If Brett Kavanaugh’s journey to the Supreme Court proved anything, it’s that America is at war with itself. The left did everything it could to oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation. And although Saturday’s vote secured Kavanaugh’s position as U.S. Supreme Court justice, it showed just how much Democrats and Republicans are yanking the country in opposite directions.
But this political divide didn’t start when Donald Trump became president—though perhaps many would like to claim that it did. The divide existed long before even George W. Bush was elected, although Trump’s presidential victory exposed its depth and danger.
I talk about this political fissure in my new book, Trump Aftershock. As a sequel to my first book on the current president, God and Donald Trump, Trump Aftershock analyzes what has happened since the 2016 election. I argue that if Trump’s election was an earthquake that jolted America’s comfortable but pointless political cycles, then what he has accomplished since then are the aftershocks.
Those aftershocks have revealed just how often Democrats oppose the conservative values Bible-believing Christians want to see drive our nation once again.
In fact, as I point out in Chapter 10 of Trump Aftershock, there may be no greater indicator of the disparity between the left and right in America today than a comparison of Democratic and Republican attitudes toward traditional values and religious faith. According to a September 2017 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, the fissures between Republicans and Democrats on cultural issues such as same-sex marriage and religion have grown consistently wider over the past few years. At least 77 percent of Democrats, they said, are “comfortable with social changes” of recent years, while just 30 percent of Republicans felt the same. Forty-two percent of Republicans surveyed support the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman, while just 17 percent of Democrats agreed. And in case anyone was wondering, Democrats polled were twice as likely as Republicans to say they never attend church services.
According to The Wall Street Journal‘s analysis, the divisions in America “reach far beyond Washington into the nation’s culture, economy and social fabric.” And, they say, while the high level of polarization began long before Donald Trump’s presidency, the 2016 election did more to solidify opinions and attitudes of the two sides than did any other event. These findings help to clarify just how entrenched the cultural differences have become. The findings, they write, “help explain why political divisions are now especially hard to bridge. People who identify with either party increasingly disagree not just on policy; they inhabit separate worlds of differing social and cultural values and even see their economic outlook through a partisan lens.”
Addressing similar issues, a Washington Post poll in cooperation with the University of Maryland found that nearly three-quarters of Americans believe the United States is as divided today as it was during the Vietnam era—something I vividly remember as a student journalist. Who can forget the violence at the 1968 Democratic convention or the assassination not only of President John Kennedy in 1963 but his brother Robert, who was gunned down five years later as he was running for president? And most tragic of all was the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., who since then has become idolized as the one who brought civil rights to millions through his methods of nonviolent protests.
Fully 77 percent of adults age 65 and older—that’s over three-fourths of the people who were alive and remember the Vietnam War—said the divisions today are as great as they were during the war, with 65 percent of younger adults, age 18 to 29, saying the same. The poll also reported that 60 percent believe the political system in the U.S. is dysfunctional, and 36 percent said they’re not proud of how democracy works today. This was a surprising increase from the findings of similar polls where people responded that they were not proud of how democracy worked in 1996 (16 percent), 2002 (9 percent), 2004 (10 percent) and 2014 (18 percent).
In other research, pollsters have also noted significant divisions within the political parties and even deeper ones between rural and urban voters. According to a June 2017 report, “The political divide between rural and urban America is more cultural than it is economic, rooted in rural residents’ deep misgivings about the nation’s rapidly changing demographics, their sense that Christianity is under siege and their perception that the federal government caters most to the needs of people in big cities.”
The Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that nearly 70 percent of rural residents believe their values are different from those of the people who live in big cities. And approximately 40 percent indicated their values are “very different.” Among the poll’s urban respondents, half said their values are different from those living in rural or suburban areas, and just under 20 percent of urban respondents said their values are “very different.”
There is no question that the United States is engaged in a war of worldviews. The differences between the right and left are long-standing and substantial, with little hope of change or compromise. Looking at some of the reasons behind this enormous cultural divide, columnist and author John Hawkins offered a list of seven cultural indicators that the United States is no longer united and that the war of worldviews could become much more than merely a religious or philosophical debate if things continue as they are.
Many conservatives, he writes, are convinced America has gone off the tracks and may be headed for a major split, or possibly even a civil war. Just 20 years ago, such a thing would have been unthinkable, even laughable. “Today, the joke isn’t so funny,” Hawkins says, “because we are a deeply unhealthy society with a dysfunctional government and for all our money, success and storied history, we seem to be on an increasingly dangerous trajectory.” Why? For one thing, he says, liberals no longer believe in the Constitution.
Even though they deny it, this is actually what the idea of a “living Constitution” is all about. “You make it up as you go.” The founders intentionally refused to establish the U.S. government as a pure democracy for this reason: They recognized the instability that would inevitably come from reliance on the whims of public opinion. We’re reminded of Benjamin Franklin’s response to the woman who asked at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” To that he replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” What the founders gave us was a representative republic; however, today many Americans are wondering if we can, in fact, keep it.
I share more detail on these crucial differences in my book. If you’re interested, you can download Chapter 10 free of charge at trumpaftershock.com. And if you pre-order Trump Aftershock on that website, you can download several chapters to read until the book releases Nov. 6.
As midterm elections approach, believers must equip themselves spiritually and politically. I encourage you to share this article with your friends and family, and listen to my podcast below!