By Chris Allen
Bernie Sanders is calling for a revolution among Democrats to solve the problems of income disparity and corporate domination of government, but another significant revolution has just occurred in the Republican party. Donald Trump, in defeating all 16 of his rival candidates for president, has split the Republicans between the old conservative establishment and his new growing populist base.
The conservative establishment has long depended on wedge issue politics to divide the Democrats and rally the religious fundamentalists. Abortion, LGBTQ rights, marriage equality, and even birth control have been their targets. Unfortunately for them, this strategy has backfired, and it’s the Republicans that are now divided.
In 2000 the Republicans succeeded in getting George W. Bush, a genuine evangelical Christian, elected president, and conservatives hoped that progress would finally be made on their agenda. President W did oppose abortion and stem cell research, and deny climate change, but in two terms, he got us involved in two quagmire wars, ran a booming economy into debt, and presided over the worst economic recession since the Depression. Democrats were outraged, Republicans felt betrayed again, and Obama was elected president in 2008.
Republicans were able to get control of Congress in 2010, but accomplished virtually nothing, adopting a policy of obstruction to protest the election of the first black president. The result was the worst do-nothing Congress in history and a toxic, angry atmosphere of political divisiveness.
Eight years after W, the new Republican base no longer trusts the conservative establishment. They’re fed up with extremist Christian ideology, and the wedge issues no longer work on them. With 17 candidates for president, they chose the one candidate that approves of exceptions to the ban on abortion, and does not see a problem with transgenders using the bathroom of their choice.At Liberty University, Trump waved his Bible and said, “We’re going to protect Christianity”, then referred to “Two Corinthians” instead of “Second Corinthians”, showing he was not a fanatic. The establishment candidates who flaunted their religion, saying God called on them to run, and chanting “God Bless America” at every opportunity, were all defeated.
The Republican establishment is still in denial of this revolutionary change. To them, Trump’s failure to push their radical religious wedge issues just means he’s not a “true conservative”. But for all his arrogant bluster, and narcissistic behavior, the fact that Trump is self-confident without claiming divine support is just refreshing, and makes him look that much more attractive to his base. Religion isn’t working for them now, but that’s a change establishment Republicans are not ready to accept.
(Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)
Chris Allen served as co-director of the Utah Chapter of American Atheists for 12 years then co-led Utah Atheists / Salt Lake Valley Atheists for eight more. As an activist he fought city council prayer, graduation prayer, state crosses on public land, religious tax exemption, and intrusions of religion into public schools. He initiated five law suits, wrote guest editorials, appeared on TV and radio, served on a legislative committee, and wrote a successful opposing argument in the Utah voters guide. He is a retired software engineer with an MSEE degree from Rice University.
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