Woodward Revelations Hurting Trump

A new poll shows meaningful shifts in public attitudes.

President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks prior to signing H.R. 1957- The Great American Outdoors Act Tuesday, August 4, 2020, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)
Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour

Yahoo News has a new poll out with a feel-good story: Trump is falling further behind. Let’s hold our horses a bit before celebrating.

“New Yahoo News/YouGov poll: Trump falls 10 points behind Biden amid reports he misled Americans about COVID-19 and disparaged U.S. soldiers.”

Donald Trump has fallen further behind Joe Biden following bombshell reports that the president knowingly misled Americans about the dangers of COVID-19 and privately disparaged dead U.S. soldiers as “suckers” and “losers,” according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll. 

The survey, which was conducted from Sept. 9 to 11, shows Biden leading Trump by 10 percentage points among registered voters, 49 percent to 39 percent. The previous Yahoo News/YouGov poll found Biden ahead by just 6 points immediately after the Republican National Convention.  

The results suggest that a week of unrelenting and unflattering revelations about Trump — from the Atlantic report on his alleged contempt for Americans wounded or killed in war (which appeared on Sept. 3) to Bob Woodward’s recordings of Trump admitting he downplayed the deadliness of COVID-19 (released on Sept. 9) — has damaged the president’s standing with voters. 

My initial reaction was that the analyst was taking a change in a single poll within the range of sampling error and explaining it based on what had happened in the news since. But, no, they actually polled on those items.

Asked if their opinion of Trump’s coronavirus response has changed because of Woodward’s big scoop — a tape of Trump privately acknowledging the virus was “deadly stuff” even as he publicly sought, in his own words, “to play it down”— nearly a quarter of Americans (23 percent) say yes. Even 15 percent of those who voted for Trump in 2016 say the Woodward news has changed their mind about the president’s handling of the pandemic.

Those might seem like small numbers. But in an age of extreme polarization, they could augur a real shift. Overall, 15 percent of Americans say the Woodward quotes have made them less likely to vote to reelect the president in November — and a third of these were 2016 Trump supporters.

The military story seems to have had a similar impact. Asked which candidate shows more respect for the military, 50 percent of registered voters name Biden, compared to 39 percent for Trump. By the same margin, voters say Biden would do a better job leading the military than the current commander in chief. 

Reactions to Trump’s reported remarks on the military were predictably partisan, but nearly a quarter of independents (23 percent) say the news increased their support for Biden, compared to just 9 percent who say the news increased their support for Trump. Six percent of 2016 Trump supporters say they have moved toward Biden as a result.

Again, I’m naturally skeptical of this simply because it didn’t change my opinion of Trump. But, of course, I’m almost certainly in the top 1 percent in interest in political news and my views are much more firmly rooted than normal citizens who pay rather scant attention.

This is a much more telling bit of information:

This reflects a larger problem for Trump. Only 1 percent of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 supporters say they will vote for the president in November. At the same time, 8 percent of Trump’s 2016 supporters say they will vote for Biden. 

There were a lot of people who voted for Trump who had never voted for a Republican simply because they were tired of “politics as usual” and thought he would “reboot the system.” One presumes he’s lost most of those people.

More detail from the poll:

Registered voters reject Trump — and prefer Biden — on nearly every major issue. For instance, a wide majority of them (57 percent) disapprove of the president’s handling of the pandemic; only 40 percent approve. By a 17-point margin (48 percent yes to 31 percent no) voters say the current coronavirus situation in the U.S. would be better right now if Biden had been president instead of Trump. 

Likewise, only 37 percent of registered voters approve of the way the president has handled the Black Lives Matter protests; 54 percent disapprove. In the wake of the protests in Kenosha, Wis., an even larger majority of registered voters (57 percent) say Trump “makes things worse” when he talks about race. Just 27 percent say he “makes things better.” By a 15-point margin, voters believe that Biden (49 percent) would have handled the Black Lives Matter protests better than Trump (34 percent). 

Looking forward, a 10-point plurality thinks that if Biden is elected, there will be less violence of the sort seen in Kenosha (42 percent) rather than more (32 percent). Half as many voters believe Biden wants to “abolish the suburbs” (23 percent) — a frequent Trump attack — than believe he wants to do no such thing (46 percent). And a full 61 percent predict there will be more violence if Trump is reelected, while just 20 percent say there will be less. 

Those are really good numbers. The thing is, we don’t know how they’re distributed or how salient they are for voters.

As we’ve beaten to death here over the years—and regular readers, who are also off the charts in interest in these things or they wouldn’t be, well, regular readers instinctively understand—we don’t elect Presidents on a national popular vote but in 51 statewide contests. It’s quite possible these attitudes aren’t the same in the “swing” states.

Additionally, there are almost certainly a significant number of traditional Republican voters who think Trump is a lying scumbag who has totally mismanaged the pandemic but will nonetheless vote for him because they can smell the opportunity to take over the Supreme Court and overturn Roe v. Wade.

As always, aggregates of polls are better than individual ones and they, too, are good news for Biden. The slightly Republican-leaning RealClearPolitics average also shows Biden’s lead widening—although not as wide as it once was.

While 7.5 points isn’t 10, it’s still significant. Moreover, the fact that Trump hasn’t tied, much less led, the race for even a single day going back more than a year is telling.

The FiveThirtyEight gang uses a more rigorous methodology in choosing and weighting polls but paint a remarkably similar picture:

Even with that, though, they give Biden only a 75 percent chance of winning 270 Electoral votes, compared to Trump’s 24 (there’s a 1 percent chance of a 269-269 tie). Mostly, though, that’s because the state polls are fewer and thus less reliable. Plus, they’re overcorrecting for the perception they got it wrong in 2016 and being extra cautious.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Just 27 percent say he “makes things better.”

    There’s that number again. I for one do not believe there will be any long lasting impact from these revelations. No matter what he does, the base 40% just won’t let go of their talisman.

    11
  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    The timing of the Woodward interview, tape release and the Atlantic story are right at the time when the typical voter begins paying attention, also these are stories that make people listen. If you first learned about these items listening to Rush or the Gateway Pundit, defending Trump it is enough to want to get more information. Trumps supporters, know that he lies and disparages people, that is what they like about him, but this time, these are issues that greatly effect them. That it seems like his support is weakening is not surprising.

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  3. Not the IT Dept. says:

    It was hearing Trump himself on Woodward’s tapes that weakens Trump’s ability to defend himself. And the way the troops revelation completely disrupted the GOP campaign’s planning says something too: for the better part of three days Trump was on the defensive.

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  4. Scott F. says:

    Alas, reports he misled Americans about COVID-19 and disparaged U.S. soldiers won’t do anything to change the two most pertinent underlying conditions of the coming election – the undemocratic Electoral College and the incumbent party’s blatant embrace of voter suppression.

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  5. Moosebreath says:

    “Mostly, though, that’s because the state polls are fewer and thus less reliable. Plus, they’re overcorrecting for the perception they got it wrong in 2016 and being extra cautious.”

    Plus, 538 recognizes that there is still almost 2 months until election day, with time for events to change minds (primarily the debates). This piece is a month old, but gives their thinking. Its conclusion:

    “Biden is in a reasonably strong position: Having a 70-ish percent chance of beating an incumbent in early August before any conventions or debates is far better than the position that most challengers find themselves in. And his chances will improve in our model if he maintains his current lead. But for the time being, the data does not justify substantially more confidence than that.”

    6
  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    Here’s what I think happens. Trump’s rock-solid 42 hears something really bad. They feel they should – like Susan Collins – say something. So when the pollster calls they make the proper mooing sounds – again, very much like Susan Collins – and shake their heads dolefully and… lie.

    Culties know Trump’s a pig. They’ve always known he’s a pig. But they’re pigs, too. They’re racist, misogynist, white evangelicals, motivated largely by self-pity and disappointment and grudges and incoherent rage. They’ve absorbed beliefs they know at some level are false, but gosh darn it, Trumpie’s just such a loud, bullying alpha male and with the ludicrously bad hair he’s exactly like every huckster minister they’ve ever handed their money to. So they shake their heads again, transitioning from doleful to ‘Oh, that Trumpie, he’s our scamp!’ and go right back to him.

    Do you really think the people in Guyana didn’t know that Jim Jones was a monster? Do you think Koreshis really believed, deep down, that Koresh was anything other than a narcissistic loon? Do you think Germans didn’t know at some level that Hitler was an evil little man who would drag them all down to hell?

    There’s what people pretend to believe, and then there’s what they actually believe. Trump’s culties know Trump’s a walking Hefty bag full of rotting garbage that might split open at any moment, they just don’t give a fuck because they’re losers who know they are losers and like compulsive gamblers or coke addicts or good Catholic girls who go for the bad boy, they’ve fallen in love with their own depravity.

    My bet is his final polls before November 3 have him between 38 and 44%. Culties know this ends in destruction, and they’ll ride this turd all the way down the toilet.

    11
  7. “As we’ve beaten to death here over the years—and regular readers, who are also off the charts in interest in these things or they wouldn’t be, well, regular readers instinctively understand—we don’t elect Presidents on a national popular vote but in 51 statewide contests. It’s quite possible these attitudes aren’t the same in the “swing” states.”

    Quite true. But it is worth also noting that there is a linkage between the national vote and the state level vote, and hence there are margins of victory nationally that, probabilistically, almost certainly translate into an EV win (as I wrote about here).

    If Biden wins the popular vote by 7 points, for example, the odds are almost certain he wins the EC as well. For example: the wider the national gap, the more likely he wins AZ and FL and GA and TX become all the more competitive in such an environment.

    5
  8. @Moosebreath: I tihnk this is an important point to consider when assessing what the 538 model means.

    I would note, too, that it has been slowly moving Bidenward all week.

    3
  9. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    How do you explain the culties over at Lucianne.com who are constantly lauding Trump as our greatest president and an exemplary human being?

    I’m not at all disputing there’s a sizable chunk of the populace who know Trump’s a swine, and love him precisely because he is a swine.

    I’ve said before that there are three categories of Trumpkins:
    1. Those who know he’s a pig, but prefer him to a Democrat.
    2. Those who believe he’s a stellar human being.
    3. Those who know he’s a pig and revel in it.

    11
  10. charon says:

    @CSK:

    The QAnon people are largely your category #2 – they think he is some strategic genius playing 11 dimensional chess..

    The Christian right mainly #3 – they want to win above all, are fine with breaking a few eggs, rules, laws, norms to make their omelette – Michael is right about them, they prefer the Trumpist way..

    6
  11. Joe says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: From your lips to God´s ears.

    1
  12. CSK says:

    @charon:
    I think the QAnon culties fit more into Category 3, myself.

    I freely admit that I can understand Categories 1 and 3 far more than I can understand Category 2. How can they listen to this man and believe that a thrice-married adulterous pussy-grabbing lifetime crook is a good Christian gentleman of elevated morals and a great patriot, as well as the best president we’ve ever had?

    11
  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    What I think is happening is that Evangelicals know they’ve lost the culture war – when the whole country says, ‘Trans women in ladies bathrooms? Meh, sure, whatever,’ – that’s a pretty clear sign.

    White people know they’ve lost their unquestioned pre-eminence – diversity is coming and there’s nothing they can do to stop it. Men understand that they’ve fallen way off their pedestals, that there no longer is a unique societal role for men. Uneducated people know they’ve lost the economic war.

    Culture war losers, diversity losers, gender losers, education losers. Add 5% of soulless, rapacious greedheads and you have the entirety of the Republican voter base: losers and their predators, the conned and their conmen.

    As to why they keep touting Trump? Hope, or at least the performative expressions of hope. What are they going to do, admit they were wrong? They’re ‘witnessing.’ You have to demonstrate your faith. Faith: an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable*.

    An hour before Hitler blew his brains out there were sycophants yelling that victory was at hand. 75 years later there are still people who believe in Hitler. Once you’ve sold your soul it’s not easy to get it back.

    *Mencken, who else?

    17
  14. Bill says:

    Did anyone ever consider that some Trump supporters vote for him because they find this train wreck of a Presidency entertaining? Why do we people rubberneck? Why do people go to stock car races. Is it to watch all those left hand turns?

    10
  15. CSK says:

    @Bill:
    The possibility that you’re right is really appalling.

    @Michael Reynolds:
    The willingness to surrender any vestige of rational thought to delusion–that delusion being that Trump is one of the finest human beings ever to have existed–is staggering. It represents a compete denial of reality.

    7
  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    @CSK:

    It represents a compete denial of reality.

    Most of these people have been denying reality their entire lives. They believe in angels, FFS.

    8
  17. JohnMcC says:

    There’s both good and bad news in polling lately. I’m personally concerned about the polls that seem to show Mr Trump growing slightly stronger among Hispanic respondents. I look at realclearpolls daily and had noted the headlines of that Yahoo poll. Seeing this OP I looked a little closer and cogitated upon it:

    It’s a BIG poll. Over 1500 contacts! How could they do that? Bet they run an automated poll instead of a human being asking questions; which makes Michael’s remark about lying to the pollster somewhat more likely IMHO. They used registered voters instead of likely voters. They called people who had apparently used Yahoo to sign up as respondents to polls (an “opt-in panel”).
    None of those are good things. So their MOE is >3%. So there’s that.

    Happened in a week with LOTS of news items harmful to the Trump campaign: As well as the Woodward story and the military disrespect story, there is the ‘muzzle Dr Fauci’ and the revelations from a Mr Murphy that his briefings from the Homeland Security (sic) about Russian interference and white-supremacist warnings being … ‘edited’ shall we say. I subscribe to the Lincoln brigade on YouTube; they had an hour-long video with Rick Wilson, Steve Schmidt & Mike Madrid that was mostly joyful laughter about the daily thumping Trump is getting.

    They also related this deluge of ‘Orange Man Bad’ to the silence of the R-side on advertised media. Mr Trump’s minions have obviously stolen all the cookies before the party began. Great hilarity.

    Would like to see a poll answer another couple of questions. Like, the amazingly high number of never-voted-before Trump voters of ’16 (15% vs 6% in ’08) might or might not be inclined to vote again. What number of people who have listened to the Woodward tapes notice the difference in Mr Trump’s verbal fluency and command of facts talking to the quintessential D.C. insider. Alas, I’m likely to take those questions to the grave; no media seems to get into the election to that fine a grind (expresso?)

    2
  18. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Well, yes, but I do know religious Democrats and Republicans who can’t stand Trump and won’t vote for him under any circumstances, so the presence of faith isn’t a guarantor of Trump-love.

    You aren’t a believer, and I was raised by non-religious parents, so it’s possible we don’t quite fathom the significance of faith in the lives of otherwise intelligent, rational, educated people.

    10
  19. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Most of these people have been denying reality their entire lives. They believe in angels, FFS.

    But belief in angels can help people function. That’s a large part of the 12 step program, for instance, which can be very effective for those who believe in a higher power. It helps people get through the worst times of their life to know that the benevolent sky-daddy who just killed their family loves them.

    It’s a lie, but it’s a lie that has direct material effects that people can see and experience in their own lives. What’s the difference between “if I eat some fruit my scurvy goes away” and “if I pray for strength, I find the strength I need”? To the individual, not much.

    I’m willing to bet that you don’t know how Vitamin C works, just that it works. You probably haven’t even verified that going without will give you scurvy.

    We lie to ourselves all the time to get through the day:
    – my cat loves me
    – deep down, people are generally good
    – everyone feels like an imposter at work
    – it’s not stealing if I plan to pay it back
    – I’m protecting her by not telling her
    – I’m a good person

    Compared to some of that, sky-daddy and his little angels seems quaint.

    5
  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    But belief in angels can help people function.

    Yes. So can belief in the natural superiority of the white race. So can blaming the Jews. So can beating your wife.

    The efficacy of vitamin C in curing scurvy is scientifically, empirically provable. There is zero evidence for the existence of angels. Some things are true, and some things are not. If we make a choice to believe lies we create in ourselves an exploitable opening, an opening that has allowed ‘people of faith’ to tell themselves anything. Anything at all.

    I don’t tell myself any of the lies you mention. Somehow I manage to function.

    5
  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    @CSK:

    You aren’t a believer, and I was raised by non-religious parents, so it’s possible we don’t quite fathom the significance of faith in the lives of otherwise intelligent, rational, educated people.

    I think I understand it. Homo sapiens is the only animal that spends its life not just in avoiding immediate death-by-leopard, but in contemplating the inevitability of death, our own and the extinction of those we love. We know we don’t win in the end. We know disease or trauma or simply time will do for each and every one of us. And people are terrified by that, unable to cope with feelings of meaninglessness (as if eternal life isn’t the ultimate meaninglessness.)

    In addition to fear of death, we fear our related inability to explain the world around us. So again, we fantasize. The sun is a god flying a golden chariot. If we sacrifice to the gods, give them the gift of death, we may convince the gods not to kill us. Here, lord, we killed a sheep…a cow…a virgin, so please don’t kill us. Fear of death and fear of the unknown explains faith. Plain old fear.

    But faith never really takes. If people actually believed in eternity why would they bankrupt their families to cling to a last few weeks of pain? It’s this conflict, this imperfect faith that causes believers to evangelize and when that fails to censor, imprison, torture and murder those who question. Fragile faith can’t handle questions.

    4
  22. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The efficacy of vitamin C in curing scurvy is scientifically, empirically provable. There is zero evidence for the existence of angels.

    How do you know either of those? You defer to an authority outside yourself. Dare I say it, you have faith in that authority, reinforced by it working for you.

    You assume sky-daddy and his angel buddies cannot be working for anyone, since we all die in the end, but sky-daddy can bring acceptance of that.

    There’s a Buddhist metaphor about two arrows. The first arrow is a metaphor for a literal arrow that pierces your flesh and causes profuse bleeding and it an unsightly accessory to whatever you were wearing. The second arrow is a metaphor for the attachment and longing for your pre-pincushion state where you did not have an arrow sticking out of you and the resentment you feel towards the arrow and your anger towards who shot you. Both arrows cause you pain.

    Religion helps with that second arrow. You are measuring it against the first.

    When shot with an actual arrow in real life, you would want medical attention to remove the arrow, stop the bleeding, prevent infection. That’s science and that’s good as far as it goes. But it doesn’t help that metaphorical second arrow.

    There are lots of ways of dealing with that second arrow — praying, meditating, drinking, wallowing in self pity, avoidance of the outdoors leading to anxiety, blaming the Jews, dressing up like a giant bat and beating up muggers, etc. Religion can be a framework for helping there. It can provide a structure that points towards mediocre to good coping skills.

    And when people go through that, and feel it working, they believe in it. Just as if your gums were bleeding and your teeth were falling out, and you started eating fruits and noticed it working. From the limited perspective of direct experience, they are the same.

    5
  23. Lounsbury says:

    @CSK: While not a believer and not raised as one either, I would observe sneering snobbery towards believers given the weight in the American populace is one of those things that secular Democrats do to their own loss given a large majority of Americans continue to report comparatively strong religious belief.

    It also confuses religious faith with Trumpism,when in fact Trumpism appears to correlate with not religious faith but specific sub-set – the White heavily Southern Evangelical (and allowing them to claim monopoly on Christian and Faith is giving credence to their uniquely nasty theology, an error). And that supposed religious faith rather seems nothing much more than White Supremacy ideology with its roots going all the way back to the unreformed Confederates.

    Why should you cede the political religiosity as a rhetorical gambit to a set of people whose general pattern rather clearly demonstrates that racial and ethnic bigotry is their primary ideology, with a thin veneer of religion as an protective shield?

    4
  24. Gustopher says:

    @Gustopher: I’ll add one more thing: psychology is science attempting to address the second arrow.

    It’s not like physical medicine — we know what an arrow sticking out of someone’s leg looks like, how it does the damage, and how to attempt to repair the damage. We can see the results immediately.

    Psychology doesn’t work that way because the brain is effectively undifferentiated gray mush (oversimplifying). We have some knowledge of the functions and chemical reactions (antidepressants work about 60% of the time, and requires a lot of guesswork to find the right ones for an individual, for instance), but mostly psychology deals with behaviors and patterns of thought. It is personalized care based on large studies that measure moderate statistical effects.

    We don’t know why different approaches work better on some patients than others. We just try one after another.

    MBSR is basically an attempt to water down parts of Buddhism to remove a lot of the religion, and then subject it to scientific scrutiny on par with the rest of psychology. It’s also been shown to be at least as effective at dealing with PTSD with fewer side effects than medication, and is now regularly being used in VA hospitals. The best innovation science has to offer is religion without the religious aspects.

    Overall, I expect science to do a better job of handling the second arrow than religion can to handle the first. But until recently that’s been religion’s domain and science had nothing to offer unless you really did want to fuck your mother and were afraid that your father would castrate you (so, good for about 5% of the population)

    Meanwhile, faith healing seems to top out at the placebo effect.

    2
  25. Barry says:

    @CSK: 1″I freely admit that I can understand Categories 1 and 3 far more than I can understand Category 2. How can they listen to this man and believe that a thrice-married adulterous pussy-grabbing lifetime crook is a good Christian gentleman of elevated morals and a great patriot, as well as the best president we’ve ever had?”

    That’s what they’ve been told by the authorities which they respect – or rather, follow.

    And the deeper that they get, the more that they *need* to believe.

  26. CSK says:

    @Barry:
    It could well be that, but there seem to be other factors involved as well, one of which is certainly hostility to the press that reports all of Trump’s misdeeds. Even before Trump, these people disbelieved anything the “lamestream media ” (an organ of the Democratic Party, you know) reported.

    3
  27. Lounsbury says:

    @Gustopher: It’s all about Reynolds for Reynolds own self in the end.

    In any case, taking a hostile and belittling view of religion in a wider political context is a foolish error (as well as sociologially naive), it’s of the same kind of error the Bolsheviks made relative to religion.

    Foolish given the archaeological evidence rather demonstrating it is an aspect of human psychological with deep roots (although I am sure irreligiosity and cynical exploitation by irreligious of religiosity are equally deep).

    Work with it, don’t cede it to your White Evangelical supremacists.

    @CSK: you should not underestimate your Fox news factor.

    I had rather thought that Anglo democracy was culturally resistant to the Pravda Party organ effect. That was an objectively wrong belief. It is evident that the deep strain of unreconciled White Christian (emphasis on that and in fact really a sub-set of Christian to mean Evangelical although they pretend to play nice with conservative Catholics) supremacy is having an outright Reaction moment, and their weak acceptance of pluralistic democracy already evidenced in the 1860s and again the 1960s is having a second gasp.

    Fox news as a Pravda-esque organ (well actually an Italian fascist reference would be better but anyway) reinforcing their siege view (rather like the Bolsheviks fear of ‘counter revolution) is something to not to underestimate.

    2
  28. JohnMcC says:

    @Lounsbury: Brief note to say I agree entirely with your presumption that the Trump-Republican and Tea Party right wing do not believe in “democracy” as the rest of the universe does.

    1
  29. Kylopod says:

    Plus, they’re overcorrecting for the perception they got it wrong in 2016 and being extra cautious.

    Overcorrecting for what? They were one of the few analysts giving Trump a significant chance of winning in 2016. Their final percentage was 71% for Clinton–slightly lower than what they’re giving Biden currently.

    1
  30. Kylopod says:

    More on topic to this post: I’m always skeptical of polls that ask people whether they’re more likely or less likely to vote due to such-and-such reason. People are very poor at analyzing why they choose to vote a certain way. Most explanations are just after-the-fact rationalizations.

  31. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Lounsbury:

    It’s all about Reynolds for Reynolds own self in the end.

    Quite true. For me, for you, for all people. We are subjectivities, incapable of objectivity. That’s not to deny reality, I believe in reality, but I can only experience it subjectively. The best I can do to approach an accurate perception of reality is to de-cathect from all presuppositions, to drag all the early programming out and go through it line by line, keeping what works, tossing out what doesn’t. And then, make that an ongoing process of questioning the self.

    As to concerns over intellectual snobbery, that message was sent long ago and they got it. That bell won’t be un-rung, nor should it be. What would you have us do? Pretend their beliefs make sense? Condescend to them? You think they won’t notice that and resent it?

    This is not a problem of elites, it’s a problem of reality. They don’t like reality. There is no God. It’s nonsense, and deep down, they know it. Whether we condescend or dismiss, the effect is the same. They lost this intellectual struggle, we know it, they know it, and it is what it is. Ditto white superiority and the amazing specialness of the penis-endowed.

    5
  32. Gustopher says:

    As to concerns over intellectual snobbery, that message was sent long ago and they got it. That bell won’t be un-rung, nor should it be. What would you have us do? Pretend their beliefs make sense? Condescend to them?

    The majority of Americans, even the majority of Democrats, believe in God.

    https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/compare/belief-in-god/by/party-affiliation/

    55% of Democrats were absolutely certain in 2014, with another 21% mostly certain.

    That means we cannot give up on people of faith. That means that we cannot be condescending. That means a lot of people you basically agree with on most things believe in their sky-daddy and his foxy angels.

    It means acknowledging that religion is a source of strength and community in people’s lives, and can motivate them to great things — like caring about their community and their fellow man. It means appealing to that.

    I divide American religion into two broad camps — the God of “help thy neighbor” and the God of “you’re doing it wrong”. That first group has a lot more in common with us than the second.

    That first group can also occasionally be persuaded to commit genocide to benefit their community while the second group tends to commit genocide to punish the wicked. But you run a risk of genocide with anyone that is certain of anything — Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Tootsies and Hutu, Pol Pot, Myanmar Buddhists… Lack of religion didn’t make Stalin any better. But I digress.

    Or to put that all another way: You’re a freak. You scare the normies. But the reality is that you need the normies.

    1
  33. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: and the Dems and Biden say plenty of things about faith and despite being an atheist I don’t give a shit. Other examples of people refusing to believe in reality are way more important. One of the most amazing things that happened in the past horrible week, was Tucker Carlson saying that global warming was like systemic racism, they’re both imaginary things that the Democrats want you to believe in. That’s a double dose of Reality Denial. And the crowd he was speaking to probably snorted and said “Ain’t that the damn truth!” and that’s the immediate problem.

    1
  34. Bill says:

    @Gustopher: The majority of Americans, even the majority of Democrats, believe in God.

    1
  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    The majority of Americans, even the majority of Democrats, believe in God.

    Yes, I noticed. I was born a Jew but raised a Lutheran – ex substitute altar boy, confirmed and tagged by my minister as a possible future seminarian. I’ve even read the Bible cover to cover. So I’m actually pretty familiar with religious belief, rather more so than most Christians.

    Mainstream Christian denominations manage an uneasy truce with reality. They have a parallel system, science over here, God over there. It’s nonsense of course – the equivalent of believing that 2+2=5 and also 14. But they’re largely harmless because they’ve entered a transitional phase, embracing the secular, including a secular epistemology for the most part, while clinging to the religious beliefs in which they were indoctrinated as children. Most of their children will be even more secular.

    And there’s a huge range of belief when it comes to defining God. God as benevolent spirit? Meh, OK, whatever. God as distant, impersonal force? Sure, who cares? God as prime mover? Pointless, but not overly annoying. God as interpreted by a select priesthood, essentially Roman Catholic? Well, that made a lot of trouble in the past, but the priesthood’s authority is beyond threadbare at this point. No one will be saddling up to recapture Jerusalem from the Saracens on the Pope’s say-so.

    The problem – which I’m pretty consistent in specifying – is white evangelical Christians. They are approximately 25% of the US population and well over half of Trump culties. These are, for lack of a gentler modifier, stupid Christians. The slow class of Christianity. They don’t bother with theology, they simply go through the Bible, cherry-pick whatever serves their purpose, ignore everything that doesn’t, and set out to spread their diseased ideology to others by proselytizing and, when that fails, by using the power of government to force the rest of us to obey.

    This is somewhat separate from the Christian/superstitious GIGO issue. Garbage In – angels are real and reality is whatever an incoherent 5,000 year old book for Jews as interpreted by Pastor Jimmy Bob Bouffant says it is. Garbage Out – there ain’t no racism, wimmin should obey their husbands, everything I don’t like is a hoax, Trump is God’s servant, and if you jerk off you’ll burn for all eternity.

    If you can believe in angels you can believe in anything. Literally anything, because you have abandoned reason and once you do that, the guardrails are off. Smarter Christians have compartmentalized and adopted secular approaches to 90% of their lives. White evangelicals have not.

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