DeSantis and the New Christian Right

What is most politically unnerving to me is the idea of a politician fundamentally, maliciously, and knowingly undermining the system which they have sworn to work under. What is most shocking to me, then, is the vast public support that flatly non-secular, xenophobic, discriminatory, and treasonous statements individuals receive. When I hear a call for a “national divorce” from a sitting member of our Congress, these days I cannot help but feel indescribably uneasy. The fact that such a statement receives support from roughly 16 percent of Democrats and 25 percent of Republicans means it really is no joke. Political radicalization on both sides of the aisle has been well-recorded, but today that radicalization on the right has gone from simple ideas of embracing outmoded iterations of conservatism to breaking down the delicate secular fabric from which our republic has been spun. Ron DeSantis — representing the Christian right — is one of the latest pestilences born within our nation’s political factionalization. So long as we allow our nation to languish under the despotism of this new right-wing wave, the American system will continue to be subject to both attack from within and internal abuse of existing systems. I want to make it very clear that the ideology DeSantis and the modern Christian Right propose is diametrically opposed to every ideal we should hold dear as a nation — chiefly those of reasonable political discourse, tolerance, secularism, and liberty. 

Even by the standards of a politician, DeSantis is uniquely dishonest and fear-mongering.  And beyond his words themselves, he might be the most egregious serious contender for president since George Wallace. After all, his political maneuvers and speeches hinge on factionalization and fear tactics. Watch any one of his most recent appearances on television and he will undoubtedly speak to the dangers of “woke culture” and the indoctrination of American children. In a recent speech in Philadelphia, DeSantis appealed to the fear of Republican voters, raving about the evils of the Federal Reserve as an organization designed to take guns from Americans as some sort of larger communist plot. In another speech to students at Hillsdale College, he implored students to “Put on the full armor of God. Stand firm against the left’s schemes. You will face flaming arrows, but if you have the shield of faith, you will overcome them, and in Florida we walk the line here.” Besides his overly combative rhetoric and constant wails of “indoctrination” (funny, then, that he is speaking at a college, a place wherein the indoctrination is supposedly taking place), the Biblical imagery which he manipulates should also be noted. On the whole, what we see is a man who is willing to exploit every fear that Americans have through nonsense theories and for his own political gain. What makes DeSantis so uniquely dangerous is his command of a following despite his constant unfounded statements. But while DeSantis is personally politically savvy, he does not act alone.

DeSantis further represents a new, deplorable breed of right-wing Christians who have been elected to positions of power in our government. He has long been considered a Christian nationalist, and this is perhaps most evident in his statement that he believes American rights are given from God rather than the government. Now, it’s all well and good to believe that religiously, but American policy needs to have a universal basis rather than a religious one. In the case this was an isolated statement, it could be taken as a mere personal belief and it would matter little; however, DeSantis consistently and clearly applies this train of thought to his policies. I can think of no better example than his homophobic and frankly performative “Don’t Say Gay” bill. He is completely willing to trample American freedoms, even those as fundamental as the right to freedom of speech under an educational context. 

But DeSantis’ rhetoric is not unique. Christian nationalism has become pervasive among American politicians. Marjorie Taylor Greene, for instance,  has said explicitly that “I’m a Christian, and I say…we should be Christian nationalists.” Lauren Boebert has stated, “The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church.”Any politician that places religion above the wellbeing of the state or the people is not someone deserving of office. Your duty as a politician is, first and foremost, to the people, not the church. These are prominent Republicans and perhaps the frontrunner for the American presidency next year. Christian nationalism has spread to our Congress, and the rhetoric which it has resulted in should not be ignored.

Christian nationalists have no place in positions of political power, and despite its popularity among the right, Christian nationalism has no place in our democracy. Christian nationalism has gone from being a fringe belief to being one which perhaps more than 50 percent of Republicans support in some vein, according to recent polling. But, at its core, Christian nationalism is dangerously opposed to the concepts of multiculturalism, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and every other such fundamental right which we Americans hold dear. To be Christian and an American is one thing. It is another entirely to desire all of America to be Christian. Why should we ever grant power to those who would utilize the highest offices in our country to push through religious bills in a secular nation? Americans owe it to themselves and to the one third of our compatriots who do not adhere to Christianity to oust those who would abuse the power of political office to enact nonsecular legislation. Whether you support the Democratic or Republican Party, what should be evident is that the Republican Party’s large Christian wing is inherently opposed to the basic tenets of our republic. If we set the precedent that religion is a fair basis for law, we will have sent ourselves back 300 years. It is in the best interests of all that church and state remain separated. God has his house, and it is not the Congress of these United States of America. It is not the White House. 

Christian nationalism, and DeSantis alongside it, is incompatible with every facet of American democracy, and its wide-ranging support is sickening. DeSantis and this new Christian nationalist revival are anti-American by their very nature. Pushing non secularism to be universalized in the U.S. is inherently opposed to American conceptions of liberty, freedoms, religious tolerance, and all other such ideals. Further, by way of the means that Chrisitan nationalists have sought to achieve their goals, the additional adjectives of dishonest, fear-mongering, and factional can be tacked on. It is beyond ironic that DeSantis, a lawyer at Guantanamo who encouraged force feeding “detainees” (I’m sure he would never give them the dignity of “prisoners”), now complains about indoctrination. Indoctrination is the nature of the world that the Christian right proposes. There is no way to have a Christian state without indoctrination at the center of it all. We Americans cannot allow ourselves to become so blinded by partisan divide that the cracks within one’s own party become blurred and subsequently invisible. DeSantis and those like him kick up dirt where it doesn’t exist. The Republican Party has lost all of the sense it once had, and DeSantis should be the courier who runs to bring a message of reform.