The secret of why evangelicals love Herschel Walker (and Donald Trump)

Cillizza: Herschel Walker was cheered by a social conservative crowd over the weekend, just days after he acknowledged he has four kids, not the one most people thought he had. What gives?

Du Mez: We really shouldn’t be surprised by this anymore. Every time we see “family values conservatives” rally around a candidate who makes a mockery of family values it can feel jarring, but of course, this is nothing new.

There are a lot of things going on in this particular case. Obviously, there are political reasons for conservatives to stand by their man. It’s not easy to find an African American Republican with Walker’s name recognition to go up against Sen. Raphael Warnock, and this is a key race in the upcoming midterm elections.

But there’s more to this picture.

Republicans have long equated a rugged masculine strength with successful political leadership. This ideal of conservative masculinity, or at least its current manifestation, can be traced back to the 1960s when conservatives accused feminists and antiwar activists of redefining traditional manhood in a way that left families and the nation at risk. This masculine ideal was both personal and political. Men needed to be good fathers and strong fighters, and in this way, “traditional” masculinity ensured both order and security.