Every now and the your GetReligionistas have online conversations about how to handle certain puzzling situations that keep coming up in our work.
Here is a thorny one: What should we do when (1) a newsroom produces a news story that misses a significant religion angle (that's called a "ghost" or even a "holy ghost" in GetReligion lingo), (2) GetReligion publishes a post on this topic and then (3) that newsroom or another, within a day or two, manages to crank out another story that misses the exact same religion-news ghost?
So do we write another post on the exact same angle? Do we, in effect, run the previous post all over again and say, "Hello!" Do we ignore the second case study even though it demonstrates, once again, the importance of this specific religion ghost? Do we write a second post that clearly mentions, and even quotes, the first post and updates the subject?
I have always voted for that final option, especially when we are dealing with a major news topic covered by an elite newsroom.
This brings me back to The Washington Post and its coverage of the rebel alliance of conservatives linked to the #NEVERTRUMP movement that continues to try to create another White House ticket to offer voters an alternative to Donald Trump and Hillary Rodham Clinton. That's the whole "lesser of two evils" puzzle.
Yes, I wrote about this topic roughly 48 hours ago. We will come back to that.
However, the Post team has produced another political-beat feature on this topic and, once again, it appears that the editors are unaware that evangelical Protestant and conservative Catholic voters play a major role in GOP politics and some coalitions. The headline this time: "Some conservatives are still moving to stop Trump at the GOP convention." The word "still" in that mix kind of signals Story 2.0, doesn't it?
This time, there is a signal that the Post team realizes that religious, moral, cultural and "social" issues are part of this drama. Here is the top of the story. Read carefully.
The top ranks of the Republican Party may be coalescing around Donald Trump, but grass-roots conservative activists are still trying to find a way to stop him at the party’s convention in July.
Angered by Trump’s shifting views on taxes, the minimum wage, national security and how little he discusses social issues, conservatives across the country are studying the party rule book for last-ditch moves they could make when the convention begins in Cleveland.
Veteran Republican campaign operatives familiar with convention planning are offering to educate delegates on how they can act as free agents, even if the Republican National Committee insists that delegates adhere to the results of their state primary. Some even talk about convening somewhere other than the convention site.
So #NEVERTRUMP story 1.0 focused on an alternative candidate. The 2.0 Post story is about efforts to shape or ignore the GOP convention itself.
So here is my question: If the goal is to woo delegates to become "free agents" -- as in loosen their ties to the Donald -- do you think that some anti-Trump activists might be making Trump's squishiness on moral and "social" issues a part of that appeal? I mean, the Post team raised that issue right up top.
If so, might evangelical Protestant and conservative Catholic activists who have been outspoken in their opposition to Trump be worth contacting, when writing on this topic?
Once again, why is this issue so important?
It you have followed Republican politics over the past quarter century or so, you know that GOP White House wins have often been linked to what researchers have called the "pew gap," especially when there are high election-day vote totals among white evangelicals and devout Catholics.
Then I added the following, after referencing some crucial Christianity Today material (click here for that, because it contains some other must-click URLs) about the opposition to Trump among evangelical Protestant leaders:
So what about efforts to find a "third way," a more culturally conservative and mainstream alternative to Trump?
It would appear likely that leaders of such a movement (a) would include people with close ties to conservative religious believers (evangelical and Catholic) and (b) would be seeking a candidate that would create enthusiasm among doctrinally conservative religious leaders of various faith groups.
So are there any religious or moral issues that are pushing buttons among potential GOP voters at the moment? Have some religious leaders been pretty vocal in their beliefs that Trump doesn't have what it takes to be their candidate? Yes and yes.
At the end of the Post 2.0 story there is this about ongoing tensions about Trump:
Wendy Day, a Republican delegate from Michigan who supports Cruz, ... was angered last week when he said little to denounce the Obama administration’s plans to expand legal protections to transgender schoolchildren and “take over bathrooms in every school.”
The attempts to unseat Trump are “sporadic and underground,” she said, adding that Trump could help himself by reaching out to conservatives concerned about his positions.
“Donald Trump has an obligation to earn our vote,” she said. “We don’t owe him anything.”
In conclusion, throughout this campaign, political-beat reporters have been cranking out stories about how evangelicals are supposed to be in love with Trump. Well, some are and some, especially among Protestant and Catholic leaders, most assuredly are not.
Why leave that element out of these stories? Haven't members of the Post team built up solid contacts among religious and cultural conservatives inside and outside the DC Beltway?