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The Commons
Voices / Viewpoint

Trump's moral rat hole

Why is it so crucial that we don't become a country where this kind of lazy, vulgar, and untruthful speech and behavior are the new normal?

Nancy Braus is a bookseller and a longtime activist.

Originally published in The Commons issue #419 (Wednesday, August 2, 2017). This story appeared on page D2.

I recently had a long discussion with a friend who left the United States in 1973 for the Netherlands and has never looked back.

She was unable to understand the obsession so many of us progressives feel with the lies and amoral behavior of the Trump family and their surrogates. She felt that we were taking our eyes off the ball — off the terrible policy decisions that were being made every day by this bunch.

The discussion made me examine how and why it is terribly important that we call these people out and make it clear that we will not become a country where thinking is unacceptable, where historical truth is unimportant and where, if you have money and power, you can get away with everything.

* * *

The very idea that norms of behavior and respect for any kind of institutions would be something I would be concerned about surprises me. I have always thought that accepting people’s unconventional dress, speech, thought, and lifestyle was absolutely critical to being an open and fair person.

In southeastern Vermont, we tend to have a fairly quirky crowd, including folks with mental-health challenges. This can sometimes be difficult, but most of the time, the variety of people makes for an interesting and stimulating community.

I have never in my life encountered people whose instinct is to lie, to be downright nasty, to insult and downgrade anyone who disagrees with them or challenges them, and to put themselves first in every situation.

From the very beginning of Donald Trump’s run for the president, he used every opportunity to degrade others. We all saw it for ourselves: the horrible imitation of the disabled reporter, yelling for his supporters to assault protesters, fat-shaming women, making racist and sexist remarks.

And the corporate media accepted this and gave Trump billions of dollars in free air time.

* * *

Fast forward to today.

Most of us understand that the members of the Trump family and their hired help lie about everything, from the size of the inaugural crowd, to the health insurance plan that will cover everyone, to the claim that Trump is draining the swamp.

Trump goes to Europe and has no clue how to behave, he thinks Bastille Day is celebrating World War I, and he sticks his money-grubbing daughter into a meeting of world leaders.

Trump has never revealed his tax returns, another accepted part of running a country. He also has made it abundantly clear that he has no intention of acquiring any more wisdom than Fox News, Breitbart, and Alex Jones can impart on the television.

Why is it so crucial that we don’t become a country where this kind of lazy, vulgar, and untruthful speech and behavior are the new normal?

So many reasons, but a few are:

1. Young and impressionable people are copying the sort of bullying and racist behavior on exhibit in the executive branch.

2. I want our youth to see that we revere and respect people who are lifelong learners, who are thinkers, who are able to actually discuss the important issues facing all of us.

3. Lying is amoral. Many of us cannot live with ourselves if we are caught up in lies. I believe that a person who lies and changes his story every day (see health care) has a serious problem telling right from wrong.

I will continue to oppose all the terrible policy initiatives of these powerful Republicans, from a toxic environmental policy, to the destruction of protections for women and workers, to the anti-immigrant policies.

But we can’t ignore the moral rat hole this administration is leading this country into. The lies and criminal behavior need to be called out and challenged — every day.

What do you think? Leave us a comment

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