The Moral Failure of Trump Culture

It’s clear, as much of Trump’s base — though not all, thank god — sticks with him in the aftermath of his sexual assault admission, that a great deal of Trump’s success to date and a sizable portion of his core support, is the result of a broken and failed culture. It’s a culture that grips too much of American, especially uneducated whites who the demographics show constitute many of his most committed voters.

We must not tolerate this moral bankruptcy. In fact, those of us who recognize the importance of basic character have an obligation to repudiate it and the people who evince it. This is not moral posturing or signaling, but rather a crucial ingredient of moral progress. How are we to become better people, as individuals and as a nation, if we explain away instead of confronting and calling out and refusing to coddle or treat with unearned respect those who cling to or promote retrograde ideas about such core ethical truths as those Trump clearly fails to grasp?

We can of course discuss whether this failed culture is the result of the economic hardships these people face or if the economics hardships are a result of the failed culture. We can acknowledge that it’s probably a bit of both, and also that the hardships are products of policies and economic changes beyond these people’s control — and sometimes enacted without due consideration for the effect it would have on them.

But that doesn’t undercut the simple fact that some of us embody moral values that are objectively better, and that those who embody the kind of corrupt ethics of Trump need to learn from those who don’t, and need to seek to improve themselves. Cultural and moral relativism are wrongheaded and ought to be rejected, even when it means condemning the cultures of other Americans. Elitism can often be wrong and unwarranted and self-serving. But sometimes there’s a kernel of truth to it, as well.

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