Yes, the Democrats had an unlovable candidate, a hard-left platform, and the albatross of eight years of the Obama administration hanging around their necks. But what really sank them, professor David Bernstein argues in the Washington Post, was the gay-marriage case, Obergefell v. Hodges.
To what can we attribute Trump’s success? The most logical answer is that religious traditionalists felt that their religious liberty was under assault from liberals, and they therefore had to hold their noses and vote for Trump. As Sean Trende of RealClear Politics noted, since 2012:
Democrats and liberals have: booed the inclusion of God in their platform at the 2012 convention (this is disputed, but it is the perception); endorsed a regulation that would allow transgendered students to use the bathroom and locker room corresponding to their identity; attempted to force small businesses to cover drugs they believe induce abortions; attempted to force nuns to provide contraceptive coverage; forced Brendan Eich to step down as chief executive officer of Mozilla due to his opposition to marriage equality; fined a small Christian bakery over $140,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding; vigorously opposed a law in Indiana that would provide protections against similar regulations – despite having overwhelmingly supported similar laws when they protected Native American religious rights – and then scoured the Indiana countryside trying to find a business that would be affected by the law before settling upon a small pizza place in the middle of nowhere and harassing the owners. In 2015, the United States solicitor general suggested that churches might lose their tax exempt status if they refused to perform same-sex marriages. In 2016, the Democratic nominee endorsed repealing the Hyde Amendment, thereby endorsing federal funding for elective abortions.
You’d think that would be enough for Real Americans. But no, the Obama administration had to make clear that its animus against Judeo-Christianity (not against religion; Islam is just fine) was real and personal:
Let’s focus on one of these incidents, the time the solicitor general of the United States acknowledged that religious institutions that oppose as a matter of internal policy same-sex marriage may lose their tax exemptions. At oral argument in the Obergefell same-sex marriage case, there was the following colloquy:
Justice Samuel Alito: Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to taxexempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same sex marriage?
Soliticitor General Verrilli: You know, I , I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is it is going to be an issue.
And it certainly has been.
With the mainstream media busy celebrating the Supreme Court’s ultimate recognition of a right to same-sex marriage, this didn’t get that much attention in mainstream news outlets. But in the course of researching my book, “Lawless,” I noticed that Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr.’s answer was big news in both the conservative blogosphere and in publications catering to religiously traditionalist audiences.
The idea that Regent University or Brigham Young University or the local Catholic university or the many hundreds of other religious schools — and potentially other religious organizations — could be put at a severe competitive disadvantage if they refused on theological grounds to extend the same recognition to same-sex couples as to opposite-sex couples struck many as a direct and serious assault on religious liberty.
In short, many religious Christians of a traditionalist bent believed that liberals not only reduce their deeply held beliefs to bigotry, but want to run them out of their jobs, close down their stores and undermine their institutions.
Which, of course, they do. Almost nothing the hard Left pushes through, from Obamacare to same-sex marriage, is really about what it pretends to address. The ultimate purpose behind all their legislation is a continued, sustained attack on the foundations of the nation and its religious roots, and a negation of the virtues of morality, hard work, and individual achievement. What comes afterward, once the foundations have been destroyed, they couldn’t care less.
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