This raises an important question: How should conservative critics
of the administration approach those people who, a year in, remain
unshakably attached to an administration plumbing such moral
depths? Should we engage and try to understand these voters, or
should we shame and scold in an effort to reawaken some moral
sense in a party that once proclaimed itself the defender of
patriotic and family values?
Personally, I am in the “shame and scold” camp. The “engage and
understand” approach is based on the deeply flawed assumption that
these voters don’t know what they are doing. It is a kind of “root
causes” explanation, in which Trump’s supporters are good people
who are merely expressing a yawp of anger at a globalized world
that has left them behind.
This explanation, ironically, mirrors one that conservatives once
rejected when liberals used it to explain crime in some poor
minority communities decades ago. Conservatives refused to accept
the mechanistic reasoning that human beings are no more than
victims, passively responsive to their environment, when it was
applied to behavior among African Americans. Yet now they embrace
it to explain the astounding collapse of civic virtue among the
white working class.