It is easy to understand why white evangelicals support Trump. Troubling, but easy. No need to delve into profound religious tenets. No deep thought analysis required, much like understanding the candidate himself.
It’s quite simple.
It is best explained by the words of UCLA football coach Henry “Red” Sanders. They are often attributed to Vince Lombardi, but he didn’t say it first. He borrowed the words like I am about to.
“Men,” Sanders said, “I’ll be honest. Winning isn’t everything.” Then, pausing for dramatic effect, he completed the thought. “Men, it’s the only thing.”
In the minds of these evangelicals, Trump could win the nomination, which makes him a practical albeit head shaking choice. It is much like swallowing bad tasting medicine. They know the taste will fade and pray it will cure the ills affecting the country. At least their perception of what that means.
Cruz cannot win. At least in the eyes of those who understand the way the nomination process works. The behind the scenes manipulations. The omnipotent (now that they understand) power of the superdelegates. The control of the party elite. In reality, Cruz could win the nomination; they just don’t see how he can win the election.
Despite Cruz embracing evangelical doctrine, many evangelicals understand Cruz cannot win.
Which leaves practicality and compromise. Something they are willing to embrace in a candidate, not so much in practice.
They are willing to ignore Trump’s peccadillos to put a conservative Christian in the White House. Or at least, a reasonable facsimile thereof.
The devil you know, as it were.
From my perspective, Trump is the Pet Rock of politics. In case you never heard of the Pet Rock phenomenon, back in 1975, Gary Dahl sold 1.5 million Pet Rocks for four bucks a piece. A rock in a box. Dahl’s idea, conceived in a bar, was one of the most successful alcohol-fueled ideas in history.
If Trump is a pet rock, Cruz is a mood ring (look it up) changing color to suit the crowd. This scares people, especially toe-the-line evangelicals. The rock is just a rock. Good for building walls and breaking windows, but not much else.
“Upon this rock, we will rebuild this country” might be a good slogan for them.
Trump’s appeal to white evangelicals is a shake your head in wonder mystery. He is style over substance. Yet, for these evangelicals, a fallen angel is still an angel. Perhaps they can save him as he saves their idea of a government based on religious values. Values of their determination, of course.
In a Trump Presidency, evangelicals would be among the first of his supporters to lose faith. Pun intended. Followed in quick succession by everyone else who supported him.
While the entertainment value would eclipse Sarah Palin, the cost would high. I worry the rock might fall on the nuclear launch button. If that were to happen, I think the evangelicals would face back to back disappointments at the hands of Trump.