VDH ponders Trump and the Politics of Moral Outrage. The current brouhaha about Russian hacking is just one example that illustrates his points. That example is about perceptions, actual causes, the use of satire and humor, outrage, and political machinations.
No doubt, some of Trump’s flamboyant invective is isolationist, nativist, and protectionist. Certainly, we are in the strangest campaign of the last half-century, in which members of Trump’s own party are among his fiercest critics. In contrast, the ABC/NBC/CBS Sunday-morning liberal pundits feel no need to adopt NeverHillary advocacy. They apparently share little “Not in my name” compunction over “owning” her two decades of serial lying, her violations of basic ethical and legal protocols as secretary of state, her investment in what can be fairly termed a vast Clinton pay-to-play influence-peddling syndicate, and the general corruption of the Democratic primary process.
Amid the anguish over the Trump candidacy, we often forget that the present age of Obama is already more radical than most of what even Trump has blustered about.
Is Trump’s threatened “isolationism” worse than the present “lead from behind” or the empty step-over lines, deadlines, and red lines of the last seven years? Or than refusing to increase security at Benghazi and creating fables to hide the dereliction? I often hear the question: “Who knows what Trump might do?” I hear it much more often, in fact, than I hear anyone recall “We came, we saw, he [Qaddafi] died” or “What difference does it make?” The point is not to excuse Trump with “you too” moral equivalence, or to cynically race to the bottom of low-bar politics, but again to remind our ethicists that we live in an age characterized by Petronius’s Satyricon, not the elder Cato’s moral republic — and if they object to that fact, there were plenty of occasions to voice their outrage long before Donald J. Trump left The Apprentice. Trump may well be Trimalchio, but neither Clinton nor Obama is a Scipio (more likely a Catiline, Clodius, or Milo).
Like it or not, this election is about degree, relative political agendas, and comparative hazard, not about marrying ideological purity and consistency with sobriety and character — a sad fact that did not enter our politics with Donald J. Trump.
The current campaign is change and the state propaganda machine and established politicians are having a tough time trying to figure out what is going on. There are lessons to be learned about the people and about the wisdom of those who framed the U.S. systems of government.