Everything, it turns out.
Despite an uptick over the past year, Americans’ trust in the key institutions is fading. Congress, big business, national news outlets, the criminal justice system–the organizations that influence our public life most are those the least trusted.
The presidency, now presided by over by the trash-talking and tweeting Donald Trump, continues to see its confidence rating plummet. The media’s near-constant negative reporting doesn’t help Trump’s image.
Events in recent days are guaranteed to worsen domestic relations. Truth in character is a diminishing trait. Blame, as ever, lies on both sides.
The Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson’s latest offering highlights the abundance of lies coming from the White House. Everything from failed campaign disclosures to clumsy press hearing answers get Gerson’s goat. A swamp scribbler par excellence, the Post writer embodies establishment opinion on Trump. And while his criticisms are overwrought—the Trump Administration no more frames facts to create a more favorable image than its predecessor—they represent how many liberals view the President.
Still, Gerson isn’t all wrong. One of his targets—Christian support for Alabama Senate candidate accused lecher Roy Moore—is on the mark. The accusations lobbed against Moore haven’t been fully verified, but it’s hard to think so many similar stories would emerge, all depicting the same scenario. Moore hasn’t denied his predilection for minors, either.
Moore’s behavior doesn’t automatically bar Christian support. But it should cause concern. Yet Christian evangelicals have embraced the godly judge even more since the allegations were put in print. “Many of the people who should be supplying the moral values required by self-government have corrupted themselves,” Gerson writes.
It’s never worth debasing the faith for the earthly practice of politics. Unfortunately, some Christians elevate politics—and politicians—to a divine level. Is it any wonder then that secular liberals would look disdainfully upon politically passionate Christians?
For all the sins of hypocrisy on the right, the left is equally guilty, if not more. Liberals’ recent about-face on Bill Clinton’s sexual predation is the mea culpa of the 21st century. For decades, Democrat operatives and media flunkies have waved away charges that Clinton raped, fondled, and aggressively pursued women other than his wife.
The outing of Harvey Weinstein as a gross pervert changed all that. The smutty scandal unearthed by Ronan Farrow was more than sordid revelations of Hollywood hijinks–it’s become a cultural turning point. Going forward, we’ll look back at the pre-Weinstein days as a time more innocent and less corrupt, fictive as it was.
As liberals come forth and express contrition over doubting Clinton’s victims, it’s hard to take their compunction seriously, especially when they waged a propaganda war painting Republicans as theocratic tyrants who want all women to return to the detestable model of June Cleaver. Chris Hayes, Matthew Yglesias, Michelle Goldberg, and others are playing the public for fools if they think that twenty years of playing offensive line for QB Willie will easily be forgotten.
Then there’s Lena Dunham, the boisterous voice of socially-conscious millennials. The “Girls” creator has championed herself as a voice of women and an ally of the abused–until it came knocking on her own door. When a writer for her hit show was accused of raping actress Aurora Perrineau, Dunham snapped to his defense, tweeting “first tenet of my politics is to hold up the people who have held me up.”
Not a bad message. Except that Dunham once claimed women never lie about rape. This selective feminism isn’t doing liberals like Lena any favors. If that wasn’t enough, the very woman who celebrated the extinction of white men was just accused of being a closet racist by a colleague.
Dunham’s a wily example, but not wholly exceptional. Minnesota senator Al Franken has been accused by two women of inappropriate groping. Actor Kevin Spacey was fired from a host of gigs for preying on young men. George Takei is fighting off allegations of imposing himself on men. Russell Simmons has been outed for forcing a 17-year-old to perform oral sex on him. All share a common characteristic: They are outspoken leftists.
There is a devious pattern to all of this. Many of the most vocal ideologues end up hiding dark secrets. Their sanctimony makes it harder to accept our imperfect nature and, in turn, see one another for genuine people to work things out with.
In Eugene O’Neill’s Christian-themed play Days Without End, the demonic doppelgänger Loving mocks the protagonist’s search for higher meaning, declaring that “there is not truth for men, that human life is unimportant and meaningless.”
Without truth, we are base creatures, festering in a bloody power struggle. “To abandon facts is to abandon freedom,” writes Timothy Snyder. “If nothing is true, then all is spectacle.”
It isn’t just spectacle–it’s a dark void without purpose. And if man lacks purpose, his country, by default, must as well.
At their core, nations are composed of a shared set of truths. When those beliefs diverge to the point of irreconcilability, a schism becomes inevitable. Divided houses don’t stand.
The moral hypocrisy on display by the country’s leading influencers is shredding what little commonality Americans still have. How can a society last when its members no longer believe their neighbors are acting in good faith?