Of the many contortions and distortions that have happened in the Donald Trump era, one of the worst has been the religious right not only going all-in for Trump, but willfully ignoring the almost daily outrages coming from this White House. The nation’s so-called moral guardians would have us believe that these outrages don’t matter. What matters to them is that Trump promised a change to a much more conservative social bent–and has delivered.
For much of the last four years, a notable exception to this trend was Erick Erickson, the former editor-in-chief of RedState who now runs his own blog, The Resurgent. Even as nearly every prominent self-identified social conservative bowed down to Trump, Erickson refused to fall into line.
In September 2016, Erickson wrote that despite being prodded by a number of pastors, he was not willing to change his mind. He believed the prospect of “a better Supreme Court” was not enough to overcome the grave concerns about Trump’s candidacy and character. To ignore those concerns, he argued, would amount to “selfishness.”
Well, apparently Erickson has forgotten his own words. Earlier this week, he announced that he is supporting Trump’s bid for reelection–even though he openly admits that he knows who Trump is and what he represents.
Erickson claims that it would be “irrelevant” to vote third-party in 2020 since Trump is “no longer a hypothetical,” while the Democrats have become “too extreme for the nation.” However, Although he is still concerned about Trump’s character, he chastised the media for “fraudulently amplifying those concerns” at times. He also noted that “we cannot have the Trump Administration policies without President Trump.”
In the end, he conceded that “the behaviors this president routinely engages in are not going to change.” However, he believes that there will be one key difference between the 2016 campaign and the 2020 campaign–and that’s enough to make him vote for Trump.
In 2016, we knew who the Democrats were and were not sure of who Donald Trump was. Now we know both and I prefer this President to the alternative.
So let’s see if we’ve got this right. Even though Erickson admits that Trump “is not going to change,” he’s still willing to vote for him–and presumably, without holding his nose–because of his policies? Let’s consider some of the “behaviors” that Erickson concedes won’t change any time soon.
This is a man who fostered an environment in which it was acceptable for his staffers to tell callous “jokes” about a cancer patient. He also fostered an environment in which his press secretary was able to use her official Twitter account to sic the modern-day equivalent of an angry mob on The New York Times, and to slander a reporter with a doctored video accusing him of assaulting a staffer.
This is a man who condones victim-shaming of the worst type, has no qualms about calling women who cross him “dog” and “horseface,” and who recklessly endangered the Speaker of the House by outing her secret plans to go on a fact-finding mission into a war zone.
And yet, Erickson is willing to ignore all of that, and much more, because he likes Trump’s policies so far. In other words, all that matters to him is winning. Is any cause so important that we have to throw basic decency and basic standards of acceptable behavior out the window? Apparently so, in Erickson’s mind.
Erickson says that a big reason for his change of heart on Trump is his distaste for New York’s recent abortion law, which many abortion foes have falsely claimed gives women carte blanche to get abortions right up to the day of birth. But even if that were true, is ending abortion really so important that we must ignore Trump’s blatant disregard for every standard of acceptable behavior from our elected officials?
If so, it is yet another reminder of why I question whether Erickson and other religious right leaders are using opposition to abortion as a cover for something else. If we have to support Trump just because he makes the right clucking noises on ending abortion, is opposition to abortion really about the sanctity of life, or is there an ulterior motive?
Moreover, Erickson seems to be forgetting his own words. In 2015, for instancethat with his own words on Fox News in 2015, after he famously disinvited Trump from a RedState gathering after Trump famously slagged Megyn Kelly for having “blood coming out of her wherever” at a Republican debate. Watch here.
Erickson told host Neil Cavuto that he disinvited Trump in part because he was unable to get a sensible explanation for Trump’s comments. In the end, Erickson was left to wonder if Trump could “take a tough question from Vladimir Putin” if he was unable to avoid belittling a reporter at a debate.
Now? It seems that Erickson, like the rest of the leadership of the religious right, is going down the same path that the Boston FBI went when it turned a blind eye to Whitey Bulger’s depravities just because he was helping cut the legs out from under the Boston Mafia. In the end, it simply wasn’t worth the shame and disgrace that ultimately resulted. The religious right’s continued support for Trump, even when it almost certainly knows that he hasn’t changed and won’t change, is no different.
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