal with Congress would have been a much better solution on DACA, even though I support DACA from a policy standpoint.

    When I hear it’s something “Obama did too” I think “yes, AND I OPPOSED IT THEN.” Or “Yes, so you should be concerned because Trump’s version is TWENTY TIMES WORSE.” (I’m still angry that Obama intentionally did NOT take action in Syria because Congress VOTED HIM DOWN, and that fact is cited by Trumpists now to say Obama was weak and Trump is better BECAUSE Trump bypassed Congress to bomb Syria? Obama engaged in executive overreach, except when he didn’t, so that justifies Trump’s executive overreach always? What even is that?)

    I digress. The point is — I’m used to ordinary policy fights, with people of any political party. Those are fights I could have with adults. We could discuss the policy. We could point out the costs and the human harms. We could raise blindspots. We could lay out the various political and stakeholder interests and have a real conversation. We could appeal to shared values. “We both want to make the America economy stronger and increase wages for ordinary Americans, but we have disagreements about the best policy way to accomplish that” is a very different conversation than “BAN ALL FOREIGNERS THEY’RE RAPISTS AND MURDERERS!!!”

    I can’t have those conversations anymore. I used to be an active member of both republican and democratic social groups — in person and online. In the classic definitions of conservative and liberal philosophy there are a ton of points I thoroughly agree with: that government over-regulation has adverse consequences and causes market distortions, and also that a complete absence of regulation fuels hoarding, corruption, and skimping on safety measures that lead to needless death. I could discuss policy from those frameworks. I used to revel in the nuance. I consider it a skill of mine to code-switch to the values that most appeal to the interest of the friend “across the aisle” so we can make some progress towards a public goal. But that dialog requires a minimum of love and empathy for your fellow man. And that’s what’s … gone. It’s just gone.

    I can’t reach my Trump supporter acquaintanes anymore. I can’t say “I agree religious freedom is important, that’s why Muslims should be free to attend mosque in peace.” I can’t say “I agree keeping nuclear families together is important, that’s why I oppose family separation at the border.” I can’t say “I agree elective abortions (i.e. outside of certain medical necessities) is abhorrent, let’s discuss the emotional and financial and education causes that actually lead women to make those choices, and then work together to eliminate those root causes so that abortion goes down.” Every time I try my entire premise is rejected. It’s “fake news.” It’s a “liberal media hoax.” It’s “trump derangement syndrome.” It’s necessary to “impose law and order.” I can’t even agree on a basic fact, OR a basic set of values under consideration, to have a real conversation.

    That’s what I’m calling a religious impulse. That Trumpists defense Trump’s actions as justified and right at all costs, beyond any sense of deeper underlying values, (whether religious, political, economic, moral) or empirical facts, or empathy towards people not like themselves, or acknowledgment of a capacity for nuance on the other side.

  35. Wondering says:

    Carolyn, I have shared some of the same frustrations, but not only with some Trump voters — also with some Obama voters. [I suspect the latter may have more to do with those voters than with Obama’s policies or actions.] I have also found some in each such group with whom some of the conversation you miss can still be had. Apparently, the circles we move in are somewhat different — and not only geographically.

  36. Well researched and documented opinion piece. I respect the time this took.

    If you had to state your purpose or goal in writing this in one or two sentences, what would you say? And who would you say is your target audience?

  37. To Robert Holt’s comment, seriously? The man has been in office almost a full term. You can no longer pretend that he doesn’t mean what he says. Remember all that ridiculous discussion when he first took office about taking him “seriously but not literally”? I think that’s pretty conclusively been proven wrong. He’s a simple man. When he said he wanted to ban Muslims from entering the US, he meant he wanted to ban Muslims from entering the US. When he said he wanted to build a wall on the border with Mexico, it wasn’t some metaphor for how he didn’t like immigration. He literally wanted to build a wall on the border with Mexico. And when he periodically muses about the US having a president for life, or about how he deserves a third term because people dared to investigate his wrongdoings, he LITERALLY means that HE WILL NOT LEAVE OFFICE PEACEFULLY. When he complains about how voting is full of fraud, he is saying that he’s going to contest any election that he loses.

  38. I realize my question may not be enough to entice you to respond. To me, this well researched and very well written summary of many of the things wrong with Trump and Trumpism is preaching (passionately) to the converted. This is nice for the converted but, I wonder if more could be accomplished directing your expertise to another audience – LDS Trump supporters. I wonder if you would consider writing a persuasive piece meant to meet LDS Trumpophiles where they are – to speak compassionately about the values and fears that have led them to this disturbing conundrum of supporting a leader who embodies in so many ways the antithesis of LDS values. Could you gently bring them along to an improved position where they see that Republicanism (or any -ism) at all costs will cost too much. Do you have any stomach for such a piece? It would need to be pretty different than this one.

  39. Jb1599: that’s a fair point. It’s one I’ve tried (not on BCC, but in Facebook and in-person dialogue.). And I’m not getting anywhere. Because so much of my attempts are grounded in all of the values I learned as a very conservative child, and all of the values I held a decade ago as a conservative adult, and … those values are being rejected. When racism / sexism / nationalism / authoritarianism / fear ARE the top drivers of their decisions, my sincere attempts to appeal to Christian morality are met with being told I’m a brainwashed liberal huckster, my sincere attempts to appeal to economic reasoning are met with calling me a socialist. Even WHEN I’m using republican talking points of even 10-15 years ago. I’m just … baffled. I could try. I could. I know how to take various talking points and re-spin them to compromise points. But this post is the explanation I’ve finally reached while trying to understand why all of my past attempts at reconciliation have so resoundingly failed, and that failure is only getting worse with “core” Trump supporters.

  40. And to answer an earlier question, my audience for this post is anyone who wants to understands who Trump’s base is, based on their own polling data responses. And then it’s framed around my opinion as to how that translates into “religion” analysis.

  41. My intent is to push back a little on what you just said in a helpful way. I would say the audience for this piece might be “anyone [who DOESN’T support Trump] who wants to understands who Trump’s base is, based on their own polling data responses.” The tone of the piece is super antagonistic to Trump supporters (IMO) and thus is going to alienate them from the discussion right off the bat. This is fine if you acknowledge this openly. This isn’t a criticism (I am not a Trump supporter.) But, I’m just saying, the tone and structure of your piece seems to me to suggest you’ve given up on any attempt to persuade Trump supporters – instead you are helping to inform and educate the curious (exasperated) non trump supporter. And in that goal, I think you’ve been very effective. =)

  42. The other chad says:

    This is great. I agree with JB1599 the OP’s value is helping non-Trumpers understand the religious fervor of his supporters.

    For 15 years I have been asking 20 (multi-part) questions of principled, intelligent, life-long Republicans. The first question is: Was your choice of political party inherited, reasoned into or both? Was your choice determined or informed by your religious beliefs? Is it wise (or possible) to separate your political and religious philosophies?

    The second is: Is there anything that would change your affiliation? Would a prophetic request do so? Are you aware that, for political balance, early church leaders made such a request? How do you reconcile that some church leaders, who also believe their choice to be informed by religion, are registered in another party?

    In the last 6-7 years, the answer to this second question about changing parties has been a flat, emphatic “No!” Nothing explains this unwavering allegiance except a quasi-religious commitment. Thanks for the data that backs up that framework.

  43. A simple bromide that I heard a long time ago might help you understand Trump supporters and haters. “Republicans fall in line, and Democrats fall in love.” Nobody was excited to vote for Hillary in 2016, and because everyone “knew” she would win depressed her turnout. Biden has more enthusiasm, mainly because the left-wingers have never accepted that Trump won. Most of the democrats I know are still traumatized over the results of 2016 and still can’t accept that Trump is president.

    I also believe that left’s echo chamber is stronger and harder to penetrate that the right’s. The dominant, liberal, establishment, mass media is so vast in the culture that it is very difficult for people to find and understand what conservatives really believe. The popular TV show The West Wing is a good example of this, it portrayed republicans as a cartoon caricature and not really how conservative think.

  44. Consider a few of the propositions about our political culture that people in all parties have mostly agreed on for many generations: no one is above the law; public office must not be used for personal gain; government services are vital in sustaining our economy and our community; public education is necessary for instilling civic values and economic skills; the administration of government services should not be politicized, and most government employees should be shielded from partisan influence. We have understood that agreeing on these values is what makes it possible for us to govern ourselves in peace.

    There have always been people in every political party who question at least some of these shared values. But we have always relied on the implicit assumption that changes in these values must be incremental, gradual and agreed upon. That reflects our most basic assumption, which is that we are all subject to the rule of law.

    A cult of personality undermines all of these values by replacing the rule of law with the person of the ruler.

    A fairly common response to those of us who were deeply distressed by Trump’s election was to say that we shouldn’t worry because if he’s really that bad, after four years we can simply vote him out of office and return to normality. I don’t think it’s that simple. Four years of this personality cult have weakened the civic values that sustain our form of government. Within the Republican Party, a rejection of many core civic values is now part of the mainstream. These values are not dead among Republicans, but they are dying.

    It’s not going to be easy to restore our essential civic values. We must begin with a rejection of Trump’s cult of personality in the upcoming election. If we succeed in electing a government that is committed to the rule of law, we’ll have a good start, but it’s only a start. The powerful interests that promote the cult of personality in place of our democratic republic are not going to disappear overnight. We will need visionary leaders from all political parties to repair the corrosion that has penetrated deep into our culture. We don’t all need to agree on policy, but we do need to forge agreement again about what makes free governance possible. This struggle is going to go on for quite a while, regardless of how this election turns out.

  45. Renee Collins says:

    Thank you for your work; it’s perfect and constructive! What I don’t understand why some of you want the author to change this piece? It’s not meant to pursed; it’s meant to illuminate! That’s how I took it. Thank You again! Just Sayin! Be Safe, Mentally and Physically!

  46. Bravo. 👏 Thank you for saying everything I’ve felt and watched the past 4+ years with horror and shame. This is a masterful article. Impeccably researched, clearly laid out, and devastatingly true.

    Now we face the final days before an election that will decide the fate of who we are as a nation, and as individuals. Either we will choose a path to save our Republic and restore truth & honor. Or, we will choose to embrace Trumpism, crown the King of Lies, and solidify our bondage.

    What have we become, for any one of our family of saints to forsake everything the restored gospel teaches? To trample on every article of our faith? To break our covenants with Christ?

    The pride cycle and secret combinations have reached a Zenith in America. We are “ripe in iniquity”. Do we consider the tears, pain, abuse and lifelong trauma Trump has PURPOSELY been inflicting on thousands of innocent children? Literally ripping them from the arms of their mothers, fathers and grandparents, destroying entire families forever, forcing them to suffer unimaginable horrors in warehoused concentration camps. Where are we, as their pitiful cries of terror and agony ascend to God over and over?
    The millstone of this atrocity hangs around ALL OF OUR NECKS.

    We the People have repeatedly rejected the Love of God and the Love of all mankind … even the smallest and most vulnerable of God’s precious souls. Trump has exploited the worst in us. Hitler would be so proud of our flourishing American Reich.

    On November 3 our vote (or lack of) will be recorded in heaven. It will stand as a witness to God for, or against us.
    We must either choose to stand with Biden for freedom, or with Trump for damnation.

  47. Wondering says:

    Much, but not all, of what Latter-day Soprano has to say is exactly what I hear from some Trump voters except with the positions of Trump and Biden/Democrat party reversed. She has given us a remarkable demonstration of anti-Trumpism being a religion for some, just as many of the extreme Trumpists have made their support a religion.

  48. Larry the Cable-Guy says:

    Given the relative abundance of political commentary, and the relative scarcity of LDS blogs with wide appeal, I share the above-mentioned hope that the BCC contributors and bloghead are thoughtful in the amount of political bandwidth we gobble up here.

    I can appreciate the relevance of the Trumpism movement among the religious right. But, for the purposes of discussion among our particular faith here, I think the OP loses some traction.

    Utah was unique in the 2016 election in the penetration of 3rd party voting (though I’m not aware of a significant movement this time). Members of our community were very hungry to avoid both Clinton and Trump (who lost the Rep. Primary as well as the statewide popular vote in the general election).

    Of the 29 states that Trump carried in 2016, Utah was his lowest percentage win at 45%. Again, more voted against him than for him. But Hillary Clinton earned a very distant 21%.

    A BCC discussion that I think would be very interesting and informative might look into the reasons that liberal/progressive have been chronically unappealing to the modern church. It seems clear to me that even during a period of skepticism and distaste for Donald Trump, many in our community who would love an alternative are not compelled by what they see elsewhere.

  49. Much, but not all, of what Latter-day Soprano has to say is exactly what I hear from some Trump voters except with the positions of Trump and Biden/Democrat party reversed. She has given us a remarkable demonstration of anti-Trumpism being a religion for some, just as many of the extreme Trumpists have made their support a religion.

    @Wondering. I wonder if we wind the clock back a couple hundred of years if you would have made the same comment, but replace Latter-day Soprano with Captain Moroni and replace Trump with Kingmen. Because it really feels like you would. You would tell Captain Moroni that his obsession with the Kingmen is just as irrational as the Kingmen, and that he should get off of their backs. Because I don’t see how you wouldn’t.
    Donald Trump floats ideas to see how Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and their ilk respond, and then he acts. When President Xi became President for life in China, Trump said that the US should do the same. It didn’t go over well. Trump regularly says that he should be given a third term; which implies that he should also be given a second. And Fox News ignores it. Trump floated the idea that the election should be postponed; he didn’t mention for how long, which implies indefinitely. That didn’t go over well and there was pushback. But imagine if it had gone over well, and Fox News hosts were cheering the idea along. Do you really think a Presidential election would still be scheduled for Nov. 3rd? Just this last week during the RNC Trump was leading his supporters in a chant of twelve more years. Which again, implies that he’s already had office for twelve and deserves twelve more.
    Given how much Trump “floats” ideas of postponing elections, elections are unfair and rigged, and how he should be given at least twelve years in office, it seems to me that Trump is proposing that he should be President for Life, and that is insignificantly different from being King. Not only that, I don’t see any Democratic politician doing the same for themselves. I honestly don’t think that both sides are the same, just with different nouns.
    Why do you think so many Republican politicians spoke at the Democratic National Convention? Do you think they support the Democrats tax plans and spending budgets? No. It’s because many Republicans can see that Donald Trump is running a Kingmen strategy. It’s not a full out national referendum to have a monarchy, but it’s close enough.
    So Wondering, instead of throwing around whataboutism, please help me see why this isn’t a few shades away from a Title of Liberty (ie, Rule of Law) vs. Kingmen (President for Life) situation. Because that’s how I see it.

  50. Wondering says:

    jader3rd. Read again. I reported what I’ve heard. I didn’t even purport to evaluate rationality or irrationality of the 2 positions. Nor did I throw around whataboutism. My evaluation was limited to anti-Trumpism being a religion for SOME. If I had any objection to the OP it would be the implication (maybe only my inference) that all Trump voters are religious Trumpists. Nowhere have I asserted that all anti-Trumpists or Biden voters are religious about it. But I don’t mind at all your caricature motivating you expressing your analysis. Thanks for that.

  51. My apologies Wondering. Thank you for the clarification.

  52. Wondering, I am unpersuaded by your observations. Your comments create the clear implication not of “whataboutism,” but of “bothsidesism” — the idea that there is really nothing important to see here, because it’s happening on both sides. If that’s not what you intend, you really should make your intentions clear. If you have no larger point to make, then your observations are trivial.

    Zeal, fervor and hyperbole have been part of politics since politics began. It has never been difficult to find passionately closed-minded people among the supporters of any political campaign. Carolyn’s post is not about those things. Carolyn describes a substantive change that is happening in the political worldview of Trump supporters. It’s not business as usual.

  53. Not a Trump fan, but this article is pathetic and sad. I guess I missed how wonderful it is to live in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Portland, Seattle or any other Democratic failure.

  54. Jaxon, I live in Portland (metro area) and it is wonderful to live here. I’ve been here for 35 years now, and it’s a lovely place to live and raise a family. It’s not a Democratic failure at all.

  55. Thanks for this post.

  56. Stephen Hardy says:

    Jacob, evidently you literally have “missed how wonderful it is to live in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Portland, Seattle…”. These are great cities. You should give them a try

  57. Trumpism is a cult. The Republican party no longer exists as we knew it. Everything Republicans stood for has been upended. Free trade, immigration, foreign policy, hard lines on Russia and dictators. It’s gone. The sadness I feel when I attend my ward and look at my fellow members who are Trump supporters is devastating. How can we believe in the same church? How can they set aside Christian values to support Republican/Trump policies? I’ll quote the historian Heather Cox Richardson from her recent post:

    “We have been here before. In the 1850s, when the nation had to grapple with the idea of westward expansion across a continent, many reactionary Americans thought the solution to keeping an expanding nation stable was to spread human enslavement along with the American flag so that a small group of wealthy slaveowners maintained control over the government.

    But Americans who believed that society worked best if every man had a right to his own labor organized under Abraham Lincoln and, rejecting their neighbors’ hierarchical view of society, restored the idea of human equality and pushed America into the future.

    In the 1890s, when the nation had to grapple with the idea of industrialization, many reactionary Americans thought the solution to the growing divide between labor and capital was to create a world in which a few wealthy industrialists directed the labor of the masses.

    But Americans who believed in the founding principle of human equality before the law organized under Theodore Roosevelt and rejected the idea that workers belonged to a permanent underclass. They pushed America into the future.

    In the 1930s, when the nation had to grapple with a worldwide depression, reactionary Americans thought the solution was fascism, in which a few strong men organized and directed the labor of their countrymen.

    But most Americans rejected the idea that some men were better than others, and they organized under Franklin Delano Roosevelt to restore the idea of equality before the law and return the government to the hands of ordinary Americans. They pushed America into the future.”

    I feel like we are at a crossroads with this election. The choice couldn’t be more clear. We either choose to be a white nationalist fascist state or an inclusive democracy.

  58. Geoff-Aus says:

    Richest 1% now own 50% of stock market, richest 10% own 92% When Trump says the economy is going great, he is not talking about the other 90%. Why do people who are not in 10% vote for this increasing inequality? 40 million live below the poverty line, many POC.
    This level of inequalty has increased under Trump, and needs to be reversed but saying that is labeled socialism, or now adays marxism.

    Thumps patriots have invaded Portland, with his approval.

    Can he be voted out? I hope so.

  59. A new poll suggests that a large majority of Trump voters are more committed to Trump than they are to the Republican Party. From the article: “Some 49% of Republican and Republican-leaning independents who voted for Trump in 2016 said they consider themselves more supporters of Trump than of the Republican Party. Just 19% said they were more supporters of the party, with another 28% saying they were supporters of both.”

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/poll-republican-party-trump_n_5f4bfb18c5b697186e37936a

  60. Kevin Christensen says:

    Amen to this as something that needs to be said and repeated. The story of the LDS faith begins with a questioning boy reading from James about a God who “giveth to all men liberally.” The same boy produced more scripture that told of Amalekiah, winning over members of the church who wanted power and judgeships, and flattery, and who could be swayed by hate speech. See Nibley’s “Freemen and Kingmen in the Book of Mormon” for a terrifyingly timely reading. And he gave us the accounts of Cain and the great secret that converts “life into property”. For all the flag waving and “right to life” rhetoric, it turns out that conservative policies in the US demonstrably lead to lower life expectancy.

    “Methods
    We merged annual data on life expectancy for US states from 1970 to 2014 with annual data on 18 state‐level policy domains such as tobacco, environment, tax, and labor. Using the 45 years of data and controlling for differences in the characteristics of states and their populations, we modeled the association between state policies and life expectancy, and assessed how changes in those policies may have contributed to trends in US life expectancy from 1970 through 2014.”

    “Findings
    Results show that changes in life expectancy during 1970‐2014 were associated with changes in state policies on a conservative‐liberal continuum, where more liberal policies expand economic regulations and protect marginalized groups. States that implemented more conservative policies were more likely to experience a reduction in life expectancy. We estimated that the shallow upward trend in US life expectancy from 2010 to 2014 would have been 25% steeper for women and 13% steeper for men had state policies not changed as they did. We also estimated that US life expectancy would be 2.8 years longer among women and 2.1 years longer among men if all states enjoyed the health advantages of states with more liberal policies.”
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1468-0009.12469

    D&C 98:9-10
    “When the wicked rule, people mourn.
    Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wisemen ye should observe to uphold.”

    20,000 lies and counting, from his great “abrain.”

  61. No Republican will recognize this article as a fair representation of their views. On the contrary, I’m sure a Republican with a few hours to kill would write a similar screed about the alleged indiscretions of the “totalitarian Left” and its own “kings” and “idols.”

    And around and around we go.

    Richard Rohr points out in The Universal Christ that especially when it comes to politics, no side is all right, or all wrong. Pretending otherwise–which often takes the form of demonizing your political opponents–is not helpful if your goal is to persuade anyone but the already-convinced.

  62. The relevant question is not whether Trump supporters would acknowledge that Carolyn’s essay is correct. The question is whether the essay is, in fact, correct.

    Occasionally things get done in politics by persuading the other side to agree with you. But really, that happens almost never. Mostly things get done by persuading the uncommitted and organizing the already-committed. That process is not gentle or tender.

    There is a natural impulse that many (perhaps most) of us have to recoil from the political rough and tumble. I know I feel that impulse. If political conflict is too much for you, if you need to put it aside in order to preserve your health, then you certainly should do so. Withdraw.

    Do not, however, write comments that amount to saying, “A pox on both your houses.” Do not pretend that you are above the tussle, too good for it or too wise for it. What happens in politics will come around to each of us, eventually, no matter what airs we affect.

    Fascism is among us. I find that terrifying, but I recognize that denying it will only make it harder to deal with. We need to buck up and do what we can.

  63. lastlemming says:

    In response to jader3rd…Before we get too caught up in identifying ourselves with Captain Moroni, we should keep in mind that he was in the habit of executing his unconverted enemies. Not a message we want to be sending just before an election.

  64. Loursat: I agree we should “buck up” and speak hard truths. But it is reductive and inflammatory to say that, among other things, “The GOP now reveres Trump above Christ as their King,” or that “The Bible is Subservient to Trump as Scripture.” If you sat down with a Trump supporter, would you say these things to them? Do you think that phrasing it in this manner would make for a productive conversation? How would you react when they claimed you were–as a liberal–complicit in “murdering babies,” “destroying the constitution,” etc.? I’m guessing everyone would just leave mad.

    If we are past the point of persuading the other side, then what is the point? Do we hurl invective and traffic in hyperbole just to make ourselves feel morally superior? To make sure the uncommitted voter knows just how evil/deranged/stupid their Trump voting neighbor is? I think many people who are uncommitted at this point probably recoil at the rhetoric employed in the article above. Which is a shame, because it looks like there is a lot of good information in there. I’m just not sure if anyone beyond true-believers will read it and take is seriously.

    And I do think pointing out the “beam” in our eye is relevant here, not as a “whataboutism,” but as a humble acknowledgment that we can be wrong about things, and should therefore tread lightly when condemning the deeply-held opinions of others as not just incorrect, but evil and bigoted.

  65. Kevin Christensen says:

    Nibley’s essay on “Freemen and Kingmen in the Book of Mormon” noted that Moroni did not habitually “execute unconverted enemies”, noting that those he killed “took up swords against us” citing “Alma 60:16 and “they did lift up their weapons of war to fight against the men of Moroni,” Alma 51:18. As Nibley observes those kingmen/Amalekites mention in Alma 46:35 were “not taken from their homes or cut down in the streets, but all met their fate on the battlefield” See The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p 356-357. It’s a timely essay, worth reading in our not so cozy Trumptocracy.

  66. About fed up says:

    What a bunch of hypocritical invective. I didn’t vote for T, don’t like or respect him. But he’s a damn sight better than the totalitarian left(call it socialism, communism, fascism) lined up behind B. Yeah, I know, that goes against your myth, but the opposite of totalitarian isn’t totalitarian, it’s libertarian or anarchist. The vast majority of conservatives are libertarian. Nothing like the false strawman you’ve painted here. And yep, I’m with Moroni. If you’re enemies want to enslave you, and won’t stop after being warned, then they get what’s coming to them. Take that as a warning, when you try to overturn good given rights defined in the constition. We may be quiet, but we’re not snowflakes.

  67. About fed up, it’s quite difficult to respond to your vague, aggressive, myth perpetuating, unsupported invective of a comment in any meaningful way. Though you clearly have strong feelings, we usually we try to have a bit more meat to our responses here at BCC. Perhaps if engaged points in the work the OP did, or even supported what you’ve written, you might receive a more substantial response.

  68. The reason why the left cannot reach conservatives on political matters is that conservatives no longer believe that the mainstream media aka NBC ABC cnn ESPN HOLLYWOOD etc has been lying about basic things for over a generation and even if something is true it still won’t be believed because of the perceived media bias. Conservatives commonly will say things like ” I simply cannot believe anything the media says about insert your topic because of all the lies in the past. A good example of this would be the shooting that led to the Ferguson riots. The media coverage was false. This is just one example of why liberals cannot reach conservatives

  69. Kristine N says:

    Yep, Bbell, we have a serious epistemic crisis in America. Conservatives don’t believe my news sources, even outlets like NPR that pride themselves on evenhanded coverage of events, and I think Fox News is, well, faux news.

    Vox has done some coverage on the crisis that, while it probably won’t convince you, might at least be of interest.

    From back in 2017, discussing whether the Mueller probe would be anything more than a Rorschach test:
    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/11/2/16588964/america-epistemic-crisis

    And from during the impeachment, when it became clear there is nothing you can say to convince Republicans of Trump’s corruption:
    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/11/16/20964281/impeachment-hearings-trump-america-epistemic-crisis

  70. Nobody on the right believes anything that is reported in the mainstream media I don’t really either. Name your media scandal. This is a real thing. From Covington to collusion for most on the right the case that the mainstream media is straight up lying is closed in the minds of conservatives.

  71. Thank you.

    Got to thinking that those professing TRUMPISM do not seem so different from those described in the Book of Mormon who similarly declared from the Rameumptom how they were God’s elect, chosen and holy. However, despite their protestations, they had in practice and substance been diverted from the teachings of Christ. When political affiliation becomes more important than loving others, perhaps something has gone askew.

    Alma 31:17-18:

    “17 But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God.

    18. And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen.”

    And what of belief of Christ? A simple comparison of what TRUMPISM stands for with what Christ himself taught in John 13:34-35:

    “34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

    35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

    TRUMPISM has, unfortunately morphed into causing too many otherwise good people to divert from substantively practicing Christ-centered religion by instead placing their faith in political leaders (or party) above God.

  72. bbell, I love that you include ESPN on your list of news outlets you, as a conservative, can’t believe. ESPN: “Russell Westbrook is out with a strained calf.” Conservatives: “Fake news! He’s clearly running a human trafficking ring!” Is it like that?

  73. I’m right-of-center, Bbell, and I have concerns with the media, and have for years–the Bari Weiss situation, for example, is emblematic of the problems of having too many like-minded people on your reporting staff. It’s a real issue and it needs to be addressed.

    But I will also say that “I don’t believe the main stream media” mantra is generally a complete and utter cop-out about 95% of the time. It long ago stopped being about “please cover us fairly” and is now a head-in-the-sand defense mechanism for any story someone on the right doesn’t like. Which leads to some absurd results, like when Trump is comes out publicly on camera saying the very thing which people on the right say he would not ever say, and people on the right still maintain he didn’t mean what he just said, and that the leftist media is slandering him. The last four years have blown me away regarding the lengths people on the right will go to explain away horrendous behavior.

    The other part of this which drives me nuts is that virtually everyone I know saying that they don’t believe in the leftist media because they are too biased is only getting their news from one completely biased source themselves: Fox News. In other words, the problem for the “lamestream media” haters isn’t *bias* itself, but just bias in the wrong direction. So how does that make you any better?

  74. You entirely miss everything with this high falutin’ intellectual nonsense.

    Let’s make it shorter and easier. If Trump was running as a Democrat and about 10% of his positions (maybe not even) were changed, Republican would think he’s the devil incarnate. The same goes for Biden with the Dems and the Repubs. The party colors everything around them.

    Many Repubs love him because he’s a bull in a China shop of political correctness and entrenched political norms they are tired of.

    The reality of whether or not Trump is just corrupt business as usual doesn’t matter. He wins, he fights, and he’s not a Dem. If Romney won, he’d have the same support. Maybe some marginal percent of detractors would switch and we’d have a different fringe group of Never Romney like we have Never Trumpers.

    Different aspects of Romney’s character would be elevated to explain why everyone loves him. But he lost. Trump won.

    And ironically, it’s not because Trump did a great job of getting Republicans behind him, but because he got some of Hillary’s group behind him in the right blue states. And the only hope Biden has is for those former blue voters to defect Trump and return to him. I think it’s likely – because Biden is not a woman and it’s actually the marginal sexist Democrats in traditional blue states that grave the win to Trump.

    Maybe Kamala hold them back from Biden. Maybe the riots encouraged as protests will upset enough people to hand the win to Trump again. And if so, the analysis will be wrong once again. It won’t be Trump that won, but the foolish Dems who self destructed. Again. No need to mingle religious analogy to it.

    I think it’s 50/50 at this point.

  75. One would think that a gift of discernment would do away with all this division. Apparently not.

  76. <<>>

    It did not escape me that we didn’t need the qualifier “White”.

  77. This was an extraordinary piece. Thank you for writing it.

  78. Ramman Stein says:

    Wow, ramblings of a delusional TDS victim!!
    BTW your own articles of faith clearly state that you believe in being subject to Kings, Presidents, rulers…. bet you loved wading in the Obama cool aid and didn’t think his policies and personality as being offensive to you or God…

  79. Please, Ramman, I am very interested in why you would like a second Trump term.

  80. Sorry for such a late response.

    Today, reading a September 7 BCC post by “Guest” I came across this: “Accusers charge us with lack of understanding, valuing the wrong things, ulterior motives, having weak minds, or being dupes.”

    I think this sentence entirely describes your post. It is over-the-top accusatory. Because you are so obviously repelled by Trump, you cannot imagine that any sane, truly Christian, even semi-intelligent American could hope that he wins the election, because you ascribe to Trump voters all of the following: wealth, idolatry (of Trump), racism, tribalism, living in an alternate (“Substitute”) reality, being anti-immigrant, ultra-ethno-nationalistic, sexist, whiteness, isolationist, and against all social change.

    I hope the rant was therapeutic for you. I could only take it as an offense. as you would if I were to rewrite your post in like manner to describe you and other Biden-Harris supporters. I’m so disappointed. I expect better of BCC discourse.

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