In the heat of the Republican primary of 2016, Donald Trump called evangelical supporters of his rival Ted Cruz “so-called Christians” and “real pieces of shit”, a new book says.The news lands as the 2024 Republican primary heats up, two months out from the Iowa caucus and a day after Trump’s closest rival this time, the hard-right Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, was endorsed by Bob Vander Plaats, an influential evangelical leader in Iowa.The new book, The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism, by Tim Alberta, an influential reporter and staff writer for the Atlantic, will be published on 5 December. The Guardian obtained a copy.Early in the book, Alberta describes fallout from an event at Liberty University, the evangelical college in Virginia, shortly before the Iowa vote in January 2016.As candidates jockeyed for support from evangelicals, a powerful bloc in any Republican election, Trump was asked to name his favourite Bible verse.Attempting to follow the advice of Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, the thrice-married, not noticeably church-going New York billionaire and reality TV star introduced it as “Two Corinthians”, rather than “Second Corinthians”, as would have been correct.“The laughter and ridicule were embarrassing enough for Trump,” Alberta writes. “But the news of Perkins endorsing Ted Cruz, just a few days later, sent him into a spiral. He began to speculate that there was a conspiracy among powerful evangelicals to deny him the GOP nomination.“When Cruz’s allies began using the ‘Two Corinthians’ line to attack him in the final days before the Iowa caucuses, Trump told one Iowa Republican official, ‘You know, these so-called Christians hanging around with Ted are some real pieces of shit.’”Alberta adds that “in private over the coming years”, Trump “would use even more colourful language to describe the evangelical community”.Cruz won Iowa but Trump took the second primary contest, in New Hampshire, and won the nomination with ease. After beating Hillary Clinton and spending four chaotic years in the White House, he was beaten by Joe Biden in 2020.Pursuing the lie that his defeat was the result of electoral fraud, Trump refused to concede defeat. He has continued to dominate Republican politics, now as the clear frontrunner to be the nominee again.Trump has maintained that status despite having been impeached twice (the second for inciting the deadly January 6 attack on Congress) and despite facing 91 criminal charges (34 for hush-money payments to a porn star) and civil threats including a case arising from a rape allegation a judge called “substantially true”.Evangelicals remain the dominant bloc in Iowa, 55% of respondents to an NBC News/Des Moines Register poll in August identifying as “devoutly religious”. But despite his lengthy rap sheet, Trump’s hold on such voters appears to remain strong.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionIn October, the Register put him at 43% support overall in Iowa, with DeSantis and the former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley 27 points behind. The same poll said 44% of evangelicals planned to make Trump their first choice, with DeSantis at 22% and Haley seven points back.Evangelicals have also stayed with Trump nationwide. According to exit polls, in the 2020 presidential election he was supported by 76% of white evangelical voters.DeSantis and Haley must attempt to catch Trump in Iowa. Vander Plaats’ endorsement was thus a sought-after prize, if one Trump did not pursue, declining to attend a Thanksgiving Family Forum Vander Plaats hosted in Des Moines last week.On Monday, announcing his decision to endorse DeSantis, the president of the Family Leader, which seeks to “inspire the church to engage government for the advance of God’s kingdom and the strengthening of family”, pointed to the conclusion he hoped his followers would reach.Speaking to Fox News, Vander Plaats said: “I don’t think America is going to elect [Trump] president again. I think America would be well served to have a choice, and I really believe Ron DeSantis should be that guy. And I think Iowa is tailor-made for him to win this.”Trump’s rivals may yet take encouragement from Register polling, should evangelicals begin to doubt Trump. In the October poll, 76% of Iowa evangelicals said they had a positive view of DeSantis, while 62% said they liked Haley. More
Three years after supporting Joe Biden’s victorious 2020 campaign, the straight-talking rap superstar Cardi B has ditched her backing of the president after public service cuts in her home town of New York.The Grammy winner, whose legal name is Belcalis Almánzar, said in an Instagram live stream she was done with Biden. Her tirade highlighted what she portrayed as contradiction between US domestic and foreign policies, saying the White House was helping Ukraine fight Russia and Israel fight Hamas while the New York City mayor, Eric Adams, announced a 5% municipal budget cut last week.Adams said the cuts would affect schools, libraries, the New York police department and the sanitation service, among others.As Cardi B said: “In New York, there is a $120m budget cut that’s going to affect schools, public libraries and the police department.“And a $5m budget cut in sanitation … We are gonna be drowning in … rats.”Adams warned last week that more cuts would be necessary without additional funding from Washington to manage New York’s increase of migrants.“Migrant costs are going up, tax revenue growth is slowing and [Covid-19] stimulus funding is drying up,” Adams said in a statement.“No city should be left to handle a national humanitarian crisis largely on its own, and without the significant and timely support we need from Washington, today’s budget will be only the beginning.”But the Biden administration has not agreed to meet Adams’s funding plea amid growing domestic anger over the multi-billion-dollar funding of the Ukrainian defense against Russia’s invasion and Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza.An NBC poll released on Sunday showed that Biden’s approval rating has declined to 40%, the lowest level of his presidency. And the survey showed that strong majorities of all voters disapprove of his handling of foreign policy.The steepest declines of support came among voters aged 18 to 34 – 70% said they did not approve of Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza.Cardi B, who memorably helped promote Biden’s candidacy as he successfully ran for the White House in 2020, vowed that she would no longer endorse political candidates in the future.“I’m endorsing no presidents no more,” Cardi B warned. “Joe Biden is talking about, ‘Yeah, we can fund two wars,’ … talking about, ‘Yeah, we got it, we’re the greatest nation.’ No … we’re not. We don’t got it, and we’re going through some shit right now. So say it!”She added: “We are really, really, really fucked right now. No, we cannot fund these … wars.”Cardi B asked whether the US was going broke and then answered: “Yes, it is. We ain’t got McDonald’s money.”In a final rebuke to Biden’s economic and foreign policy management, she said: “Feed that … to somebody else, twinkle, but don’t feed it to me.” She then promised “to get to the bottom of it”. More
This week, Rupert Murdoch formally stepped down as the chairman of News Corp. At the annual shareholder’s meeting, the 92-year-old media mogul inveighed against the “suppression of debate by an intolerant elite who regard differing opinions as anathema”. He also passed the baton to Lachlan Murdoch, his 52-year-old son, “a believer in the social purpose of journalism”.Murdoch also told those assembled that “humanity has a high destiny”. Unmentioned: how Fox News’s coverage of the 2020 election led to its shelling out of hundreds of millions to settle a defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, or how other suits continue.Five days after the election, insisting Donald Trump could not have lost to Joe Biden – as he clearly did – Maria Bartiromo defied management to become “the first Fox host to utter the name ‘Dominion’”, writes Brian Stelter, a veteran Fox-watcher and former CNN host. “All gassed up on rage and righteousness, [Bartiromo] heaped shame onto the network and spurred a $787.5m settlement payment.”Bartiromo popularized the Trump aide Sidney Powell and her special brand of insanity. Their enthusiasm became fatally contagious. January 6 and the insurrection followed. Two and a half years later, Bartiromo is still on the air. Powell is a professional defendant. Last month, she pleaded guilty in Fulton county, Georgia, to six counts of misdemeanor election interference and agreed to six years of probation. She still faces potential civil liability and legal sanction.“What Bartiromo began on a Sunday morning in November … destroyed America’s sense of a shared reality about the 2020 election,” Stelter laments. “The consequences will be felt for years to come.”In the political sphere, Trump shrugs off 91 criminal charges and assorted civil threats to dominate the Republican primary, focusing on retribution and weaponizing the justice department and FBI should he return to power.With less than a year before the 2024 election, Stelter once again focuses on the Murdochs’ flagship operation. Like his previous book from 2020, Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth, Network of Lies offers a readable and engrossing deep dive into the rightwing juggernaut paid for by the Murdochs and built by the late, disgraced Roger Ailes.Now a podcast host and consulting producer to The Morning Show, an Apple TV drama, Stelter also has journalistic chops earned at the New York Times. He wades through court filings and paperwork from the Dominion litigation, talks to sources close to Fox and the Murdochs, and offers insight into the firing of Tucker Carlson, the dominant, far-right prime-time host who was suddenly ditched in April. Stelter’s book is subtitled The Epic Saga of Fox News, Donald Trump, and the Battle for American Democracy. He overstates, but not by much.Unlike Bartiromo, Carlson didn’t drink the Kool-Aid. He was sly and calculated, not crazy.“Carlson privately thought Powell’s ‘software shit’ was ‘absurd’,” Stelter writes about the idea that voting machines were outlandishly rigged. “He worriedly speculated that ‘half our viewers have seen the Maria clip’, and he wanted to push back on it.” But Carlson didn’t push back hard enough. He went with the flow.He now peddles his wares on what used to be Twitter, broadcasts from a basement, and hangs out with Trump at UFC. For a guy once known for wearing bow ties, it’s a transformation. Then again, Carlson also prided himself on his knowledge of how white guys ought to fight, an admission in a text message, revealed by the Dominion suit, that earned the ire of the Fox board and the Murdochs.In Stelter’s telling, Fox “A-listers” received a heads-up on what discovery in the Dominion case would reveal.“‘They’re going to call us hypocrites,’ an exec warned.” Plaintiffs would juxtapose Fox’s public message against its internal doubts about voter fraud claims. “It was likened to ‘a seven-layer cake of shit’,” Stelter writes.The miscalculation by Fox’s legal team is now legend. It led Murdoch to believe Dominion would cost him $50m. But even Murdoch came close to concluding it was “unarguable that high-profile Fox voices” fed the “big lie”.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionStelter captures the Murdochs’ struggle to make money, keep their audience happy and avoid liability. It is a near-impossible task. The beast must be fed. There is always someone or something out there waiting to cater to Trump’s base if Fox won’t. After the 2020 election, Trump forced Fox to compete with One America News and Newsmax for his attention and his followers’ devotion.The Murdochs’ pivot toward Ron DeSantis as their Republican candidate of choice won’t be forgotten soon, at least not by voters during the GOP primary. Despite being assiduously courted by Fox to appear at the first debate, which it sponsored, Trump smirkingly and wisely declined to show. Fox still covers Trump’s events – until he plugs Carlson, the defenestrated star.Judging by the polls, none of this has hurt Trump’s hopes. He laps the pack while DeSantis stagnates, Nikki Haley threatening to take second place. At the same time, some polling shows Trump ahead of Joe Biden or competitive in battleground states and leading in the electoral college. For now, Fox needs him more than he needs Fox.In that spirit of “social purpose” reporting lauded by his dad, Lachlan Murdoch will be left to navigate a defamation action brought by Smartmatic, another voting machine company, and, among other cases, a suit filed by Ray Epps, an ex-marine who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges for his role in the January 6 insurrection but became the focus of conspiracy theorists. Sating the appetites of the 45th president and his rightwing base never comes cheap.In the Smartmatic litigation, Fox tried to subpoena George Soros, the bete noire of the right. It lost, but conspiracy theories die hard. US democracy remains fragile, the national divide seemingly unbridgeable. Expect little to change at Fox. The show must go on.
Network of Lies is published in the US by Simon & Schuster More
The 14th amendment was passed in 1868, to settle important matters arising from the civil war, including how we define equality before the law. Ever since, it has served as the foundation for one landmark supreme court decision after another, from Brown v Board of Education (1954), which banned segregation in public schools, to Obergefell v Hodges (2015), which legalized gay marriage.In recent times, a little-known feature has come into sharp focus. Six days after the January 6 Capitol attack, Eric Foner, a historian of the US civil war and the Reconstruction era, argued that section 3 of the amendment forbids an “officer of the United States” from holding office if he or she has sworn an oath to the constitution, then participated in an “insurrection or rebellion”.That could mean Donald Trump is ineligible to hold public office.The matter is now before the states. In September, New Hampshire’s secretary of state refused to intervene. On 8 November, Minnesota’s supreme court rejected an attempt to prevent Trump from running. On 14 November, a judge in Michigan dismissed a lawsuit that tried to exclude Trump. But other states will be reckoning with the issue in the weeks ahead, including Colorado.To better understand the origin of the 14th amendment, and its ongoing relevance to 2024, Foner sat down with Ted Widmer, another civil war historian. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.Ted Widmer: The 14th amendment has been in the news a lot lately. Can you remind us why this particular amendment holds so much sway?Eric Foner: The 14th amendment is the most important amendment added to the constitution since the Bill of Rights in 1791. It’s an attempt by the victorious north, the Republican party in the aftermath of the civil war, to put its understanding of that war into the constitution.It is also the longest amendment. They tried to deal with everything that was on the political agenda in 1865, 1866. It deals with many specific issues, such as ensuring that southern enslavers are not going to get monetary compensation. Or that – and this is in the news today – that if you take an oath of allegiance to the constitution, and then you engage in insurrection, you are barred from holding political office in the United States.On the other hand, the 14th amendment also contains the first section, which is a series of principles arising from the end of slavery, beginning with birthright citizenship, that all persons born in the US are automatically citizens of the US. Although there’s an exclusion of Native Americans, who are still at that point considered citizens of their tribal nation, not the US. Also in the first section, “equal protection of the law”, that no state can deny to any person, not just citizens, the equal protections of the law – this was a fundamental change in American politics and society.Can you elaborate?No state gave Black people full equality before the law before the Reconstruction era and the 14th amendment. What equal protection actually means in practice is certainly open to debate. And it has been debated ever since 1868, when the amendment was ratified. There are key supreme court decisions over the last century – whether it’s outlawing racial segregation, establishing the right to terminate a pregnancy, “one man, one vote”, and many others – [that] have rested on the 14th amendment. My basic point is this: to borrow a modern phrase, I think the 14th amendment should be seen as a form of “regime change”. It’s an attempt to change the regime in the United States. It’s not a minor little change in the political system. It’s to change a pro-slavery regime, which is what we had before the civil war, to one based on equality, regardless of race. A fundamental change.This is what the civil war has accomplished. It has destroyed slavery, and it has created a new political system, which views all persons in the US as entitled to some modicum of equality.What is the immediate context of the passage of the 14th amendment? What were they trying to address?Well, the immediate context was what we call the Reconstruction era, the period immediately after the civil war, when the country was trying to come to terms with the consequences of the war, the most important of which were the destruction of slavery and the unity of the nation. As I mentioned, there were specific issues, which really have very little bearing on our political life today, although they keep popping up. For example, part of the 14th amendment says the government has to pay its debt: if it borrows money, selling bonds, it has to pay them off when they become due. This lay there pretty much unremarked for a long time. But lately with the debates over the debt ceiling, it’s back in the news again.But the fundamental issue was: what was going to be the status of the 4 million former slaves, who were now free citizens? Were they going to enjoy equality, were they going to have the right to vote, which was critical in a democracy? Were they going to be able to hold public office? What about economic equality, would they enjoy anything like that? The 14th amendment tries to deal with that in various ways. There are five sections, all of them relate back and forth to each other.Even though Abraham Lincoln was no longer alive, does it reflect his thinking?A constitutional amendment is the only legislative measure in which the president has no role whatsoever. The president cannot veto a constitutional amendment the way he can veto a piece of normal legislation. In fact, when the 13th amendment was passed, irrevocably abolishing slavery in the US, Lincoln worked to get it ratified, and he signed a copy of it as a symbol of his support. He got a handwritten copy of the 13th amendment, approved by Congress, and he signed it, whereupon Congress said, “You can’t sign this, President Lincoln, because the president has no role in the passage of the amendment. You’re trampling on our powers.”Didn’t know that.Yeah, they got annoyed when he signed it. Signing it didn’t make it legal or illegal. It becomes part of the constitution when it’s ratified by Congress and by a sufficient number of states.But the point is, Lincoln was a mainstream Republican. He was a great man, a brilliant writer and speaker, but he was also a party man. And the 14th amendment was approved by almost every Republican in Congress. There is no question Lincoln would have approved it. Also, Lincoln did not get into big fights with Congress the way some presidents have. So I think the basic principle, equality before the law, Lincoln had come to approve that during the civil war. He didn’t really hold that view before the civil war. But there’s no question in my mind that if Lincoln had not been assassinated, and was still president, he would have happily urged Congress to support the 14th amendment.Is birthright citizenship a uniquely American concept?Well, that is another complex and important issue and something that is back on the political agenda today. Is it uniquely American? No, it’s not. There are other countries that also automatically make you a citizen.But the point of birthright citizenship is it’s very important in the constitution to have this. It’s basically a statement that anybody can be a citizen. We are not a country based on a single religion, we are not a country based on a single political outlook, we are not a country with an official sort of set of doctrines that you have to adhere to. We’re not a country with an ethnic identity. A person of German ancestry born in Russia could automatically be a citizen of Germany, just by that ethnic identity. But the child of a guest worker, born in Germany, is not automatically a citizen of Germany.So birthright citizenship is an important consequence of the civil war. And of course, it had been deeply debated before then. Just before the civil war, in 1857, the supreme court in the Dred Scott decision ruled that no Black person could be a citizen. There were half a million free Black people. They were born in the US, most of them, and they could never be a citizen.The first section of the 14th amendment abrogates the Dred Scott decision, and creates a national standard for who is a citizen. The original constitution mentioned citizens, but it didn’t say who exactly they are, or what are the qualifications for being a citizen. So this clears up an ambiguity of the constitution and establishes a basic principle, equality, as fundamental to American life.Does that mean between Dred Scott in 1857 and the 14th amendment in 1868 that African Americans, even if they had liberated themselves and fought in the union army, were not citizens?Well, the Republican party and Lincoln had repudiated the Dred Scott decision on paper. Even as early as 1862, the attorney general, Edward Bates, issued a ruling saying Dred Scott was wrong.But what you said is true, it’s the 14th amendment that creates Black citizenship as a constitutional principle. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 established it in national law. By then 200,000 Black men had fought in the civil war. They were almost universally considered to be citizens. If you would fight and die for the nation, they’re not going to say after the war, “You can’t be a citizen.”Dred Scott destroyed the reputation of the supreme court in the north. During the secession crisis, nobody said, “Let’s let the supreme court decide this.”Unlike the Declaration of Independence, or the constitution, whose signers are well known, the 14th amendment is more anonymous. Who were the principal authors?It was written by the joint committee on Reconstruction, a 15-member body set up by Congress to figure out what laws and constitutional amendments were necessary to enforce the verdict of the civil war.My book The Second Founding begins by saying exactly what your question says. People have heard of James Madison, “father of the constitution”. They have heard of Alexander Hamilton, for reasons we know nowadays. These are people who were critical in writing the constitution.But who remembers John Bingham, the congressman from Ohio, who was more responsible than anyone else for the first section of the 14th amendment, about the federal government having the power to prevent states from denying Americans equality? We don’t remember Thaddeus Stevens, the great radical Republican from Pennsylvania who was the floor leader in the House, who did more than anyone else to get the 14th amendment ratified. We don’t remember James Howard, from Michigan, who got it through the Senate. In other words, the 14th amendment is not seen as fundamental to our constitutional system, whereas, of course, the original constitution is.So what I say in my book is, we’ve got to think of these people as like the founding fathers. This was a refounding of the nation, and the people who were critical in that deserve to be remembered.Were there parts that could have been written more clearly?The writing was in two modes. One was very clear. If you loaned money to the Confederacy, it’s never going to be repaid. That’s a highly specific point. But the language of the first section of the 14th amendment is much more ambiguous or general. Equal protection of the law. All citizens are entitled to due process of law. People cannot be denied life, liberty and property without due process of law.The language might have been clearer. But John Bingham wanted it to be ambiguous. What issues relating to the political equality of race relations would get on to the national agenda in the next 10, 50 or 100 years? He wanted to have a general set of principles which could be applied when necessary, and in fact, the fifth section, the final section of the 14th amendment, specifically states, “Congress shall have the power to enforce” this amendment. What does it mean to enforce the equal protection of the law? Well, that’s for the courts and the Congress and others to decide. So the language could have been clearer, but I’m not sure it would have been better if it were clearer. They wanted it to be ambiguous to leave room for future action.In other words, they thought this was not the end of Reconstruction. This was just one step toward creating what Thaddeus Stevens called “the perfect republic”, which they wanted to build on the ashes of slavery.Love that phrase.That’s Stevens’ speech, before the House. You know, the 14th amendment was a compromise. There were radical Republicans, conservative Republicans, moderate Republicans. And they hammered out a series of compromises. But Stevens, who was a real radical, also knew when you had to compromise. In his final speech before Congress, before the 14th amendment was ratified, he said, “Yeah, I had always hoped that when we could get out from under the power of slavery, we could create this perfect republic that the founders tried to, but failed to, because they allowed slavery.”skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionBut that dream has vanished, he said. The perfect republic is never really achieved, in any human endeavor. So, yeah, that’s what they were trying to do. Erase the mistakes of the founders, when it came to slavery, and remake the republic.Could the 14th amendment have passed if Congress had not taken a strong stand against seating southerners?The passage of the 14th amendment is interesting. Immediately after the civil war, Congress said, “We’re not letting the southern states back in quite yet.” They cannot vote on whether to ratify the three Reconstruction amendments. So the vote in Congress was only among northerners. If the south had had all the congressmen it normally did, the 14th amendment would never have been ratified. You need a two-thirds vote in Congress, and three-quarters of the states. It’s a very high bar to amend the constitution.But another aspect of this is, could it have passed the states? When the 14th amendment is first passed by Congress, President Andrew Johnson’s plan of Reconstruction is still in effect. Johnson had set up all-white racist governments in the south. They were still in power. And they all voted not to ratify the 14th amendment, every one of the southern states except Tennessee. They did not want Congress establishing this principle of equality for Black Americans.Congress got so infuriated that in 1867, they abolished those governments. They said, “We are going to give Black men the right to vote.” They hadn’t done that at the beginning of Reconstruction. They’re going to set up new state governments in the south, and those governments are going to ratify the 14th amendment. They ordered them to ratify it. And the way they guaranteed it was to allow Black men to vote. New governments were set up, biracial governments. For the first time in American history, Black and white men were sitting in legislatures, voting on laws, holding public office. This was a radical change in American democracy. And with those new governments, in which Black people for the first time had a voice, the southern states ratified the 14th amendment. So how the 14th amendment was ratified is irregular compared to most other amendments.Why was section 3 added?Section 3 is one part of the amendment that has been almost completely ignored until the last couple of years. It doesn’t apply to all southern whites, or even most of them, but to anyone who held an office before the civil war, who took an oath of allegiance to the constitution. That would mean people who served in the military or held some kind of public office. Even a postmaster has to take an oath to the constitution. The purpose was to eliminate the old ruling class of the south from public office. It was to create a space where new governments could come into being which would approve of the principles of the 14th amendment. They did not deny the right to vote to ex-Confederate leaders. But they did deny the right to hold office.It was almost never enforced. There are only a few examples of this amendment being enforced during Reconstruction. A couple of local officials were disqualified from office because they had held an office before the civil war then served in the Confederate army. In other words, they gave aid to insurrection after having pledged allegiance to the constitution. I think there were a couple in Tennessee. But basically, Congress gave an amnesty after a few years to just about everybody that this covered.And in the first world war, a socialist member of Congress, Victor Berger, was convicted under the Espionage Act. If you criticized the American participation, you could be put in jail. Congress expelled him under the third clause of the 14th amendment. In other words, he pledged allegiance to the constitution and was now convicted of what they called espionage. It wasn’t actually spying, it was really just opposing the war. But then the supreme court overturned the conviction and Congress let him back in.In the last year or two, this has become a major issue in relation to Donald Trump. Depending on how you analyze it, Trump took an oath to support the constitution – obviously, when he was sworn in as president – but gave aid to insurrection. If you consider the events of 6 January 2021 an insurrection. He tried to overturn a governmental process, tried to prevent the legitimate election of a president.There have been lawsuits in a number of states to keep Trump off the ballot in 2024. Thus far, none has succeeded. Some are pending. A couple of cases have come up about lesser officials who took part in the events of January 6. And in fact, a guy in New Mexico, a county commissioner, was ordered out of office by a court on the grounds that he was barred by the third section of the 14th amendment.A congressman in North Carolina, Madison Cawthorn, faced claims that he could not serve. It became moot because he lost his primary. But there was a court that did say that it was a legitimate question whether he could serve if elected, because he had been there taking part in the events of January 6.So it’s on the agenda now. But there is no jurisprudence really related to section 3. Nobody knows what the supreme court would say. Some people say you would need a judicial ruling. How do you know that a guy participated? It’s like you’re convicting him without a trial. But on the other hand, others say, no, this is just a qualification for office. This is not a criminal trial.Being barred from office is not a criminal punishment. It’s one of the qualifications for office. For example, let’s say somebody was elected president who was under the age of 35. The constitution says you have to be 35. Let’s say Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was elected president. Not likely, but she’s a well-known figure in politics. Well, she couldn’t serve because she’s under 35. And a court or somebody would just have to say, “I’m sorry, you don’t meet the qualifications here.” I am not a law professor. Neither I nor anyone else knows what the courts would decide. But in actuality the 14th amendment says it’s Congress that enforces the 14th amendment, not the supreme court. They didn’t want the court involved because of Dred Scott.The final section of the amendment says, “Congress shall have the power to enforce this amendment by appropriate legislation.” Would Congress have to declare somebody having participated in insurrection? I don’t know. But this was brought up including by me about two years ago, in the op-ed, in the Washington Post, after the insurrection of January 6.There was an effort to impeach President Trump, but it didn’t succeed. But I pointed out you don’t need impeachment, which requires a two-thirds vote to convict in the Senate. If you really want to keep Trump out of office because of his actions on January 6, you could do it through the third section of the 14th amendment.Certainly, regarding a president, there is no precedent. But the third section has never been repealed. So there it is.Did the 1872 Amnesty Act supersede section 3?That’s been brought up. The 14th amendment also says Congress can eliminate this punishment or disability by a two-thirds vote. In 1872, in the run-up to the presidential election of that year, Congress did pass a general Amnesty Act, which saved almost all prominent Confederates.Now, some people say that eliminated section 3, and therefore it can’t be enforced. But that’s not the case. You can let people off from one punishment, but it didn’t say this section is no longer applicable. It said that a whole lot of people would no longer be punished as part of an effort to bring about sectional reconciliation. The Amnesty Act doesn’t necessarily repeal a previous measure unless it says the previous measure is automatically repealed.How has section 3 been interpreted since Reconstruction?It has barely been interpreted. There have been only a handful of cases. There’s almost no jurisprudence related to it, which is one of the reasons Congress has been reluctant to enforce it. Joe Biden has said he doesn’t really want to get into this. It would guarantee a prolonged legal battle if you tried to enforce section 3 against Trump. Enforcing it against the county commissioner in New Mexico probably didn’t raise a lot of animosity. But it has happened. So there is a bit of jurisprudence, but not enough that a court could easily say, “Here’s the precedent, this is what we’ve done in the past.”Is the president “an officer of the United States”?Again, because there’s no jurisprudence, it hasn’t been decided. A couple of prominent conservative law professors wrote an article saying section 3 is on the books and can be enforced. Then they changed their mind. And they said the president is not an officer of the United States. So it does apply to all sorts of other offices. But not the president.This has never been exactly determined, but it certainly seems the normal understanding of the term “officer” is someone holding office. The president certainly holds office. When the constitution was ratified, there was no president. The previous constitution, the Articles of Confederation, didn’t have a president. There was no executive officer. It was only the Congress. So it’s unclear. They added the president as someone who could execute the laws. But I don’t see how you can eliminate the president or exclude the president from this language. If you take the whole of section 3, I think it’s pretty clear that they are trying to keep out of office anybody who committed the acts that section 3 describes. But again, it’s complicated.Did the events of January 6 constitute “an insurrection or rebellion against the constitution”?They certainly tried to a halt a constitutional procedure, the counting of the electoral votes. One of the more bizarre parts of our constitution, actually, but nonetheless, it’s there.What is your definition of insurrection or rebellion? You know, this gets into a question we actually haven’t talked about, which is very important in relation to the 14th amendment, which is the notion that you can clearly ascertain the original meaning, or the original intention of a law or a constitutional provision or something like that, and that the constitution should be interpreted according to the original meaning of the people who wrote the provision, or the original intention.This notion that you can ascertain, clearly, the original intention is absolutely absurd. No important document in history has one intention, or one meaning. Particularly the 14th amendment, it was written with compromises, with 8-7 votes in the joint committee. It was ratified by hundreds of members of state legislatures. Who can tell us exactly what the intention is? It is a legitimate historical question to ask, what were they trying to accomplish? But that’s a little different than saying what was their intention, at least in the legal realm.Yes, historians are always trying to figure out, why did they write and ratify the 14th amendment? In a way, that’s an intention question.But to answer that question, unfortunately, justices have a way of going purely to debates in Congress. They do not look at the general historical context. The meaning of the 14th amendment was debated and argued and fought out at all levels of society.One of my favorite quotations from this period comes from Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the great advocate of women’s rights. She said, during Reconstruction, I’m paraphrasing, “The basic principles of our government were debated at every level of society, in Congress, in the pulpits, in schools, at every fireside.” I love that. In other words, even in their homes, people are debating the issues around the 14th amendment. There is no one single intent that you can locate in that gigantic discussion about constitutional issues, which accompanied the ratification of the 14th amendment. So I think, as most historians would say, it’s a pointless test to try to identify one single intention.Wouldn’t the legal challenges take longer than the election itself?Yes, the legal challenges would take a long time, and it would be weird if Trump is elected next fall, then a year into his term of office he’s evicted because he doesn’t meet the qualifications. We saw how Trump reacted to actually losing an election. But now, if he won and then was kicked out of office, that would certainly be a red flag in front of a bull.
Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton professor emeritus of history at Columbia University, is a Pulitzer prize-winning author whose most recent book is The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution
Ted Widmer is a distinguished lecturer at the Macaulay Honors College, City University of New York, and a former special assistant to President Bill Clinton. His most recent book is Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington More
Lady Bird, as Claudia Alta Taylor Johnson was better known, is a nickname that conjures the frivolous and fanciful, but the fiftysomething woman from east Texas who emerges in Dawn Porter’s elegant documentary The Lady Bird Diaries was a paragon of substance. She was also a documentarian in her own right, chronicling her time in the White House over 123 hours of audio recordings that were released after her death in 2007.Apart from the footage of wildflowers that Porter shot on the Johnson family ranch in Texas, the film entirely relies on archival audio and video recordings from the time of Lyndon B Johnson’s presidency, from the 1963 assassination of John F Kennedy to 1969. Building on an ABC News podcast, Porter’s work is a visually mesmerizing collage of mid-century America and one of its most fascinating characters.“[Being a first lady] is traditionally a feminine thing. It’s usually about children and reading and food gardens,” Porter said. “And those things are worthy.” Johnson, though, occupied herself with more than rose gardens. She was a shadow politician, serving as the president’s adviser as well as his tutor, even giving her husband grades on his speeches as we hear in one recording. “I don’t think there were a lot of A-pluses,” Porter said. “I think there was always room for improvement.”The Johnsons’ high expectations for each other mirrored the intensity of their devotion. “In a lot of ways, it’s a love story,” Porter said. “I think some of the best marriages are where each person thinks the other person is the smartest and most capable person. Her daughters confirmed that when I met them. They said, ‘Daddy thought Mother was the smartest person he’d ever met.’”Finding archival footage featuring her film’s subject was a bit of a treasure hunt, as scant material was catalogued with her name. “When we started and put in the words ‘Lady Bird Johnson’, very little came back,” the director said. Porter had better luck when she searched by the date and the names of other people who had been on the scenes of Johnson’s recounting. “She’s not noted in the description of the footage, and yet she’s right there in the middle of all of these events,” Porter said. “And I think that’s the story for a lot of women.”Johnson’s recordings brim with intimacy, and include material on her anxieties about her husband’s mental and physical wellbeing as well as her own apprehensions about living in the public eye. She also chronicled her work life, from campaigning for her husband’s second term to her environmental and anti-poverty efforts. She was the first president’s wife to hire her own staff, which was presided over by Liz Carpenter, a fellow Texan. (Carpenter’s teenage son, who liked to record himself singing, owned the tape recorder that Johnson used.)Porter’s film paints Johnson’s work on the “beautification” of Washington DC as more than an act of aesthetic improvement. “She was going into some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the District of Columbia, which are primarily Black neighborhoods, and she was making the connection that kids need outdoor space, they need playgrounds, they need calm, beautiful places. She wasn’t just planting flowers.” The film touches on a few controversies, including the time when the singer Eartha Kitt publicly chastised Johnson at a luncheon, sounding off on the Johnson administration’s handling of the Vietnam war. But the point of view is unwaveringly Johnson’s. “This is not a tell-all movie,” Porter said. “What I wanted to do is add her perspective to what was happening.“She really was documenting this history in her tapes, and she was so accurate,” Porter said. “I’ve done a lot of films where people will tell me a story, and then we’ll go back and look at the archive and it’s similar, but memory is imperfect.” Lady Bird’s version of events, however, shared an uncanny precision backed up by the trove of film.Porter’s next two projects are about a reporter who embedded with the New York police department and ended up proving the innocence of a handful of wrongfully convicted inmates, as well as a film on the musician Luther Vandross, who died in 2005. While some documentarians like the immediacy of shadowing living subjects, Porter said that working with pre-existing footage guarantees an added layer of authenticity. “They’re not being interviewed for your movie so they’re not performing for you in any way,” she said. “The footage is very honest.”The choice not to interview anybody for Lady Bird came naturally, and it’s unlikely viewers will mind the absence of talking heads. “I wanted it to be her story. And also make the point that she’s there, she’s everywhere,” Porter said. “You just have to look for her, and then you’ll find her.”
The Lady Bird Diaries is now available on Hulu in the US More
If you think you’ve read everything you need to know about the violent attempt to overthrow the US government on 6 January 2021, this insider’s book by a 6ft 7in African American Capitol police officer will change your mind.Harry Dunn has written a 237-page cri de coeur for himself and for the US. It is a story that is more important than ever when so many crazed Republicans continue to revere the traitor whom the justice department says is directly responsible for this singularly shameful episode in American history.On that terrible day, Dunn and hundreds of his fellow Capitol cops were in hand-to-hand combat with scores of drunken and drug-addled seditionists. The police officers were attacked with everything from metal bike racks to flagpoles and banisters ripped from the stairs of the building.“You could hear the screaming and hollering as the battle raged on,” Dunn writes. “Blood was streaming down officers’ faces. They were yelling, grunting, and trying to force the rioters back. Many of them were blinded and coughing after being doused with pepper spray, bear spray, and even WD-40.”In the years since then, Dunn has beaten back post-traumatic stress disorder with the help of his family, his friends, professional therapists and sympathetic Congress members like Jamie Raskin of Maryland. Raskin took Dunn to lunch after the officer called the congressman’s office to tell him he was the source of an anonymous quote in a story in BuzzFeed which – to Dunn’s delight – Raskin had tweeted out.Since then, Dunn has made dozens of public appearances and written this book, with a single goal: “I want the people responsible for that day, including Trump … to pay a price, just like we paid a price … I will always be standing my ground to make sure our democracy exists. And I’ll ask that you stand with me so that nothing like this ever happens again.”Dunn reserves his greatest anger for those he and his fellow officers risked their lives for in the face of that furious mob. He was “full of rage” when it became clear that “Republicans were walking away from their earlier condemnation of the attack … Congress members … whom I had guarded and protected through State of the Unions [and] inaugurations … had suddenly turned on me. It angered me that loyalty to a single individual could overwhelm otherwise decent people … who had fallen into the darkness and forgotten their oaths of office.”He writes about how the day was particularly traumatic for Black police officers, because they were repeatedly called the N-word, as well as being beaten and sprayed and kicked and pummeled.He compares their treatment by Trump and others to the notorious assault in 1946 of a decorated Black second world war veteran named Isaac Woodard, who was pulled from a Greyhound bus because “the bus driver hadn’t liked the way Woodard asked to use the restroom” outside Augusta, Georgia. Local police officers beat him savagely and “the police chief used his baton to gouge Woodard’s eye sockets until both eyeballs ruptured beyond repair. Woodward was blind from that day forward.”“Now multiply that betrayal by two thousand times,” Dunn writes, “because that’s how many Capitol and Metropolitan police department officers were viciously assaulted by Americans whose democracy we defend every day.”After that, “we were betrayed by our president, many of our elected officials, and thousands of other Americans we had sworn to protect”.Dunn testified before the January 6 House committee and at trials for some of the terrorists who have been convicted for their crimes. Just like Woodard, “we were wearing our uniforms and badges, signifying our service to our nation”. But also just like Woodard, “to them we were throw-away people to be despised, hated and derided … merely because of the color of our skin … January 6 was never about politics. It wasn’t about election fraud. That was an excuse for people to do some shit they had wanted to do in the first place.”Last week’s election results in Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania – like the elections of 2018, 2020 and 2022 – proved once again that a majority of Americans reject the extremist agenda embraced by the Maga movement and its hideous head.Having finally recovered from most of the injuries inflicted on that fateful day in January 2021, Dunn feels he’s “been given a new lease on life, another chance to make a difference and that is what I want to do”. He ends the book with a plea to readers to do exactly what he is trying to do with that second chance: become a tireless foot soldier in the never-ending fight against racism and ignorance and book burning in America.He writes: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Standing My Ground is published in the US by Hachette More
Did you know Cuba has a Capitol in Havana that closely resembles its American counterpart? Edel Rodriguez does, and that’s one more reason why he, a Cuban American political cartoonist, was so disturbed by what happened in his adopted homeland on January 6.Rodriguez grew up in the shadow of a different sort of insurgency, the revolution that swept Fidel Castro to power in January 1959. He knew what it was like for a people to lose their freedoms under a dictatorship, and he knew the resulting desire to seek liberty, which he and his family did in the Mariel boatlift in 1980. So after 2016, when Donald Trump won the White House, uncomfortable memories from the not-so-distant past began to surface, never more so than on 6 January 2021.Now, Rodriguez has put it all down in a graphic-novel memoir, Worm: A Cuban-American Odyssey.“I don’t think most Americans realize what a coup is, or a coup attempt, how dangerous it is,” he says.In Worm, compelling artwork revisits January 6 and its immediate aftermath, when barbed wire surrounded the US Capitol and the national guard patrolled. Red-and-black images juxtapose Castro’s revolutionary soldiers, fists and rifles raised, with the QAnon Shaman and an American flag at half-staff.Ask Rodriguez which panels he is most proud of and he holds up a pair of two-page spreads. One, at the beginning of the narrative, depicts the Cuban revolution, Castro’s bearded army storming Havana atop tanks, that familiar-looking Capitol in the background. A panel found near the end of the memoir, meanwhile, shows the US Capitol rioters charging the seat of Congress, wearing Maga caps and brandishing multiple flags: American, Confederate, “Back-the-Blue” pro-police. The images are inverses of each other, the crowds marching in opposite directions.“It really does go to what I’m trying to say – two sides of the same coin,” Rodriguez says.“When it was back in 2015, and Trump appeared on the scene, my ears perked up. He would call people ‘scum’. In Cuba, Castro called his enemies ‘scum’. The press was the ‘enemy of the people’. These were the kind of words Castro would use.”Rodriguez’s depictions of Trump are now famous, making the covers of Time and Der Spiegel. The most striking is up for debate. Is it Trump’s face as a melting blob, which MSNBC likened to the Wicked Witch of the West? Trump holding a bloody knife in one hand and the severed head of the Statue of Liberty in the other, inspired by a picture of an Islamic State terrorist? Trump draped in an American flag, giving the Nazi salute?“I think he brought a certain kind of extremism to politics in America,” Rodriguez says. “I felt that it needed to be addressed … I’m just not a fan of extremism of any sort.“The best way to deal with problems,” he says, is to hold democratic elections, and if your candidate doesn’t win, to try again in the next go-round. What he’s seen far too often instead is the authoritarian alternative of “men with guns – communists in Cuba, the Maga crowd in the US, or Isis”.In Worm, Rodriguez examines his first-hand experiences with dictatorship. In cold war Cuba, he lived an hour away from the capital, in the small town of El Gabriel. Although he remembers being far more tuned in to nature there than in the US, he also describes being indoctrinated in school, from the red beret he wore to the Castro personality cult that was instilled by teachers. His parents lived in fear that his father’s entrepreneurial streak might get them in trouble, including neighborhood snoops who put their curiosity to the use of the Communist party.A tip-off alerted Rodriguez’s father to stepped-up scrutiny, accelerating the decision to leave. The Mariel boatlift made things easier in some ways, harder in others, as Rodriguez now explains in Worm, which unfolds memories of tense exit negotiations with authorities; a state of limbo in a tent city; and the miraculous day when a rescue vessel came. For the Rodriguez family, it was a shrimp boat called Nature Boy. Castro released prisoners to join the exodus to America, some of whom packed the boat. It and a convoy of other vessels made it to US shores.As Cubans willingly left their homeland, Castro insulted them with a choice barb, the “worm” of the book’s title.“It’s what they would call us, being underground, taking from the system,” Rodriguez says.In Spanish, it’s gusano, which the author considered for a title.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotion“Of course, gusano has, to me, a much more guttural sound,” he says. “I wanted it to translate for an English-speaking audience.”Decades later – after studying at the Pratt Institute, getting a big break at Time, marrying and raising a family and even going back to Cuba to see family and friends – Rodriguez felt familiar enough with authoritarianism in his birthplace to speak out against it in his new home. That desire increased over the course of Trump’s 2016 campaign and ensuing four years in power. The verbal attack on a Muslim Gold Star family … the Access Hollywood tape … the Muslim ban … it’s all there, and so are Rodriguez’s graphic-art ripostes. He gives Trump a distinctive look: yellow hair, orange skin, no eyes or nose, just a wide-open mouth.Rodriguez has found approval – and backlash. He realized just how big the backlash had grown when he fielded a sympathetic audience question about his safety after giving a lecture in another country with a troubled history.“I was surprised when the man in Germany asked what was going to happen to me when I returned to America,” he says. “I did not think about it, I did not process it. It was sort of like telling a writer or an artist, ‘What’s going to happen to you if you do your work?’ … What else am I going to do with my life?”Noting that “some of my family questioned what I was doing, very close family members, including my mother,” he adds: “I don’t really think about people’s perceptions of my work as a stumbling block that will get me in trouble or go to jail. It’s hard enough being an artist.”Rodriguez will keep making waves with his art, even if it is now tinged with a sense of betrayal and loss, from an American dream that became a nightmare.“I think January 6 really did puncture a lot of what America means to people – not just myself, but many people in the world,” he says. “The US is the place you go to hope and dream. To see the US Congress get attacked, like some country in some other part of the world that has been attacked, like the parliament in Moscow getting attacked in the 1990s – to feel that shock, to see that in the US … I’m very sad, very disappointed.“At the same time, I’m very scared. I don’t think Americans have processed how messed up Trump is, if you consider the same candidate could come back. The most recent polls have him ahead.”
Worm is published in the US by Metropolitan Books More
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has revealed that multiple political parties approached him last year to see if he would run for US president, after a poll revealed 46% of Americans would support his campaign.Appearing as the first guest on Trevor Noah’s new Spotify podcast What Now?, the actor and former WWE wrestler said a 2021 poll of 30,000 American adults led to “the parties” contacting him to ask if he was interested in running at the end of 2022.“That was an interesting poll that happened and I was really moved by that,” Johnson said. “I was really blown away and I was really honoured. I’ll share this little bit with you: at the end of the year in 2022, I got a visit from the parties asking me if I was going to run, and if I could run.“It was a big deal, and it came out of the blue,” he added. “It was one after the other, and they brought up that poll, and they also brought up their own deep-dive research that would prove that should I ever go down that road [I’d be a real contender]. It was all very surreal because that’s never been my goal. My goal has never been to be in politics. As a matter of fact, there’s a lot about politics that I hate.”However, Johnson, who has described himself as a “centrist” and “political independent” and publicly endorsed US president Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign, has openly shared his interest in running in the past. In 2016 he told GQ: “I can’t deny that the thought of being governor, the thought of being president, is alluring.” A year later he told Variety the 2024 presidential campaign was a “realistic consideration”.His sitcom Young Rock even hinges around him running for US president in 2032, with Johnson playing his future self as he gives interviews about moments in his early life that structure every episode.Responding to the aforementioned poll in 2021, Johnson wrote on Instagram: “I don’t think our Founding Fathers EVER envisioned a six-four, bald, tattooed, half-Black, half-Samoan, tequila drinking, pick up truck driving, fanny pack wearing guy joining their club – but if it ever happens it’d be my honour to serve you, the people.”But last year he seemed to have changed his mind, telling CBS Mornings it was “off the table” because of his duties as a parent of three daughters, who are now aged 22, seven and five.“The most important thing to me is being a daddy, number one, especially during this time, this critical time in my daughters’ lives,” he said.On Noah’s podcast, Johnson said his job as a wrestler often took him away from his eldest daughter, Simone, “and I don’t want that for my little ones now”.“That was one of my primary discussions with the parties, who were ultimately like, ‘Yeah, but the other ones have done it like this’,” he added.Johnson didn’t rule out running in the future, telling Noah: “If that’s ultimately what the people would want, then of course I would consider it.” More
Adam Kinzinger represented a reliably Republican district in the US House for six terms. He voted to impeach Donald Trump over the insurrection and with Liz Cheney was one of two Republicans on the January 6 committee. Like the former Wyoming congresswoman, he earned the ire of Trump and the GOP base.A lieutenant colonel and air force pilot, Kinzinger read the terrain and declined to run again. In his memoir, he looks back at his life, family and time in the US military. He also examines the transformation of the Republican party into a Trumpian vessel. With the assistance of Michael D’Antonio, biographer of Mike Pence, he delivers a steady and well-crafted read.Kinzinger finds the Republicans sliding toward authoritarianism, alienating him from a world he once knew. On 8 January 2021, two days after the Trump-inspired coup attempt, he received a letter signed by 11 members of his family, excoriating him for calling for the president to be removed.“Oh my, what a disappointment you are to us and to God!’ the letter began. “We were once proud of your accomplishments! Instead, you go against your Christian principles and join ‘the Devil’s army’ (Democrats and the fake news media).”The word “disappointment was underlined three times”, Kinzinger counts. “God once.”Elected in 2010 with the backing of the Tea Party, once in office, Kinzinger distanced himself from the Republican fringe. The movement felt frenzied. Hyper-caffeinated. He cast his lot with Eric Cantor, House majority leader and congressman from Virginia. “Overtly ambitious”, in Kinzinger’s view, Cantor also presented himself as “serious, sober and cerebral”. Eventually, Cantor found himself out of step with the enraged core of the party. In 2014, he was defeated in a primary.Cantor was too swampy for modern Republican tastes. Out of office, he is a senior executive at an investment bank.Simply opposing Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act wasn’t enough. With America’s first Black president in the White House, performative politics and conspiracy theories took over.Kevin McCarthy, deposed as speaker last month, earns Kinzinger’s scorn – and rightly.“I was not surprised he was ousted,” Kinzinger told NPR. “And frankly, I think it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.”On the page, Kinzinger paints McCarthy as weak, limitlessly self-abasing and a bully. He put himself at the mercy of Matt Gaetz, the Florida extremist, prostrated himself before Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia extremist, and endured 15 rounds of balloting on the House floor to be allowed the speaker’s gavel – an illusion of a win.McCarthy behaved like “an attention-seeking high school senior who readily picked on anyone who didn’t fall in line”, Kinzinger writes. The California congressman even tried, if feebly, to physically intimidate his fellow Republican.“Once, I was standing in the aisle that runs from the floor to the back of the [House] chamber,” Kinzinger remembers. “As [McCarthy] passed, with his security man and some of his boys, he veered towards me, hit me with his shoulder and then kept going.”Apparently, McCarthy forgot Kinzinger did stints in war zones.Kinzinger also takes McCarthy to task for his shabby treatment of Cheney, at the time the No 3 House Republican. On 1 January 2021, on a caucus call, she warned that 6 January would be a “dark day” if they “indulged in the fantasy” that they could overturn Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump.McCarthy was having none of it. “I just want to be clear: Liz doesn’t speak for the conference,” he said. “She speaks for herself.”skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionThat, Kinzinger writes, was “unnecessary and disrespectful, and it infuriated me”.These days, McCarthy faces the prospect of a Trump-fueled primary challenge. But he is not alone in evoking Kinzinger’s anger. Kinzinger also has tart words for Mitch McConnell and his performance post-January 6. The Senate minority leader was more intent on retaining power than dealing with the havoc wrought by Trump and his minions, despite repeatedly sniping at him.When crunch time came, McConnell followed the pack. Kinzinger bemoans McConnell’s vote to acquit in the impeachment trial, ostensibly because Trump had left office, and then his decision to castigate Trump on the Senate floor when it no longer mattered.“It took a lot of cheek, nerve, chutzpah, gall and, dare I say it, balls for McConnell to talk this way,” Kinzinger bristles, “since he personally blocked the consideration of the case until Trump departed.”Kinzinger devotes considerable space to his own faith. An evangelical Protestant, he is highly critical of Christian nationalism as theology and as a driving force in the Republican party. He draws a direct line between religion and January 6. Proximity between the cross, a makeshift gallows and calls for Mike Pence to be hanged was not happenstance.“Had there not been some of these errant prophecies, this idea that God has ordained it to be Trump, I’m not sure January 6 would have happened like it did,” Kinzinger said last year. “You have people today that, literally, I think in their heart – they may not say it – but they equate Donald Trump with the person of Jesus Christ.”In his book, Kinzinger echoes Russell Moore, former head of public policy of the Southern Baptist Convention: “Moore’s view of Christianity was consistent with traditional theology, which does not have a place for religious nationalism. Nothing in the Bible said the world would be won over by American Christianity.”Looking at 2024, Kinzinger casts the election as “a simple question of democracy or no democracy … if it was Joe Biden and Donald Trump, I don’t think there’s any question I would vote for Joe Biden”.
Renegade is published in the US by Penguin Random House More