Reagan tied Republicans to white Christians
Now the party is trapped with a passionate base that is out of touch with the rest of America, writes Steven Gillon
GOP leaders and the conservative media ecosystem have spent the last few weeks focused on inflaming the culture wars. They’ve railed against the decision to stop publishing six Dr. Seuss books, falsely claiming that the childhood classics have fallen victim to liberal cancel culture, and complained about changes to the Potato Head line of toys.
Simultaneously, Republican state lawmakers have continued waging a war on democracy, passing new laws that would eliminate vote-by-mail and early voting programs that were popular with Democrats in 2020, especially among minority communities. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, Republican lawmakers have introduced more than 165 bills in 33 states to limit ballot access.
On the surface, these topics seem disconnected, but in reality, they share a crucial commonality that shapes today’s Republican Party—one that dates back to the 1984 Republican National Convention held in Dallas. It was there that Republicans cemented an alliance with evangelical white Protestants, in the process creating a demographic and generational time bomb that is now exploding in their face.
White Protestant evangelicals had voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976—the first “born again” president—helping him narrowly capture the White House. But disillusioned over his handling of abortion, the Equal Rights Amendment and the tax exemptions for white religious schools, they had switched their allegiance to Ronald Reagan in 1980.