Civic Dignity in the Age of Donald Trump: A Kantian Perspective
If there is one generally acknowledged “take away” from the election of Trump, it may well be that the old divisions between right and left no longer hold. Trump supporters were seemingly moved less by traditional conservative appeals to free markets and small government than by anger against perceived condescension and indifference on the part of the cultural elite to their own deeply held moral beliefs and sense of personal dignity. Kant offers both insight into and potential remedies for the dilemmas growing out of our present situation. This is particularly true in matters of economic policy and civic engagement, where “top down” solutions have often left their would-be beneficiaries feeling ever more powerless and disrespected. By addressing these concerns in the name of common citizenship, Kant’s thought helps restore the meaning of the core constitutional principles of freedom, equality, and civic dignity that Trump’s presidency increasingly puts in question.
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