What I found researching my new book AMERICAN RULE is wild.
Now, knowing what I know, I call it the Cult of the Shining City. Because that's what it is. A cult.
That powered national myth and identity
The engine? Christianity.
MLK and other leaders touted the social justice aspect and progressivism of Christ.
This, obviously, could not stand in America.
A racist deity who ordained whites to be powerful and lord over literally everyone else. I never knew this growing up, but it makes so much sense now.
If MLK had successfully moved Christianity to left in favor of social and racial justice, what could be done?
The answer was to make Christianity explicitly a white supremacist ideology while destroying the social and racial justice aspects.
Efforts to desegregate, efforts to achieve progress, efforts to change the social and financial structure became tools of the Devil.
It was enough for the moment, but Falwell wanted someone to uphold the white supremacy faith.
He is remembered as the smiling president, but as governor Reagan was cruel and angry. Just what the Right wanted.
Ronald Reagan wasn't actually religious. As a member of the California new age environment, he was spiritual. He attended lectures on occult symbols and the like. Practiced astrology. He was steeped in it.
Reagan had been a public figure for decades by the 1980's. The one thing he kept bringing to the table, from his earliest speeches. Was a belief that America had been ordained by God to be his chosen nation and that God had personally intervened in American affairs.
Reagan believed the Founders were unwilling to sign the Declaration of Independence until God sent an angel to give an inspiring speech.
Truly. Reagan believed that. An angel. At the Declaration of Independence.
His work was obsessed with Atlantis and conspiracies among the ancients to raise up America as a new continent of reason and power. It is white supremacy personified, but also just as bizarre as you can imagine.
Reagan bought it.
Reagan's first CPAC speech actually mentioned Manley P. Hall!
He said he'd been told by an expert about an angel give an inspiring speech to save the Revolution.
He tied Manley P. Hall directly to the Shining City rhetoric. At CPAC!
Reagan blew him out of the water saying there was no need for reflection. Just American exceptionalism.
Crime was about moral bankruptcy.
Disease was about moral bankruptcy.
For anyone who grew up in the 1980's, you remember how inundated culture was with satanic panic and fear of the supernatural. This was a side-effect of the symbiosis between Reagan and white-identity evangelicalism.
Suddenly, the world was at spiritual war.
Economics made spiritual.
Because of vast inequality, there was crime. Evangelical leaders and Republicans framed this as the work of a devil on the world. It wasn't THEIR POLITICAL FAULT, it was the work of the Devil.
This is essential to understanding who Republicans are and what they've done.
Satan. Was. Everywhere.
Satan was in rock music because it threatened their cultural hegemony.
Satan was on TV, Satan was in the movies, Satan was in the videogames.
In this world, surely Satan was attacking America.
It was a satanic conspiracy attacking the white patriarchal order.
It's fear of emasculation and destruction of white supremacy.
I'm glad you asked that, because Trump has belonged to one faith his entire life. This faith. The Cult of the Shining City, a faith built on Neo-Confederate, white supremacist, nationalist myth.
They weren't. They consistently were exposed as hypocrites.
You know this is a faith based on personal empowerment and profit.
Power and wealth as symbols of God's will.
The threat of minorities in undermining God's white supremacist plan.
Trump was their dream.
For anyone who grew up in this, you know what follows the antichrist. The Christ.
They are in and they are in for life.
They'll believe every scapegoat Trump throws at them and hate them with righteous anger.
We are in strange, strange times, and we have to understand how we got here if we ever hope to get out.