Saturday, December 5, 2020

Musings on the Preference of White Christians for Demagoguery Over Democracy

   By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

The 2020 election reaffirmed that most white Christians support an unrepentant demagogue over democracy.  Trump supporters cannot claim to support democracy, which depends on free and fair elections, and support a man who continues a shameless attempt to overturn an election that he lost based on unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud.

But many Republicans have done just that, including Governor Henry McMaster of South Carolina.  McMaster said that he supports democracy and still supports Trump.  That’s political hypocrisy; and McMaster is not an exception.  Most of South Carolina’s white elected officials say they support democracy, yet they voted for a demagogue committed to destroy it.

The Trump era has left an indelible stain on American democracy that goes to its very core.  It’s especially obvious in red states like South Carolina, where Trump Republicans are now as politically entrenched as the racist Democrats who once ruled the state.  There’s a real question whether American democracy can ever recover from such partisan polarization.

The church is both a cause and effect of the demise of democracy.  Most Americans still consider themselves Christians and go to church, but most churches are racially segregated, with white Christians predominantly Republican and black Christians predominantly Democratic.  America’s religion is as polarized by race as its politics, yet its pulpits are silent on the subject.

With Trump out of the White House, the biggest obstacle to political progress is partisan polarization.  Trump and his Republican minions used partisan division to gain power, and Biden has vowed to overcome that division with reconciliation.  But many leftist Democrats are seeking partisan revenge rather than reconciliation, making a bad situation worse.

America’s two-party politics provides loyal opposition to the party in power, but a healthy democracy requires those in each party to cross party lines on critical issues.  Compromise is the art of politics, and it’s prevented by partisan polarization.  Helaine Olen has asserted that “divided government is a path to disaster.”  She’s wrong.  It’s normal in a pluralistic democracy.

When party loyalty takes precedence over providing for the common good it prevents compromise and undermines democracy.  America experienced that with Trump and his Republicans over the past four years.  Leftist Democrats like Olen are now calling for the same shortsighted and self defeating partisan strategy.  They will find it to be a path to disaster.

A politics of reconciliation is needed to defuse partisan polarization. The altruistic greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors, including those of other races and religions as we love ourselves, is taken from the Hebrew Bible, was taught by Jesus, and it’s considered a common word of faith by Muslims.  It should also be a common word of politics--a moral mandate to provide for the common good rather than divisive partisan objectives.



Henry McMaster, South Carolina’s Republican governor, said he still supports Trump for now but will acknowledge Biden win.  “One of President Donald Trump’s earliest and strongest allies, he supports the president’s efforts to resolve all questions about alleged election irregularities but will acknowledge an official win by former Vice President Joe Biden at the appropriate time. See

Helen Olen was surprised that in a recent poll indicated that “a majority of voters would prefer divided government.  With Biden in the White House they want to see a Republican Senate.  Really.”  She went on to say that if Republicans remain in control of the Senate it would be a disastrous outcome, and asked “Why won’t voters admit it?”  Perhaps most voters believe that American politics would suffer if Democrats controlled the Presidency and both houses of Congress, while Olen considers that an ideal.  She believes “People want to see results in Washington, and many believe it is dogmatic pols of both sides that are stopping it. But that’s not the issue. The problem is that one party — the Republican Party — does not want to share power. It’s transformed itself into an obstructionist force with little interest in compromise. This is why we’re struggling to make our way through a third wave of the covid-19 pandemic on the fumes of financial aid that is set to expire within weeks.”  Olen has criticized Biden for seeking bipartisan reconciliation, saying “Biden has played to what I’ve called fantasy politics for Democratic moderates. He’s claimed, for instance, that Republicans would experience an “epiphany” and work with him once they voted Trump out of the picture. The result was a tacit endorsement of ticket-splitting — something that helped give Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) another term in the Senate, and likely cost Democrats a few seats in the House.”  Olen is a Democrat who criticizes voters for not being seeped in partisan politics.  “They just want to see Washington work. They fall for the bipartisan schtick and then blame Democrats — the one party that’s actually trying to do the right thing and maintain it — when it doesn’t. As a result, it’s up to Democrats to make the stakes clear. If they can’t or won’t impress upon voters that Republican cooperation is a thing of the far distant past, it’s quite possible we will once again learn that lesson the hard way.”  It seems that Olen has partisan myopia that most voters can see beyond.


David Von Drehle has noted that President elect Joe Biden said “America is back when  he announced key members of his foreign policy team.” ‘’’But it would be a mistake to turn the clock “back” to 2016. Trump’s radical reboot has positioned Biden to start from a new place and build something better.  ...In hindsight, it’s clear that the United States gave too much and demanded too little in facilitating Beijing’s economic rise. ...The Biden administration should maintain Trump’s insistence that China fulfill its responsibilities and play by the rules — but do it smarter. In the Middle East, no longer hamstrung by our addiction to Arab oil, the United States has begun to rethink the possibilities in this seemingly impossible region. Finally, having renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement, the current administration leaves the country pointed toward shared prosperity. No wall can stem mass migrations to the United States.  People need good jobs in peaceful communities and most will prefer to stay home.  These themes constitute the best of Trump’s unconventional, sometimes dangerous, foreign policy.  On these fronts, he should push ahead.  See

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