Here’s How Democrats Can Expose the GOP’s Dishonesty About Fascism.
TDS Strategy Memos
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By Ed Kilgore
June 7: “Independent Charismatics” Becoming an Evangelical Firewall for Trump
Another religion and politics topic came up in my reading, so I discussed it at New York:
Everyone covering Republican presidential politics knows how important a force conservative Evangelical Christians are in that party, particularly in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses. So it has become routine to examine GOP politicians for their adherence to various issue positions of presumed significance to these voters, and to their pulpit-based leaders.
That’s still well worth doing at a time when the culture-war issues so closely associated with religious conservatives are red-hot topics in American politics, and of great importance to many of the most likely voters in the Republican presidential primaries. Clearly, Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, and Tim Scott are particularly focused on letting conservative Evangelicals know how committed they are to the battle against legalized abortion, LGBTQ rights, “woke” corporations, and government impingements on “religious liberty.” These candidates are intensely determined to prove they are more faithful to the agenda of the Christian right than their front-running rival Donald Trump.
But there are two major problems with any sort of by-the-numbers effort to flip conservative Evangelicals against Trump. First, these voters have an abiding sense of gratitude for what Trump has already done for them. Second, Trump himself is deeply tied to the religious views of a growing subset of Christian Evangelicals.
As the 45th president frequently reminds conservative Christian audiences, he was the first Republican president to redeem decades of promises to secure the reversal of Roe v. Wade and the abolition of federal constitutional abortion rights. And more generally, Trump discarded decades of embarrassed Republican efforts to downplay cultural issues in pursuit of upscale swing voters favoring moderation and compromise on topics that Evangelicals considered matters of eternal and immutable principle. He was firmly the enemy of the enemies of the people in the pews, and smote them hip and thigh unscrupulously. It will take more than a slightly higher rating on the latest set of litmus tests laid out by conservative religious leaders for mere politicians to match the founder of the MAGA movement in the esteem of voters who really do want to turn back the clock to a “greater” America.
The second element of Trump’s Evangelical primary firewall is the significant and rapidly growing subset of American Evangelicals whose view of politics and its relationship to religion cannot be captured by mere policy issues. Trump plays a larger-than-life role in a supernatural drama of good and evil that many of these believers embrace via the teachings of a new set of “prophetic” teachers and preachers, as religious scholar Matthew Taylor explains:
“Trump’s most ardent Christian advocates are nondenominational Charismatic evangelicals, a group sometimes referred to by academics as Independent Charismatics or Independent Network Charismatic Christians.
“Independent Charismatics emphasize a modern, supernaturally driven worldview where contemporary prophets speak directly for God; miracles are everyday experiences; menacing demonic forces must be pushed back through prayer; and immersive, ecstatic worship experiences bolster Christian believers’ confidence that they are at the center of God’s work in the world. These believers are country cousins to the more denominationally aligned Pentecostal evangelicals, though the lack of denominational oversight and the freewheeling nature of the independent Charismatic sector leaves them more vulnerable to radicalization.”
Many Independent Charismatics have been radicalized by the passions unleashed by Trump and the conflicts he has engendered. Cultural warfare is for them spiritual warfare in which Trump is literally an agent of the divine will. Independent Charismatics are notably active in Trump-adjacent groups like the ReAwaken America Tour, in which pardoned former Trump lieutenants Roger Stone and Michael Flynn have been conspicuous participants, and a newer group called Pastors for Trump. The 45th president is an irreplaceable and heroic figure in the apocalyptic cosmologies of such groups, who aren’t about to replace him with some other Republican politician, no matter what more orthodox Evangelicals say or think. Specific political “issues” are very small in their reckoning of God’s destiny for America.
So within the legions of conservative Evangelicals engaged in American politics, Trump has charismatic shock troops whom he can count on to stick with him as though their lives — indeed, their souls — depend on it. If you add in the Evangelicals who uniquely trust Trump for keeping his promises to them and are grateful for his reshaping of the U.S. Supreme Court to make it a powerful allied force, you can see why he’s not as vulnerable to raids on this base of support as you might imagine from the boasts of his rivals that they are nearer to God than he is.
Euclid, brown shoe polish is brown and so are feces, but to compare the two because they are the same color is to confess the inability to distinguish shit from Shinola.
(note: the brief comment posted above is intended to be a reply to the Feb 18 comment by Euclid. It is posted in the wrong location)
Mr. Lawford continues to seem utterly and completely baffled by the concept of how to compare the actions of MAGA/Republicans and Fascists on a scale of 0 to 10 which is what the strategy memo itself discusses.
If I am asked to compare brown shoe polish and feces on a scale of 0 to 10 I would at first probably assign the comparison a 0. If someone then correctly points out that the two things do indeed share the color brown I would probably then revise my rating to a 0.5 or so in order to indicate that in that one minor respect an extremely slight relationship does indeed exist.
But I certainly would not be so utterly mystified by the task as Mr. Lawford seems to be. Setting aside his rather immature attempt at humor, the logical content of his comment is that “if both A and B are brown, anyone who notes this similarity in comparing the two must therefore be completely unable to distinguish between them at all.”
It is, one hopes, unnecessary to explain at any length why this argument is wrong.
In reality, what Mr. Lawrence is actually attempting to do is to ridicule any possible comparisons of the behavior of the MAGA wing of the GOP with events in Germany in the 1930’s as being so utterly and entirely absurd that only a complete idiot would do so.
Well, Dr. Deborah Lipstadt is not an idiot. She is one of the most respected historians of the Holocaust. The following quotation from the strategy memo being discussed makes a preliminary point and then directly quotes her perspective:
“Since most Americans have absolutely no knowledge about Italian, Spanish and post-war Neo-Fascism only extremely vague images of German Nazi fascism in the 1930’s (images based largely on movies) Republicans easily dismiss any discussion of the issue by arguing that all comparisons of Trump and MAGA with fascism represent absurd accusations that they are engaging in mass arrests, torture and genocide. But anyone with even a limited knowledge of the period is aware that that there are more subtle comparisons that are not so easily discounted. ”
“As the leading historian of the period Deborah Lipstadt has noted:”
“I do think certain comparisons are fitting … it’s certainly not 1938,” when Nazis led the Kristallnacht pogroms throughout Germany. “It’s not even September 1935, and the Nuremberg Laws” institutionalizing racist policies. “What it well might be, however, is [the earlier period around] December 1932, Hitler comes to power on Jan. 30, 1933 – it might be Jan. 15, 1933.”
There is, therefore, absolutely nothing at all absurd or idiotic about discussing comparisons between MAGA and fascism.
Indeed, one would certainly hope that Mr. Lawford would not walk up to Dr. Lipstadt at an academic conference and tell her that she is so stupid that “she cannot tell shit from shinola.” If he would be ashamed to say this to her – as one would certainly hope he would be — he should also be ashamed to say it to anyone else as well.
No one with a minor knowledge of fascism in history would take seriously any of Andrew Levison’s accusation of fascism toward the Republican Party. For example, Levison compares Trump’s claim of a stolen election in 2020 to the Reichstag fire. Does Levison realize that after the Reichstag fire, Hitler had all the Socialist deputies to the Reichstag arrested and sent to concentration camps? Trump did nothing of the sort. Quite the contrary, he allowed the Democrats to gain a Congressional majority. Levison compares Fox News and other right wing media to the Reich Propaganda Ministry. The latter was a government office which monopolized German radio and had dissenting newspapers forcibly shut down. Fox News is a private enterprise which is anything but a monopoly and has no power to suppress its competitors. Soon after taking power, Hitler had 150 leaders of the Storm Troopers arrested and shot without trial. How many Republicans did Trump have assassinated? Did Hitler ever run for re-election?
Would Hitler have tolerated being impeached? I have seen many silly comparisons of Trump and the Republicans to Hitler and the Nazis, but Levison’s takes the cake.
The commenter apparently does not understand how comparing two things on a scale of one to 10 works. One can assign a very low number that indicates there is little or no relationship or one can assign a 9 or 10 to indicate a very close relationship. As the author of the commentary notes MAGA and Trump supporters would assign very low numbers to the comparisons suggested while others would assign higher ones.
The commenter seems to think that comparing two things on a scale of 1 to 10 means that they all are automatically assigned a 10.
This is not how comparing things on a scale of one to ten works.
I hope this simple explanation clarifies the commenters confusion. Otherwise, when a doctor asks him to rank his pain on a scale of one to 10 he will shout – “Are you crazy? I’m not in agony.”