Two episodes in recent days have pushed me closer to the tipping point at which I am forced to conclude that even as an ethicist who has held fast to the principle that no one who both reveres the office of the President of the United States and who believes that the office must be held by a man (or a woman, Bernie!) of outstanding ethical character with strong supporting ethical values can ever vote for Donald Trump or want to see someone like him, if there is such a creature, leading this nation.
I am not there yet, but I would have never dreamed at any time in 2012 through most of 2019 that I could get this close. It is true that President Trump has been far more successful than I expected in the narrow category of policy, domestic and foreign. It is true that he has displayed some admirable character traits, though they have all been in the category I call “enabling virtues,” meaning that they are traits that can serve both good and bad motives and objectives. It is also true that this President has never been given a fair chance to do his job, as he has been undermined, harassed and obstructed since the moment he took office in unethical ways never experienced by any of his predecessors with similar intensity and duration.
Nonetheless, voting for someone like Donald Trump to lead the United States of America is ethics antimatter to me, and professionally impossible—right now. However, the behavior of the “resistance” and Democrats increasingly indicates that they must be decisively defeated so their current approach to American culture, society, rights and political conduct is sufficient ruinous that they begin a period of urgent reform.
Relatively small events often are tipping points with me, and both of these are small as well. However, when conduct is undeniably signature significance, proving that a group or individual is corrupt and untrustworthy because only the corrupt and untrustworthy would behave in such a way even once, my mind’s made up. I consider these two episodes frightening and if not quite constituting tipping points for me, coming too close for comfort.
I. The Vince Vaughn Affair
Video cameras caught a moment in which actor Vince Vaughn was seen pleasantly talking with President Donald Trump at the 2020 college football national championship game in New Orleans over the weekend. He even—The Horror!— shook the President’s hand. This was deemed by the progressive lynch mob on social media sufficient evidence to call for the actor’s ruination, or “cancellation,” if you will.
Timothy Burke, a progressive journalist, tweeted out the link, saying, “I’m very sorry to have to share this video with you. All of it, every part of it.” The video “went viral,” and Vaughn was pronounced a traitor to decency who needed to be shunned and punished.
The virulently leftist British Rag The Guardian was kind enough to pull no punches in expanding on the outrage expressed against Vaughn on social media. The article began by falsely condemning the familiar and versatile star as “right wing”—he’s not, though it doesn’t matter–and wrote, “it is neither unexpected nor unjust public figures should draw ire for fraternising with Trump, support for whom, by this point, should be regarded as beyond the pale even by moderate Republicans.”
At the same time this was going on, horror novelist Stephen King was trying to grovel his way back into the good graces of “the resistance” after he dared to opine that diversity should be have no role in judging art, and shambling members of the Walking Woke declared that everyone should boycott King’s movies and novels. That is proof of progressive brain rot, but the attack on Vaughn was far, far more alarming. He is an American citizen, and was showing the minimal respect due to our nation’s leader (and pretty much due to any fellow human being.)
Individuals so consumed with hate and self-righteousness that they would advocate punishing someone for smiling, exchanging pleasantries and shaking hands are so fanatic that they are capable of all manner of oppression. They are not fit to participate in a democracy, because they don’t believe in democracy, or the civil exchange of ideas. They advocate intimidation, bullying, indoctrination and enforced conformity.
The outrage of Handshakegate is symbolic of more substantive effects this vile group has had on our government and nation. The President has been cut off from all but the bravest of public servants and other professionals because of open threats to their reputations and livelihoods if they dared to accept an invitation to help this President do the job he was elected to do. Law firms have refused to assist the Administration because of threats from their clients. President Trump has not distinguished himself with his appointments and hires, but no President has ever had the the talent pool so limited by open threats of “cancellation” or worse. (Or getting harassed in public restaurant).
I have even wondered myself what I would do if I were offered the position of advising the White House on ethical matters. (I could do one hell of a job.) A likely result if I accepted the challenge would be that the President would reject all my advice, fire me, and then I would be tarred for life as a racist/sexist/homophobe/war monger/criminal, and that’s only if I avoided being subpoenaed or indicted. Yet I would accept that assignment, because that is what loyal Americans are supposed to do.
Afterwards, we’d have to sell our house, and I’d make a living directing murder mysteries or something under an assumed name…
2. Nancy Pelosi’s Impeachment Signing Stunt
But it was worse than that. Impeachment is, or was supposed to be, a very serious, last resort measure to be taken up only under the most dire circumstances, and only when both parties agree that it is unavoidable. Pelosi herself has periodically intoned about its solemn nature—and then she deliberately mock her own words by treating the formal send-off of her dirt work as if it was the Civil Rights Act or the Affordable Care Act, rather than smoking gun proof of the Democratic Party’s contempt for our institutions.
The display was signature significance for bad people, true villains, genuine threats to our freedoms and security. “Y’all want power. God, I hope you never get it,” said Senator Lindsay Graham during another signature significance moment, the Democratic effort to “cancel” Brett Kavanaugh. I don’t want to have to surrender my principles to stop these terrible, ruthless people (and their supporters) from getting it, but my resolve is sinking quickly…