Doonesbury, or Shania Twain? Tough call…but I can has both on the InterWebs.
Most interesting read of my morning was this story in Slate about the Canadian singer who got burned by touching on American politics, a story I missed over the weekend because I went to a wedding and played golf both days. She sparked something of an uproar by saying that if she could have voted in the U.S. presidential election, she would have voted for Donald Trump because “even though he was offensive, he seemed honest.” As the story notes, “Twain was furiously starting to backpedal before the weekend was out. ‘I am passionately against discrimination of any kind and hope it’s clear from the choices I have made, and the people I stand with, that I do not hold any common moral beliefs with the current President,’ she tweeted on Sunday night.”
The author uses the Twain story to start a discussion of a peer-reviewed article in last August’s American Sociological Review:
How, the authors of the recent study set out to understand, do populists like Trump get away with such obvious lies? And why is it that, in the words of Shania Twain, many voters even perceive them to be especially honest?
Even though most Trump supporters were willing to admit that Trump lies, they also rated him as extremely “authentic.” In fact, Trump was rated as being much more authentic by his supporters than Hillary Clinton was by hers.
This, the paper suggests, is the key to understanding Trump’s success.
When the political system is widely seen as doing its job, somebody like Trump, who violates its basic norms, is seen as illegitimate. A politician who blatantly lies doesn’t stand a chance. But this changes when more and more people come to believe that the system is rigged and that most politicians don’t have their best interests in mind. Amid such a “crisis of legitimacy,” voters don’t particularly care whether a politician plays by the rules of the game. Instead, they long for somebody who bluntly states how rotten the system really is.
I take from this that people are unhappy with the current system (check) and want to elect people who will do a better job on behalf of regular Americans than the people who are currently in office (check); and so they deduce that people who seem and sound different than the current crop of politicians are therefore the people who are going to do good things (wait what?!)? This feels like this goes along with all the wondering about how come evangelicals are such strong supporters of Trump’s. I mean, they’ve spent the time since the 1980 election campaign proudly showing off their holier-than-thou bona fides and making it clear that, to them, there is nothing more important when voting for an officer of our secular government than that man’s (preferably a man) belief in, and adherence to, their particular flavor of religion. Until now, in the face of a candidate/president who is demonstrably everything they’ve claimed to oppose.
There’s one more thing I just an across and want to share, and it kinda fits here—a quote from John Kenneth Galbraith in an interview in the Toronto Globe and Mail, July 6, 2002: “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”