How did Democrats lose “Joe Bailey”

Over at Dissent, historian Gabriel Winant reviews two new books on working people. The first is David Paul Kuhn’s The Hardhat Riot: Nixon, New York City, and the Dawn of the White Working-Class Revolution. The other is Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson’s Let them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality.

Winant sums up his review this way:

It is time to abandon the assumption that workers have a “natural” home on the center-left. But we should also reject the idea that social conservatism always lies latent within working-class culture, ready for right-wing politicians to activate.

Here is a taste of his review:

When a young Chuck Schumer arrived at Harvard in 1967 as a freshman, he joined the great political stirring of those years—who could resist it? But Abbie Hoffman he was not. “I was faced with what Alexander Hamilton called mobocracy,” Schumer recalled in his coauthored 2007 book Positively American. He became a College Democrat, canvassed for Eugene McCarthy, and eschewed the radicals. Campus members of the New Left’s Progressive Labor faction horrified him, and he felt “sickened” seeing protesters scream at cops. “The police weren’t pigs. They were the people I’d grown up with. They were my neighbors. My friends. They were the Baileys [imaginary Irish-American Long Islanders with whom Schumer consults on decisions].” Soon enough, Schumer’s party—the College Dems and, of course, their friends the non-college Dems—would pay the price. “By the late ’70s,” Schumer observed, “the Baileys did not trust the Democrats anymore, and the Democrats weren’t listening to the Baileys.”

Despite decades of doting on the Baileys of Massapequa, the senator never figured out how to win them back: in 2016, he tells us, Joe Bailey voted for Donald Trump. Although 1968 is now closer in time to the Russian Revolution than to our moment, the backlash still rules: the Silent Majority, the Reagan Democrats, the Kansans who have something the matter with them, Joe the Plumber, the elegized hillbilly, the Rust Belt diner patrons, Joe Bailey. At each election, these archetypes of the white working class line up for the unrepentant oligarchs of the Republican Party.

How did the Democrats lose the Baileys? Two new books are the latest to take on the question: David Paul Kuhn’s The Hardhat Riot: Nixon, New York City, and the Dawn of the White Working-Class Revolution uses narrative history to make an argument that has been recited so often since the late 1960s that it has taken on a ritualistic quality: to be American is not enough, one must be positively so. Fail to perform the proper rites of patriotic adoration, and the Cossacks will come riding in on the Long Island Expressway, pillaging and burning. This is ersatz class analysis, which passes off the most privileged fraction of the working class as a stand-in for the whole. Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson’s Let them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality traverses somewhat similar territory. Taking a more serious approach, these eminent political scientists see Trump as the result of a crisis of the historic compromise between elites and democracy, and the phenomenon of rank-and-file support for oligarchy as a kind of politics of distraction. Though more clear-headed, their book, too, rests on mechanical assumptions about the relationship between class and political behavior.

Read the rest here.

62% of Americans say that we need a third political party

Here is Gallup:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans’ desire for a third party has ticked up since last fall and now sits at a high in Gallup’s trend. Sixty-two percent of U.S. adults say the “parties do such a poor job representing the American people that a third party is needed,” an increase from 57% in September. Support for a third party has been elevated in recent years, including readings of 60% in 2013 and 2015 and 61% in 2017.

Meanwhile, 33% of Americans believe the two major political parties are doing an adequate job representing the public, the smallest percentage expressing this view apart from the 26% reading in October 2013.

The latest results are from a Jan. 21-Feb. 2 poll. The survey was conducted before recent news reports that dozens of government officials in prior Republican administrations were in discussions to form an anti-Donald Trump third political party.

Read the rest here. A majority of Republicans want a third party. The impulse to create a third party out of the constituency of the Democratic Party is not as strong despite divisions in the party between the progressive and moderate wings.

Kazin: The Democratic Party must embrace a “new politics of economic justice”

How does the Democratic Party move forward in the post-Trump era? Georgetown University historian Michael Kazin, who is writing a new history of the Democrats, offers some thoughts in a recent piece at The New Republic. Here is a taste:

The Saturday afternoon following Election Day 2020 felt like a holiday Democratic voters feared would never happen. In cities across the country, interracial crowds, united in masked joy, rushed out of doors as soon as the major networks finally called the presidential race for Joe Biden. Where I live in deep-blue D.C., honking cars clogged the streets, and strangers cheered one another as if the home team had just come from behind to win a World Series or a Super Bowl. In the park across from my house, a bluegrass trio offered a decent rendition of the Hank Williams classic “I Saw the Light” before a cluster of happy residents who struggled to remember the words. It reminded me of the night a dozen years before when Barack Obama cruised to victory, and his party won healthy majorities in both the House and Senate.

Yet what occurred last November was simply relief, not redemption. To many left-leaning Americans in 2008, the election of the first Black president had seemed the triumph of a social movement—an outburst of audacious hope that Obama’s gauzy rhetoric and racial identity encouraged. But Joe Biden won in 2020 largely because he was the sole alternative to the most wretched president and administration in living memory. What else but the prospect of four more years of Donald Trump could have persuaded Angela Davis and Noam Chomsky to back the same ticket that John McCain’s campaign manager and Mitt Romney’s top strategist had? The Democrats’ depressing down-ballot performance—shrinking the party’s House majority and, thanks to Black voters in Georgia, winning the narrowest possible control of the Senate—has left the new president with little hope of leading the fresh era of bold reform the United States and the world so urgently need.

At the state level—where GOP dominance had already yielded a set of gerrymandered districts and voter-suppression measures that helped to entrench Republican rule—the returns were bleaker still for the forces of liberal revival. The violent invasion of the Capitol on January 6 may loosen Donald Trump’s vise grip over the Republican faithful. But America has lacked a dominant party since the downfall of the New Deal coalition at the end of the 1960s; the partisan standoff has lasted longer than any such period in history and shows no sign of ending.

What can Democratic politicians and activists do to gain the upper hand in electoral combat? How might they become, again, a force that can win consistently, govern effectively, and help bring about the more egalitarian and climate-friendly society Biden and Kamala Harris advocated on the virtual campaign trail?

Like most adherents of left egalitarian politics, I believe the only path to such a future lies in adopting a populist program about jobs, income, health care, and other material necessities, while making a transition to a sustainable economy. And Democrats have to convey their goals in language that a majority of Americans can understand and endorse.

Read the rest here.

The history of the phrase “Jesus is Not a Republican or a Democrat”

Perhaps you have seen this phrase on a bumper sticker. I occasionally see it on cars in the parking lot at Messiah University. Most of them say “JESUS (or GOD) IS NOT A REPUBLICAN” and then in smaller letters, “or a Democrat.”

Here is a taste of Chris Gehrz’s recent Anxious Bench post “‘Jesus is Not a Republican or a Democrat’: A History“:

So what’s the history of this expression? It goes back at least as far as a Clinton-era book by Tony Campolo. Is Jesus a Democrat or a Republican? (1995) took its title from its first chapter, in which Campolo argued that

God expects us to never let partisan loyalty tempt us into reading the platform ideas of any party into the Bible. If we are to be faithful to the true God, we must not allow the principles of any party to override what the Bible has to say to us.

In 2004, the progressive evangelical group Sojourners printed the “God is not a Republican… or a Democrat” bumper sticker that GW affixed to his car. Two years later, in the preface to his book, God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, Sojourners founder Jim Wallis reiterated that

God is not partisan; God is not a Republican or a Democrat. When either party tries to politicize God, or co-opt religious commitments for their political agendas, they make a terrible mistake. The best contribution of religion is precisely not to be ideologically predictable nor loyally partisan. Both parties, and the nation, must let the prophetic voice of religion be heard. Faith must be free to challenge both right and left from a consistent moral ground.

Read the entire piece here.

Will a third political party emerge?

Some are suggesting that the Republican Party could split into principled conservatives and Trump populists. The next four years will also reveal the depth of the divisions within the Democratic Party. How hard will the progressives in the party challenge Joe Biden and the moderates? Or maybe we will see a unification of Republican moderates and Democratic moderates.

Whatever the case, I found Sriram Laksham’s interview with presidential historian Jeffrey Engel to be informative. Engel directs the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Here is a taste of the interview, published at The Hindu:

Laksham: If appears that people in the Republican party are torn between sticking with Trump or standing for the “real” Republican party. Do you think that there’s going to be a third major political party forming in the near term?

Engle: I’m glad you asked that. That’s what history suggests. Remember that one way to understand the entire Trump presidency and candidacy is as a civil war within the Republican party. That Donald Trump ran against the Democratic party, but also ran against traditional Republicans — the George W. Bush-Mitt Romney wings of the Republican party. Obviously he was successful in controlling the party and then ultimately winning the presidency, but those people haven’t gone away. And I think that what we’re seeing is quite likely a moment where the Republican party, I think, as a brand is going to continue moving forward.

That doesn’t mean everybody who’s in the Republican party is going to continue under that brand, which suggests — especially given that the people who are most antagonistic towards Trump are by and large towards the centre of the political spectrum and there is of course a centre wing of the democratic party as well — that there is a ripe moment here for a coalescing of these two into a new political party.

Now, before Democrats get very excited about that, I should point out that every previous time in American history we’ve seen one party collapse, it takes the other party down with it over the course of the next several election cycles, just because it completely realigns the interest groups and the coalitions and the alliances within the broad electorate. So I think that there’s a good chance of the Republican party is in its death throes. As we currently see it, I think Republicans will continue. I don’t necessarily know that their party is going to continue as is currently formed.

Read the entire interview here.

Antifa! Antifa! The court evangelicals prepare for spiritual warfare against Biden and the Democrats

We are learning more and more about the mob that invaded the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. They were Trump-supporters, extreme Christian nationalists, QAnon believers, militia groups, and other assorted thugs. Mo Brooks, a Republican representative from Alabama, still believes that Antifa was behind the insurrection:

On Wednesday, Trump spoke to his followers. He said that he loved them and called them “special.” Watch:

Last night, Trump read another statement:

This is Trump conceding the election without officially conceding the election.

It is worth mentioning again that Trump cannot give a speech without lying. He did not “immediately employ the national guard.” In fact, he initially resisted the idea. There is nothing in this speech about the fact that Trump created this mob or that he is ultimately responsible for what happened. On Wednesday, he was sending his love to the insurrectionists and calling them “special.” Last night he wanted to throw them in jail.

Does anyone believe anything Trump said in this video? Does he really care about national healing and reconciliation? He released this second video because he is scared. His advisers and cabinet members are resigning. The House and Senate are calling for either the 25th Amendment or another impeachment. And what did he mean when he said “our incredible journey is only just beginning?” Maybe it has yet something to do with this:

Let’s check-in again on the court evangelicals:

Eric Metaxas had self-professed prophet Lance Wallnau on his radio program. He starts the conversation by asking Wallnau if “the prophets got it wrong.” I listened several times to Wallnau answer this question and I have no idea what he is talking about. I think he is just making it all up. Wallnau, speaking with apparent prophetic authority, says that the insurrectionists were Antifa members. Metaxas agrees. He calls the insurrection a “Marxist coup. Metaxas also floats the idea that Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington D.C., was behind the rioting. Finally, Wallnau says that he and Metaxas are part of a Christian populist movement led by Donald Trump. Trump, he says, “is not finished.” He describes this “movement” as “righteous.”

Metaxas also talked to Charlie Kirk, the co-founder of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center. Kirk admits that Biden will be the next president. He says that a “lot of people were misled” to believe that Trump was actually going to win. Metaxas admits that he was one of those people, but Kirk lets him off the hook. Then they start talking about the possibility of a God-sized miracle that will get Trump into office.

Kirk, “constitutional scholar” that he is, criticizes Mike Pence for doing his constitutional duty on Wednesday night. He said that Pence did not act with “courage or clarity” when he agreed to certify the votes of the Electoral College.

Watch:

Court evangelical journalist David Brody on “smart analysis”:

Brody plays the moral equivalency card:

David Brody is a sly one:

Pastor Darrell Scott says he spoke to Trump. MAGA forever!

David and Tim Barton of Wallbuilders believe that Antifa was behind the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Richard Land rejects the violence at the U.S. capitol, but he says nothing about his role in empowering Trump and, by extension, those who stormed Congress. Remember, it was Land who bragged about having “unprecedented access” to the White House during Trump’s presidency.

Jack Hibbs is talking with fellow court evangelical Tony Perkins about the “spiritual battle” for the U.S. capitol. Perkins says that when Trump was elected in 2016 he felt a demonic presence in Washington D.C. trying to stop the inauguration. The women’s march, according to Perkins, was part of this evil presence.

Ralph Reed praises Mike Pence:

Interesting:

Trump has two weeks. I think it’s a little late for advice:

Franklin Graham–yes Franklin Graham–wants us to stop the finger-pointing:

I wonder if Franklin will listen to Cindy T:

The coming war in the Democratic Party

We all saw this coming. It’s the centrists versus the progressives. Conor Lamb versus Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Get ready for the war.

Here is a taste of John F. Harris piece at Politico titled “What Planet is AOC On?

It is folly for progressives to avoid the obvious: The reason they are far from achieving their policy aims goes beyond the notion that moderate Democrats are clods who can’t play the game. There are many places in the country where progressives need better arguments to reach people who don’t currently support their goals.

The post-election memo by four progressive groups — New Deal Strategies, Justice Democrats, Sunrise Movement and Data for Progress — came closer to the mark than Ocasio-Cortez’s interview. It called for a new set of policy and rhetorical appeals that seek to merge the Black Lives Matter message with an economic message that would also appeal to less-prosperous and less-educated whites who have been attracted to Trump. There is not abundant evidence that this can be successful, but it is at least more attuned to the genuine challenge than scolding fellow Democrats for not being with it on Facebook.

Ocasio-Cortez has earned the right to lecture moderate Democrats like Conor Lamb on how to connect with a rising generation of impatient progressives. Lamb has earned the right to lecture Ocasio-Cortez on how to take a seat that used to be held by Republicans and put it in the Democratic column. But a more promising strategy likely would put listening before lecturing.

“What planet is she on?” a veteran Democratic operative scoffed to me over the AOC interview, which he took as denying the reality that movements like “defund the police,” even while at the fringes of Democratic politics, were a serious headwind in many places that the party urgently needs to win to hold power.

It was a rhetorical question. But let’s answer it seriously. She is on a political planet where she is amply rewarded for her uncommon skill at framing issues in bold terms, for her stylish spontaneity, for her comfort with political combat, for her instinct to open her sails rather than trim them.

What planet is Conor Lamb on? He’s on a political planet where Democrats can’t win unless they constantly practice the politics of reassurance, and he’s been amply rewarded for his self-discipline and skill in softening sharp edges that can be used as a knife against him.

Read the entire piece here.

If Biden holds on in Georgia he will be the first Democrat to win the state since Bill Clinton in 1992

Biden took the lead in Georgia early this morning. Right now, at 7:52am on November 6, 2020, Biden has 2,400,580 votes. He has already won more votes in Georgia than any other candidate in American history.

If Biden ends-up winning the state, he will be the first Democrat to do so since Bill Clinton in 1992. Jimmy Carter, a former governor of Georgia, won the state in 1976 and 1980.

Here are some previous results:

2016: Donald Trump (50.44%) over Hillary Clinton (45.35%)

2012: Mitt Romney (53.30%) over Barack Obama (45.48%)

2008: John McCain (52.20%) over Barack Obama (46.99%)

2004: George W. Bush (57.97 %) over John Kerry (41.37%)

2000: George W. Bush (54.67) over Al Gore (42.98%)

1996: Bob Dole (47.01%) over Bill Clinton (45.84%)

1992: Bill Clinton (43.47%) over George H.W.. Bush (42.88%)

1988: George H.W. Bush ( 59.75%) over Michael Dukakis (39.50%)

1984: Ronald Reagan (60.17%) over Walter Mondale (39.79 %)

1980: Jimmy Carter (55.76%) over Ronald Reagan (40.95%)

1976: Jimmy Carter (66.74%) over Gerald Ford (32.96%)

1972: Richard Nixon (75.04%) over George McGovern (24.65%)

1968: George Wallace (42.83%) over Richard Nixon (30.40%) and Hubert Humphrey (26.75%)

1964: Barry Goldwater (54.12%) over Lyndon Johnson (45.87%)

1960: John Kennedy (62.54%) over Richard Nixon (37.43%)

Why is Biden getting most of the mail-in votes?

Several people are asking me why the mail-in ballots are trending heavily toward Joe Biden. I am a teacher, so I thought I would do a quick post for the record:

First, Democrats tend to believe doctors and scientists (like Anthony Fauci) when they say that COVID-19 is spread in crowds. They thus want to avoid the long lines on Election Day and take advantage of the mail-in option. Republicans and Trump voters also believe the scientists and doctors, but they do so in smaller numbers.

Trump told his followers to vote on Election Day. He does not trust mail-in ballots. This is ironic in light of the fact that the mail-in-ballots are helping Trump in Arizona right now, a state with a tradition of mail-in ballots and where Republicans are more comfortable voting this way.

Why is the GOP rushing the Barrett confirmation? The answer is simple: the Democratic coalition is growing

Another great piece at The Atlantic by Ron Brownstein. I find him to be the most astute political analyst working today.

Here is a taste:

Nothing better explains the Republican rush to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court than the record crowds that thronged polling places for the first days of early voting this week in Georgia and Texas.

The historic number of Americans who stood in long lines to cast their ballot in cities from Atlanta to Houston symbolizes the diverse, urbanized Democratic coalition that will make it very difficult for the GOP to win majority support in elections through the 2020s. That hill will get only steeper as Millennials and Generation Z grow through the decade to become the largest generations in the electorate.

Every young conservative judge that the GOP has stacked onto the federal courts amounts to a sandbag against that rising demographic wave. Trump’s nominations to the Supreme Court of Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Barrett—whom a slim majority of Republican senators appears determined to seat by Election Day—represent the capstone of that strategy. As the nation’s growing racial and religious diversity limits the GOP’s prospects, filling the courts with conservatives constitutes what the Princeton University historian Sean Wilentz calls “the right-wing firewall” against a country evolving electorally away from the party.

And this:

Jefferson’s irritation in the early 19th century may most closely resemble the frustration building among Democrats, as the GOP races to seat Barrett before an election that could provide Democrats with unified control of government, perhaps resoundingly. In the 1800 election, Jefferson ousted Adams, and his Democratic-Republican Party took the House and the Senate, beginning a quarter-century of complete political dominance. But in a long lame-duck session after their 1800 defeat, Adams’s Federalists passed legislation substantially expanding the number of federal judges. Adams, much like McConnell now, worked so tirelessly to fill those positions that Jefferson privately complained he had “crowded [them] in with whip & spur.” (Separately, Adams and the Senate rushed to confirm John Marshall as the Supreme Court’s chief justice after the Federalist in the job resigned weeks after Election Day.) Even “at 9 p.m. on the night of March 3, 1801, only three hours before officially leaving office, Adams was [still] busy signing commissions,” wrote James F. Simon in his book What Kind of Nation.

Why don’t white evangelicals vote for Democrats?

Historian Daniel Williams, in a thought-provoking piece at The Anxious Bench, asks:

Why have white evangelicals been so antipathetic to Democrats, even before their disagreements with Democrats over abortion or LGBT issues emerged?  And can anything ever convince them to support a Democratic presidential candidate?

And here is part of his answer:

I am convinced that as far as evangelicalism is concerned, there are deeply rooted theological and cultural reasons for white evangelicals’ rejection of the Democratic Party.  In other words, white evangelicals who vote Republican really are acting consistently with their own theological worldview, as can be seen in at least three areas where evangelical theology has clashed with liberal Protestantism and, by extension, with a Democratic Party that is today a largely secularized form of liberal Protestant theology.

Here are the three areas Williams identifies:

  1. White evangelical commitment to individualism means that they do not except political policies that address systemic or structure inequity.
  2. White evangelicals are suspicious of the state.
  3. White evangelicals do not view inequality as a social problem

I totally agree with Williams’s assessment here.

But then, if I read him correctly, Williams suggests that the “Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden” movement embodies these ideals as well.

He writes:

Trump, they argue, is not a moral leader for the nation.  His racially charged rhetoric is dividing the church and making Christian racial reconciliation more difficult.  While the website for Pro-Life Evangelicals does note some areas in which pro-life Christians should support the policies of the Democratic Party (except, of course, on abortion), the explanations given by leading evangelical pastors as to why they joined the group focus much more on familiar evangelical arguments about individual character than on policy proposals.  “I’ve never seen someone so divisive and accusatory,” Joel Hunter, who voted for Trump in 2016 and now regrets it, declared. “We’re becoming divided and angry, and it’s the opposite of pro-life.”

In other words, the argument of many members of Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden is that in a world of imperfect political choices, the Democratic presidential nominee this time around would be better than the Republican incumbent for the cause of the gospel.  Whether a majority of white evangelical voters will accept this argument and vote Democratic is highly doubtful.  But even if they don’t, it’s hard to imagine an argument that has a greater claim to being authentically evangelical.  If any argument could conceivably convince white evangelicals who genuinely believe in their own theological tradition to consider breaking with the Republican Party in this election, an argument about individual moral leadership and the cause of the gospel is the one that should.

This is a fair critique of the statement on the Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden website, but I am not sure it accurately describes the positions of the men and women who signed this statement.

  1. I don’t know the policy positions of all of the signers, but John Perkins, Ron Sider, and Richard Mouw certainly believe in systemic injustice.
  2. I don’t think any of the signers of the statement are suspicious of the state.
  3. I would imagine everyone who signed this statement believes that inequality is a social problem.

Read Williams’s entire piece here.

Another Monday in Trumpland

Trump press conference 2

Monday, August 31, 2022, in Trumpland began with news that House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican and Trump supporter, doctored a video to make it appear that Biden wants to defund the police. I am expecting Scalise’s GOP colleagues, including the court evangelicals, to mount a full-fledged assault on him for misleading the American people and promoting “fake news.” 🙂

Today Trump will be in Kenosha, Wisconsin despite the fact that governor Tony Evers has asked him not to come. Evers believes that a visit from Trump will only bring more division to a city experiencing racial unrest in the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting and the Kyle Rittenhouse shooting incident that left two people dead.

Trump will not visit with the Blake family today. He claimed that the reason they will not meet is because the Blake family wanted to bring lawyers. Other reports suggest that Blake’s father has no interest in meeting with the president. And who is this “pastor” that Trump spoke with?

Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, refused to say that the president condemns the shooting of Jacob Blake or the the Rittenhouse shootings. How hard is it to condemn this? And if he won’t condemn these shootings, why is he going to Kenosha today? What message can he possibly deliver to the people of Kenosha that will bring any sense of healing? Oh, I almost forgot, we are talking about Trump. He doesn’t understand the idea of communal and social healing.

Joe Biden was in Pittsburgh yesterday and he also had a few things to say about the racial conflict in America:

Biden sounds like a “law and order” candidate here. But wait, I thought Biden was a radical socialist who supported violence and thuggery in the streets?  🙂 My favorite line from the speech: “Ask yourself, do I look like a radical socialist with a soft-spot for rioters? Really?”

After listening to Biden speak, Trump called a press conference to respond. He called Biden’s speech “strange” and then described a speech that sounded virtually nothing like the one Biden delivered:

Trump then decided to use his press conference riff on American history in schools. He claimed that our nation’s schools were engaging in “left-wing indoctrination.” Of course we have been hearing about this for a long time. But Trump offered some specifics. He said that students were learning that “America is a wicked nation plagued by racism.” Two quick thoughts on this. First, history teachers are not doing their jobs correctly if they are using morally-charged words such as “wicked” to describe the United States.  Second, history teachers are doing their jobs well if they are calling attention to the “racism” that has “plagued” our country.

Trump wants to restore “patriotic education” to our nation’s schools. This may not be a bad idea. A patriot–someone who loves their country–will acknowledge its successes and its flaws.

Trump defended his supporters shooting paint balls and pepper spray at protesters in Portland. He described them as engaged in a “peaceful protest.” In case you missed what happened:

He also refused to condemn the Rittenhouse shootings.

As has been the case since 2016, it is virtually impossible to distinguish the voice of the court evangelicals from the voice of Trump. If aliens landed on this planet and knew nothing about American politics or American religion, they would assume that there was no difference between the Christianity promoted by the court evangelicals and the rhetoric of Donald Trump:

This interview tells us a lot about John MacArthur and the movement he represents

MacArthur

Chris Hutchison, the pastor of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Blacksburg, VA, brought this to my attention today via Twitter.

Watch John MacArthur speaking to Ryan Helfenbein of the Liberty University Falkirk Center about his battle with the state of California and why no Christian could ever vote for Joe Biden:

Notice what MacArthur does here. He equates biblical teaching with abortion, homosexual marriage, and transgenderism. That’s it. For MacArthur, biblical thinking about politics essentially comes down to these three things. As a result, he believes Christians cannot vote for Joe Biden or any member of the Democratic Party.

Instead, MacArthur wants his church to vote for a Republican candidate whose policies will hurt the poor, who uses racist dog whistles, who has brought pornography into the news, and who lies to the American people multiple times a day. Last time I checked, the Bible says a lot about human dignity, truth, lust, and the poor.

What are the historical forces that have led MacArthur to believe that abortion, homosexual marriage, and transgenderism are the only issues Christian voters should be concerned about? We need to keep asking this question because MacArthur thinks that his view of politics is shaped by a reading of the Bible untainted by social and cultural forces.

About midway through the clip, Helfenbein asks MacArthur about critics who say the members of the Christian Right are single-issue voters. MacArthur responds:

That sounds like 25 or 30 years ago when the differences were sociological or economic between you know ownership and labor. That is long gone.

I have no idea what MacArthur is talking about here. But it sounds like he is trying to say that economic inequality is no longer an issue in the United States in the way that it was “25 or 30 years ago.” (Does he really think that the Christian Right did not push single-issue voting in 1995 or 1990?).

MacArthur seems unaware of the success of democratic socialist politicians like Bernie Sanders who have called attention to economic inequality. Sanders attracted millions of American voters–including many young evangelicals–in 2016 and 2020. MacArthur may not like Bernie’s ideas, but the Vermont senator’s views on income inequality have resonated with Americans. It sounds as if MacArthur has had his head in the sand.

MacArthur says that the Democrats are assaulting American and Christian values, namely the conscience, the family, government, and the church. If a biblical view of the conscience, family, government, and church is indeed eroding as MacArthur says it is, then what does this tell us about the influence of Christians in American life over the last 50-75 years? MacArthur’s diagnosis seems to suggest that Christians have failed miserably in their efforts at sustaining a moral culture. Christians like MacArthur should look into the mirror instead of blaming the Democrats. The church is on the hook here.

Why has the church failed? Have the forces of secularism been too strong? Perhaps.

Or maybe evangelicals have placed too much trust in politics to preserve a moral culture. If you need evidence of this, just consider evangelical support for Donald Trump.

MacArthur believes that the best way to protect the conscience is to vote for a man with no conscience.

MacArthur believes that the best way to save the family is to vote for a man who cheated on all his wives, has been divorced twice, sleeps with porn stars, and has been heard on tape saying he wants to sexually assault women.

MacArthur believes that Trump, with his endless lies and incompetent leadership, is the best man to lead a just and moral government.

MacArthur believes that Christians getting into bed with Trump is good for the church and the proclamation of the Gospel.

Something doesn’t seem right here.

Finally, MacArthur says:

Joe Biden said the other day he’s going to fill his cabinet with Muslims. That is as anti-Christian a statement as you could possibly make. That is a blasphemy of the true and living God.

Yes, it would be blasphemous to fill a cabinet with Muslims if we were living in a Christian theocracy. But we don’t live in a theocracy. We live in a democratic society that celebrates pluralism. As Hutchinson notes in his tweet, we have no religious test for federal office in this country. The United States Constitution, as originally written and ratified by the states, makes one reference to religion. Article 6 affirms that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public trust under the United States.” So Biden is perfectly within his constitutional rights to fill his cabinet with Muslims.

But MacArthur goes on about this:

No thinking person, no person who wanted any kind of life for anyone in the future could possible affirm that kind of behavior.

Last time I checked, the founding fathers who wrote the Constitution were “thinking people” who cared about the “future” of the republic.

Hutchinson wonders if MacArthur’s claim about Biden filling his cabinet with Muslims is true.

Of course Ryan Helfenbein nods his head in agreement with everything MacArthur says. In this interview we get one of our best views into what is really going-on with both the Grace Community Church controversy and the Liberty University Falkirk Center.

Thanks again to Chris Hutchinson for bringing all of this to my attention. Things are getting really strange.

Desperation in Trumpland

Trump at St. Johns

Trump seems desperate after the wildly successful DNC convention. Granted, Biden and his team did not have to do any magic tricks to define themselves over and against Trump. The bar was pretty low. The Biden campaign claims to have raised $70 million during the convention.

Trump’s convention begins this week. This morning on Twitter we got a pretty good sense of what we can expect:

If there is a problem here, why isn’t Trump working with New Jersey to fix it so as many people as possible are able to vote in November? Instead, he continues to claim that mail-in ballots will lead to a “disaster.” Next week you can expect more attacks on mail-in voting. Here, again, is Barack Obama:

Well, here’s the point: this president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism. They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter. That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.

On COVID-19:

Trump is responding to this tweet from June 15, 2020:

Today he is accusing the FDA of participation in a “deep state” plot to slow clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines in order to hurt his re-election. Expect to hear more of this next week.

On the suburbs:

Two responses to this:

First, let’s remember what is really going on in this tweet. American history tells us that this is a racist dog-whistle. But it is also a bad political strategy since many white low income people, who Trump is trying to keep out of the suburbs, voted for him in 2016.

Second, Trump is working with a 1950s definition of “the suburbs.” Check out this interview with historian Thomas Sugrue.

Wisconsin is a major swing state in November. So we get this:

Trump won 28.6% of the vote in Milwaukee in 2016 (Hillary Clinton got 65.5%). Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by 22,748 votes. Right now Biden is leading Trump in Wisconsin by about seven points.

And don’t forget God:

Here is what really happened. By the way, if you are an evangelical Christian who believes that removing “God” from the Pledge of Allegiance will leave to the collapse of Western Civilization, here are a few things to think about:

First, Christian socialist Francis Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance. He was an ordained Baptist minister who worked for the promotions department of a popular family magazine called The Youth’s Companion. Writers for the magazine included Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Booker T. Washington, Jack London, Willa Cather, and Winston Churchill.  The magazine asked Bellamy to prepare a patriotic program for schools in the United States as part of the 400th anniversary (1892) of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in America. Here is Jeffrey Owen Jones at Smithsonian Magazine:

A key element of the commemorative program was to be a new salute to the flag for schoolchildren to recite in unison. But as the deadline for writing the salute approached, it remained undone. “You write it,” Bellamy recalled his boss saying. “You have a knack at words.” In Bellamy’s later accounts of the sultry August evening he composed the pledge, he said that he believed all along it should invoke allegiance. The idea was in part a response to the Civil War, a crisis of loyalty still fresh in the national memory. As Bellamy sat down at his desk, the opening words—”I pledge allegiance to my flag”—tumbled onto paper. Then, after two hours of “arduous mental labor,” as he described it, he produced a succinct and rhythmic tribute very close to the one we know today: I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic for which it stands—one Nation indivisible—with liberty and justice for all. (Bellamy later added the “to” before “the Republic” for better cadence.)

The Youth’s Companion published Bellamy’s pledge on September 8, 1892.

Second, the words “under God” were added to the Pledge of Allegiance on June 14, 1954. The bill was part of a lobbying campaign by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization. Historian Kevin Kruse explains all of this in his book One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America.

Third, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, with the phrase “under God,” on all four nights of the 2020 DNC convention. Here is Cedric Richmond Jr. before the tens of millions of viewers watching the prime time convention on Thursday night (Day 4):

Fourth, let’s remember that the fate of Christianity does not rest on whether or not we have the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Christians, don’t let Trump play you like this.

Night four at the 2020 DNC convention

Biden nominee

It was a great night for the Democratic Party. I don’t think they could have done this convention any better. Frankly, it may have been more effective than a traditional arena convention. The GOP has a tough act to follow.

Below are a few thoughts, based on some of my live-tweeting.

Let’s start with the segment on Biden’s Christian faith:

A few thousand white evangelicals from Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Arizona might decide this election:

But here is a way that Democrats can keep more white evangelicals after November 2020:

Delaware Senator Chris Coons gave a good speech that echoed yesterday’s Fox News op-ed on Biden’s faith. But Coons did not address anything I wrote about in the tweets above. If Biden can address these issues between now and November he could win a record number of white evangelicals. He could easily connect his platform to a real conversation about abortion. The religious liberty stuff will be a little more difficult without offending the left-wing of the party.

Let’s move on to history.

I am still waiting for someone to tell me when the last time a historian spoke in a prime time slot at a political convention.  Jon Meacham was excellent:

So please take the following tweet in that context:

My historian students–both at Messiah University and the Gilder-Lehrman
“Princeton Seminar”–know that the roots of the United States are located in more than just the British settlements.

And as long as we are talking about history:

You can also do a lot of other things with a history major.

The segment with Biden’s Democratic primary rivals was amazing. I could have watched another hour of this conversation. As Cory Booker said, it was like the show with all the contestants “voted off the island” on “Survivor”:

A quick thought on Michael Bloomberg’s speech:

Not all evangelical celebrities support Donald Trump:

Biden gave a great speech. I appreciated his call to find one’s “purpose” in life.

The exact quote was: “As God’s children each of us have a purpose in our lives.”

And the following:

I was also pleased to see this speech seasoned with the words “hope,” “humility,” and “history.” I feel like I’ve heard those words before. 🙂

Here is the Seamus Heaney quote from “The Cure at Troy” that Biden used in the speech:

History says,

Don’t hope on this side of the grave,

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up,

And hope and history rhyme

The next verse (which Biden did not use in the speech) reads:

So hope for a great sea-change

On the far side of revenge.

Believe that further shore

Is reachable from here.

Believe in miracle

And cures and healing wells.

Read Biden’s entire speech here.

What are the court evangelicals saying about day 3 of the DNC convention?

Trump Court Evangelicals 2

Last night we heard from Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, and Kamala Harris. So what are the court evangelicals saying?

Johnnie Moore, the man who describes himself as a “modern-day Dietrich Bonhoeffer“:

Moore tweeted the above Bible verse while Barack Obama was speaking last night.

On Monday night, as the DNC was talking about “rising up” for social, economic, environmental, and racial justice, Moore tweeted this:

It is worth noting that Psalm 20 also says “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

This is unrelated to the convention, but one court evangelical will no longer have a TBN television show.

Charlie Kirk continues to represent the Falkirk Center at Liberty University:

How long will Liberty University allow this to go on? Charlie Kirk will continue to spew this kind of stuff as long as evangelical churches, schools, and Christians give him a platform.

Here is Liberty University Falkirk Center fellow Sebastian Gorka:

Court evangelical Lance Wallnau is on the Eric Metaxas Show. Wallnau claims that he prophesied the idea of “Trump derangement syndrome” He continues with his “Hillary 2.0″ theory about Kamala Harris. He once again claims that Harris is a “chameleon” with a “Jezebel spirit” who has been “vetted” not by Biden, but by the devil. Metaxas calls her an “evil protean figure.” He adds that if Biden wins in November it will be “the end of America.”

At the end of the interview, Wallnau and Metaxas engage in some serious “America as a New Israel” language. Metaxas says that we have abandoned God’s “covenant” with America established by the Pilgrims. in 1620 and the patriots in 1776. This is all very bad American history and theology, but it’s the kind of message Metaxas (along with David Barton) has been pitching for a long time now. Take a look at my review of his book If You Can Keep It.

What are the court evangelicals saying about the DNC convention?

We have now had two nights of the DNC convention. Let’s check-in on the court evangelicals:

I think this must have been taped before the convention, but watch Eric Metaxas and John Smirak mock Kamala Harris’s first name. And then they compare Harris to Jim Jones and Jonestown. Finally, they take more shots at Biden’s faith and the Catholic church.

Metaxas continues to cash-in on the Trump presidency. Today on Facebook he is promoting his new book in the “Donald the Caveman” series. It is titled Donald and the Fake News.

Fake news metaxas

But I digress. This post is supposed to be about the convention.

Robert Jeffress is countering the DNC convention with something called “Faith Week.”

“Faith Week” includes:

Pastor Jack Hibbs:

Let’s end tonight’s roundup with the Liberty University gang at the Falkirk Center:

Charlie Kirk does not seem to have recovered from Monday night’s meltdown:

And here is Liberty University Falkirk Center fellow Jenna Ellis:

This Liberty University Falkirk Center fellow is getting excited about the Republican National Convention:

And these:

Christian politics at its best (worst).

Night two (Tuesday) at the DNC convention

Joe and Jill
Here are some of my tweets from last night with additional context.

My twitter followers seemed to be split 50-50 on this take:

Yes, the Democratic Party is putting aside their differences for a few months in order to remove Trump, but as I watch the convention and the surrounding news coverage there appears to be a lot of division behind the mask of party unity.  The progressives in the party did not like the fact that members of the GOP, especially John Kasich, took speaking slots away from people of color. Bernie Sanders told the convention that Biden was moving to the left. Kasich promised independents that Biden was staying in the center. Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most recognizable faces in the party, nominated Bernie Sanders. Julian Castro, in the midst of the convention, is saying that Biden’s election will hurt the Democratic Party’s support among Latinos. And a clear generational divide exists in the party.

Meanwhile, the GOP is likely to put on a unified front next week. None of the dissenters–George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, etc.–will be speaking, but apparently speaking slots have been reserved for Nick Sandman of Covington Catholic High School and the St. Louis couple who pulled their guns on Black Lives Matter protesters.

I have been thinking a lot about these connections lately, especially after reading Adrienne LaFrance’s piece at The Atlantic, Katelyn Beaty’s piece at RNS, and seeing court evangelicals like Jack Graham and Greg Laurie connecting post-COVID19 economic revival with spiritual revival and the opening of churches. I was struck by this quote from LaFrance’s piece:

[Qanon conspiracy theorist David] Hayes tells his followers that he thinks Q is an open-source intelligence operation, made possible by the internet and designed by patriots fighting corruption inside the intelligence community. His interpretation of Q is ultimately religious in nature, and centers on the idea of a Great Awakening. “I believe The Great Awakening has a double application,” Hayes wrote in a blog post in November 2019

“It speaks of an intellectual awakening—the awareness by the public to the truth that we’ve been enslaved in a corrupt political system. But the exposure of the unimaginable depravity of the elites will lead to an increased awareness of our own depravity. Self-awareness of sin is fertile ground for spiritual revival. I believe the long-prophesied spiritual awakening lies on the other side of the storm.”

I hope to write something about these connection soon. In the meantime, as my tweet indicated, I also hear a lot of “rise-up,” “awakening,” and “revival” language coming from the Democrats during this convention. It is not meant spiritually–at least in a Christian “revival” sense of the world–but it does seem to be tapping into some kind of renewal or revival of the American spirit. I realize that this is a pretty common political message, but it seems to take on a new meaning in light of all this talk of #GreatAwakening.

Watch:

It’s uncanny:

Schlossberg

I didn’t see any disagreements on this one:

In case you missed the bingo card.

City of Ruins:

When I wrote the above tweet I had no idea this video was coming:

Here is was responding to Jack Jenkins’s tweet about Jill Biden’s speech:

 

Charlie Kirk of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center has a Twitter meltdown while watching the DNC convention

Falkirk band

It got pretty ugly.

Liberty University’s Falkirk Center is partially named after Trump wonder-boy Charlie Kirk:

Let me just re-iterate. There is a center at Liberty University named after the guy who wrote the above tweets. The Falkirk Center has a mission to “go on the offensive” against anyone who does not see the world in the same way it does. It looks like Charlie Kirk is fulfilling that mission. But is it Christian? Liberty University claims to be the largest Christian university in the world.

Let’s also remember that not all Christian colleges are the same.

And as long as we are covering the Falkirk Center, I am curious about what happened to some of the original Falkirk Center fellows: Jaco Booyens, Antonia Okafor, and Josh Allan Murray. None of these people identify with the Falkirk Center any more. Does anyone know why?