Thursday, February 8, 2018

Testing a Political Theory

"Don't engage in divisive chatter. Listen."

The Christmas cards I wrote for Ellie and me for 2017 referred to the current political climate ( sometimes rather darkly ) and said the only thing left for committed Christians to do is "Refuse to engage in divisive chatter. Listen. And pray."

Though I have a theory, I have often wondered how those on the Christian right come to support our current president, My theory is that, like many Trump supporters, they like one or two of Trump's "core beliefs" a lot, these are different from the position of the opposition, and they support him for those few beliefs. I'm guessing that his "pro-life" position is number one on most of their lists. I further guess that they either don't understand or pay attention to the implications of most other of his positions.

My theory is based two pillars:

The generalizations with which his supporters respond when TV interviewers ask, "What do you think of how President Trump is doing?"

"He's doing a great job."
"He's fulfilling his promises."
"I like everything he's doing."

The questioner never seems to ask, "Could you be specific?"

The other pillar of my theory is, per polls that I've seen/heard about, many people were fully behind repealing Obama-care, "go Republicans." But the poll results differed greatly when asking about key features of the Affordable Care Act, features such as: covering adult children on parents' policies through age 26; covering pre-existing conditions; no life-time cap on benefits. These same people liked these features of the health care they then carried.

In response to a politically oriented group email I had published, an acquaintance communicated to me that President Trump, though he has some flaws, as everyone does, has some "great Christian ideas that have already gone forth." I had seen the polls, of course, and heard the stories, saying the Christian right favors President Trump. This was the first time I had heard this kind of talk from other than a talking head. I saw this response as an opportunity to take my Christmas card advice: shut up and listen. And test your theory.

I wrote back, saying I was very interested in what these great Christian ideas are, and asked "Would you be willing to tell me what some of them
( or all of them, if you wish ) are?"  I believe I was not confrontational; I did not want to be that way and I do really want to listen and learn.

As it happened, President Trump gave his first State of the Union talk prior to my acquaintance's response.  This was convenient for her, as her response referenced the talk and said he "made it pretty clear what his priorities are." After this she listed three specifics. Three.

While I am not finished exploring this question with my acquaintance, I believe this response supports my theory: generalized and vague support; the support is based on very few specific policies of the president's.

Perhaps her three items are only the first on a long list; perhaps they're the only three she can name. I'm hoping to find out.

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