The post-Christian culture wars - 2019-11-26
Republicans control the White House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court. They have 27 governorships and governing trifectas in 21 states. But many conservatives — particularly Christian conservatives — believe they're being routed in the war that matters most: the post-Christian culture war. They see a diverse, secular left winning the future and preparing to eviscerate both Christian practice and traditional mores. And they see themselves as woefully unprepared to respond with the ruthlessness that the moment requires.
Enter Donald Trump. Whatever Trump's moral failings, he's a street fighter suited for an era of political combat. Christian conservatives believe — rightly or wrongly — that they've been held back by their sense of righteousness, grace, and gentility, with disastrous results. Trump operates without restraint. He is the enemy they believe the secular deserve, and perhaps unfortunately, the champion they need. Understanding this dynamic is crucial to understanding the psychology that attracts establishment Republicans to Trump, and convinces them that his offense is their best defense.
If this sound exaggerated, consider two recent speeches given by Attorney General William Barr. Barr is a particularly important kind of figure in the Trump world. He previously served as attorney general under George H.W. Bush, and had settled into a comfortable twilight as a respected member of the Republican legal establishment. It's the support of establishment Republicans like Barr that gives Trump his political power and protects him from impeachment. But why would someone like Barr spend the end of his career serving a man like Trump?