Understanding the Trumpians: The Search for Answers Goes On

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Ross Douthat, Conservatism After Christianity: A new survey reveals the Republican Party’s religious divide.

Relying on survey data from the Cato Institute, Douthat informs us that Republicans who go to church regularly hold generally respectable views on race—they “look more like the party many elicte conservatives wanted to believe existed before Trump came along.”

Meanwhile, secular Republicans are the ones who lap up white identity “populism.” “This seems to support the argument … that support for populism correlates with a kind of communal breakdown, in which secularization is one variable among many leaving people feeling isolated and angry, and drawing them to the ersatz solidarity of white identity politics,” Douthat writes.

The communal breakdown point dovetails nicely with

Yoni Appelbaum, Americans Aren’t Practicing Democracy Anymore: As participation in civic life has dwindled, so has public faith in the country’s system of government.

Like most habits, democratic behavior develops slowly over time, through constant repetition. For two centuries, the United States was distinguished by its mania for democracy: From early childhood, Americans learned to be citizens by creating, joining, and participating in democratic organizations. But in recent decades, Americans have fallen out of practice, or even failed to acquire the habit of democracy in the first place.

The results have been catastrophic. As the procedures that once conferred legitimacy on organizations have grown alien to many Americans, contempt for democratic institutions has risen. In 2016, a presidential candidate who scorned established norms rode that contempt to the Republican nomination, drawing his core support from Americans who seldom participate in the rituals of democracy.

Dan Balz, A fresh look back at 2016 finds America with an identity crisis

Two years after the 2016 election, there has been no single answer to the question: What happened? In an outcome that saw the popular vote and the electoral college diverge, theories abound, opinions are many and consensus fleeting. Now, a trio of political scientists have come forth with their answer as to why Donald Trump prevailed over Hillary Clinton, summed up in the title of their forthcoming book: “Identity Crisis.”

The co-authors are John Sides of George Washington University, Michael Tesler of the University of California at Irvine and Lynn Vavreck of the University of California at Los Angeles. They have plumbed and analyzed a wealth of polling and voting data, examined surveys of attitudes taken long before, during and after the 2016 campaign. Their conclusion is straightforward. Issues of identity — race, religion, gender and ethnicity — and not economics were the driving forces that determined how people voted, particularly white voters.

The book will be available on October 23. Pre-order yours now.