If hate group leader Tony Perkins wants to know who’s discouraging evangelicals from voting, he only needs to take a look in his mirror.
Democrat Conor Lamb’s win in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district — which Donald Trump won by double digits in 2016 — has conservatives shaken up, and none is more shaken than Tony Perkins. The Family Research Council president dedicated a recent action alert to hand-wringing about Lamb’s win.
According to Perkins, Lamb’s win is just one more part of the “vast left-wing conspiracy” to keep evangelicals away from the polls.
“Although the liberal media won’t admit it,” Perkins writes, “there’s a deliberate effort to try to discourage evangelicals from voting and being involved.”
Perkins goes on to whine about “an almost daily rehashing of Trump’s past” in the media, and columnists “shaming evangelicals for supporting this president.” However, Trump’s past became fair game the minute he reached the bottom of that escalator and stepped up to the mic. And the columnists shaming evangelicals include former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson.
Here’s the thing. If Perkins wants to know who’s responsible for discouraging evangelical voters, he need look no further than himself and his fellow evangelical leaders. If anyone is shaming and demoralizing evangelical voters, it’s leaders like Perkins and their seemingly unshakable support for and defense of Trump, no matter what he says or does.
Look, a president cavorting with a porn star while his pregnant third wife sits at home, and then paying her to keep quiet is news even if it happened years ago. The president lying about it now makes it even more newsworthy.
It’s not the reporting of the story that’s scaring away evangelicals voters. It’s the hypocrisy of evangelical leaders’ support for Trump and dismissal of the story. Recent data from the Pew Research Center shows that Trump’s support among white evangelical women has dropped 13 percent compared to a year ago.
That includes women like Liberty University professor Karen Swallow Prior, who told the New York Times, “In some ways, I felt betrayed by my evangelical peers who taught me and cemented in me the idea that character matters. I didn’t abandon that belief. I feel like some evangelicals did.”
Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr remains one of the president’s most stalwart defenders.
White evangelical support for Trump, despite his ties to white nationalist organizations and his hostility towards Latino immigrants, helped to thin their ranks. African-Americans are leaving evangelical churches in quiet droves. Small shifts like these can add up to the margin of victory in close elections.
Winning in politics comes down to identifying the base, keeping them enthused, and getting them to turn out at the polls. No matter what side you’re on, you identify your base according to your values. Your base identifies with your values. Lose touch with your values, and you lose touch with your base.
If more evangelical voters are staying home on election day, that’s not the fault of the media or anyone else on the left. It’s the fault of evangelical leaders like Tony Perkins, who have abandoned everything they claim to believe in exchange for political gain.