RE: Donald Trump’s Nomination
There’s a tendency to think this event is some great regress in moral progress, and some new phase of American political or wider culture. It seems to me, however, that this is untrue, and that the widespread belief that this election is significantly regressive is a sign of widespread ignorance, particularly, of the culture.
I simply ask, in what respect has the nation backslid? Perhaps the electing of Barrack Obama marked significant progress, and perhaps that Hilary Clinton could win the popular vote does too. But how would Trump’s victory strip America of those progressive events, and the progress underlying them? How has it indicated that the culture, or, really, the people determining the culture, have suddenly become worse than they were before? Have we truly ever stopped being the people who would cane Sumner?
I doubt the American public has changed very drastically, especially in the last decade: I’ve sat in schools and in Churches–two large mirrors and influencers of culture. There, I have seen willful and sinful hate, purposeful ignorance and genuine confusion–a people who have not changed. I can truly claim that I was “plugged in” to much of the environment typical Trump supporters arise out of. And in 2008, the people around me were the same as they are today: I fully expected those people to vote the way they did.
People as a whole don’t change much, though individuals might. Human nature, if we believe in such an essence, is fundamentally the same through time, with all of its powers to do evil or to do good remaining intact, though variously hindered or enabled.
A myth of significant social progress has been propagated by appearances: currently political correctness and progressive values are in vogue, and are supported by legislation. But a trending fashion is something often not endorsed by the majority, unless you take the fashionable to be the majority and exclude all others. Many, if not most, remain unmoved: even law does not reflect those under it. To be shocked that something unfavorable, something so out of fashion, no matter how intensely we despise it, occurred in our lifetime, is naive. The shock felt by so many leads me to think that we’ve become a people of appearances, in that our conceptions of others have been shaped by their external attributes–what the many have been allowed to say and do, not what they would like to. Self interest rains supreme, in everyone’s hearts, and few overcome it, despite appearances.
Trump’s victory should come as no surprise: he’s been here all along.