Coveting Trump’s life
Donald Trump’s morals are from the marketplace and frat house, and they’re catching
The political pundits tell us that most of Donald Trump’s support comes are less-well-educated white males. Many of these angry white men have good reason to be angry: For more than three decades, mainstream politicians have largely ignored their plight. But there aren’t enough angry white male voters in the country to produce the numbers of likely Trump voters reflected in recent poll results. So, who are these other Trump voters?
The experts mainly tell us who they are not: women, minorities or better-educated white men. Some commentators have suggested that these other Trump voters are voters in search of authoritarian leaders or that they are racists or religious fundamentalists. They may be any or all of these things. But I suggest that the thing that a good number of these other Trump voters have in common is much more simple: Many have an admiration of Mr. Trump’s claimed business success and his everything-to-excess lifestyle. They are envious. They want to be like Mr. Trump.
Probably most voters would like a more luxurious lifestyle, but, are they willing to behave like Mr. Trump to have it? Does the admiration and envy of these other Trump voters imply approval of the personal values that have helped bring Mr. Trump to his current circumstances?
By personal values, I’m not talking about Mr. Trump’s views on immigration, religious tolerance, abortion, gender equality or free trade. I suspect that many of the other Trump voters don’t feel any more commitment to these issues than Mr. Trump does. Mr. Trump’s positions on these issues are not based on moral principles or even economics. Rather, his positions, vague as they may be, were developed during the campaign to pander to the prejudices of the angry white men. Of course, his firmly held beliefs on these matters are subject to change as may be necessary to win.
The personal values that have enabled Mr. Trumpto claim to be a multi-billionaire, and that have the implicit approval of the other Trump voters, are apparent from even a cursory review of the record of his life, in business and personal realms, since he was a young man. They include:
Laws and regulations, particularly the duty to pay taxes, should apply to others but not to him.
Ethics and honesty in business dealings are for losers.
Financial success and amorous conquests entitle one to respect, and the less successful, which includes most women, merit no respect. Truth is a relative concept. To be sure, our society has always had its unscrupulous plutocrats. The robber barons of the late 19th century may be the best-known examples. But, at least within my memory, we have never elected such a person to our highest office. One can see that Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have much to admire in each other.
Mr. Trump’s personal values are antithetical to those taught to most of us by our parents, educators and religious leaders. They are antithetical to the values that drove the creation of the most powerful nation in the modern world from what was largely wilderness a couple of hundred years ago.
Some observers have expressed concern that our methods of passing on positive character values have become increasingly less effective. The fault might lie with less emphasis on family and religious life, the pressures of surviving in a fast-changing world and the pernicious influence of new media and, particularly, social media.
The Trump phenomenon fuels a mounting concern that his the-end-justifies-themeans values may be in the ascendancy, presaging a cultural shift that could persist for decades, where the morals of the marketplace and the fraternity house become the dominant paradigm in American culture.
Whatever the outcome, the election results will provide an important data point in that discussion.
In 2007, Donald Trump introduced a furniture line so people could “experience the luxurious Trump lifestyle for themselves.” Today, more people than ever consider that a goal.