Adolf Hitler rode economic anxiety to control of the Reichstag and the Chancellor’s office. Donald Trump plays some tunes on that fiddle, but there’s also a deep cultural strain to his siren song of tsarism.
KELO-TV is running a series of AP articles on the psyche (psychosis?) of the electorate. One of those stories includes this observation from jittery Kentucky pastor Richie Clenenden, which explains how anxiety over the legalization of same-sex marriage may lure conservative Christians into voting for the unconservative, unChristian Republican nominee:
Clendenen said he saw “a lot of fear, a lot of anger” in his church after the Supreme Court ruling. He said it made him feel that Christians like him had been pushed to the edge of a cliff.
“It has become the keystone issue,” he said, sitting in his office, where photos of his father and grandfather, both preachers, are on display. “I never thought we’d be in the place we are today. I never thought that the values I’ve held my whole life would bring us to a point where we were alienated or suppressed.”
Trump uses rhetoric that has resonance for Christian conservatives who fear their teachings on marriage will soon be outlawed as hate speech.
“We’re going to protect Christianity and I can say that,” Trump has said. “I don’t have to be politically correct” [Rachel Zoll, “Evangelicals Feel Alienated, Anxious Amid Declining Clout,” AP via KELO-TV, 2016.06.09].
When Trump says that last sentence, he affirms the position anxious Christians like Clenenden want to take. Trump models for anxious Christians the untriangulated, unfiltered, uncompromising firmness they want to pose against the culture they think wants to shut their churches down.
The ironic thing here is that Trump represents the say-anything, do-anything, buy-anything culture that Christianity should fight. Donald Trump’s amoral materialism, manifested in the Republican Party’s willingness to sacrifice all values to the sole power-clinging excuse of “Anyone but Hillary,” is a far greater threat to Christianity and family values than same-sex marriage, Merrick Garland, or any other element of the Democratic agenda.
But when people feel “pushed to the edge of a cliff,” they don’t always think that deeply. They react. They harken to the voice that resonates with their immediate fears. And they vote for people like Hitler and Trump.
Related Reading: Evangelical Christian Alan Noble isn’t excusifying for Trump. Harkening to my statement about Trump’s amoral materialism, Noble says, “the concept of sovereign individualism, which dramatically shapes so much of our consumer and political culture, is a threat to human flourishing.” He disqualifies Trump as “a deceptive, infantile, racist demagogue with no political principles aside from his own self-interest.” Noble can’t justify voting for Clinton, either; thus he recommends voting third-party or abstaining from the Presidential vote, focusing on down-ticket races, and building a new conservative Christian movement as the paths of Christian integrity.