The Atlantic

Trump Can't Reverse the Decline of White Christian America

Two-thirds of those who voted for the president felt his election was the "last chance to stop America's decline." But his victory won't arrest the cultural and demographic trends they opposed.
Source: Andrew Kelly / Reuters

Down the home stretch of the 2016 presidential campaign, one of Donald Trump’s most consistent talking points was a claim that America’s changing demographics and culture had brought the country to a precipice. He repeatedly cast himself as the last chance for Republicans and conservative white Christians to step back from the cliff, to preserve their power and way of life. In an interview on Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in early September, Trump put the choice starkly for the channel’s conservative Christian viewers: “If we don’t win this election, you’ll never see another Republican and you’ll have a whole different church structure.” Asked to elaborate, Trump continued, “I think this will be the last election that the Republicans have a chance of winning because you’re going to have people flowing across the border, you’re going to have illegal immigrants coming in and they’re going to be legalized and they’re going to be able to vote, and once that all happens you can forget it.”

Michele Bachmann, a member of Trump’s evangelical executive advisory board, echoed these same sentiments in a speech at the Values Voters Summit, an annual meeting attended largely by conservative white Christians. That same week, she with CBN: “If you look at the numbers of people who vote and who lives [sic] in the country and who Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton want to bring in to the country, this is the last election when we even have a chance to vote, which I lead, and showed that this appeal found its mark among conservative voters. Nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of Trump voters, compared to only 22 percent of Clinton voters, agreed that “the 2016 election represented the last chance to stop America’s decline.”

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic8 min readSociety
Trump’s Break With China Has Deadly Consequences
After scuttling its partnership with Beijing on public health, the U.S. was unprepared for the pandemic.
The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
Should I Have Stayed in Germany?
The coronavirus is making me experience what Germans poetically call heimweh, the hurt of being far from your native land.
The Atlantic4 min readPolitics
What Do Progressives Do Now?
Progressives are eager to use the coronavirus crisis to convince Joe Biden—and millions of other Americans—of the necessity of major reforms.