One of my correspondents in Montana recently sent to me an email in which he bemoaned the apparent lack of integrity in the transition of Trump from reality TV star to POTUS. He (the Montanan) cited recent news reports about the apparent conflicts of interest among Trump, his family, and their new positions as the Royal Family of the Kingdom of the United States of America. He (the Montanan) cited reports that offices of ethics had not received statements from a number of Trump’s nominees to the coterie of vultures with which he is surrounding himself. He (the Montanan) cited things we’ve all read (but may have forgotten), such as Trump’s stated demand to move commercial aircraft flight paths to keep down the noise at Trump’s Florida resort and golf course. The list goes on.
What my friend doesn’t realize is that Trump and his family and fellows are acting with integrity. Yes, they do have integrity.
Integrity, closely defined, means “adherence to a particular code of ethics or morals.” By that legitimate definition, Mario Puzo’s godfather had integrity. By that definition, the National Socialist Parties of Germany and Italy had integrity. By that definition, Trump and his supporters have integrity.
The Trumpsters are adhering to their code. To introduce that code, I ask you to please recall H. L. Menken’s statement, “No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me--has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”
Sadly, if we remember this thought at all, we tend to remember only the first part, about not losing money. We equate it with P.T. Barnum’s saying that, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” We know, of course that we are not unintelligent and surely we are not suckers, so we tend to dismiss the entire notion. The second part, about getting re-elected has been lost. (I am not a conspiracy theorist, so I won’t say it has been suppressed, although my Montana correspondent might want to disagree.) We do ourselves, our country, and our civilization a disservice by ignoring the apothegms of Menken and Barnum.
Trump’s team does have integrity, for they are committed to their code. For example, they are committed to keeping and increasing their power and wealth. They are committed to continuing and expanding the destructive disparity of income and wealth between themselves and the rest of us. They are committed to using the powers of the US Government to legitimize their theft of labor and money to their own ends. They are committed to a self-aggrandizement that hasn’t existed since the days of the Robber Barons.
How many of you have decided at this point that I am a progressive (the current euphemism for “liberal”)? Don’t bother to raise your hands; I can’t see you.
You would be wrong. I simply try to apply the precepts of David Abelard to everything I read and hear. You will find the precepts at my blogs of 2016-12-15 and 2017-01-08.
I try to recognize the perceptual filters I have created in my mind, and seek to ensure that they are protecting ideas that are valid. You will find more about these filters at my blogs of 2016-08-21, 2016-08-15, and 2016-07-24.
Our nation, our way of life, and perhaps the future of intelligent life on Earth stand at the crossroads. Trump is leading us to perdition.
Menken quotation: 'Notes On Journalism' in the Chicago Tribune (19 September 1926)
Barnum quotation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There's_a_sucker_born_every_minute [He may not have said this, but it is popularly attributed to him.]
Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.