By Howie Klein
Trump never liked Pence and even tried to rescind his decision to invite him onto the ticket in 2016. But Pence was supposed to be Trump’s bridge to an unlikely cohort of right-wing voters; evangelicals. It appeared back then that it would be a heavy lift to get evangelicals to support a profane, golden-calf-worshipping sinner like Trump. Seems like centuries ago! But one of the weirdest revelations from yesterday’s impeachment trial was about how Trump encouraged the violent MAGA to kill Pence and his wife as soon as Trump was informed (by coup-plotter Tommy Tuberville) that they were in danger. Videos screened by impeachment managers yesterday showed clearly that Trump’s violent insurrectionists were aware of his ugly anti-Pence tweet, and immediately started storming through the halls of Congress screaming “Hang Mike Pence.” (They had already erected a gallows.)
Trump no longer needs Pence to literally dictate to brain-dead white evangelicals. He owns them in a way Pence never really did. This morning, Jack Jenkins of Religion News wrote about a new a new survey commissioned by far right think tank, American Enterprise Institute that found 27% of white evangelicals believe a QAnon conspiracy theory asserting that “Trump is secretly battling a cabal of pedophile Democrats, and roughly half express support for the debunked claim that Antifa was responsible for the recent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.” Trump owns them. They are the rotten, toxic core not just of his aspirations but of his political party.
Remember all the talk of a MAGA Party– a breakaway Trumpist party that would challenge Democrats and Republicans? Although tens of thousands of Republicans across the country have been switching their party registrations, Local Republican committees are censuring and punishing any GOP elected officials who criticized Trump. And a new poll by YouGov shows that significantly more self-identified Republicans support Trump (36%) than the Republican Party (29%), with 24% supporting both equally. Asked if their congressional rep and Trump disagreed who they would more likely support, 47% of Republicans said Trump and just 17% would back their member of Congress. When asked if Trump should be leader of the GOP going forward, 73% of Republicans said yes and just 27% preferred someone else. And then there’s this:
A new poll from HarrisX found that 64% of registered Republican voters would join a new political party led by Trump. (About 28% of independents and even 15% of registered Democrats also said they’d join a Trumpist party.)
I’m not saying this is all evangelical-driven. But most of it is. How is it possible that people who read the Bible can still be mired in Trumpism. I looked to a post Rev. John Pavlovitz wrote yesterday, When No Line Is Too Far To Cross. Thinking about the impeachment trial and about the evangelical community he’s spent much of his life ministering to, he wrote that “Human beings are supposed to have a bottom: a base level of decency that defines us, a place we will not go to because to go there would mean abandoning the very moral givens that tether us to one another– and slipping into inhumanity. We are expected as participants in community to have some ethical boundaries that hedge us in and prevent the very worst of our tendencies from festering to the point they grow toxic and metastasize within us and among us. We live in this world every day alongside countless people in our work and our travels with the assumption that most of them still operate under those fixed and fundamental rules of humanity: of goodness, justice, truth, compassion. This assumption allows us to exist without fearing that we are in imminent danger in their presence, that we are safe to live in close proximity to them. There are supposed to be rules humans abide by that declare that we are human and that we recognize and honor the humanity in others.”