I’ve written many times about “The Flight 93 Election,” the September 5, 2016, article in the Claremont Review of Books, by Michael Anton, writing at the time under the pseudonym Publius Decius Mus.
The thrust of the concept of the Flight 93 Election was that whatever Trump’s faults, the alternative was definitively and certainly worse:
2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.
Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.
In July 2018, I rephrased the concept, writing that The value of Trump to the Trump voter is that he stands between them and #TheResistance:
I’d use slightly different wording:
Right now the value of Trump to the Trump voter is he is all that stands between them and the people who hate them every bit as much as they hate Trump.
Or if you want an even shorter version, “the Flight 93 Election never ended” ….
Trump voters are berated and belittled with the same ferocity as directed at Trump himself. #TheResistance doesn’t distinguish between Trump and his voters.
We all understand that what is being done to Trump is simply a continuation of the attempt to unwind the 2016 election. And that if they succeed, the IRS abuses against the Tea Party and conservatives will seem like child’s play.
Which brings me to an article in The Atlantic by Never-Trumper Peter Wehner, The Deepening Crisis in Evangelical Christianity.
The article doesn’t actual prove a deepening crisis, despite the title, except to the extent that unyielding support for Trump among evangelical Christians is a crisis for people who hate Trump.
What caught my eye was this passage about the continuing and unyielding support for Trump, referencing The Flight 93 Election:
The enthusiastic, uncritical embrace of President Trump by white evangelicals is among the most mind-blowing developments of the Trump era. How can a group that for decades—and especially during the Bill Clinton presidency—insisted that character counts and that personal integrity is an essential component of presidential leadership not only turn a blind eye to the ethical and moral transgressions of Donald Trump, but also constantly defend him? Why are those who have been on the vanguard of “family values” so eager to give a man with a sordid personal and sexual history a mulligan?
Part of the answer is their belief that they are engaged in an existential struggle against a wicked enemy—not Russia, not North Korea, not Iran, but rather American liberals and the left. If you listen to Trump supporters who are evangelical (and non-evangelicals, like the radio talk-show host Mark Levin), you will hear adjectives applied to those on the left that could easily be used to describe a Stalinist regime.,,,
Many white evangelical Christians, then, are deeply fearful of what a Trump loss would mean for America, American culture, and American Christianity. If a Democrat is elected president, they believe, it might all come crashing down around us. During the 2016 election, for example, the influential evangelical author and radio talk-show host Eric Metaxas said, “In all of our years, we faced all kinds of struggles. The only time we faced an existential struggle like this was in the Civil War and in the Revolution when the nation began … We are on the verge of losing it as we could have lost it in the Civil War.” A friend of mine described that outlook to me this way: “It’s the Flight 93 election. FOREVER.”
Many evangelical Christians are also filled with grievances and resentments because they feel they have been mocked, scorned, and dishonored by the elite culture over the years. (Some of those feelings are understandable and warranted.) For them, Trump is a man who will not only push their agenda on issues such as the courts and abortion; he will be ruthless against those they view as threats to all they know and love. For a growing number of evangelicals, Trump’s dehumanizing tactics and cruelty aren’t a bug; they are a feature. Trump “owns the libs,” and they love it. He’ll bring a Glock to a cultural knife fight, and they relish that.
I think this is correct. For the reasons I’ve stated before.
And it will be correct in 2020. If anything, the choice is more stark: Capitalism versus Socialism, free markets versus Soviet-like central economic and social planning, individual freedom versus social justice warfare weaponized through government and high tech, border and immigration enforcement versus open borders and “the sense that we are losing control of our own country, by the design of politicians.”
Whether it’s enough to overcome the built-in Democrat advantage in the Electoral College and media remains to be seen.
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