Peter Espeut | Trump shouldn't be the focus
Opinion polls in the United States show that as of three days ago - August 21, 2018 - President Donald Trump had an approval rating of 41.8 per cent and a disapproval rating of 52.8 per cent. The approval ratings of some former presidents at the same point in their presidencies (day 579) were Jimmy Carter (39.9%), Ronald Reagan (40.9%), Bill Clinton (43.0%), and Barack Obama (45.6%).
Trump's ratings are not the highest, but then they are not the lowest either; and that is what is remarkable: for a president who is a certified serial liar, who admits to groping women, who has been unfaithful to his wife with multiple floozies, who has paid hush money to prevent them from going public, who uses the presidency to enrich himself, and who is suspected of colluding with the Russians to subvert the US electoral system, his ratings are actually pretty good!
In the decades to come, millions of words will be written analysing this present extraordinary period in American history, where the largely well-educated citizens of this prosperous nation have made themselves the laughing stock of the world for electing this misfit.
The analysis, however, should not focus on Trump, for he did not elect himself. In another age, he would not have made it into the primaries. The analysis should focus on the demographics of the Trumpites, and their reasons for supporting him.
Much of the analysis so far has focused on Trump's (and middle America's) racism; the Democrats have interpreted his mantra to "make America great again" to mean "make America white again", and there the analysis has concluded, for racism in the USA is notorious and egregious, and no further explanation seems to be needed.
This plausible conclusion by the Democrats is superficial and self-serving, for it places blame on others, and avoids any consideration that the source of the phenomenon may lay within the Democratic manifesto.
An important demographic that intensely supports Donald Trump, and may, in fact, be the bedrock of his numbers, is the religious Right. On the face of it, this seems perverse, since the religious Right campaigns against liars, adulterers, and those in bed with communists.
Any theory that seeks to explain the Trump phenomenon must account for why the religious Right - and, in particular, Evangelical Christians - would be in rabid support for someone whose personal morality is the very antithesis of what they stand for.
Fundamentalists appreciate that God used the idol-worshipping King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 BC to destroy Israel and take them into exile because of Israel's wickedness: The Lord Almighty says this: "'Because you have not listened to my words, I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon," declares the Lord, "and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants" And then in 539 BC, the pagan Cyrus, king of Persia, was used by God to conquer Babylon, and to liberate the Israelites to return to Zion and rebuild the temple (see Isaiah 44:28).
It seems that the religious Right in the USA believe that God is using the 'pagan' Donald Trump to free America from the grips of LGBT and pro-abortion activists who dominate the Democratic Party; and so they don't care what Trump is found guilty of (they expect him to act like the pagan that he is), as long as he puts the right Supreme Court justices in place to overturn Roe v Wade and the gay marriage ruling.
When Trump is impeached or forced to resign, the nightmare will not be over for the Democrats, as Vice-President Pence will take over and complete the anti-LGBT agenda. Pence will certainly not be as abrasive and offensive as Trump, and the rest of the world will relax a little.
- Peter Espeut is a sociologist and development scientist. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.