In a New York Times article titled 'Why Rural America Voted For Trump', the author - a liberal Democrat in Iowa - highlights the moment he realized the difference between his views and those of Republicans.
For me, it took a 2015 pre-caucus stop in Pella by J. C. Watts, a Baptist minister raised in the small town of Eufaula, Okla., who was a Republican congressman from 1995 to 2003, to begin to understand my neighbors — and most likely other rural Americans as well.
“The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans believe people are fundamentally bad, while Democrats see people as fundamentally good,” said Mr. Watts, who was in the area to campaign for Senator Rand Paul. “We are born bad,” he said and added that children did not need to be taught to behave badly — they are born knowing how to do that.
“We teach them how to be good,” he said. “We become good by being reborn — born again.”
He continued: “Democrats believe that we are born good, that we create God, not that he created us. If we are our own God, as the Democrats say, then we need to look at something else to blame when things go wrong — not us.”
Mr. Watts talked about the 2015 movie theater shooting in Lafayette, La., in which two people were killed. Mr. Watts said that Republicans knew that the gunman was a bad man, doing a bad thing. Democrats, he added, “would look for other causes — that the man was basically good, but that it was the guns, society or some other place where the blame lies and then they will want to control the guns, or something else — not the man.” Republicans, he said, don’t need to look anywhere else for the blame.
Hearing Mr. Watts was an epiphany for me. For the first time I had a glimpse of where many of my conservative friends and neighbors were coming from. I thought, no wonder Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on things like gun control, regulations or the value of social programs. We live in different philosophical worlds, with different foundational principles.
There's more at the link. It's an interesting read.
I don't think the author is entirely correct. For a start, I don't identify either the Republican or the Democratic party with explicitly Christian principles such as original sin or redemption. There are just as many sinful, wicked Republicans as there are sinful, wicked Democrats - and there are too many of both varieties, as well as apolitical sinners! Nevertheless, the different perspectives on humanity - fundamentally good, or fundamentally bad - are, I think, politically accurate.
The Christian perspective is an important one, as it underpins our legal system. I can't recall the exact quotation from St. Thomas Aquinas (and if any reader can, I'll be grateful for a citation in Comments), but he pointed out that unless one realized and appreciated that one was personally capable of committing any and every sin, even the most grievous, one would not truly understand redemption and salvation. The latter operate in the individual arena, not the corporate. One cannot be saved merely by an outwardly visible membership of a particular church, but by internal conversion, redemption and salvation. We have to accept personal responsibility for our own sins and wrongdoing, not merely some sort of collective guilt-by-association. I can't repent for your sins, and you can't repent for mine. Equally, our legal system calls to account the person or persons who commit a crime, not the parents that bore them, or the society that raised them, or the schools that educated them.
I think it's fair to say that 'big-city' Republicans are as likely as 'big-city' Democrats to blame society, upbringing, and environment for the evils plaguing our society. Rural folks, and those who work with their hands and by the sweat of their brows, are closer to reality. They have to be. That reality can injure or kill them if they make a mistake, or starve them if their crops fail. (I cited one local example last year.) I therefore think the author of the NYT article is closer to the truth than many eggheads who've commented on the urban-rural divide since the election. It's personal versus group, individual versus corporate, me personally versus group identity.
I hope the group - any group, political, social, economic, religious, or whatever - never succeeds in submerging or absorbing the individual. If it does, we're doomed.