It was amply established during the 2016 campaign that if Donald Trump somehow managed to defeat Hillary Clinton, we would be putting an unhinged ogre in the White House. Those concerns have been more than borne out since Trump’s upset victory.
We have a president who has no regard for the bare minimum standards of acceptable behavior from elected officials. Moreover, there is mounting evidence that Trump at the very least fostered an environment in which senior campaign aides found it even remotely acceptable to solicit help from a hostile foreign power. Additionally, Trump’s former personal lawyer has stated under oath that Trump ordered him to arrange hush money payments to women who claimed to have had affairs with him in order to keep them from spilling the beans before Election Day.
All indications are that the American people are poised to deliver a sharp rebuke to Trump in the November midterm elections. FiveThirtyEight gives the Democrats a whopping 83 percent chance of taking control of the House, based on an average lead of nearly 10 points on the generic ballot. And there’s no denying that Trump is a giant paperweight around the red team’s chances; FiveThirtyEight calculates his average approval rating at 39.9 percent.
As bad as the GOP’s numbers are, there’s a good reason to believe that they’re inflated. The religious right has remained steadfastly loyal to Trump, even in the face of the almost daily outrages that come from his administration. This is primarily because all that matters to the nation’s so-called moral guardians is that Trump makes clucking noises they like on their pet social issues. It’s a big reason why Trump’s support among white evangelicals remains ludicrously high, especially compared to his support among the nation at large.
We got a lovely example of how the religious right is keeping its followers loyal to Trump. One of its more prominent leaders believes that even if it is proven beyond all doubt that Trump is an ogre, it’s all the more reason why they should vote Republican in November.
Michael L. Brown was one of the original leaders of the Brownsville Revival at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida. He struck out on his own in 2001, and now helms a ministry in my hometown of Charlotte intended to continue in Brownsville’s original spirit. He is best known for his unstinting opposition to LGBT rights and marriage equality; among other things, he believes that Christians who support marriage equality should be thrown out of their churches on their ears.
Brown initially backed Ted Cruz in the Republican primary, but held his nose and voted for Trump in November 2016. His rationale, in so many words, was that for all of Trump’s faults, Hillary would be far worse. After Trump’s upset victory, he told Rick Joyner–who, unlike Brown, was in Trump’s corner from the beginning–that Trump’s victory was a sign that God raised him up. No, this isn’t snark. Watch here, courtesy People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch.
Does Brown still believe God raised Trump up, even in the face of mounting evidence that he is indeed an ogre? Apparently so, based on his latest column, which was syndicated at The Stream and Charisma News. Brown accepts the possibility that Bob Woodward’s portrayal of Trump in his devastating new book, “Fear,” is accurate, and that Trump is indeed an erratic and reckless man with virtually no impulse control. But strangely, Brown suggests that if Trump is an ogre, it actually bolsters the case for a Republican Congress.
Brown doesn’t take very long to fall down hard. He claims that the midterms are not about Trump, and he is not “downplaying the concerns” expressed about him. But at the same time, Brown reminds his readers that “we are voting for congressmen who can thwart or advance the president’s agenda.” Therefore, Trump’s “demeanor and leadership style” don’t matter.
Brown twists himself into an even bigger knot by arguing that voting for Democrats or staying home won’t stop Trump from imploding. However, voting in “people of principle and character and conviction who share his values” is the only way to “forestall a feared collapse.”
Excuse me, Michael? You claim that what really matters is carrying Trump’s agenda forward–while at the same time saying this election isn’t about him. So do you really expect us to separate the agenda from the man, especially when Trump has made it clear that loyalty to him is a litmus test for being a true Republican? You went to NYU, so it’s hard to believe you didn’t realize how contorted this argument is.
And these “people of principle and character” have done absolutely nothing to rein Trump in, or call him out during his worst outrages. Indeed, they actually tried to derail Robert Mueller’s investigation. Are you saying they should be rewarded for this?
Indeed, Brown’s argument sounds eerily similar to the argument used to justify supporting Roy Moore even in the face of credible reports that he molested women and improperly pursued girls young enough to be his daughters. All that mattered to his diehard supporters was electing an uncompromisingly pro-life, pro-traditional marriage Republican to the Senate–and such little things as basic decency be hanged.
In essence, Brown is asking his followers to brush aside the mounting evidence that we have a manifestly unfit and unqualified ogre of a president who poses an existential threat to our democracy–all in the name of advancing a conservative agenda. With all due respect, Michael, there are times when specific agendas should rank pretty low on the priority list.
At least one of my right-leaning friends realizes this. She grew up as an ardent Republican in deep-red central Ohio. She is also a devout charismatic Christian. Yet, she was a charter member of the never-Trump club, and voted third-party in 2016 rather than vote for Trump. And this summer, she voted for Danny O’Connor in the hotly contested special election for Ohio’s 12th District–the first time that she voted for a Democrat in any election, ever. She told me that she is concerned about abortion, but realizes the threat Trump poses is far more important.
If Brown believes that a manifestly unfit and unqualified ogre in the White House is all the more reason to keep the levers of power in the hands of said president’s party, it says a lot about him. And it isn’t good.
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