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The GOP is very sick
Trump now celebrates his transgender inclusion agenda, blasts abortion bans, and Lauren Boebert literally personifies the new GOP ethic: grab'em by the gonads.
Rarely do I ever agree with Mother Jones or anything David Corn writes, if ever. But I’m beginning to believe Barack Obama may have read small-town Pennsylvania better than anyone in America in 2008. And Donald Trump was listening very closely.
You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate, and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, and they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
Corn wrote in 2022 that Obama was right about guns—and he is—but he’s also right about religion. Let me use a very progressive word, freighted with meaning: intersectionality. I want to use it in the same way liberals talk about believing in identity politics, and all its intersectional baggage.
The intersectionality between Christianity, guns, and the GOP is strong in places like small-town Pennsylvania, working-class Wisconsin; on the Mexican border in Arizona, eastern Washington and northern Idado; and in the hills, lakes and mountains where New Hampshire rabid libertarians find refuge.
But where Corn is off, and where many political analysts of both parties have missed—including me—is the relative value of guns, religion, and the GOP in the Venn diagram. Over the past eight years, we’ve failed to see how what economists call demand elasticity has been wildly overestimated in these voters’ political calculus, especially the religion part. Demand elasticity is the measure of how strongly consumers will stick with a brand or product given a competitive alternative. Price elasticity is how much of a premium they’re willing to pay for their own loyalty
It turns out the demand elasticity of religion is pretty low, and the price inelasticity of Trump is very high.
We were all gobsmacked at how fast Donald Trump assumed the place of Christianity, quickly subsuming the GOP, and even litmus-test issues like abortion and culture wars became less important to voters than blindly supporting Trump because he fights against the Obamas of the world.
Trump was listening to Obama very closely, and positioned himself directly opposite, to capture those very voters Obama was correctly explaining (though they didn’t want to hear it). Forcing Obama to publicly display his birth certificate, and inciting a scorched-earth war against Obama, the progressive media, Hillary Clinton, and what he dubbed the “Deep State” and the “Swamp” energized these voters to follow him all the way to Hell (but not back).
Now that Trump’s been out of office since 2021, and facing a record number of felony charges and indictments for a former president (the previous record being zero), his voters no longer care about Trump’s defense of issues, or his own transgressions of the law or constitution.
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It’s not like the voters got nothing in exchange. They got plenty, but much of it was lip service. Trump’s Supreme Court picks did reverse Roe v. Wade (though that terrible decision was bound to fall, eventually). He did appear personally at the pro-life March for Life, which no other president had done. Trump’s policy record on gun control was mixed—he banned bump stocks—but his rhetoric praising violence was received by the gun crowd as giving them permission to display their guns like strutting peacocks.
It was always that way: Trump made little progress on his wall, but his speech regarding immigrants, America’s superiority over many countries where immigrants fight to get to our borders, and the wishy-washy liberalism of our European allies tickled the ears of his voters. He made anyone who wasn’t in the intersectional crowd believing in Trump-Christianity, Trump-GOP, and guns, guns, and more guns, his enemy, and the enemy of his voters.
In 2023, now we know that genuine Christianity and the conservative tenets that the GOP sought to follow—never perfectly under Reagan, the Bushes, in 2008, candidate Sen. John McCain, and in 2012, candidate Gov. Mitt Romney—were cheaply discarded and are now in fully in the rear-view mirror.
We also know Trump never really embraced them in the first place.
Trump, in 2012, was the owner of the Miss Universe pageant. In newly-released interviews from that year, he celebrated that 23-year-old transgender woman Jenna Talackova was able to participate in a Canadian pageant, and agreed with Miss USA winner Olivia Culpo, who said trans women should be included.
In an interview last week with Megyn Kelly in her SiriusXM podcast, Kelly asked Trump if a man could “become a woman.” She referenced his 2016 remark that he’d let Caitlyn (née Bruce) Jenner use the women’s bathroom at Trump Tower. Trump equivocated, saying that in 2016 it was a “brand new subject,” and he hadn’t fully formed his opinion.
Remember, in late 2015, Trump used a misogynistic slur against Kelly, who moderated the first GOP debate: “bleeding from her, whatever.”
Trump, who leads Gov. Ron DeSantis by double-digits in primary polls, is running decidedly to DeSantis’ left. He’s running to the left of most of the GOP candidates, on transgender issues, and now. on abortion.
On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Trump told NBC host Kristen Welker that DeSantis signing a six-week abortion ban was “a terrible thing and a terrible mistake.” To put Florida’s law in context, it is less restrictive than 15 European nations, including Monaco, Poland, and Denmark. A large number of European countries have waiting periods or other kinds of limitations on abortion.
Trump’s record over many decades has been very much pro-choice, and very careful regarding limitations on access to abortions for women. The New York Times quoted Trump’s cat-footed wording from the interview:
“What’s going to happen is you’re going to come up with a number of weeks or months,” Mr. Trump said. “You’re going to come up with a number that’s going to make people happy.”
He made a far-fetched promise that as president he would “sit down with both sides” and negotiate a deal on abortion that would result in “peace on that issue for the first time in 52 years.”
This is a far cry from the religious rhetoric Trump bellowed in January of 2020, when he addressed the March for Life:
We cannot know what our citizens yet unborn will achieve, the dreams they will imagine, the masterpieces they will create, the discoveries they will make. But we know this: Every life brings love into this world. Every child brings joy to a family. Every person is worth protecting. (Applause.) And above all, we know that every human soul is divine, and every human life –- born and unborn –- is made in the holy image of Almighty God. (Applause.)
Trump’s invocation of Almighty God would be worth chuckling over, if it wasn’t such a serious issue that he has led, pied piper style, millions of Christians away from Christ’s commandments and into celebration of sin. Instead of “love your neighbor,” Trump has encouraged his followers to defy the law. He posted in early August on his website Truth Social “If you go after me, I’m coming after you!” regarding U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over Trump’s Washington D.C. case regarding his role in the January 6th Capitol riot.
It’s not just Trump, but his closest circle, who revel in debauchery. Jerry Falwell, Jr. disgraced the Christian college founded by his preacher father. Falwell was an early and ardent supporter of Trump. Trumpist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s husband filed for divorce after her repeated affairs, including one with a “tantric sex guru,” became public. Voters enthusiastically returned MTG to Congress even after the revelations hit the news.
And now Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert was caught on video fondling her boy toy Quinn Gallagher, and vaping in a theater where families (including children) were watching a musical play. The Daily Mail reported:
Defending her actions, she told One America News Network: 'I was a little too eccentric. I am very known for having an animated personality. Maybe overly animated personality.
'I was laughing, I was singing, having a fantastic time. Was told to kind of settle it down a little bit, which I did but then my next slip up was taking a picture.'
Boebert and her beau were escorted from the theater, with her smiling and waving to the camera. She celebrated behavior that would make Drag Queen Story Hour readers blush, or would be well-received by the leather and chain crowd at some of the more rowdy Pride parades.
And a worse development:
Texas Republicans ignored a mountain of salacious evidence regarding the 16 articles of impeachment state Attorney General Ken Paxton faced. In May, Texas lawmakers unanimously and in a bipartisan action recommended 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton, who has faced federal and state investigations (and an indictment) into his corruption.
This display of political witchery was witnessed by his wife, a state senator who he cheated on, as Paxton was acquitted on all articles and returned to office. As Texas AG, in 2020 Paxton humped the leg of Trump, filing an overreaching and legally nonsensical lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court charging that other states that had dismissed Trump lawsuits alleging a stolen election merited a hearing by the Justices, who responded with the legal equivalent of “lol.”
As I wrote when the charges were filed, “Paxton is the very image of a modern MAGA general.” And he’s now back in Austin, ready to do more more humping of Trump’s leg.
Trumpists would side with Boebert, MTG, Paxton, and Trump over DeSantis. I don’t agree with DeSantis’ cynical politicization of culture wars, standing on his own moral rock of outrage and shouting—but Trump and his followers are happy to condemn DeSantis’ moral rantings and celebrate the sins of their adulterous, lecherous leader and his laughing adulterous, lecherous hyenas devoted to hedonism, hate, and moral failure. This is not your father’s GOP.
In 2008, Obama sat on his own high horse and correctly analyzed the bitter crowds in Pennsylvania, the ones who thrust Trump into power. Democrats ignored these intersectional believers, called them “deplorables,” and allowed them to shift their allegiance from the cross and the long gun to their own personal avatar and demigod, one who has led them from some form of morality into a no-man’s land of vengeance and sin.
The real Jesus prophesied this. “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:10-14.)
I can’t speak to whether we, as Christians, are very close to the end. But I can say that we have seen the false prophet. We have seen how easily Republicans have been deceived. We have seen how quickly wickedness has increased, and we have seen how cold the love of so many has grown. What is left to see if how many, or how few, will stand firm to the end.
The GOP is very, very, sick. Anyone who can’t see that is willfully blind.