I’m reflecting more on my argument that we need to more seriously consider religion as a powerful source of social and political motivation.  This of course grows out of this week’s election.

The events of 11/8 have already  been interpreted by many as a sign of “forgotten” white working-class voters who once again voted against their economic interests in supporting Trump.  This overlooks the possibility that they did, in fact, vote in there “interests” in a certain kind of way.  According to exit polls, they were attracted to Trump’s “Make American Great Again” as an appeal to return to the moral architecture of the 1950s.  Their “interest” was thus more cultural than it was economic, but was nonetheless significant in their voting choice.

This is where religion comes in.  That set of arrangements they think of as “the 50s” was a combination of a public sphere determined in subtle but powerful ways by Protestant moral aspirations and a domestic sphere carefully articulated to that larger reality, again a consequence of the particular Protestant legacy of American culture.  This “Protestant project” makes it possible today for a certain tranche of the electorate to think of something like a lament for that lost, normative past as a matter of “class interest.”

This is supported by data from the election.  Certainly, a portion of Trump’s electorate were people who are truly suffering from the effects of globalization. That group was dwarfed, it seems, by Evangelicals who are not materially suffering in the same way, but see themselves as culturally and morally suffering.

For them, that’s become a “class interest.”

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