White Christian Nationalism, Out in the Open
Plus, The Death of Dugina.
Recently at The Bulwark:
You can support The Bulwark by subscribing to Bulwark+ or just by sharing this newsletter with someone you think would value it.
ANNIKA BROCKSCHMIDT AND THOMAS LECAQUE: White Christian Nationalism, Out in the Open.
There was a time, not very long ago, when far-right figures wanted to avoid being called “Christian nationalists”—denying or deflecting or pleading ignorance. Even now, some reject the label. “Reporters frequently ask me,” Robert Jeffress, the megachurch pastor, said last month, “‘Are you a Christian nationalist?’ . . . And I respond emphatically, ‘No, not in any way.’” In May, Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee in the race for Pennsylvania governor, wrote a reporter, “Is this a term you fabricated? What does it mean and where have I indicated that I am a Christian Nationalist?” Franklin Graham told the same reporter that “Christian nationalism doesn’t exist.”
Despite the protestations, the term Christian nationalism is well suited for much of the far right. Think of (defeated) Georgia gubernatorial candidate Kandiss Taylor’s slogan “Jesus, Guns, Babies.” Or the extensive Christian symbolism in the crowd that attacked the Capitol on January 6th. Or the Republicans, such as Rep. Lauren Boebert and Doug Mastriano, who have pointedly said they believe in collapsing the separation of church and state.
Liz Cheney is campaigning against election deniers, Republicans were too arrogant about a red wave, and Trump’s new made-for-TV legal team. Plus, a deep dive into the Georgia election interference investigation. Amanda Carpenter flies solo today — listen and share your feedback!
Florida is the center of Republican politics these days — and it’s getting redder all the time. Trump lives there, and his political understudy is the governor. Marc Caputo of NBC News — the best Florida Man in the political press corps — joins Sarah to listen to a group of Florida reverse flipper voters (not Trump 2016/ yes Trump 2020). They also discuss Trump, DeSantis, 2024, and how the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago could impact it all.
Bulwark+ members can listen to an ad-free version of these podcasts on the player of their choice. Learn more at Bulwark+ Podcast FAQ.
RICH THAU AND MATT STEFFE: Florida Swing Voters Aren’t Sold on DeSantis or Rubio.
For months, the general consensus has been that in Florida’s two marquee midterm races—for governor and U.S. Senate—the Republican candidates are likely to prevail. But recent polling shows both races tighter than expected for Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio. On August 9 we conducted focus groups with a dozen Trump-to-Biden voters and these people explained why they were open to replacing both incumbents.
Let’s start with the likely contest between DeSantis and former governor Charlie Crist. If the governor’s race in November is indeed DeSantis versus Crist, nine respondents said they would take Crist, two would take DeSantis, and one was undecided. Our swing voters described DeSantis as “power-hungry,” “petty,” “an opportunist,” “egotistical,” “anti-abortion,” and a “bull in a china shop.”
“[I didn’t like] the revenge politics with the Reedy Creek Improvement District,” explained B.J., 43, from Deland. “I’m a big Disney fan. That hit pretty close to home. There was just no point to it. It was just pure revenge politics. Also, I don’t agree with how he handled the Covid pandemic, like restricting local municipalities, not allowing them to enforce mask mandates and things like that. I think that was highly inappropriate.”
CATHY YOUNG: The Death of Dugina.
On Saturday night, the war in Ukraine came to the outskirts of Moscow: A Toyota Land Cruiser traveling on the Mozhayskoye Highway near the village of Bolshiye Vyazemi exploded in a massive fireball, killing the driver and sole occupant, Darya Dugina. Dugina, 29, was the daughter of the Russian mystical philosopher, ultranationalist guru, and occultist crank Aleksandr Dugin, sometimes described as Vladimir Putin’s “spiritual guide” or even “Putin’s brain”—and it seems highly likely that her father was the intended target of the blast.
Who was behind the assassination and what it means may not be known for some time—if ever. But it is worth digging into what we do know, and considering the important questions that remain unanswered, so that we might better understand both Dugin’s sinister and enigmatic reputation and the deadly muddle of Russia in 2022.
Dugin’s life and career is a rabbit hole. (See my profile of him from April.) At 60, he has been, over the years, a dabbler in Satanism and a Russian Orthodox holy warrior; a self-proclaimed champion of “Russian fascism” and a “conservative” political philosopher; a college dropout and a department head at Moscow State University. His works include a bizarre 1997 essay extolling a cannibalistic serial killer as a practitioner of “Dionysian sacraments” and a treatise on “geopolitics,” published in the same year, that quickly became a textbook at Russia’s top military and police academies and at some elite universities. Observers who have tried to figure him out have described him both as a terrifying zealot and as a huckster whose zealotry may be a postmodernist act. The one thing that unites Dugin’s many faces is hatred of Western liberalism and belief in a Russian imperial identity.
Happy Monday! Seth Masket and other political scientists tried to warn us. Tim Miller joined Fresh Air on NPR.
Rusty Bowers’s exit interview: At The Guardian: “The funny thing is, I always thought it would be the other guys. And it’s my side. That just rips at my heart: that we would be the people who would surrender the constitution in order to win an election. That just blows my mind.”
The 1/6 timelapse. It’s difficult to watch, but it’s worth remembering that our fellow countrymen did this.
The Wyoming Democrats tried… To save Liz Cheney, but it was not enough.
Fauci is leaving NIH… But he is not “retiring.” That’s especially true if Republicans take back the House or Senate, they might as well give him an office he’ll be spending so much time there. (Ted Cruz has seemingly confirmed this.)
How USACE is trying to stop the Asian Carp menace… A very real threat to the great lakes.
Past the point of no return. Bonnie Kristian writes: “But I fear that Vance has reached a point of no return: In politics, as in life, eventually how you act is how you are.” Indeed.
Too little, too Lake. AZ Gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake stepped in it with a recent endorsement, which she has since rescinded. But the Oklahoma primary is tomorrow and Jarrin Jackson’s still touting it. Whoopsie.
The country needs a healthy GOP. But that’s not what it has right now, writes Steward Beckham.
That’s it for me. Tech support questions? Email email@example.com. Questions for me? Respond to this message.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. For full credits, please consult the article.