While doing my early morning web surfing, I came upon this piece by Ezra Klein in Vox, posted four days ago. Taking his lead from two recent and much noted speeches by William Barr, Klein in effect looks at America from the perspective of the White Evangelical world, and quite powerfully captures the panicked sense of embattled defensiveness that dominates that world and explains its willingness to embrace an unregenerate sinner like Trump. I confess I had not appreciated the desperation with which the White religious right perceives the world, nor had I fully recognized the reasonableness of that desperation. Difficult as it maybe for those of us on the left to acknowledge it, accustomed as we are to defining ourselves as perpetual losers, the religious right has suffered nothing but defeats for several generations now, and there is for them no hope in sight.
First of all [I am here simply echoing Klein], the numbers are with us and against them. Each year, there is a smaller percentage of self-identified White Evangelicals in America, a larger percentage overall who say they have no organized religious affiliation, a greater proportion of non-whites. What is more ominous, the young are dramatically less religious and less White than the old, guaranteeing that short of racial genocide coupled with yet another Great Awakening, the situation will only get worse.
Look at it, as I am trying to do, from the perspective of a fifty-eight year old White Evangelical Trump supporter. What is happening in his world [or hers]? Well, women have utterly rejected their proper post-World War II Saturday Evening Post role as homemakers and mothers, deferential to, if not quite obedient to, their husbands. Black people no longer know their place and expect us to treat them as though they were our equals. Abortion is rampant, despite judges and State Houses. Queers are out and running for the presidency, for heaven’s sake, and people who cannot even accept the gender God gave them expect us to make room for them in our toilets. If I may invoke an old but still useful phrase, the world is going to Hell in a handbasket.
Oh, we can pack the courts, gerrymander the House seats, suppress the vote, hug the Electoral College to our breasts, and pray that the Rapture comes before things get any worse, but in our hearts we know we have lost. Not even our stockpiles of Second Amendment weaponry can save us. Perhaps it is time to retreat beyond the Exurbs to Sanctuary Counties where we can live by God’s Law and wait for His Second Coming.
Seriously, folks, this is not nonsense. We are winning, we really are. Now, let us be very clear. Our victory is not against capitalism. It is against Christianity, and beyond that, against religion broadly understood. Deep, intractable, structural exploitation and inequality remain. And capitalism has shown itself to be quite flexibly open-minded when it comes to these culture wars, for all that it is happy to use bigotry when it suits its purposes. Still and all, a little victory dance in the privacy of our bedrooms is called for.