America succeeds and prospers when her citizens get along with one another. And in a country where politics often ignites passion, getting along with one another means not digging too deeply into each other’s political views.
So, Americans consciously work at not letting how we vote affect our relationships. Its not always easy, but one thing that helps us keep the peace (and the republic) is a shared set of values that transcend politics.
We might have divergent views on taxation, education, healthcare, and foreign policy, but we unite around a core set of values rooted in our humanity – values like honesty, decency, kindness, integrity, and empathy. It’s these shared values that allows you to tolerate my politics, and me to tolerate yours.
So, what’s changed in America? Why are we so quick to disregard that unspoken rule that keeps the personal and political separate?
I suspect Trump supporters are saying to themselves, “I’m not acting any different than I’ve acted in the past, I’m simply voting for the republican candidate – why all this outrage?”
And I agree with them, they’re not acting any differently than they have in the past.
What’s changed this time around is not you or me – it’s the president.
Donald Trump is demonstrably mean, dishonest, and apathetic. He is the antithesis of the values that we assumed transcended politics and united us as Americans.
So, when I hear a colleague, a neighbor, or a Facebook friend vociferously support the President, I process that support as an indifference to the personal (not political) values that I hold strongly — honesty, decency, kindness, integrity, and empathy.
America’s never had to deal collectively with a leader like Trump. The personalization of politics we see in our country today comes from the jarring realization that honesty, decency, kindness, integrity, and empathy do not transcend politics for Trump supporters.
Here is an actual response to a statement about the morality of Trump supporters versus those who oppose him:
“I’m not sure how if one thinks the president is doing a good job, it automatically means our morals are opposing?
I think you may be over simplifying what is a fairly involved subject. For example, while I often cringe while listening to him conduct briefs, and there are other facets of his personality that turn me off, I agree with the majority of the things he is doing (his policies).”
When someone makes “personality” and a poor use of language the main shortfalls of the President, then of course they’re going to overlook them in favor what the president is “doing (his policies).”
Trump supporters use this logic all the time, and I suppose it helps them sleep at night. And actually, in the past, such logic made sense, because the person occupying the oval office usually possessed a base-line of morality, empathy, and decency.
But that’s not the case today.
What Trump supporters refuse to do is delve deeper than “personality”. They refuse to look at the role a person’s character plays in decision making.
Statements about not liking Trump’s personality, but liking his policies, is akin to saying:
“Sure, Hitler’s spastic speeches make me cringe, but at least he’s putting Germany first.”
Relying on the “policy vs personality” argument, while ignoring an egregious lack of normative behavior, combined with the demonstrable fact that the president has no moral compass, is a faulty and dangerous thinking.
When a selfish and immoral man gains access to political power, he’ll use that power for selfish and immoral purpose. He’ll always put his own well-being and thirst for power above the needs of people he pledged to serve. Expecting righteousness and sound governance from a man who’s lived a shallow and self-serving life, and who labels those who serve the greater good as “suckers and losers,” is absurd.
Those who refused to look at the Trump’s character in 2016 (because of a blind hatred of Hillary Clinton), have had have 4 years’ worth of examples that show President Trump puts himself above the country — and a blind hatred of Hillary Clinton is not on that ballot this time around.