Culture Overwhelms Politics…Eventually

American politics is no longer about politics. Genuinely political disputes revolve around the role of government, around contending policies. That today’s GOP is consumed by very different issues should have become clear when the Party simply dispensed with the production of a platform.

Jennifer Rubin recently reported on a study of Evangelicals conducted by PRRI, the Public Religion Research Institute. The study confirmed what has become obvious to political observers: people who identify as Evangelical are claiming a political label, not a theological one. These are the voters who form the base–and constitute the majority–of today’s GOP.

A striking 71 percent of these voters think the country has gone downhill since the 1950s (when women were excluded from most professions, Black Americans faced barriers to voting, 50 million Americans still used outhouses and only about 5 percent of Americans were college-educated). Because White Protestant evangelicals make up such a large share of the GOP, that means 66 percent of Republicans want to go back to the time of “Leave It to Beaver.

Other results from the research fill in the blanks. Six in ten white evangelical Protestants (61%) believe that there is discrimination against white Americans and that such discrimination is “as big a problem as discrimination against racial minorities.”
Some 58 percent of all Americans realize that white supremacy is still a major problem, but only 33 percent of White Evangelical Protestants agree– the lowest percentage among all religious groups.

Fifty-one percent are convinced that public teachers and librarians are indoctrinating students with “inappropriate” curricula and books.

Fifty-four percent of Evangelicals believe in the “big lie” of a stolen election.

And on immigration, only 30 percent of Americans buy into the “great replacement theory.” But 51 percent of White evangelical Protestants agree that “immigrants are invading our country and replacing our cultural and ethnic background.”

I’m personally appalled by that “only” thirty percent figure…But I digress. As Rubin sums up the findings,

In a nutshell, this group’s beliefs clash with the essence of the American experiment and conflict with objective facts, demography and economics. White evangelical Protestants’ outlook is warped by right-wing media and refracted through a prism of visceral anger and resentment.

That “visceral anger and resentment” are in response to–and in conflict with– the current state of American culture.

Today’s Republicans are rejecting reality. As Rubin quite correctly notes, they want something that is unattainable. America is steadily becoming less White, less male-dominated and less religious, and no election, no politician can change that. Women are not going docilely back to the kitchen; Black and Brown folks aren’t going to regain a shuffle and “know their place.” White guys who want to be dominant are going to have to prove their bona fides–they will no longer wield control merely by virtue of their gender and skin color.

Moreover, White evangelicals are fundamentally out of step with the majority American opinion on everything from abortion to immigration to the legitimacy of the 2020 election. That, too, won’t change, no matter how angry they become.

The anger and frustration uncovered by the PRRI study (and confirmed by several others) does explain the willingness of the  GOP base to support incredibly flawed candidates.  People who feels besieged don’t cast their votes on the basis of candidate merit; as Rubin says, they “don’t much care about a candidate’s smarts, ethics or decency. Faced with a perceived existential threat, these Americans are inclined to support anyone who gives voice to their frustrations.”

That is the answer to the persistent question–why?— from those of us who have been at a loss to understand why any sane American would vote for Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Donald Trump or the other numerous, despicable culture warriors who currently populate the once-Grand Old Party.

Even the most casual student of history realizes that cultural change eventually dictates political policies and movements. But zealots hostile to the culture can do enormous damage in the meantime.

If it takes control of the House or Senate next Tuesday, the current iteration of the GOP can and probably will reverse years of social and economic progress. At a bare minimum, it will continue its assault on immigration, do further harm to the environment, and withdraw support for Ukraine– upending the global balance of power. It will weaponize its ongoing assaults on women, people of color and non-Christians, and do enormous damage to America’s constitutional liberties and to the rule of law.

What it can’t do–what it has absolutely no interest in doing–is govern.


  1. Regarding the summary of what the GOP can do, I’d be very worried about so-called “entitlements,” like social security, medicaid, and medicare. Just like Roe, the GOP always said they wanted to change it, and no one believed they really would.

    An interesting question to ponder: why do the GOP hate “entitlements”? Is it because they reject wealth distribution as stealing? Is it because their religion equates wealth/success with piety and worthiness? Is it because it helps level the playing field for marginalized groups, and others that they resent or despise? Is it because they are greedy, selfish assholes? (Personally, I bet it’s all of these, and probably more awful reasons.)

  2. IMHO, results appear to be gathered from those who are active in their chosen religion and politics has overcome their sermons. The Public Religion Research Institute is more interested in what party the actively religious vote for than what religion active voters have chosen. I am sick of religion being crammed into all orifices of my anatomy day after day. Their vaulted evangelical/political leader is Donald Trump who claims whatever current religion is supporting him as he claimed his changing political affiliations through the years. How much influence did the choice of religion-led Pence as Trump’s running mate have to do with the current fanatical religious political White Nationalist MAGA party’s hold on the government and the public today. Trump and Pence are now publicly at-odds to the extreme within the Republican party after January 6th Insurrection when Pence, directly against Trump’s ORDERS, followed democracy, Rule of Law and the Constitution to complete the 2020 presidential election count. Pence still doesn’t have the balls to go public to speak against his former partner-in-crime as they established the evangelical Republican party and took over the Supreme Court of the United States of America which now bases laws on their personal religious beliefs.

    How can a private citizen, even a FORMER PRESIDENT, Donald Trump appeal to the Supreme Court to protect them from responding to legal federal and civil subpoenas and continue hiding their tax returns for approximately THIRTY YEARS? The government continues with their own BIGGER LIE, that no one is above the law. The January 6th Investigation Committee, with all of their investigating are also stymied in their attempts to directly confront Trump with evidence, and their own knowledge, of his planning and leadership of the insurrection.

    “If it takes control of the House or Senate next Tuesday, the current iteration of the GOP can and probably will reverse years of social and economic progress.”

    Be afraid, be very afraid and VOTE BLUE NO MATTER WHO! We are headed to falling over the edge of their flat earth society.

  3. The reactionary arm of the Republicans always hated Social Security calling it socialism. They launched a failed attempt to do away with it after FDR was able to get it passed. The Supreme Court either refused to hear the case or told the R’s no. I do not remember which.

    BTW, in the US the highest rate of teenage pregnancy and marriages was in the 1950’s.

  4. Social security is NOT an entitlement program. It’s a benefits program that we pay into. Huge difference.

    They cannot force millions of seniors into destitution, but it does make them sound like they are attacking the poor who receive food stamps and Medicaid. You can’t force people into being destitute when forcing the economy into a recession (see the Federal Reserve’s policies).

    The GOP and DNC are both reactionaries at this point. Very few people support Ukraine once you remove all the bot farms from social media. Europeans sure don’t want to freeze this winter, but the media is clamoring that Ukraine needs NATO unity. It’s fake support based on lies and propaganda. That is the basis of the DNC – lies, and propaganda. The GOP then play off of those lies with their own.

    Meanwhile, the theft by the oligarchy continues unabated. There are glimmers of hope on the economic front only because of necessity – not because the oligarchs aren’t less greedy.

    COP26 was an epic failure. Let’s hope COP27 reverses course…we need more than media sound bytes.

  5. Politics and politicians delve into religion and the clergy of religion delves into politics, although never the twain should meet!

    Modern day evangelicals believe that religion should enter and control and even merge with politics and help to clean it up! But, are these religious leaders able to clean up politics?

    Jesus Christ is quoted as telling the political authorities of the day, that his kingdom was not of an earthly source! That his kingdom was not on earth! He told his followers to be kind to their fellow man, be kind to widows and orphans, be kind to the poor, help the infirmed, pay your taxes to the superior authorities, give honor to those authorities! Nowhere will you find Christ saying to fight against man’s government! And nowhere as mentioned earlier does Christ tell his followers to become involved in politics.

    So, if this is a so-called Christian nation, then Christian religions would not be involved in politics! But, they are! There is a theme in Scripture, it is one of repentance, it is one of empathy, and it is one of forgiveness! It tells us to love God, and that’s in the old and New Testament, also love your neighbor, also in the Old and New Testament and also love your enemy which is in the old and New Testament!

    But you have politicians reaching out to religion, and you have religions reciprocating the same reach. During war, you have Catholics on one side, say in Italy, fighting Catholics on the other side, say the United States! Both countries and both Catholic factions believe that their country is backed by God, and they bless the weapons of war on both sides! Catholics slaughtering catholics, Christians slaughtering Christians, all supposedly blessed by God?

    The hypocrisy of clergy delving into man’s politics is more than hypocritical, it’s like the Pharisees and Sadducees of the Sanhedrin that basically rewrote sections of the Mosaic law to make it more strenuous and unfortunately more political, for the average person to remain faithful to that law.

    That is why there is no spirituality in religion, the worst atrocities on this planet is directly related to religious influence!

    Philosophers and philosophy became God’s and Scripture! Philosophizers became philosophical Prophets not connected to scripture. The bad burning in Hell and the good going to Heaven is Philosophical and not Scriptural.

    The religious point to Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, this is just from our most recent past, they committed some of the worst atrocities in history, and people claim they were atheistic, but they actually were extremely religious and were raised and schooled by their religious parents in religious institutions! And not just the Christian religion. They looked for religious counselors that tickled their ears so they could soothe their conscience in what they wanted to accomplish! Most of it which cost tremendous amounts of life!

    It really is not difficult to win a debate against a religious zealot because it’s not difficult to point out their hypocrisy and lack of understanding concerning scripture itself and how much of their Dogma is not from scripture but philosophers philosophical teachings and philosophical writings………

    I would suggest you read the book “Religion and Revolution!” It’s quite fascinating and hits the nail on the head explaining the power grabbing and control over the masses. It has nothing to do with God, but everything to do with authority and control over one’s fellow man! It happens over and over throughout history and still, no one ever figures out how to learn what scripture actually says and dispel and disprove the constant din of Dogma claiming to be from God’s word when it comes from near do Wells and con artists!

    Until all of this changes nothing will change, and that is unfortunately the same chapters of History being written over and over again the exact same way. And that is really too bad. The demise of humanity has been written for millennia, but, comprehension has been sorely lacking! I remember about 4 or 5 years ago on this blog saying “if it’s time, it’s time!” I would say a majority thought that was ridiculous, but, here we are! If you had 100 trillion humans sticking a fully functional grenade in their mouth with the pin pulled and the lever released, how many would survive? 0!

    And yet, you still have humanity doing that very thing, but, expecting a different outcome! It’s so stupid all you can do is laugh!

  6. The leaders of organized religions have always used their positions of power to control the minds and beliefs of their congregants and this seems especially true of the evangelical leaders. The use of fear keeps the money flowing into their coffers and maintains or even enables them to increase their power.

    Even though members of both political parties in Congress cater to their wealthy donors in order to maintain their employment and power, it is the gop members that have increasingly used fear mongering to ensure their base keeps them in office. It has worked for them ever since Newt Gingrich came up with the plan to use hatred and fear mongering forty years ago. It’s as if this tactic was taken right out of the evangelical preachers’ playbook.

    The number of people that want loud and obnoxious leaders to tell them what to think and believe appears to be growing. The internet and cable tv have provided many snake oil sales people with easy access to their victims.

  7. Unfortunately, six of those people who long for the “Leave it to Beaver” days, are on the Supreme Court.

  8. Only one rebuttal, to the statement “ As Rubin quite correctly notes, they want something that is unattainable.”

    That’s not true. Many groups throughout history realized your can attain things through murder.

    I transported a man to the VA hospital today. He talked nonstop, but casually mentioned that “it’s too bad that the only way we’ll get this country back is by paying in blood.”

    If conservatives embrace the “Big Lie,” progressives embrace the “Great Blind Spot.” If they personally wouldn’t do something, they assume the other side won’t either. It is a dangerous fantasy.

  9. Evangelicals thought Protestant Christian culture defined the country when I was first exposed to the culture 70-75 years ago. In fact, John F Kennedy was considered an outsider in politics because he was Catholic. We were told “freedom of religion”, and agreed, as long as it was our religion people were free to join.

    The world changed due to overpopulation and technology and there was a shift from the old world to the new world. Not surprisingly that shift brought good and bad in its wake. A global economy but competition from other suppliers in exchange for new global markets. Increased mobility and communications. The usual troubles in those “other” countries. One of the results was more free time for us, and more free entertainment to fill it.

    Rupert Murdoch saw the opportunity and threw some of his wealth and power at it. He already knew the target audience from experience in other countries. Control freaks. He knew that they would feel out of control and desperate for “news” that pretended to be able to restore what they were missing.

    The rest is the current history leading up to tomorrow. We get to choose between their control and our freedom.

  10. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, er Florida, the locals have found a new way to screw minorities. Never let a little thing like a devastating hurricane interfere with the business of cutting people out of the voting process. It seems there just aren’t enough poll workers to have a voting site in the poorest and blackest part of sunny Fort Myers.

  11. Todd – re your comment about SS not being an entitlement.

    There is the Spousal benefit. A person that never worked or paid into SS can receive 1/2 of their spouse’ SS benefit if he/she is at least 62. That is definitely an entitlement and should be eliminated in my opinion.

    There is also the Survivor benefit where a widow or widower who never worked or paid into SS can receive their deceased spouses’ benefit as early as age 60. I don’t know why they can receive SS at age 60 when those of us that work must wait until age 62.

    Finally, there are also situations where a widow or widower that never worked can receive SS benefits at any age if they take care of dependent children of the deceased. That is a situation I can understand, but still bothers me that it comes out of the SS fund. I would prefer that a separate fund be established for this purpose.

    Medicare can also be considered an entitlement for people that turn 65 who never worked or paid FICA taxes. You only need to be a US citizen and be 65 or older.

  12. Todd, I know that. That’s why I put “entitlements” in quotes. The GOP doesn’t accept that, though. The GOP considers any time money is given to people (especially non-white, non-christian, non-male, non-straight people) to be an “entitlement”. For them, of course, the exception is corporations; giving money to them is perfectly fine. Socialism for the wealthy and corporations is great; but not ever for the people who really need it. Their view is so perfectly opposite to mine that it’s actually disorienting for me.

  13. It’s good to be so old as to not anticipate seeing the end game of our democracy. Marx was right, and the idiot-level capitalists are using EVERYTHING to justify their greed and overwhelming lust for power over others. IF the Republicans win Congress this time, watch for a flood of legislation that removes the rest of the regulations keeping Wall Street, et. al., in check. They are SO very eager to destroy our economy for the sake of their next quarterly report that using religion as another club, is just another day of doing business the Republican way.

    BTW, Beaver and the Cleavers never really existed. It, like today’s Republican party, was just a fantasy camp for the dumbest among us.

  14. Considering that a large percentage of GOP voters are seniors, I don’t understand why they would vote for a party that would take away SS and Medicare. Imagine what it would do to the economy if that were to happen. Ignorance rules!

  15. If a person believes something religiously, that means they will continue to believe it regardless of any arguments or evidence to the contrary. That is the meaning of faith. It is easy to confuse hope with faith but they are not the same. Hope exists within the framework of reality. Faith ignores reality. Therefore, it is impossible to win a debate against a religious zealot, if by winning you mean convincing them that they are wrong. It pains me when faith is represented as a positive character trait because to disconnect from reality is ultimately destructive. Much better to be able to contemplate the possibility that you may be wrong.
    Also, the GOP doesn’t hate entitlements and wealth redistribution so long as they are the entitled and the wealth is flowing toward them.

  16. Nancy, your position would be more acceptable to me if poor people didn’t have to pay taxes. Anyone who buys anything is paying a portion of ALL the taxes that contributed to the cost of that item. Gas tax, property tax, sales tax, FICA and all the rest, impact the cost of everything from a can of beans to a condo. Consumers indirectly “eat” all of those costs.
    Very poor people must spend almost all their income on necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, etc. This leaves them very little opportunity to provide for emergencies, illness, or old age.
    I can’t prove it, but I suspect that, considering all these indirect costs to consumers, poor people pay a much higher tax rate on their income than do wealthy people. And, all too often, their poverty is not their fault, but simply inescapable.

  17. Popes chose emperors for the Holy Roman Empire. There was no vote of the people and the discarded Greek agora/demos idea of self-government was centuries in their wake. Among others, popes selected Charles the Great (Charlemagne) who, among other governing disabilities, was illiterate, which reminded me of the current Republican nomination of Herschel, with Republicans playing the role of the popes and Herschel playing the role of Charlemagne in a scenario where both Herschel and Charlemagne are rubber stamps for higher authority.

    This is in tune with one of the fundamental disconnects between democracy and religion wherein both lay claim to not only authority but the exclusive right to exercise it. Thus small d adherents demand a separation of church and state and religionists demand a mixture of the two. Behind such competing ideas, as usual, lurk many of today’s politicians who are politically agnostic as to honestly fleshing out one idea or the other but who use religion and references to a society that never was in their quest for power, such as Trump, MTG, Boebert, among other such socioeconomic and geopolitical illiterates.

    So what now? Is democracy a perfect system? Of course not! No system that purports to perfectly govern such an unruly and disparate aggregation of gullible, fearful and scheming humans can ever be perfect. Perfection is a concept that can never be attained, but we can keep trying to attain this abstraction, and a good start would be to vote Democratic next Tuesday. I already have, and generic Democrats lead 1-0.

  18. Your statistics may be correct but I don’t think you’ve truly figured out the why yet.

    You explained the “leave it to Beaver” era from the outside. All those cultural flaws that were not in the fake TV show. Nostalgia can be alluring and seen with rose colored glasses. But to say that this bloc of voters are actively desiring all those external flaws is not really what’s going on.

    The down hill slide from the 1950 is not all about culture. As a leftist, not a liberal, or a democrat for that matter, I see the culture wars and identity politics as a huge factor of modern day political theater. The two parties weaponize race, gender, immigration, sexuality, etc., as political insults to hurl at each other, not actually solve anything.

    Obviously societies move towards progressive values naturally because it’s morally right. But politicians and pundits and self appointed media “influencers” push the narrative that everything is a threat to all that’s great and perfect about America. They would rather yell at each other, then solve the issue.

    Everyone on side A is repulsive, hateful, angry, and 100% wrong about everything. And everyone on side B is beautiful, loving, reasonable, and 100% right about everything.

    There is almost zero difference if you swap A and B with either party. (To the people in the B party that is.)

    This is of course not what people actually think on real issues, and that’s what the two parties are trying to accomplish. Hate and disgust for the other side over personalities, identity, race, religion, social status, zip code. Because neither side has any solution to offer.

    As a leftist, do you know what I see when I think about the “Leave it to Beaver” era. A family with a house and car on a single income. Never any real worry about medical bills, college costs, retirement, etc. Now isn’t that the American dream for EVERY American?

    What happened to all that?

    Ronald Reagan, and every President since happened. Though Nixon and Carter started the ball rolling.

    The 50s were end of the short lived era of the working class. After the Great Depression and WWII, America became a place where salaries and benefits increased on par with production.

    But since Reagan, salaries remained stagnant and benefits are all but gone, and it now takes two salaries to raise a family, and 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Surviving on a razor thin margin, and under constant anxiety, and often can’t leave their current job for something better because they’ll lose their healthcare.

    And neither party is willing to truly fight for Americans against the corruption and influence of the mega corporations and Wall Street tycoons.

    They’d rather everyone just fight over bathrooms, and flags, and wedding cakes, and chicken sandwiches.

    There’s solutions to the major issues all Americans are facing. We just lack true leadership on OUR side. And we have lacked it for a long time. Since Like leave it to beaver was on.

    I am not anyone’s enemy.

  19. In ‘75, my father died of a heart attack. He had already been declared disabled about 6 months earlier around his 42nd birthday from the near fatal heart attack he had prior. My Mother worked in a factory and my dad also worked as a lathe operator in a different factory. Two of my oldest siblings had left home and my mom was left to raise 3 teens by herself. She too was 42. That survivor check my mom got saved our home and future so that we didn’t end up homeless on top of losing dad. My siblings and I received social security dependent checks until we finished school or turned 22, whichever came first. Those checks kept us out of jail and from ending up homeless too. Sometimes people need help even if we never paid in. If someone feels otherwise or that we didn’t deserve that support I ask, what the heck is wrong with you? Where is your decency? Empathy? Sympathy?

  20. Sharon makes some good points, one of which is that poverty may be inescapable. Piketty in the first two of his books (especially his first, Capital in the Twenty First Century) explains at length how those who inherit wealth do not deserve it, introducing a moral test to the acquisition of great wealth. (See Musk, Trump et al.). The same test should be applied to those in poverty, who have inherited a poverty-stricken future through no fault of their own.

    Unfortunately, we have been led to believe that those possessed of great wealth are somehow harder working and more moral in their quest for even more wealth than the poverty-stricken, who have no such opportunities. There is an occasional and refreshing breakthrough from this clerical/Wall Street model, such as that of the poverty-stricken son of a bankrupt Scottish farmer who discovered penicillin, Sir Alexander Fleming, whose discovery saved billions of lives, including mine.

    The moral of this mini-essay and the reference to Fleming is designed to show how we are all losers in refusing to afford opportunity to the poor to live out their aspirations and advance the common good which I often describe elsewhere as “How many budding Einsteins do we have working second shift at the 7-11 whose talents will never be known due to lack of opportunity?” Thus perhaps free education at all levels is one of the best investments we can make. Socialism? Whatever the ism, consider the possibility that an ex-7-11 employee discovers the cure for all forms of cancer in his/her lab some dark and stormy night – speaking of the common good.

  21. IT IS A CULT.

    As is Catholicism, Islam, and Judaism.

    Western civilization (for lack of a better term), will only progress as Abrahamic religions fade away.

    Until then, there will never be a shortage of brainwashed cultists willing to vote against their own interests for the sakes of their Lord(s).

  22. IT IS A CULT.

    As is Catholicism, Islam, and Judaism.

    Western civilization (for lack of a better term), will only progress as Abrahamic religions fade away.

    Until then, there will never be a shortage of brainwashed cultists willing to vote against their own interests for the sakes of their Lord(s).

  23. Many Native American tribal leaders were the poorest members of their groups, in terms of material possessions. They would not think to leave members of their group starve or lack shelter while they had both. It was/is the “culture” of the Native Americans. They embraced all of creation as their “relatives.” Our “culture” deifies the Almighty Dollar and so here we are. Polls are showing that “Inflation” is the No. 1 voting issue. Seriously????????

    And, I saw a wonderful bumper sticker this weekend:
    Avoid Religion
    Follow Jesus

  24. Sharon, I wasn’t stating a position about SS being an entitlement or having earned it by working and paying into it. I was merely clarifying that both SS and Medicare sometimes truly are entitlements if a person receives them without ever having worked and paid taxes into those funds. Most of us have worked and paid the required taxes in order to receive them upon retirement.

    I completely agree with your comment about the poor having to pay a larger share of their income in the form of taxes. Everyone that works and pays FICA taxes has earned the right to SS and Medicare. I also believe that the income limit for being charged FICA taxes should have been increased a long time ago and should be increased annually with inflation. Maybe there shouldn’t even be an income limit, but instead be charged FICA taxes on the entire income of high earners. The high earners enjoy the benefits of tax loopholes and deductions that lower income earners can only dream of.

  25. ALG: Quite a story there, and one I never knew about. Thanks to you and your family for your fight to survive and survive despite the obstacles. I always enjoy your posts.

  26. …fight to survive despite the obstacles. (Sorry for the doublespeak. Sunday football distraction back there!)

  27. AgingLGirl – your Mom’s and yours and your siblings’ survivor benefits did exactly what they were supposed to do. Your dad worked and paid FICA taxes into the system. Survivor benefits actually are an entitlement, but they helped all of you survive when needed and provided value to society in general by keeping your heads above water.

  28. Tom,your contribution was the most realistic post on the thread. Of course,being the most enlightening post among the usual platitudes didn’t garner much attention from the gallery.

    Which is why everyone is sick of liberalism. Democrats have become as threatening to the oligarchy as if the party were two old ladies discussing the merits of doilies in an upscale tearoom.

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