Since news of porn star Stormy Daniels’ affair with Donald Trump broke, followed by multiple defenses of Trump by the fundamentalist right, there has been a spate of articles decrying fundamentalists’ hypocrisy. While it’s an appealing line of attack, especially after decades of fundamentalist and Republican sanctimony, I think this is the wrong way to go about it. Ultimately, we need to emphasize why they are still sticking with Trump.
Imagine an alternative timeline, where in 2008, John Edwards wins the primary and presidency. He gets elected and starts making good on his promises: good liberal judges (who are more sympathetic to defendants), some kind of higher minimum wage, better healthcare, stronger unions, and so on. Suddenly, our timeline veers back in, and his adultery while his wife was dying from cancer is revealed. There’s nothing criminal about it, but it is awful (and there’s no reason to think Edwards, unlike Trump, has compromising shady business deals). Still, it is bad. I imagine a fair number of Democrats, liberals, and so on would be tempted to stand by him (including me), because the Republican alternative would be far worse for the country.
Now, put yourself in the mindset of a fundamentalist rightwinger–not the liberal or left interpretation or deconstruction of the ultimate sources of these beliefs (with which I sometimes agree), but someone who believes abortion is mass murder* and that homosexuality is destroying America. Given the supposed stakes (as ridiculous as they are), of course you would still support Trump. In the face of mass murder and moral degeneracy (to be clear to any new readers, I disagree vehemently with these opinions), you have no choice but to support a deeply flawed, even immoral, person.
Here’s the thing: despite the decades-long attempt to normalize fundamentalist opinions as mainstream, they aren’t mainstream. We’re not going to win these voters over, but many others, who don’t hold these opinions, need to be told that evangelicals are still supporting Trump because he is doing things you don’t want. These policies will directly or indirectly affect your life.
Talk about how the fundamentalist policies themselves and the de facto support of Trump’s other policies (e.g., immigration, economics) affects people’s lives. This will work much better than the politics of ‘neener-neener’ and gotcha.
*Most have learned to not refer to abortion as a ‘Holocaust’ out of political necessity. A fair number probably believe this, however.