Leadership Theology of Trump's Base Literature Review

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[. . .] He went further to claim that Trump was not as bad as he appeared to be, he was, rather, "a warrior for righteousness tragically beset by unpredictable appetites."

Buntz, (2017), however, found the comparison appalling and unfounded, judging by his view of Trump’s brashness in approaching national and international matters. He was quick to point out to the University Don and others like him in the camp of Trump's support base, that despite all that they quoted about David, King David was never among other things, recorded to have a disdainful attitude towards his subjects, citing Trump's examples of insulting disabled reporters and accusing debate moderators. Bruntz believed that while “the un-attuned observer might mistake Trump’s victory for evidence of conservative resurgence”, the typical Trump support was rather a signal of final hollowing out and a complete revelation of emptiness. He opined that the Evangelical’s way of blindly supporting the president is indeed making liberal Christianity unappealing to people, and the current dimension of religious life as being purported by the evangelicals would need to be addressed.

To understand the genesis of the relationship between the faith-based group and the president, the preliminary 2016 analysis by Gregory Smith & Jessica Martinez, (2016) showed a little change in the political alignments of the religious groups in the country. According to Smith and Martinez, “those who supported Republican candidates in recent elections, such as white born-again or evangelical Christians and white Catholics, strongly supported Donald Trump as well.” The authors’ analysis showed various religious groups in comparison to their alignments in different past five elections. In particular, the Evangelicals vote bloc showed thus, 2004 – Kerry; 21 vs. Bush; 78, Obama; 24 vs. McCain; 74, Obama; 21 vs. Romney; 78, and Clinton; 16 vs Trump; 81. Presenting the same statistic in his aftermath examination of the events that led to the 2016 election, Daniel Miller (2018), also berated the Evangelicals for their, what he termed “incongruous support for Trump”. He, like many others also pondered upon the motivation behind the Evangelical support as they were among the leading voices that overwhelmingly condemned Bill Clinton in the “context of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky” back in the year 1998. While the statistics although showed an increase from 2012’s 78% to 2016’s 81%, it, however, revealed that the bias which the evangelicals have against the Democrats has been on for a long time.

Beaming the searchlight further on the relationship between the Evangelicals and the president since during the primary elections, inauguration day, and till now, Tara Isabella Burton (2018) research work confirmed this long-term relationship. Burton traced white Evangelicals’ 81% of vote blocs for Trump to “pure partisanship,” quoting Robert Jones, author of The End of White Christian America. Jones noted that initially, the evangelical support for Trump was not so high before the results of primaries, it was 30 per cent. However, after Trump won the nomination of the Republicans, the favorability skyrocketed to 74 per cent and has so far been steady, which explains his claim of 81 per cent of their votes. This, Jones who also recalled similar voting behavior of the evangelicals toward another Republican candidate, George W. Bush 2001, believed, reeked of being partisan than of value. He revealed that the values voting and morality which the evangelicals was known for, has dissipated to "transactional and utilitarian political ethics." He pointed out that the evangelical's attitudes towards political issues and their alliance with Republicans can best be described "elect our guy." In other words, the narrative among the leading figures of the formidable Christian groups in America has now wholly been shifted from morality sake to pure partisanship.

Also, in trying to make sense of the evangelicals choice of Trumps amongst several other Republican candidates at the primary election, and over Clinton at the general election, Philip Gorski, (2017) in his own submission, termed it to have come from The ‘‘Lesser of Two Evils’’ Voters concept. He noted that while the evangelicals were indeed driven by concerns about “abortion, religious freedom, and the Supreme Court”, they were in spite of all that, would still prefer him to Clinton. This is because they were “White Christian nationalists" and the Trump's political ideologies, which despite smearing of hatred and racism towards non-whites, still appeared to protect their interest. Like others quoted already in this paper, Gorski also expressed his awe of Trump's victory and support base in rhetoric, asking “Why did so many evangelical Christians vote for Donald Trump? Why did they vote for a man who has six children by three wives? A man who bragged about ‘‘grabbing’’ women? And who nonetheless claimed that he’s never done anything he needed to be forgiven for?” He also could not but wonder why the popular Christian body vote for "a man who hadn't darkened a church door in decades would? Why, in short, did they rally behind someone who seems the very antithesis of most everything they have ever claimed to stand for?" However, for all these questions, the only sense Gorski could make out of the evangelicals’ bend which is completely in opposition to Biblical injunctions of love, mercy, meekness and several other fruits of the spirit, is that their action was based on the fact that they were “White Christian nationalists”. Expressing similar view to that of Gorski, Janelle Wong (2018) in his paper highlighting the White Evangelicals’ political attitude across different racial groups, posited “White evangelicals' more conservative political attitudes are driven by a sense of in-group embattlement.” And of course, judging by the way the leading figures in the evangelical community have been trying hard to defend Trump’s policies and playing down his shortcomings as something that should be dismissed, it would be a difficult task trying to fault this Gorski’s and Wong’s position. .

As stated above, for a broad view of the thesis posed in this review, there is a need for a brief drift into a nonreligious perspective of the topic to understand the evangelicals voting pattern could not have been formed singly from a faith-based standpoint. Leading to the elections, there had been signs that more than at any time in the U.S history, the division between the two parties had become wider. A survey carried out by Pew Research Center (2014) revealed that “Republicans and Democrats [were] more divided along ideological lines – and partisan antipathy is deeper and more extensive.” The survey of 10,000 adults nationwide revealed that the divisions were more real among the people who were the most active in the country’s politics. As at that time when former president Obama was still in the office, the research showed that “fully 66% of consistently conservative Republicans think the Democrats' policies threaten the nation's well-being. By comparison, half (50%) of consistently liberal Democrats say Republican policies jeopardize the nation's well-being." This perhaps explains the mutual suspicion leading to the election and Trump's appearance of a man with the confidence needed by the conservative Republicans to challenge the Democrat's reign was why he eventually clinched the ticket ahead of other rivals of his.

In another dimension, looking at Trump's support from a secular demographic perspective, John Dean (2018), in one of his columns, dissected the president's support base from other demographics like gender, educational level, race, age, etc. The columnist believed that Trump's support base evidently resides within the group of people who supported him at the 2016 polls. Backing up his claims with a Boston Globe's November 2016 polls, Dean recollected that leading to the elections the polls comparing Hillary Clinton's versus Donald Trump’s bases showed-Gender-wise, men (41% vs. 53%); women (54% vs. 42%). Race-wise –Whites; (37%vs.58%), Blacks; (88%vs.8%), Hispanic; (65% vs. 29%), Asians; (65% vs. 29%), Education-wise-White College Grads; (45% vs. 49%), White Not College Grads; (28% vs. 67%), Non-White College Grads; (71%-23%), and Non-White Not College Grads (75%-20%).

From the above statistics, Dean believed the 12-point margin Trump had over Clinton with men, might be the reason behind the president’s refusal to show empathy towards women, citing Trump’s disparaging allegations of sexual abuse of over 12 women and his White House staff’s abuse of women. Dean also believed the president support base as revealed by the polls might be the reason behind his confidence of unwavering support from those whom he believed would always be his fans and stick out their necks from him through thick and thin. Those he referred to as “the people who would still cast their ballots for him even if he shot someone on 5th Avenue.” This suggests that even from nonreligious perspective Trump’s support remains a puzzle, which many observers still find intriguing, and Dean just like many others still cannot fathom the motivation behind these set of people’s love for Trumps. The columnist wondered why these set of “people support this most untraditional, norm shattering.”

Dean obviously was not alone… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Leadership Theology of Trump's Base.  (2019, January 31).  Retrieved January 26, 2020, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/emerging-theology-leadership-coming/2560658

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"Leadership Theology of Trump's Base."  Essaytown.com.  January 31, 2019.  Accessed January 26, 2020.