17 November 2016, The Tablet

Has the rise of Donald Trump signalled the end of ‘coercive liberalism’?


Early polling analysis suggests that Donald Trump attracted the support of the majority of both Catholics and Protestants. Now, even those Christians who could not bear to back him are hopeful that his presidency will give voice to their growing moral conservatism

US Presidential elections often involve oddities and upsets. In 1992 I stood in an Ohio field watching George Bush Sr’s campaign train, Spirit of America, grind to a halt and the president emerge to be greeted by a man dressed as a chicken – a recurrent and effective tactic referencing his refusal to debate with Bill Clinton. Eight years later, I sat in a labour union hall watching the returns from Florida flip to and fro between Al Gore and Bush Jr only to be resolved by the US Supreme Court a month later in favour of “G Dubya”.

The point of the nickname was to mark the Texan pronunciation of “W”, and it was in Waco, Texas, at Baylor University, a few miles from Bush’s Prairie Chapel Ranch, that for the last three months I watched the intensifying drama of this year’s presidential campaign and its undoubtedly historic result.

My election week was busy. On the eve of the vote I flew back to Waco from the annual meeting of the American Catholic Philosophical Association in San Francisco, and later in the week I took part in a public conversation on faith and politics with Robert George, McCormick professor of jurisprudence at Princeton.

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