Donald Trump’s Success Is Not “Our” Fault

Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker is appropriately appalled by Donald Trump, who she refers to as a “a mean, narcissistic, bloviating SOB.” She accurately describes him as “the ultimate personification of a variety of vices (greed, intemperance, gluttony, wrath, pride).”

But, you know, someone must be blamed for his popularity, and it can’t just be the people who support him. It must be all of us.

So, for example, it’s not just that Trump personifies vice, it’s that “our culture” has embraced vice.

We’re all consumerists who are six seconds away from stampeding our neighbors in the local Wal Mart as we seek the latest “deal” on a holiday gift. And we’ve all embraced relativism, so we’re incapable of making basic moral judgments.

These past several days marking the season of gratitude have been emblematic of the moment when someone like Trump could become king of the heap. Consumerism run amok is what we tamely name Black Friday, the super-sale day when you’re as likely to be trampled (occasionally to death) in a stampede for The Deal, the art of which is in the eye of the beholder.

Consumer-itis seems to become more acute with each passing year, infecting even our relationships. We quantify other people as we would any commodity, making them into things, not quite human. She’s not this enough; he’s not all that. Indulging and gratifying ourselves, instantly and without reserve, we’re no longer subject to the traditional inoculations of conscience — shame, embarrassment and fear. We never judge because this would be to suggest objective standards in a subjective world of relativity.

As Tonto said, “Whatcha mean ‘we’, paleface?”

Almost everything I write makes some appeal to shame or embarrassment, and unlike in France, I don’t think lack of fear describes anything about our political system.

Parker’s complaints that people engage in gluttony on Thanksgiving and gifting on Christmas are as old as the modern versions of these holidays. Have these things gotten worse?

It sounds like the perennial bitching about “kids, these days” and their devil’s music.

Anyone who isn’t paid to say differently already knows what’s changed that makes it possible for Donald Trump to lead the pack in a Republican presidential nominating contest.

And it’s not how much turkey we eat or how hard we try to save a few bucks on Christmas gifts.

If you want an explanation for Trump’s popularity, start at the beginning with the simple stuff.

Who is the candidate who ought to be in the lead?

When Parker can answer that simple question, maybe she can explain all that candidate’s vices away and convince us that we’d all be on board if only we weren’t so busy being judgmental about our friends and gorging ourselves on turkey and pie.

No.

What’s different this time–what’s broken–is the American right and the Republican Party.

You want more shame and embarrassment?

Consider for a few moments how this happened to the Grand Old Party and examine your own small role in it.

And examine why, even now, when you fear the natural repercussions of your career as a GOP fangirl, you are blame-shifting and attempting to make this our fault.

“Our culture” didn’t just get this way on its own. And “our culture” is made up of tens of millions of people who aren’t going to vote for Donald Trump or any of his competitors.

“We” aren’t the problem.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.