We all know that Donald Trump is a blunt, brash New Yorker. He’s a street fighter and he won the presidency that way. Tens of millions of Americans love his tenacity and penchant for brawling. But there’s a line – in the minds of his strong evangelical support. It is a line he must not cross if he hopes to maintain their undying affection. And the president is at risk of crossing this thin evangelical line.
The evangelical attraction to Donald Trump was strong during the GOP primaries and reached even greater heights during the General Election when a record number of evangelicals – 81 percent – voted for him. But he needs to be very careful if he wants to duplicate or even improve on that number next time around. Calling out the media is one thing, but too often Trump makes it personal. That’s another thing. Evangelicals don’t mind President Trump’s unorthodox ways or his fighting spirit. They like it when he socks it to Washington bureaucrats and phony politicians. But a pattern of petty personal insults will put Trump in danger of “evangelical voter apathy” in 2020.
Diehards will stay with him no matter what, but that won’t be enough to win in 2020. He needs those “anti-Hillary evangelicals.” Will they show up and vote for the next Democratic nominee? No. Many of them may just not show up at all. If 81 percent turnout becomes 77 percent evangelical turnout (especially in key swing states), then he’s toast. It’s that simple. He needs evangelicals and he knows it. Any slippage and it’s game, set, match. He can’t afford to go down this road. It’s not worth it for him.
Look, the art of this deal is pretty simple if President Trump wants to seal the deal with evangelicals going forward: he can bash the media, the “deep state,” and disingenuous politicians all day long. He just shouldn’t make it personal. Evangelicals are watching. And honestly, is it worth it? I get it. They insult him multiple times daily and Trump’s instinct is to punch back ten times harder. But sometimes it just gets way too personal and it can cause him more political harm than good.
This seems like a good time for a Bible verse, not just for President Trump, but for all of us. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
About the Author
David Brody is the Chief White House Correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network.