There’s nothing more to be learned about Trump’s mixture of ignorance, insecurity and narcissism. Every second spent on his bluster is more degrading than informative.
.. spend less time thinking about Trump the soap opera and more time on questions that surround the Trump phenomena and this moment of history.
.. he represents the farcical culmination of a lot of dying old orders — demographic, political, even moral — and what comes after will be a reaction against rather than a continuing from.
.. For example, let’s look at our moral culture. For most of American history mainline Protestants — the Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians and so on — set the dominant cultural tone. Most of the big social movements, like abolitionism, the suffragist movement and the civil rights movement, came out of the mainline churches.
.. You could be Catholic, Jewish, Muslim or atheist, but still you were influenced by certain mainline ideas — the Protestant work ethic, the WASP definition of a gentleman. Leaders from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama hewed to a similar mainline standard for what is decent in public life and what is beyond the pale.
.. For a time, we lived off the moral capital of the past. But the election of Trump shows just how desiccated the mainline code has become. A nation guided by that ethic would not have elected a guy who is a daily affront to it, a guy who nakedly loves money, who boasts, who objectifies women, who is incapable of hypocrisy because he acknowledges no standard of propriety other than that which he feels like doing at any given moment.
.. the country divided into at least three blocks:
- white evangelical Protestantism that at least in its public face seems to care more about eros than caritas;
- secular progressivism that is spiritually formed by feminism, environmentalism and the quest for individual rights; and
- realist nationalism that gets its manners from reality TV and its spiritual succor from in-group/out-group solidarity.
.. Trump revealed the vacuum, but who is going to fill it and with what?