What would it take for the 80%-or-so of white evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 to reconsider their support in 2020?
They have so many options to choose from, and that’s just since he entered office: His open racism, his endless barrage of lies, his inability to hire even mildly competent people in positions of power, his joy in tearing apart families seeking asylum, his “thumbs up” picture with a baby whose parents were murdered because of a white supremacist who was inspired by Trump, etc.
None of that bothers them. Not seriously, anyway. They’ll say they wish he wouldn’t do those things, but that’s the extent of their frustration. They’ll vote for him, then skitter back to church to talk about how faith is necessary to solve all the problems in the world — problems they’re exacerbating by supporting Republicans.
But we’ve finally found one thing that night do the trick: the word “goddamn.”
Trump says it a lot at rallies. He said it twice in one night last month — one was an anecdote in which he supposedly told a rich guy, “If you don’t support me, you are going to be so Goddamn poor.”
If your sense of moral decency is grounded, his cursing wouldn’t be an issue since there are plenty of more serious atrocities committed by him all the time. But evangelicals have always had a warped sense of what constitutes “sin,” and so swearing, to them, is much more of a deal-breaker than the way Trump mistreats everyone who doesn’t bow down to him.
We already know that one “conservative Democrat,” State Sen. Paul Hardesty of West Virginia, wrote Trump a letter asking Trump to stop using the G-D word because “you are better than that.” (He isn’t.)
Now POLITICO‘s Gabby Orr looks at why cursing may be the final straw for many white evangelicals:
For evangelicals, however, Trump’s indelicate language has frustrated religious fans who have otherwise been true blue supporters of his agenda. They agree with his social policies, praise his appointment of conservative judges and extol his commitment to Israel — often tolerating Trump’s character flaws for the continued advancement of all three. But when it comes to “using the Lord’s name in vain,” as Hardesty put it, “the president’s evangelical base might be far less forgiving.”
“Carelessly invoking the Lord’s name in a fit of anger is one thing,” said one of the pro-Trump pastors [who asked to remain anonymous], quickly adding that he would not encourage such behavior. “But,” he continued, “repeatedly doing it for shock value … that does raise questions about the president’s respect for people of faith.”
You have to be a fool — no, a goddamn fool — to think Trump gives two shits about God, much less anything else the Bible says. If there were enough atheists to swing elections, and we voted for Republicans, he’d mock Christianity at every rally. He’s not a man of principle. He’s a man who’ll say whatever you want to hear so that you’ll ignore his other deficits.
This is obvious. How is this not obvious?
I know I quote this line from preacher Tony Campolo all the time, but it’s always appropriate:
I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.
What a perfect summation of conservative Christians today.
To be sure, there’s no polling that says how much support Trump would lose if he kept swearing. All the articles about Trump cursing rely on a couple of vocal critics and a bunch of angry tweets. We have no idea how many evangelicals will stay home or vote for a Democrat if Trump says “Goddamn” every day from now until November of 2020. More likely than not, those Christians will just find a way to accommodate Trump’s swearing and tell their kids it’s just not that big of a deal. It’s what they’ve done with all of his other liabilities, so why stop now? If you can rationalize bragging about pussy-grabbing, you can rationalize a “bad word.”
But it’s telling that there are any white evangelicals out there who might be more upset about Trump using God’s name in vain than all the myriad ways he’s hurt actual people (and continues to do so).
Of all the reasons to despise him and the GOP, cursing should be the least of anyone’s worries.
(Image via Shutterstock)