By Fidel Azazi
Perhaps it is the first time in modern History America deals with a right-wing populist figure like Donald J. Trump. Americans are completely putting the responsibility on Trump himself for causing this political disruption and division. But the reality that many dismiss is that the Republicans shift towards the right started decades ago. The civil rights progressive movement has dramatically reshaped the American public towards liberty. The liberal movement that granted women more control in decision making in the 70's was countered by the rise of the conservative Christian movement during the 80's that resisted the liberalization approach that found the way in both parties.
Republicans and Democrats were both centrists politically and that was reflected by major progressive decisions like Roe V. Wade that made abortion legal. The landmark that remains largely controversial and pushed conservative states to restrict reproductive rights for women, more than 10 states have only one abortion clinic left after legislators made an impossible condition for the already existing clinics to survive. This is just an example of the oddity of how social progress that has been taking place in the United States is now being challenged by fierce Christian conservatism.
The answer to this is clear: America is changing drastically. Numbers state facts. White Europeans make up less than 60% for the first time in history and with the current trends, White Americans will become a minority by 2050 making less than 50 percent of the population. Changing demographics are not the only reason.
America is becoming "less Christian" than before. A 2017 report released by the American Values Atlas showed that the Christians' share of the population declined from 86% in 1990 to 69%. Protestants now represent 45% of the population down from 62% in 1980. Moreover, people of color and sexual minorities are running for office in their states at an unpreceded rate. This drastic change in the social fabric in the American society which is reflected in real life politics was distasteful to many conservatives who backfired by using an ungrounded populist approach. It is important to say that race is the message Trump used to utilize his base especially in rural America where the majority of the residents are white conservatives with vocational jobs.
The problem that terrifies the Republican party is the younger generation that tends to live in liberal cities to pursue education and prosperous endeavors. This demographic group tends to be less religious and is more likely to break free from the social doctrine of living under "Christian America" in their villages. Pew Research Center estimated that 39% of Americans between 18 and 29 are unaffiliated under any religion and stating that the current generations of millennials and Gen Z are the most progressive in America’s history. Conservatives are still maintaining power because of America’s outdated democracy. California for example, the most populous state with the fifth biggest economy in the world has the same power as Wyoming that has a population of slightly above 400,000.
The math that the Founding Fathers applied back to each state is no longer relevant today. Their equation isn’t malfunctioning their legacy that seems to be fractured by leadership that is only using the past as a survival tactic in their present.
From Reagan to Trump, America’s right movement is challenging the hierarchical structure of the system with values that started to dwindle. Defining Americanism remains a challenge to conservatives who want to retain back America's conservative Christian image and progressive liberals who believe that the very reason America was founded is to live in a world free from the religious jeopardy, nepotism, and oligarchy of the ruling elite.