You’ve all heard of this Christian Nationalism nonsense, right? It’s all the rage with old people and conservative freaks and Facebook readers.
So what is Christian nationalism? It’s an ideology that says Christianity is the foundation of the United States and that government should protect that foundation. Political scientist Ryan Burge has found that the term “Christian nationalism” was mentioned in more tweets in July 2022 than in all of 2021.
I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news first: it’s declining a little bit!
We did find that agreement grew slightly from 2007 to 2017 from 27 percent to 29 percent, as other scholars have found as well. But since then, the proportion of Americans who affirm this explicit Christian nationalist statement has mostly declined to somewhere around 19 percent, a statistically significant drop.
When a fifth of the country thinks we’re a Christian nation, in defiance of the principles we were founded on, that’s still a problem…but they’ll be outvoted, right? Unfortunately, here’s the bad news: the people most prone to this fallacy are more likely to vote, and there are all these wealthy special interest groups propping up the idea.
But while fewer Americans say they agree with a core Christian nationalist tenet, its influence on our political life may nevertheless be expanding. The U.S. Census reports older Americans like those ages 65 to 74 vote at rates about 25 percent higher than Americans ages 18 to 24. Our research finds older Americans are also most likely to embrace Christian nationalism. And powerful people and lobbying groups like the Family Research Council, the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) are working to promote Christian nationalist policy goals in government, the courts, and at the polls.
Recent experimental research shows when Christian Americans are told their numbers are declining, they respond with a greater commitment to Christian nationalism and Trump support. In other words, learning that they are or may soon be a minority pushes them toward extremist beliefs.
So get out there and vote! That last bit is concerning, though, because if these jerks lose elections, they’ll leap deeper into extremism, and they won’t mind follow criminal strategies to win in spite of losing. They’re already gearing up to compromise elections.
The Republican National Committee and its allies say they have staged thousands of training sessions around the country on how to monitor voting and lodge complaints about next month’s midterm elections. In Pennsylvania, party officials have boasted about swelling the ranks of poll watchers to six times the total from 2020. In Michigan, a right-wing group announced it had launched “Operation Overwatch” to hunt down election-related malfeasance, issuing a press release that repeated the warning “We are watching” 10 times.
Supporters of former president Donald Trump who falsely claim the 2020 election was stolen have summoned a swarm of poll watchers and workers in battleground states to spot potential fraud this year. It is a call to action that could subject voting results around the country to an unprecedented level of suspicion and unfounded doubt.
“We’re going to be there and enforce those rules, and we’ll challenge any vote, any ballot, and you’re going to have to live with it, OK?” one-time Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon said on a recent episode of his podcast. “We don’t care if you don’t like it. We don’t care if you’re going to run around and light your hair on fire. That’s the way this is going to roll.”
Bannon? Isn’t he in jail yet? You know he doesn’t care about the law, or ethics, or common decency. He’s going to lie and cheat to get his way, and then…uh-oh.
Election administrators say they welcome more participation from the public but worry that improperly trained observers could try to enforce rules that they are misinterpreting. Even a handful of bad actors, they note, can inject chaos into the voting system and sow distrust.
“The problems don’t need to be in a thousand polling places,” said David Becker, the executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research in Washington, D.C. “If there’s a violent incident in one polling place, that’s enough, because the election deniers have been pouring gasoline all over the country, and it just takes one match.”
I am dreading 8 November, when the midterm elections take place. I won’t be watching the returns, because I sense a national crisis coming our way.
If the Republicans come back and win, and retake any portion of the government, we face years of stalemates and continued losses, and a strengthening of the loony faction. If the Republicans lose, there is going to be such a shriek of protest and armed assholes rampaging and years of legal wrangling over nothing.
We sane Americans can’t win.