Morality and Politics: Do You Try to Make Moral Choices?

 

I am cringing while I write this post, in a way I never have. I don’t trust that we can have a civil conversation about this topic; that I may open old wounds and create havoc. I’ve asked myself over and over whether I can trust all of you to be decent, moral human beings. I think I can trust you; I hope I can because this question has been nagging at me for months, and I need your help to resolve it. Let’s make this an opportunity to do it together, in our search for truth and understanding. That means putting aside the need to win or be right; I don’t think either of those efforts will be successful.

All that said, I have been struggling with my own morality related to politics.

First, if you know anything about me at all, you know I strive to be a moral person. I’m not bragging about it; I feel compelled to do it. Most of the time, I think I do that with ease; I have clarity about my values in relation to how I act, what I do and how I treat others.

I bring up these questions as I’m nearly finished with a book by Charles Lane, called Freedom’s Detective , a book about Hiram Whitley, the man who began the Secret Service. That organization was originally started to find counterfeiters but eventually was key in rounding up the Ku Klux Klan during and following Reconstruction. It was a fascinating story, but I was especially struck by Whitley himself. He was an excellent manager and strategist, but he was also a liar, thief, finagler, and also showed many other disreputable attributes. Eventually, he was fired, but he did great things under the Grant administration. He was both celebrated and condemned in his time. He made me think of Donald Trump.

That led me to the issue that has been bothering me the last couple of years, particularly after 2016: how to frame and comprehend and hold true to my own morality, particularly in relation to politics. Part of my problem is that I hold people I connect with or feel connected to, to a high moral standard. If you want to be my friend, you have to be a decent person. Figuring out what a “decent person” is might be a key part of this discussion.

I also believe that most of you who participate on Ricochet are moral and principled people. I can’t think of a better place to initiate this discussion. So here it is:

In terms of morality, Donald Trump is a mixed bag. In fact, I guess I could say that most of us are. Some of you believe that G-d will be the final Judge of whether we pass muster on the morality measure.

I wonder how you weigh the question of who to support in any area of life when the person is far from the perfect person. Regarding Trump–

-I realize that many of you might have decided that you would vote for just about anyone who could “clean out the swamp,” no matter their moral attributes or limitations.

-You may have decided that morality was not an issue, that the country was in such dire straits that the questions about the morality of the person you voted for were irrelevant.

-Since we are all a mixed bag, you may have decided that Trump was sufficiently moral, given how he treated his family, how he cared for our veterans, how he loved America and wanted to help us, and the other moral traits he showed.

Please do not use this post as an opportunity to defend Trump or yourself, or to bash others who do not. And for those of you who don’t like Trump, this post may not be for you.

 

This post is primarily about the moral choices you make regarding politics and politicians, not necessarily attacking or defending particular officeholders or candidates. As a point of information, I didn’t vote for Trump or support him before the election (and I say that without judgment of those who did); I made judgments about his character and reputation. But the simple fact that he is president means for me that I will support him when he does good things, and criticize him when I think he doesn’t. On balance, I think he has done a good job.

To me, supporting him is a moral choice, because the country elected him.

In that vein, what did you think of Hiram Whitley mentioned earlier? What role, if any, does your morality play in your political choices? Does morality play a different role in the policies you support versus the persons for whom you vote?

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  1. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    One always knows what is or is not the moral thing to do.  Whether one does or not is very different, but these things are known to us, heavily shaped by the culture we belong to which vary between families as well as regions and cultures.  Some cultures are more grounded in practical and moral reality than others and have spent centuries thinking and discussing the matter and witnessing what happens when it’s all about power and wealth and not morality.  Think serious Jews and serious Christians.   Oh yes, and it, at least in ordinary daily, family matters,  has to do with our own behavior as it’s very difficult to judge others.  None of this means it’s all subjective and relative or merely culturally dependent, it just means it requires serious thought especially about religious notions that we and others inherit.

    • #61
  2. SecondBite Member
    SecondBite
    @SecondBite

    To simplify and paraphrase much of what has been already posted, politicians are tools and you evaluate a tool by its effectiveness in the job you need it to do.  The Constitution is safe from Trump but it is never safe from a Progressive, so in spite of all of his distasteful characteristics, he is my guy.  The only time that his personal attributes would have any effect  on my vote is if he was to be primaried by someone with an equal or better chance of winning who could be expected to do at least as good a job.  Which ain’t gonna happen.

    • #62
  3. danys Thatcher
    danys
    @danys

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    I’ve had this debate many times. My wife used to insist that she could never vote for a known philanderer, while I pointed out that Hitler was an abstemious prig, so I’d take the philanderer. (Just getting ole’ Godwin out of the way early here).

    The hard truth is that all of us have (to put this in Christian parlance) our own besetting sins and passions, and those sins differ from one person to the next. One person may be free from anger and jealousy and vanity, but struggle all his life with lust. The next may be free from all sins but pride alone, but their pride is so overwhelming that they’ve become a moral monster, and a tyrant to others, their pride being fed by their “freedom” from more fleshly passions. You have to take the whole person (as much as you can know anyway), and you have to judge them by their actions and what they reveal of their motivations.

    But those decisions also come secondary to their jobs, and “Politician” is as much a job title as Janitor. If I’m hiring a janitor, I want a janitor who shows up on time and does his work well. Matters of the heart, or of his marriage, or his pride, are all secondary to that job until they bleed into his work. So it is with politicians – if they do what I voted for them to do, and their other passions don’t infect their work or spoil it, let it lie. The fact is that until very recent times we remained happily ignorant of their infidelities – how many people knew of FDR’s affairs while he was in office? Were the American people owed that information at the time? Or might we have gone into WWII with a hamstrung and isolationist administration instead?

    To this day, a couple of my friends still fret and worry in genuine rage at people like me who fail to be as outraged as they are over “Trump’s Bad Character”. Every week they find some new outrage and try to get me to join in on it. I honestly don’t care, so long as they don’t affect his job (and I don’t count the media fainting couch types and gossipers dredging it up endlessly as affecting the job – that’s muckraking in an attempt to create a story). Do what I voted for you to do, it’s your job, it’s what I hired you for in the first place. I have enough besetting sins of my own to worry about, rather than being daily scandalized by someone else’s.

    @SkipSul

    Thank you; this is a very rich & thoughtful response. I’m a reluctant Trumper who voted for him & his presidency has challenged many of my beliefs & values. You’ve given me something to think about.

    • #63
  4. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Susan Quinn: To me, supporting him is a moral choice, because the country elected him.

    You support him because he was elected? Im not sure that makes sense, because Obama was elected too, I dont recall you supporting him… so clearly the blessing of the voters isn’t  sufficient and I doubt it is necessary. 

    Let me ask you this is it moral to choose to ignore a politicians flaws because you like their results? Where is the tipping point, because I think clearly there has to be a point at which flaws can outweigh legitimate accomplishments and vice versa on the other side. 

     

    • #64
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: To me, supporting him is a moral choice, because the country elected him.

    You support him because he was elected? Im not sure that makes sense, because Obama was elected too, I dont recall you supporting him… so clearly the blessing of the voters isn’t sufficient and I doubt it is necessary.

    Let me ask you this is it moral to choose to ignore a politicians flaws because you like their results? Where is the tipping point, because I think clearly there has to be a point at which flaws can outweigh legitimate accomplishments and vice versa on the other side.

    Good points, @valiuth. Re Obama, I didn’t say he was an illegitimate president and work hard to kick him out. He was, in fact, duly elected. That’s what I meant by supporting the president. I wasn’t clear.

    I appreciate your second point. I think each person needs to decide for him or herself where that tipping point is. Flaws can outweigh legitimate accomplishments and vice versa, but I would not be the person to preach a criteria to another.

    • #65
  6. PHenry Member
    PHenry
    @PHenry

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I didn’t say he was an illegitimate president and work hard to kick him out.

    There is a world of difference between opposing policy choices and sabotage and undermining at every opportunity.  I opposed 95% of what Obama did, but I never considered impeachment, I never considered him illegitimate,  nor did I think that it was worth harming the country as long as it harmed Obama’s presidency.  

     

    • #66
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    PHenry (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I didn’t say he was an illegitimate president and work hard to kick him out.

    There is a world of difference between opposing policy choices and sabotage and undermining at every opportunity. I opposed 95% of what Obama did, but I never considered impeachment, I never considered him illegitimate, nor did I think that it was worth harming the country as long as it harmed Obama’s presidency.

     

    Ditto!

    • #67
  8. Keith Rice Inactive
    Keith Rice
    @KeithRice

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I don’t just want you (or me) to be free. I want you (and me) to be virtuous, and successful, and have a meaningful life and a valued place in our society.

    Well now you’re in Jordan Peterson territory.

    • #68
  9. Keith Rice Inactive
    Keith Rice
    @KeithRice

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: To me, supporting him is a moral choice, because the country elected him.

    You support him because he was elected? Im not sure that makes sense, because Obama was elected too, I dont recall you supporting him… so clearly the blessing of the voters isn’t sufficient and I doubt it is necessary.

    Let me ask you this is it moral to choose to ignore a politicians flaws because you like their results? Where is the tipping point, because I think clearly there has to be a point at which flaws can outweigh legitimate accomplishments and vice versa on the other side.

     

    There may be a distinction between supporting him as President and supporting him as a persona.

    • #69
  10. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: To me, supporting him is a moral choice, because the country elected him.

    You support him because he was elected? Im not sure that makes sense, because Obama was elected too, I dont recall you supporting him… so clearly the blessing of the voters isn’t sufficient and I doubt it is necessary.

    Let me ask you this is it moral to choose to ignore a politicians flaws because you like their results? Where is the tipping point, because I think clearly there has to be a point at which flaws can outweigh legitimate accomplishments and vice versa on the other side.

    Good points, @valiuth. Re Obama, I didn’t say he was an illegitimate president and work hard to kick him out. He was, in fact, duly elected. That’s what I meant by supporting the president. I wasn’t clear.

    I appreciate your second point. I think each person needs to decide for him or herself where that tipping point is. Flaws can outweigh legitimate accomplishments and vice versa, but I would not be the person to preach a criteria to another.

    “work hard to kick him out” ? I mean I certainly didn’t work hard to kick Obama out, but nor am I working hard to kick Trump out, griping about him on Ricochet does not in my opinion count as work. But, I would say in the more general meaning of that phrase I think Republicans worked quite hard to kick him out, frustrate his agenda, undermine his authority, and beset him on all sides with scandal and complaint. I think the arguments that  somehow Trump is getting it worse ring hollow to me. I mean I can see how if you like Trump it feels worse, because you empathize with him, but as someone who didn’t care about Obama and now doesn’t care about Trump I don’t much see the difference. And certainly I recall (or at least seem to recall because I was too young to really take it all properly in at the time) that there was little love lost for Bill Clinton in the 90’s by Republicans. They did literally try to kick him out by actually impeaching him. Again I feel no compassion for Clinton, so none of that bothers me. And I don’t know your feelings on Bill Clinton’s problems in the 90’s but are you saying that it was morally wrong for the Republicans to treat him the way he was treated? 

     

    • #70
  11. SecondBite Member
    SecondBite
    @SecondBite

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Where is the tipping point, because I think clearly there has to be a point at which flaws can outweigh legitimate accomplishments and vice versa on the other side.

    I think the tipping point is when personal flaws have so severely compromised the ability to do the job that the politician has to go.  With regard to President Trump that would be indicated by Republicans willing to join the impeachment bandwagon so that he would be replaced by the Vice President, or by opponents reading the tea leaves and seeing the opportunity to replace him in the primary.  A lot of very complex assessments based on insufficient information are required, which is why this is so much fun. 

    • #71
  12. PHenry Member
    PHenry
    @PHenry

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    And I don’t know your feelings on Bill Clinton’s problems in the 90’s but are you saying that it was morally wrong for the Republicans to treat him the way he was treated? 

     

    I didn’t support impeachment of Clinton, but on the other hand there were crimes, and evidence of crimes, which were the basis of the procedures.  I thought at the time that it was mostly payback for Nixon and for a number of right wing politicians and business leaders who were being destroyed over sexual harassment by the left while they demanded a free pass for their own intern dalliances.  Turnabout may be fair play, but it is detrimental to the country.

    That said, no, it isn’t fair to compare Clintons treatment to what is happening with Trump, since there still isn’t one sliver of evidence of collusion, the basis for the whole farce.  Clinton did harass an intern in the while house.  He did lie under oath.  He did suborn perjury.  That is not conjecture.  All the charges against Trump are.  

    • #72
  13. PHenry Member
    PHenry
    @PHenry

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    “work hard to kick him out” ? I mean I certainly didn’t work hard to kick Obama out, but nor am I working hard to kick Trump out, griping about him on Ricochet does not in my opinion count as work.

    I don’t think anyone was accusing you of it, just that the whole focus of the Democrat left is to do it.  

    • #73
  14. Keith Rice Inactive
    Keith Rice
    @KeithRice

    PHenry (View Comment):

    I didn’t support impeachment of Clinton, but on the other hand there were crimes, and evidence of crimes, which were the basis of the procedures. I thought at the time that it was mostly payback for Nixon and for a number of right wing politicians and business leaders who were being destroyed over sexual harassment by the left while they demanded a free pass for their own intern dalliances. Turnabout may be fair play, but it is detrimental to the country.

    That said, no, it isn’t fair to compare Clintons treatment to what is happening with Trump, since there still isn’t one sliver of evidence of collusion, the basis for the whole farce. Clinton did harass an intern in the while house. He did lie under oath. He did suborn perjury. That is not conjecture. All the charges against Trump are.

    I’m with you there, I thought that much of the assault on Clinton was simply petty … but still substantial compared to the co-ordinated harassment of Trump.

    • #74
  15. Jason Obermeyer Member
    Jason Obermeyer
    @JasonObermeyer

    “Trust? Oh. I’m sorry, I was under the misapprehension your chosen profession was politics. I never trusted the President, never trusted anyone, but hasn’t he surprised you?”

    – Thaddeus Stevens, Lincoln (2012)

    • #75
  16. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    And certainly I recall (or at least seem to recall because I was too young to really take it all properly in at the time) that there was little love lost for Bill Clinton in the 90’s by Republicans. They did literally try to kick him out by actually impeaching him. Again I feel no compassion for Clinton, so none of that bothers me. And I don’t know your feelings on Bill Clinton’s problems in the 90’s but are you saying that it was morally wrong for the Republicans to treat him the way he was treated?

    Clinton lied under oath and obstructed justice as an officer of the court.

    So many Republicans don’t care if the Muller investigation had a decent predicate or about the phoney FISA etc.

    • #76
  17. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: To me, supporting him is a moral choice, because the country elected him.

    You support him because he was elected? Im not sure that makes sense, because Obama was elected too, I dont recall you supporting him… so clearly the blessing of the voters isn’t sufficient and I doubt it is necessary.

    Let me ask you this is it moral to choose to ignore a politicians flaws because you like their results? Where is the tipping point, because I think clearly there has to be a point at which flaws can outweigh legitimate accomplishments and vice versa on the other side.

     

    There may be a distinction between supporting him as President and supporting him as a persona.

    What does it mean to not support him as a persona? As in you would say he is a fine president, or at least tolerable, but he is not a fine role model for children? 

    • #77
  18. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    SecondBite (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Where is the tipping point, because I think clearly there has to be a point at which flaws can outweigh legitimate accomplishments and vice versa on the other side.

    I think the tipping point is when personal flaws have so severely compromised the ability to do the job that the politician has to go. With regard to President Trump that would be indicated by Republicans willing to join the impeachment bandwagon so that he would be replaced by the Vice President, or by opponents reading the tea leaves and seeing the opportunity to replace him in the primary. A lot of very complex assessments based on insufficient information are required, which is why this is so much fun.

    Isn’t that sort of tautological. It is beyond the pale when it is no longer tolerated? If (let us assume) the Republicans have lost all sense of standards and decency than nothing he can do can lead to that breaking point, because there is no breaking point, right? So the question then is how much shenanigans can be tolerated? It seems to me based on the empirical evidence that if the partisan alignment is correct people will tolerate quite a lot, that then they will denounce instantly in their opponents. Am I wrong in this? This then indicates there are no objective standards to this question. What is the morality of relativism then? 

    What if bad behavior is deemed instrumental to the achievement of good policies? Then they are arguably not merely tolerated but necessary. Are we then not descending into a world where we might as well say it is legal if you get away with it? A sin is not a sin if no one sees? Then the incentive socially will become to look away. Because if you see no evil there is no evil. It is your fault for looking. But that means that you are no longer interested in the truth, and can such an attitude be moral? 

    • #78
  19. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    PHenry (View Comment):
    That said, no, it isn’t fair to compare Clintons treatment to what is happening with Trump, since there still isn’t one sliver of evidence of collusion, the basis for the whole farce. Clinton did harass an intern in the while house. He did lie under oath. He did suborn perjury. That is not conjecture. All the charges against Trump are.

    Did he harass Monica? I thought that was mutual consent? I know there are accusations (shall we say credible) of his harassment of Paula Jones and one other lady whose name escapes me. As for Trump I don’t think it is clear that he is innocent of obstruction of justice charges (which are mostly what Clinton got hit with) his affair with Monica not actually being criminal. Clinton was never found guilty of any of these accusations in a court of law. So can we really say they are any more than conjectures (except for our own convictions about it)? But again we will get into hair splitting arguments, where I think ones personal affection for the target or political investment in them will color our judgement. 

    To me the situations don’t really seem that different in the macro sense except for which shoe is on what foot. I guess we can say the devil is in the details. 

    • #79
  20. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    What if bad behavior is deemed instrumental to the achievement of good policies? Then they are arguably not merely tolerated but necessary.

    This is the way I see it. Alinsky tactics work. 

    • #80
  21. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Clinton was never found guilty of any of these accusations in a court of law.

    You impeach first and then go to court.

    • #81
  22. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    PHenry (View Comment):
    That said, no, it isn’t fair to compare Clintons treatment to what is happening with Trump, since there still isn’t one sliver of evidence of collusion, the basis for the whole farce. Clinton did harass an intern in the while house. He did lie under oath. He did suborn perjury. That is not conjecture. All the charges against Trump are.

    Yah, but why shouldn’t it be. They are his political opponents. I recall laughing my butt off when the Dems got all flummoxed when Cocaine Mitch said he wanted to make Obama a one term president. This is why to me saying they are focused on defeating him as if this is bad or unusual is odd. Their emotions are running hot, but I recall Republicans being plenty emotional during the Clinton reign and Obama regime. Certainly in the entertainment quarters of the right. 

    • #82
  23. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Yah, but why shouldn’t it be. They are his political opponents.

    WW III

    No Marques d’ Queensbry rules.

    • #83
  24. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I don’t just want you (or me) to be free. I want you (and me) to be virtuous, and successful, and have a meaningful life and a valued place in our society.

    Well now you’re in Jordan Peterson territory.

    I like Prof. Peterson, but actually he’s in Christian conservative territory, as am I.  

    • #84
  25. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I don’t just want you (or me) to be free. I want you (and me) to be virtuous, and successful, and have a meaningful life and a valued place in our society.

    Well now you’re in Jordan Peterson territory.

    I like Prof. Peterson, but actually he’s in Christian conservative territory, as am I.

    Governments need to preserve our freedom. It is up to us to live righteous lives. Governments can force us do certain things but they cannot force us to be decent. We have to choose that for ourselves. 

    • #85
  26. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    Goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    And I don’t know your feelings on Bill Clinton’s problems in the 90’s but are you saying that it was morally wrong for the Republicans to treat him the way he was treated? 

    Clinton had serious legal problems during the course of the Paula Jones debacle, serious enough that he lost his license to practice law. The sad thing about Clinton was the, I believe wrong, precedent-setting and unanimous decision by the Supreme Court to allow a civil lawsuit against a sitting president to be heard at all. Had it not been for that frivolous lawsuit, none of the Monica Lewinsky information would have seen the light of day. The press played the sex angle to the hilt. Nevertheless, you are comparing apples to oranges, the glaring difference being that cries of impeachment began the moment Trump took office and well before he fired Comey. No such cries were heard when Clinton put his hand on the Bible in 1993.

    • #86
  27. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    What if bad behavior is deemed instrumental to the achievement of good policies? Then they are arguably not merely tolerated but necessary.

    This is the way I see it. Alinsky tactics work.

    And is that moral? Is that not the question driving our discussion? Or is morality dead and power is the only rule? Or I guess you could argue morality never existed and it has always been power. Thus in reality the truth is that there are only the powerful and the wrong. Who are wrong by virtue of their weakness to impose their arbitrary perception upon others.  But if this is the case why does anything matter? 

    • #87
  28. Keith Rice Inactive
    Keith Rice
    @KeithRice

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Keith Rice (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: To me, supporting him is a moral choice, because the country elected him.

    You support him because he was elected? Im not sure that makes sense, because Obama was elected too, I dont recall you supporting him… so clearly the blessing of the voters isn’t sufficient and I doubt it is necessary.

    Let me ask you this is it moral to choose to ignore a politicians flaws because you like their results? Where is the tipping point, because I think clearly there has to be a point at which flaws can outweigh legitimate accomplishments and vice versa on the other side.

     

    There may be a distinction between supporting him as President and supporting him as a persona.

    What does it mean to not support him as a persona? As in you would say he is a fine president, or at least tolerable, but he is not a fine role model for children?

    I had a friend who never liked Trump, thought he was brash and “self promoting”, my friend was the introverted taciturn type who ended up voting for, and supporting Trump as president.

    • #88
  29. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    What if bad behavior is deemed instrumental to the achievement of good policies? Then they are arguably not merely tolerated but necessary.

    This is the way I see it. Alinsky tactics work.

    And is that moral? Is that not the question driving our discussion? Or is morality dead and power is the only rule? Or I guess you could argue morality never existed and it has always been power. Thus in reality the truth is that there are only the powerful and the wrong. Who are wrong by virtue of their weakness to impose their arbitrary perception upon others. But if this is the case why does anything matter?

    No kidding. 

    Everything is about money and stealing from each other. 

    Look at how Nicole Wallace, Joe Scarborough, and half of the  GOP political operatives are behaving on MSNBC. They are doing it for the money. 

    99% of all journalists and media are statists or they are lying so they can keep their cool job that requires them to support statism. 

    Everything is like that.

    • #89
  30. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Andrew Klavan put it best. I paraphrase slightly, “The biggest moral decision is whether I get to be free or not. Donald Trump’s many flaws are secondary to the question of freedom.” Trump lets gays and Christians live free lives in equal measure. His sexual predilections aren’t as important as what he does to the country. I will leave G-d’s judgement to G-d.

    I’m troubled by Klavan’s focus on freedom, though I am an admirer of his work. I think that liberty is an important value, but it is often in tension with other important values.

    I’ve heard Klavan say things like: “I just want you to be free.” I don’t just want you (or me) to be free. I want you (and me) to be virtuous, and successful, and have a meaningful life and a valued place in our society.

    Obviously, Klavan’s statement will appeal somewhat more to libertarians and somewhat less to conservatives.

    Liberty and virtue are in tension like man and wife are in tension. They need each other.

    • #90
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