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In what ways does it matter that Trump is a horrible person?


In response to a post about Trump’s ludicrous and disgusting Memorial Day message, DamnYankeesLGM wrote:

He’s a such a bad person. And the fact that this makes no difference to anyone, at all, is all the more depressing.

Trump is an objectively loathsome human being, who has no redeeming qualities. Is there any other president about which the latter statement would also be true?  I mean Nixon was very intelligent, Andrew Jackson had great physical courage, George W. Bush actually seemed to make some personal effort to resist the reflexive bigotry of the Republican base, etc.  But it’s impossible to come up with a single good thing to say about Trump, or at least I can’t (“good at grifting” is not a virtue).

The question is, in what ways does this matter?  Here are some possible answers:

(1) It makes him a terrible role model.  His total lack of personal standards will affect people inside and outside of government, in regard to their own standards and behavior.

(2) It makes him more likely to make pragmatically bad decisions, even without reference to ideological judgments regarding whether those decisions are in fact desirable, because he’s stupid and lazy and ignorant and corrupt.

(3) Having an utterly loathsome human being at the head of your government degrades the culture in all sorts of subtle and not so subtle ways (this could just be a more general restatement of (1) I suppose).

(4) Because Trump is a horrible person, this requires nearly half the voting public to lie to themselves constantly about how horrible he is, personally, since the cognitive dissonance generated by giving political support to a complete sinverguenza — there is no real English equivalent for this word, and it might as well have been created from Trump — is very great.

Another way of thinking about this issue is: what if a wholly despicable human being were pursuing political goals with which you largely agreed?  How salient would the fact that he was a wholly despicable person be? (This of course is the precise question that non-delusional conservatives are grappling with now, but it would be delusional to deny that progressives couldn’t be in a similar boat at some point).

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