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Trump and His Lack of a Moral Imperative

Updated on October 30, 2018
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Mike has a keen interest in the effects of politics in our culture. He has a unique way of simplifying complex concepts.

Truth as a moral imperative

A moral imperative is a strongly-felt principle that compels a person to act a certain way that is reasonable within the context it is used. For example, following the moral law for truth was seen to be reasonable.

We are taught not to lie. Because when we lie, sooner or later it will catch up with us. There is an Italian saying, "Lying is like spitting in the air, sooner or later that spit will hit you in the face." However, I don’t believe Trump was ever taught the moral imperative that lying is not morally good, because sooner or later it will lead to mistrust.

He lies incessantly and so far, he has gotten away with it. Why does he lie? Because no one holds him accountable for his lying. When the press tries to hold him accountable, he just calls them the fake news and enemy of the people and then he moves on from there.

His supporters, including Evangelical Christians could care less about a moral imperative for truth, because they are all about results. In their minds, he has convinced them that the GOP and his supporters are the good guys and everybody else “The Others” are the bad guys, including "the fake news." His supporters trust him explicitly even though he lies constantly.

To me this goes against everything I have learned. Once a person lies, especially if it is a big lie with big consequences, then, I have reason not to trust them. That is the moral imperative. Of course everybody lies and one time or another, but not on the scale and magnitude of Trump.

Trump's rallies and tweets are basically one-way communications where he lies and promotes violence. He is like a megaphone that broadcasts his lies to his audiences. In his rallies, the audiences hold up signs that are made by professionals, which makes them and the audience look contrived to the discerning eye.

Trump and Instinctive Gamesmanship

I have just coined that phrase. "Trump and Instinctive Gamesmanship" I have been observing Trump for a long time. At first, I thought he was a sociopathic liar. But now I'm beginning to believe that he actually enjoys sparrng with his opponents and learned how to do it through the years. But now he has refined it into an art of instinctive gamesmanship. When communicating, he is either on the offensive or defensive.

He uses offence when he is attacking people and things:

  • Name calling
  • Ridicule -
  • Mockery
  • False equivalence
  • Exaggeration

He uses defense when he is defending himself against others and things:

  • Deception
  • Distraction
  • Denial
  • Exaggeration
  • Proclamation

What is interesting is he has the ability to instinctively switch between offence and defense in mid-sentence.

Most of these techniques are self-explanatory, except false equivalence, distraction, proclamation.

Example of False Equivalence:

"After white supremacists held violent rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump had a chance to denounce the hate and bigotry that led to the current situation during a press conference, Instead, he blamed “many sides.”

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” Trump said."

Example of Distraction

When questioned about global warming being a hoax created by the Chinese, he looks for a key word, to change the subject. In this case it is the key word hoax. He then says, I don't know about climate change being a hoax, but I will tell you that me losing the popular vote was a hoax...and we are off and running.

Examples of Proclamation

He will proclaim certain things that require congress to approve without them even knowing about it until he proclaims it. For example, he wanted a parade in his honor, or he is creating a Space Force, or he is giving the middle class a 10% tax cut without congress' knowledge because they are not in session.

These proclamations cause his staff to scramble to cover for him.

The following are quotes from recent news reports where Trump has lied and/or exaggerated the facts; followed by reporter's response to Trump's quotes.

Trump on the Honduran Caravan

Trump says, “They have a lot of everybody in that group, it’s a horrible thing. And it’s a lot bigger than 5,000 people,” referring to a massive caravan of Central American refugees currently plowing through Mexico en route to the U.S. (In fact, the migrant caravan is a lot smaller than 5,000 people.) But rather than be content with a heaven-sent midterm talking point, Trump escalated. “Go into the middle of the caravan, take your cameras, and search. . . . You’re going to find MS-13, you’re going to find Middle Eastern, you’re going to find everything.” Criminals, knife-wielding murderers, potential Islamic extremists"—that completes "Trump-midterm bingo.” When asked where is the evidence, he eludes to one of his favorite phrases, "lots of people tell me so."


There is, of course, no reason to believe that “Middle Easterners” are mixed up in the caravan of refugees fleeing violence from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, beyond the fact that it would be convenient for Trump if it were true. A former senior intelligence official told NBC News that there is no evidence of any Middle Eastern terrorists hiding in the caravan. The White House has not responded to requests for comment regarding any of Trump’s claims.

Update 10/23/2018: When pressed on his claim that there are "Middle Easterners" in the migrant caravan moving toward the US southern border, President Trump said there is "no proof of anything, but there very well could be."

Trump on California Rioting

Trump says, "Californians are rioting against sanctuary cities", which he first tossed out at a campaign rally over the weekend. “Take a look, they want to get out of sanctuary cities. Many places in California want to get out of sanctuary cities,” he told a reporter, who then asked exactly where the riots were. “Yeah, it is rioting in some cases,” he replied, and moved on, ignoring additional questions on the topic."

Trump on Saudi Arabia and Jamal Khashoggi

Trump could not avoid questions about Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi exile and former Washington Post columnist who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month—but he could inflate the potential consequences of placing sanctions on his new friends in Riyadh. “I don't want to lose a million jobs, I don’t want to lose $110 billion,” he said, referring to an arms deal that has actually only earned $14.5 billion so far. “But it’s really $450 billion if you include other than military. So that’s very important. But we’re going to get to the bottom of it,” he added.

It’s not clear how the money at stake quadrupled in Trump’s mind, but then again, the president has a habit of inflating numbers when the mood strikes. On March 20, when the Saudi crown prince visited Washington, Trump claimed the arms deal would generate “over 40,000 jobs in the United States.” Last Saturday, that number jumped to 450,000 jobs, then to 500,000 jobs, then 600,000 jobs on Friday, and finally “over one million jobs” a few hours later, while visiting Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.

Trump about Ted Cruz

Arguably his most brazen falsehood, however, came in response to a question about Ted Cruz, who Trump was flying out to Texas to support. “He’s not Lying’ Ted anymore, he’s Beautiful Ted. I call him Texas Ted,” he said over the roar of helicopter blades, extolling the virtues of a man whose wife he’d insulted in the past. A reporter reminded him that he’d once accused Cruz’s father of being involved in the J.F.K. assassination, to which Trump replied: “I don’t regret anything, honestly. It all worked out very nicely.”

Trump on Middle Income Tax Cuts

Trump, at the very, very least, appeared to walk back an earlier fairy tale from Sunday, when he had baselessly asserted that he was “studying very deeply, around the clock, a major tax cut for middle-income people” that would come in “sometime around the first of November, maybe a little before that.” The one problem: Congress is not in session until after the election, and indeed, media outlets quickly reported that nobody in Washington had any idea what Trump was talking about. “I’m going through Congress. We won’t have time to do the vote,” he said Monday, barreling through the sort of, blatant falsehoods that might have been a major, years-long scandal for another president. The full conversation needs to be seen to be believed, or not, as the case may be:

Do you think Trump should be held accountable for his lying?

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Do you trust Trump even though he lies?

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Do you think Trump promotes violence in his rallies?

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Which news outlets do you trust more?

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© 2018 Mike Russo


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