How do we handle moral failure in politics?

Trump’s candidacy for President has become a moral issue far beyond political disagreement. Now that he is their candidate to the nation’s highest office, Republican party leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan face the problems of damage control to their party’s brand value as Trump spews out divisive and small-minded garbage on an almost daily basis. Certainly the Republican party leadership knew of this risk when they nominated him. That makes it a different issue than what political leaders face when we typically refer to “damage control”. This was a deliberate chosen risk.

All political opinions and election choices aside, I don’t know of any other time in our country’s history when our country’s leadership was so disconnected with the expressed will of so many voters who are apparently not so concerned with basic issues of morality if they recognize it at all.

It raises the most basic question: does morality even matter at all in politics? I’ve read little commentary or results of study of voter behavior in the issue of merging morality with politics. Is it that voters are deliberately choosing the bad boy” to make their point about dissatisfaction with status quo? If so, how far would they go? Would they elect, for example, a candidate who promised to execute his political opponent? (It sometimes seems like Trump supporters would love that). Or do voters not even recognize the issue? Some people have commented, for example, that they are unaware of the hundreds of lawsuits that Trump has lost to small businesses in debtor’s court yet still refuses to pay after being ordered to do so by the courts. Would some voters say “my idea of morality is different than yours” and imply that it is OK to ignore some court orders? It’s a good starting point for discussion but the argument falls apart as we look at it more closely with other issues. The immigration issue is another issue. People whose parents or grandparents came the U.S. without permission or documentation may have no moral concern with condemning their undocumented neighbors here today. It would be interesting to learn more about the underpinnings of such behavior.

In any event, it seems clear that the disconnect between morality and voter choice has emerged as the dominant story of the 2016 election.


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