Formerly solid Republican supporters like conservative intellectuals, wealthy people, big business, and elected Republicans at the local and national levels are abandoning Donald Trump in increasing numbers. One thing that has been interesting is that this split has revealed where different groups draw the line in deciding that Trump has gone too far.
Take this article about John McCain’s recent disavowal of Trump.
“Why now?” the Arizona senator was asked during a debate with his Democratic challenger, with the moderator noting the litany of incendiary remarks Trump has made against Mexicans, Muslims, prisoners of war, a disabled journalist, a Gold Star military family and a Hispanic judge, alongside a decades-long record of offensive comments about women.
Earlier in his campaign, Trump also taunted McCain for having been a prisoner of war, telling an audience he preferred “people that weren’t captured”.
“If someone wants to say something disparaging of me, I understand that,” McCain said during Arizona’s senate debate. “I spoke out strongly on several other issues where I thought Mr Trump was absolutely wrong. I’ve not been shy about it.
“When Mr Trump attacks women and demeans the women in our nation and our society, that is a point where I just have to part company. It’s not pleasant for me to renounce the nominee of my party.”
So I think we have learned a couple of things. One is that for people like McCain who have just now broken with Trump, insulting all those groups is tolerable but they draw the line at insulting and demeaning attractive, young, white women.
For the religious right, even that line can be crossed with impunity because the other thing that we have learned is that the one group that is still fiercely loyal to Trump is the leadership of the religious right. For all their pious moralizing and condemnations of those who they think are not upholding strict Biblical morality, people like Jerry Falwell Jr., Ralph Reed, Tony Perkins, Pat Robertson, Robert Jeffress are all steadfast in their support for Trump and are finding excuses for his behavior. Evangelical Christian David Gushee tries to explain why this is so but Jeffress’s own statements are quite revealing.
Jeffress, who urged Christian voters to impose a “religious litmus” test when he backed Ben Carson for president, took the exact opposite position after switching his allegiance to Trump.
The influential pastor admitted that Trump isn’t much like Jesus Christ — a difference he enthusiastically described as a feature of his presidential campaign.
“You know, I was debating an evangelical professor on NPR, and this professor said, ‘Pastor, don’t you want a candidate who embodies the teaching of Jesus and would govern this country according to the principles found in the Sermon on the Mount?’” Jeffress said. “I said, ‘Heck no.’ I would run from that candidate as far as possible, because the Sermon on the Mount was not given as a governing principle for this nation.”
For these pious people, their line in the sand is abortion. As long as you say that you will appoint justices that will overturn Roe v. Wade, you can say and do pretty much anything you damn well please. Even the Edwin Edwards standard of “The only way I can lose this election is if I’m caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy” may not apply anymore.
So while this election keeps striking new lows on a daily basis, it has definitely taught us some things.