For Evangelicals, Party Trumps Personalities

For Evangelicals, Party Trumps Personalities October 22, 2015

My co-blogger Thomas Kidd suggests that church-going evangelicals and a group he calls “paleo-evangelicals” (already disaffected with the Republican Party) should desert the Republicans should Donald Trump capture the GOP nomination.

I am in the camp of those who consider that outcome an improbability in two respects. First, despite widespread dissatisfaction with “establishment” politicians, Republicans will probably not nominate a recent convert. Evangelical voters in Iowa will probably deny Trump a victory in that state’s caucuses. The field will narrow considerably by January, and when it is Trump versus one or two credible candidates, the more mainstream Republican candidate will probably prevail. Of course, there is no good reason to misidentify historians for good political prognosticators.

Recent elections have proven that evangelicals have much less clout within the Republican nominating process than they previously supposed. At the same time, there is almost no chance that evangelicals will desert the GOP in droves in 2016 or for the foreseeable future. Simply put, conservative evangelicals have no other viable voting options.

The Democratic Party is not interested. Democratic leaders outside of conservative voting districts will not even pay lip service to evangelical (or conservative Catholic) concerns about abortion or religious liberty.

Indeed, the Democratic Party hasn’t been interested for a long time. From a review of my co-blogger David Swartz’s Moral Minority from several years back:

Swartz offers up two primary reasons for the political failure of progressive evangelicalism. First, the evangelical left fractured along lines of race and gender, much like other progressive movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Unity proved impossible. At the same time, the Democratic Party adopted a stringent pro-choice orthodoxy that left evangelical progressives in the political wilderness. Pro-life but anti-war and anti-poverty, they had no political home. The Republican Party, meanwhile, successfully competed for the votes of politically conservative evangelicals.

Politics is as much a habit as a matter of thoughtful deliberation. Evangelicals are used to voting for Republican presidential candidates, regardless of whom the party nominates. John McCain and Mitt Romney? No problem. If the Republican Party somehow nominated Donald Trump for president, he would promise to appoint pro-life judges and argue that Hillary Clinton (no suspense there) would appoint judges that would trample on the religious freedom of Christians. Perhaps the Republicans would get 75 percent instead of 80 percent of evangelical votes (admittedly, the difference could be significant), and perhaps a percentage of evangelicals would stay home. But I suspect at least three-quarters would vote for Trump.

Major political realignments in U.S. History are rare. When African Americans began voting for the Democratic Party (outside of the South) beginning with the New Deal, they did so not only because Republican politicians ignored their concerns but because Democratic politicians competed for their votes. When white southerners in turn left the Democratic Party, they did so in the midst of a full-court Republican press. In our two-party system, options are limited. Conservative evangelicals who care deeply about abortion and religious liberty might feel alienated from the Republican Party, but the other party doesn’t think it needs their votes and doesn’t want them.


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  • Chris Falter

    And so we are aliens and strangers in a foreign land. Maybe that should be how we view the world in every time and place. There would be Scriptural warrant for that view(!).

  • Dave Francis


    There will
    be no relieve for Donald Trump when the dirty ads begin appearing. The GOP
    establishment said in no uncertain words they were declaring war. Anybody who
    has any credence of what the hierarchy establishment or the democratic radicals
    say is destined to crap on new future of our great country. The parties will do
    anything–ANYTHING to keep their cheap labor, massive profits and Liberal
    ripping off other peoples money and a range of extreme Socialist issues. The
    mainstream Liberal press are on any negative Trump issue, like flies on putrid

    An uproar
    has ignited about the embarrassing city of San Francisco, where Americans are no longer safe
    on the streets after the showing that the publicized death of a innocent
    citizen shot dead on the openly abhorrent
    ‘Sanctuary City’. The metropolis were one councilor
    stated in no certain terms, that the killing was accidental of Katherine
    Steinle. The SF Board of Supervisors collectively passed a resolution that
    encourages the sheriff Department not to alert U.S. Immigration Customs and
    Enforcement officials when an illegal immigrant is released from jail, despite
    the ICE requesting notification in such situations. Supervisor Malia Cohen, a real jerk, vehemently dispute in the chambers before the
    vote: “We cannot allow one event to dictate 25 years of our city’s policies
    towards undocumented immigrants in our city.” A young women just 32
    years old, who on a visiting to pier 14 with her father, ended up in pool of
    blood at the hands of illegal alien on July 1.


    These SF
    Supervisors are going to find out the consequences when Donald Trump becomes
    President; their should be no forgiveness for not following federal law. It’s
    paramount we need unprejudiced legal teams to assure the voting public that non
    citizens are committing voter fraud in every national precinct, as this will be
    the most important election–EVER. Those who are setting themselves up for
    voting in Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton (obviously a risk to our National
    Security), need to understand the huge yoke around the neck of taxpayers in
    such countries as Sweden, where its not comfortable
    Shangri-La, where moderate socialism is the name of the game? Joe Biden who has dropped out of the race was
    a good, honest man who has always been willing to compromise with their
    opponents on the other side.

    San Francisco is one of the growing number
    “sanctuary cities” throughout the United States. These havens as illustrated as jurisdictions which provide a Sanctuary
    for illegal aliens–not undocumented immigrants–not immigrants, ILLEGAL ALIENS!
    The law as its written is a violation of Title 8 Section
    1324 United States Code “aiding, abetting, encouraging, harboring,
    transporting, and hiring illegal aliens is a felony.” By illegal ordinances or by fabricated policies. Local governments arrogantly decline any cooperation
    with Federal (ICE) Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities.

    A bill, called ‘Stop Sanctuary Policies and
    Protect Americans Act needed to overcome a 60-vote threshold. It would withhold
    certain federal funding from states or cities that refuse to comply with
    requests from federal immigration officials to turn over immigrants who are in
    the country illegally.

    sanctuary policies differ, but in broad provisos illegal aliens have admission
    to the matching services and the safeguard as citizens and permanent (green
    Card) residents, such as emergency services, health care, education, food
    banks, emergency shelters and even food stamps with children who can claim in
    California $600 each. The sheltering mainly in big cities even are now issuing
    drivers licenses. other ID cards to such persons. In the Liberalized state of California, the brain-dead Governor Jerry Brown
    has implemented giving drivers licenses to illegal aliens, has also passed out
    Voter Motor applications, that shows that the left are intentionally pressing
    illegal aliens to vote. additionally this is not only illegal, but a felony as
    cited in Title 18 Section 611
    US Code prohibits non citizens from voting in our elections. But this is
    completely ignored by the left.

    I am praying that Donald Trump is our next President. A
    man who shown love to all Americans, but draws the line of foreign thieves,
    stealing our voting rights, jobs and welfare services, as we need our immigration laws to be
    enforced, which the Obama administration has ignored and in enforcing the
    border, where Trump will build a wall. A trump wall that limits illegal aliens
    en mass reaching the other side as patrolled by the enhanced US Border Patrol
    and unmanned drones with an all seeing eye. A further innovation MANDATORY
    E-VERIFY that will be an intense method to control the workplace; a system that
    will audit nationwide workers, to see what business owners are illegally using
    foreign labor. It is my suggestion that a reward should go to whistle blowers
    who are aware of companies that are breaking the law. Hefty fines and even time
    in jail will be a worthy deterrent, for those who believe they cannot be

    With the uncertain amendment to Birthright Citizenship
    (anchor Babies) to gain citizenship by an pregnant Mother through slipping into
    our sovereign nation and then adding the heavy burden of taxpayers covering
    hospital fees, welfare service and then bring in other members of the family
    through chain migration.

    Senior Citizens Cola recipients are have been short
    changed next year, as to the party elites thinks illegal aliens on welfare and
    their offspring is more important than our old people, who kept Social Security
    system working through the years they were employed, but the foreigner who jumped
    the fence, lied at ports of entry including airports arrivals have
    paid–NOTHING, not even a cent.

    Sen. David Vitter, R-La., introduced
    the legislation just
    yesterday, which American voters found out that the Democratic Senate blocked this
    ‘Sanctuary City’ law, and specifically ‘Kate’s Law’ With Senate
    Democrats refusing to introduce serious legislation that would punish
    “sanctuary cities” in a losing 54-45 vote on Tuesday afternoon. that would end this nauseating
    plague of the Obama’s Administration refusing to enforce our immigration laws. Read
    about the outcome of Democrats who voted against this law at
    2015/10/20/sanctuary-cities-bill-blocked-in-senate. This includes releasing
    before any warning criminal aliens back into society by the thousands.

    Obama has been instrumental in the death of Katherine Steinle and radical
    politicians, city mayors, managers and elected officials by completely
    circumventing immigration laws. Crimes committed by illegal immigrants is at the heart of the current
    debate over sanctuary cities. Katherine Steinle’s confessed murderer Francisco
    Sanchez, had an long rap sheet, counting drugs, together
    being deported five times.

  • kierkegaard71

    I personally think the animosity to Trump by certain evangelicals is driven by his stance on immigration. If Donald Trump remained the liberal that he was several years ago, I don’t think there would be the strong criticism that I see on the Patheos site directed toward Trump. He would be laughed at by the evangelicals, but not excoriated. However, I think that Trump is more right than wrong on immigration. However, I am an evangelical and I would never vote for him (then again, I have gradually lost interest in voting period over the last 7-8 years). The best quote I have read recently on Trump comes from Justin Raimondo: “Trump embodies the American zeitgeist, circa 2015 – its virtues, its vulgarity, its inchoate mixture of common sense and incoherence.”

  • BT

    For the most part, demographic shifts mean that democrats don’t have to compromise on abortion any more than they have. The wind is shifting their direction on most other issues, so just from a hard-nosed realist perspective, they are probably better off staying their course.