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Why do white evangelical Christians support Donald Trump? Show more Show less
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In the 2016 US election, white evangelical Christians resoundingly voted for Donald Trump and were critical in his Presidential victory. Despite much of Trump's behaviour seen as an affront to "traditional values", 81% of evangelicals turned out to vote for him. Why?

Donald Trump appeals to evangelical social insecurities Show more Show less

According to University of East Anglia Professor Emma Long, "Trump hears [evangelical] fears, takes them seriously, and responds."
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Donald Trump exploits evangelical Christians' anxieties

American society has evolved to a point where Christian values are no longer at the heart of American identity, leading to anxiety amongst evangelical Christians. Donald Trump exploits this anxiety for personal gain.
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The Argument

Trump’s 2016 campaign ran on a platform of bringing back lost American and Christian values. He argued that the Democratic Party was failing to uphold these ideals, presenting himself as the last line of defence against liberal views and policies. This has not changed in his 2020 bid for re-election. A strong rhetoric of protecting the American people from threats within and outside the nation’s borders. That is what evangelicals hear from Trump’s speeches. The inaugural speech often serves American presidents to provide hope and many showcase a positive outlook for their term in office. Trump did neither. In 2016, Trump’s inauguration speech brought to mind an almost apocalyptic view of America which he sought to shield his supporters from. He presented a flawed view of America and presented himself as a political outsider with the answers to these problems[1]. This resonated with evangelical Christians. Many feel attacked by progressive views and policies. To them, the main cause for concern is the erosion of American values which they see through increased access to abortion and contraceptives, increased support for the LGBTQ+ community. These policy changes and progressive discourse poses a threat to their way of life and culture. With Trump validating these concerns and presenting himself as an alternative, he has effectively used the fears of the evangelical community to further his political agenda and increase his base [2]

Counter arguments

Evangelical Christians did not vote for Trump but against Hillary Clinton. Trump’s rhetoric echoes that of many Republican presidents to date and for many he was the obvious pick from the beginning. The fear which motivates evangelical Christians does not originate from Trump’s discourse, but the changes they see progressives enacting and pushing for. Trump did not give them a reason to vote for him, but a platform for their voices to be heard.

Premises

[P1] Evangelical Christians feel the progressive changes in the nation are leading to an abandonment of traditional and family values. [P2] Evangelicals fear these changes. [P3] Trump confirms these fears and presents himself as the only solution. [P4] Trump uses evangelicals' fears to increase his support.

Rejecting the premises


References

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/20/donald-trump-inauguration-speech-full-text
  2. https://time.com/5615617/why-evangelicals-support-trump/

This page was last edited on Friday, 2 Oct 2020 at 16:41 UTC

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