I get this question a lot so I figured I better write about it. Here it is: “Why are evangelical voters attracted to Donald Trump? I don’t get it.” Well, you may think the answer is a complicated one but actually it’s not. Let me explain.
Donald Trump operates in a world of absolutes. A world of right and wrong; a world of winners (him) and losers (McCain, Perry, etc); a world of put up or shut up (literally). Trump’s world is colored in black and white. Their ain’t much grey. And what does Trump get for speaking out so boldly without holding back? Public ridicule.
Now, think of conservative evangelicals. In their quest to champion biblical values, their mindset is much the same. It is a world of absolutes. They believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God. Non-negotiable. They believe there is only one way to heaven and that is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Non-negotiable. They see the world through the lens of spiritual warfare (good vs. evil). And what do evangelicals get for speaking out so boldly without holding back? That’s right: public ridicule.
You see folks; Donald Trump and evangelicals are breaking bread together because there is this common bond that I just laid out above. They like his boldness. They relate to him because when they’ve been bold about their faith they get blasted too. It’s a kinship in a strange sort of way. Don’t ask me to go deeper than that folks. If you want that portion, go call Dr. Phil.
Now look: when Trump talks about how he doesn’t really ask God for forgiveness except for when he partakes in communion, that obviously is not the evangelical textbook answer. But at least they appreciate his honesty and with politicians nowadays that is a valued commodity. Remember, evangelicals don’t want to hear politicians feed them the ‘I love Jesus’ line and then treat them and their issues as a political vehicle just to acquire presidential power. Remember 2004 when the Bush-Cheney ticket came out with their big, “Family Values” theme? The Federal Marriage Amendment was trumped up as the big thing and there was a concerted effort to attract evangelicals to the polls on this issue. Traditional marriage initiatives were placed on more than ten states to gin up the General Election vote. But behind the scenes, we find out later that the guy who orchestrated the whole thing, campaign manager Ken Mehlman was a homosexual who really didn’t believe in the whole effort but it sure was good for political business. One unnamed governor who led a state effort to push traditional marriage said, “Looking back, we all now know we were played for chumps as we led sincere efforts to pass Constitutional amendments in our states…I led one in 2004 that won by 70 percent, only to now realize that those running the White House didn’t respect or even agree with the principles involved-just knew it would drive voters to the polls and help turnout and win.” Here’s the point with evangelicals: they’d rather someone be honest about their views about God. The honesty resonates with them and you know what evangelicals will probably end up doing? Instead of hating Trump, they’ll put him on a church “prayer chain” and get on their knees themselves and pray that Donald Trump draws closer to God through this process. Liberals don’t snicker. It’s true.
One final point: when I talk to evangelicals about Donald Trump, as much as they like a lot of things he says, they don’t appreciate his name-calling and hefty ego. What they tell me is that if he can control those two aspects of his delivery and persona without losing who he is as a person, then that would help them get to an even more comfortable place.
David Brody is Chief Political Correspondent for CBN News.