Nice bit of eye-popping, soul-crushing, but ultimately predictable data journalism in The New York Times from Thomas B. Edsall this morning. According to a recent poll, during Obama's second term an overwhelming majority of white evangelicals thought immoral politicians couldn't do their jobs, but now an overwhelming majority of white evangelicals think immoral politicians can do their jobs.
Here's a nice little graph to illustrate that claim, which would serve perhaps just as well to illustrate the capriciousness of the Republican moral conscience:
When Obama was in office, only 30% of white evangelicals would forgive a president's immoral behavior. Now it's 72%. https://t.co/c6FlHbziMi pic.twitter.com/VTNov7TJRk
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) September 14, 2017
I wonder what changed? Oh yeah, the President is white now.
So it's not that they believe in nothing, they just don't believe in what they say they believe in. As Edsall mentions, "all politics is identity politics," and American politics is tribal, not policy-based. So it follows that a largely segregated, majority Christian, and geographically isolated country would contain a number of voters who think that whites are the best, boys rule, and America's #1. As writers such as Ta-Nehisi Coates and Claudia Rankine have pointed out in recent articles, those racist, sexist, nationalist beliefs constitute the foundation of American ethics. However wittingly, Trump and his ghouls ran on them, and Republican politicians followed along because, again as The Times notes, Trump still enjoys high approval ratings among those who consider themselves staunchly Republican.
Another illuminating fact from Edsall: according to three recent studies, the people who identify as most strongly Republican hold the most fluid political beliefs. "For many Republicans partisan identification is more a tribal affiliation than an ideological commitment," The Times writes, citing a Brigham Young University study by Michael Barber and Jeremy C. Pope. Thus a "Republican" belief is whatever the guy at the top says it is. Democrats elect Presidents; Republicans crown kings.
These numbers provide some support for what may seem obvious to even casual observers of the news: The people who purport to be the guardians of morality are actually mindless lemmings with daddy issues who are leashed and led by the rich.