With Trump political disruption matters more than morality
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Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race Scott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to Trump MORE's triumph last week was consistent with recent elections and referendums across Europe and a trend among Western nations away from free trade and open borders.

But his election may also represent a dangerous shift towards a new type of politics and diplomacy--an era of post-morality politics in which a leader's character no longer matters and where the nitty gritty work of diplomacy is rejected in favor of lying and denial.

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We've had presidents with serious flaws: philanderers, scoundrels, and racists. Donald Trump likewise has his shortcomings in character. Indeed, few if any will make an argument for Donald Trump the man or offer his behavior or statements as an example to our young people. Ten years ago it would have been unthinkable to elect a man that has bragged about sexual assault, insulted women, and mocked a disabled person. 

But in the post-moral era, we don't care what he's done. We only care what he can do for us.

Why were so many decent Americans willing to overlook Mr. Trump's insults and flaws?

Because for decades they have been ignored by mainstream media and establishment politicians on both sides. As a result, they elected Mr. Trump, a disrupter who will fight with the pointy-headed coastal elites in Washington.

Many who voted for Trump say he won't implement much of what he offered during the campaign. But then why did they vote for him in the first place? The only answer is that the desire for change is so great that it transcended policy. And morality.

Trump has much of the country locked down politically. It's him and the working class against the world. He leapfrogged the media and traditional American political ideology using the chip on his shoulder and a Twitter account. And in the end he doesn't need anyone's approval but the people's.

In this sense, the post-moral era is also a post-media one. In an age when many people get their news from Facebook and Twitter in bits and pieces, the context and complexity of American politics is often lost. 

And the news that we do get is usually cherry picked when we choose to watch networks or read newspapers that reinforce what we already believe. We want to be entertained by our news. And now by our politicians too.

But more dangerous than our tolerance for moral lapses is potentially allowing President-elect Trump to get away with overly simplistic or false explanations of international issues. 

Details and truth matter during crises when the president's decisions can mean life or death for the people involved.

Vladimir Putin has made a living at lying. When he wanted to invade Crimea, he made up a reason to do it. The same goes for Eastern Ukraine. And he continues to deny that large numbers of Russian troops are in Ukraine despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The Russian people don't know the full story because the media is tightly controlled by the state. But perhaps they also don't mind that Putin lies. Why? Because he's promised to restore Russia to its prior Soviet glory. To make Russia great again.

Sounds familiar.

Mr. Trump showed a penchant for fabrication during the campaign. I believe he made up conversations he had with House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan calls for Trump to accept results: 'The election is over' Bottom line Democratic anger rises over Trump obstacles to Biden transition MORE and a senior Chicago Police Department official. And it appears he fabricated the celebration of Muslims in Jersey City, New Jersey on 9/11. Will he continue to lie when it suits his purpose as president?

If so, will Americans even care?

We often look for a president with features that contrast with the outgoing commander-in-chief. Obama ran as eloquent and careful in contrast to George W. Bush who had come to be seen as cavalier after invading Iraq. Similarly, President-elect Trump ran as the straight talking politically incorrect outsider compared to the cautious and professorial Obama. America wanted something different this time.

And that's exactly what they're going to get.

McGowan holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University. He is an Adjunct Professor at William Paterson University and stay-at-home dad living in Wyckoff, New Jersey.


 

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