Thursday, August 4, 2016

Why are evangelicals supporting Trump? (Try abortion.)

Damon Linker muses at The Week:
Why would voters who engage in politics in large part because of their attachment to a social-conservative agenda rally around a blustering, bragging vulgarian who's on his third marriage; who specializes in such un-Christ-like behavior as mocking a reporter with a disability; who favors such policies as rounding up and deporting millions, torturing terrorism suspects, banning the members of specific religions from entering the United States, and striking first with nuclear weapons; and perhaps most pertinent of all, who shows no interest in, knowledge of, or sympathy for the social-conservative agenda?
Linker goes on to list a variety of reasons — ranging from a seemingly misguided belief that Trump has recently accepted Jesus into his heart to (more to the point) a belief that Trump will basically act as a mob enforcer "protecting" their neighborhood. One word Linker surprisingly never uses: Abortion.

Here's Pew: 
About half of white evangelical Protestant voters (52%) say the issue of abortion will be “very important” in deciding who to vote for in the 2016 election, as do 46% of Catholics. By contrast, 37% of religious “nones” and 31% of white mainline Protestants say abortion will factor prominently in their voting decision. But even among white evangelicals and Catholics, more consider issues like the economy, terrorism, foreign policy and immigration to be very important than say the same about abortion.
If anything, I'd say that understates abortion as a factor for evangelical voters. Not all of them are single-issue voters, as the Pew numbers indicate. But my years spent among conservative Christians suggests to me that there are many of them who vote almost exclusively on the abortion issue: There is literally nothing more important to them — indeed, for many, there is literally nothing else important to them.

Now: Donald doesn't seem like a likely candidate for pro-life president. (Indeed, there's reason to believe he's personally benefited from the right to choose.)  But there are a couple of other factors:

• Pro-life voters will never, ever vote for Hillary Clinton. They're not dumb: They see every outside-the-norm thing Donald has done and said in recent months, but they identify her so strongly with advocacy for abortion rights that they see Hillary as the infinitely worse option.

• Donald has hinted he'll defer to conservative sensibilities on appointment to the Supreme Court. That seems iffy, but it gives pro-life voters something to throw the dice on.

For such voters, it boils down to this: A slight chance Donald will aid their fight against abortion is better than zero chance that Hillary will. It's the Pascal's Wager of the election.

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