There has been a lot of speculation about the institutions and traditions that may be left in an irredeemable state after the train wreck of a campaign that Donald Trump has run. Certainly I would say that unless the Republican Party acts quickly to distance themselves from the man - which many in the party already are working to do, of course - his campaign may destroy any chance they have of glimpsing the presidency again without significant restructuring. In fact, no less prominent a figure than president George W. Bush said he was worried that he would be "the last Republican president".
Trump's campaign may also herald at the very least a restructuring of the way presidential campaigns are covered by the media. The major televised news coverage of this campaign has been an absolute clown show that appears to be visibly crushing the spirits of any legitimate journalist who comes near to it. The unwillingness of reporters to call out blatant lies out of fear that they will be accused of bias is unsustainable, irresponsible, and when it comes to Donald Trump perhaps even unethical.
His campaign may also thankfully cause irreparable harm to previously underground hate groups that felt this was their time to make a move and go public. Donald Trump will now almost certainly be defeated, and the racist, jingoist militant groups lurking in the shadows of American society have been brought into the light before they can accomplish their goals. I see this as a positive, in the long run, and a major blow to the ultra-right.
But I'm interested today in the possible ramifications of Trump's candidacy on an institution that has not really been discussed in depth this election: the "Christian right", and the "Moral Majority". Since the 1940s - and more blatantly since the great abortion debate of the 1970s - American evangelicals and conservative Catholics have enjoyed an uneasy alliance that has formed the backbone of the Republican Party's membership and voting population. Members of the Christian Right are primarily united over a select number of social issues, like abortion, stem cell research, traditional family structures and sexuality, etc. and over time conservative economic models and the like have been woven into the fabric of their platform.
The Christian Right voting bloc has proven to be very influential, representing as it does a large sub-section of the American people. Indeed, being a good evangelical Christian in America has become synonymous with voting Republican. In all that time the Republican Party candidate for president, and pretty much any office really, has had to be a conservative Christian. And, for the most part, even when I have vehemently disagreed with their economic positions or their proposed solutions to social ills, I have at least been able on some level to respect their faith and conviction. When George Bush, or John McCain, or many others have said that they are faithful Christians, I have done them the service of taking them at their word.
But that foundation has been showing pretty significant and growing cracks for some time now. The necessary binding of conservative Christian ideals to secular conservative ideals has necessarily led supposedly good, "pro-life" Christians to support the death penalty, to deny equal treatment to minorities, to support disastrous imperialist wars and the torturing of prisoners, and to advocate mass gun ownership and self-defense even though Christ said plainly "Do not resist the one who does evil, but when someone strikes you upon one cheek turn and offer them the other also" -Matthew 5:39. I thought perhaps it might all come apart when Mitt Romney became the strongest available presidential candidate from the Republican Party. I wasn't sure how the Religious Right would react to a Mormon candidate, but they did largely decide to get behind him in the end. It helped that he was a legitimate conservative and reasonably good person.
This last year, I have looked around and seen nothing but monsters on the right. Everywhere I have turned I have seen despicable individuals that are clearly just paying lip service to any real Christianity, and who merely have to say in a speech that they are against abortion and they will have throngs of adoring voters, even if there is clear evidence that they are corrupt, greedy liars who will say anything to get elected. I am reminded of Penn Jillette who said in a Big Think video "I have tried with friends to say the most blasphemous sentence I can possibly say, and it does not come close to the blasphemy of Michelle Bachman saying that earthquakes and hurricanes where the way God was trying to get the attention of Politicians."
Which brings me at last to Donald Trump, because Donald Trump is the epitome of all that Christianity is against. We have come to a point where the vast majority of the Christian Right, who believe that voting for the Republican candidate for president is an exercise of their faith, will be voting for a greedy, manipulative, vengeful, wrathful, tax-dodging, lying, racist, jingoist, megalomaniacal demagogue and serial adulterer who has defrauded thousands of employees, students, and business people, sexually assaulted dozens of women, encouraged foreign entities to commit cyber crimes against the US, and quite possibly raped children (seriously). None of that is an exaggeration, and is just a partial list of his crimes against God and humanity. If there is such a thing as an anti-Christ, it is Donald Trump. It is absolutely unconscionable to vote for Donald Trump, and I feel doing so may finally expose the Christian Right for what it is: a diseased, corrupted institution benefiting from the rote routine following of otherwise good and faithful people who simply have not been able to see it yet.
Oh, and Happy All Saints' Day :/
May God bring a swift and peaceful end to this election.