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How long can Trump be tolerated?: Paul Heise

Posted 5/10/17

The basic idea of corruption is decay, disintegration and a debased morality.

In politics, corruption is dishonest behavior for personal gain, but it can be much more. Sometimes we treat …

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How long can Trump be tolerated?: Paul Heise

Posted

The basic idea of corruption is decay, disintegration and a debased morality.

In politics, corruption is dishonest behavior for personal gain, but it can be much more. Sometimes we treat political corruption as one of those inevitable facts of life that we just have to put up with. Other times we can’t just say, “this too shall pass.” That is the case with the political career of Donald Trump. The deliberate corruption that we are witnessing is too pervasive, too morally depraved and too embedded for us to try to outlast it.

Most of the norms of our political life are embedded in our traditions, though some are also set by law. Trump is attacking both. The violations of norms are so far the more serious. Trump was sly enough to know that he could not meet the requirements of the presidency. But rather than try to fake it, he ignored them. Political experience, sexual attitudes, respect for your opponent, truth, the fact of reality, language, vocabulary or even the knowledge base of the average educated voter all went by the wayside. He created shock waves of approval when he attacked the rules as mere tools of the elite.

In the debates, he created a “technique of distraction” that assured him control of the show and the content. Every time he was challenged he would say something calculated to astound the audience, leave his opponents speechless and draw attention back to himself rather than the point of debate. He made vicious personal attacks for the fun of it. He gloated over the ineptitude of the mainstream media, the cluelessness of his opposition and the number of norms he was able to shatter. He kept the focus on “The Donald.”

Trump stated clearly that it is the focus and not the content that matters. To Trump there is no bad attention.

All of that might not matter beyond electing the wrong person president, which we could outlast. The more serious flaw is the corruption of the values, meaning and trajectory of our culture. Language, for instance, is far more important than even linguists can begin to understand. Language is our most important link to reality. We use it to engender trust and to create community. If it is corrupted, so are we.

If the president and all of his minions lie about everything and care only that they be noticed, a lot of things, like character, respect and honor are lost. Our lives and culture are constrained to the extent we live, understand and communicate using a fourth grade vocabulary, sentence fragments and little awareness of punctuation. The Cult of the Celebrity is, by the fact of its existence, a corruption.

The “First 100 Days” shows how bad the deterioration can be following a policy of distraction. Politics drift further and further from reality, the corruption getting ever more difficult to smother with ever more absurd attention grabbers. That will lead to a broken, disintegrating system so corrupted that Andrew Jackson is accused of meddling in the Civil War and no one supposedly wonders or asks why we had a Civil War.

If this goes on too long, It will take a crisis like Watergate to dig our way out of the corruption and clean up the chaos.

Paul A. Heise, of Mount Gretna, is a professor emeritus of economics at Lebanon Valley College and a former economist for the federal government.

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Ed O'Connor

We tolerated a constitution shredding, ant-American, anti-military, non-American, muslim, Chicago sleaze, libtard, communist dictator for eight years.................so eight years would work for me.

Tuesday, May 16 | Report this