The “culture war” is a reason many have given for their unconditional support of Trump. The rationale for their support is not that they’re anti-immigrant, but rather that they’re trying to maintain the traditions and history of America. They’re patriots, not racists.
Let’s just set that aside for the moment.
Aristotle created a list of virtues, vices and deficiencies when considering ethics. Among those virtues was truthfulness, and it has remained a core value of people, groups and societies across the intervening millennia.
The reason for this is simple: if you can’t trust what a person says, there is no stable meaning to their words. Unfortunately, people still lie, misrepresent and misstate, but there is a recognition within the social compact that people will generally attempt to be honest. Testimony under oath is expected to be required only to force the worst among us to be truthful, by enacting penalties if they lie.
The Republican leadership has been attempting to skirt their responsibilities by refusing to testify under oath, but also by constructing and perpetuating known bad arguments, presenting them to their followers along with instructions not to trust facts nor read source materials. Long, long gone are the days when Glenn Beck, new to Headline News, would instruct viewers to go research the things he was saying for themselves and then come back to see if he was telling them the truth. Now he is merely one of hundreds in talk radio, television and internet columns exhorting their listeners to remain in their cocoon of information.
They echo whatever the political argument of the day might be, independent of whether it contradicts another argument they’ve made recently or even another argument they’re making at the time. This struck me as particularly egregious yesterday, when a Republican Congressman complained that the Democrats were not pursuing House activities other than impeachment while simultaneously complaining that he had been unable to watch the full Intelligence Committee hearings because the Judiciary Committee had scheduled work during them.
The doubletalk is nothing new. Often the Deep State is used as an excuse. People who were adored one day become reviled the next, not for changing their position or following a new course but because the President has done so. Integrity is no longer desired.
What is lost in all of this is honesty. It is completely abandoned, sacrificed to wishes for a momentary political win.
In theory, the culture war is all about our posterity. It is about the country we leave behind us, what we bequeath to our children and their progeny.
Children learn things from their parents and from the adults around them. This is a basic sociological fact. This was one of the reasons people claimed to be upset by Clinton’s argument about oral sex; it was providing an example to the nation’s youth and telling them that casual oral interfacing somehow wasn’t sexual. Now, what is being demonstrated is that honesty is unimportant and truth is conditional, and it’s not just one President who is presenting that argument; it’s every authority figure the parents trust, and then the parents themselves. When these people are demonstrating a callous disregard for reason and truth, the children are learning to emulate ithat.
In such an atmosphere, the “culture war” no longer matters, because no aspect of American culture can be considered stable. Don’t like boxing, baseball or football? That’s okay, because soccer has always been the number one American sport. The greatest American actor, Jane Fonda, has always been far more beloved than that nobody John Wayne. George Washington was a transsexual, as have been all great leaders. Who is to argue, and on what basis? Truth is malleable. What’s said now is “the truth”, and the past is unimportant.
Any and all of the examples I provide may yet be presented as fact, depending on what the majority says.
This is the America that the Republicans, guided by Trump, have fully embraced. I reject that view of America.
Returning to what was set aside: They say they aren’t racist. Many of them are likely telling the truth, or at least believe they are. What they’re missing is that it doesn’t matter. By abandoning any claim to honesty they have abandoned any expectation of being judged fairly by others. Considering what they are doing to the country, I have no pity to spare for them.