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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Finding postmodernism in politics


Why we need to restore trust in government

Postmodernism was once described to me as being “everything breaking.” Generally speaking, postmodernism is seen as a movement in the arts, philosophy, and society that rejects grand narratives, universal truths and includes a sense of skepticism and sarcasm.

It is also generally accepts moral relativism. It is a movement that many argue has engulfed our society.

If one believes that our society is a postmodern one, then it makes sense that we would elect a postmodern president. Donald Trump is that president.

It isn’t hard to argue that President Trump is “everything breaking.” As a candidate, he campaigned on “draining the swamp” and frequently touted his lack of political experience as being a qualification for the highest office in the land.

As a president, he has challenged and broken from many norms established for the office of the president. President Trump’s modus operandi has been to reject truths he deems inconvenient and employ a hypocritical moral relativism.

He has abandoned all decorum in his discussions related to other officials, both foreign and domestic, to the media, celebrities and public figures.

Additionally, for as long as Trump has been in the public eye, he has adhered to his own code of moral conduct exemplified by his “when you’re a star they let you” mentality and his completely unfounded accusations that former president Barack Obama was born in Kenya.

In calling well-proven media reports “fake news,” and by sowing disillusion among segments of the population, Trump is contributing to a society hostile to anyone claiming to expound a “truth,” whether that truth is scientific or a statement of fact. Thus, we see continuing trend of lost faith in the government, presidency and news media.

The question we must now ask ourselves is whether Trump is a symptom of a postmodern society or a unique phenomenon.

By asking this question, we can interrogate our national consciousness to see if we truly want to be a postmodern nation and if we want a postmodern president.

I would argue that Trump is simply a symptom of a much larger trend American society: an increasing lack of trust. Many political scientists and journalists argue that the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal were the beginning of this trend. However, in recent years it seems like no one trusts the government—and if you do trust the government, then that trust is based on party lines.

For instance, 77 percent of Americans trusted their government in 1964, but that number is about 18 percent as of December 2017.

While the country moves towards embracing many of the ideals of postmodernism, we have to ask whether we can afford to abandon many of the principles that have grounded this country. One of the hallmarks of democracy is faith in our leaders. Where will our country go when we don’t trust anyone who represents us?

I would say that many of these trends are worrying, and we must perhaps move towards a re-romanticization of our government. In the past, our leaders were celebrated and held up as the best and brightest minds our country had to offer. This is arguably not the case anymore.

When the government is viewed as full of crooks and liars, what sort of individuals will it attract? Not the sorts this country needs. I’m not saying that we need to gloss over the faults of our leaders. On the contrary: every leader from town councils to the White House must be held accountable.

We, the people, must work to elect leaders we trust and fill the ranks of civil service and government offices with dedicated individuals who will work for us.

In order to restore trust in our government, there must be a concerted effort by all Americans to restore the bonds of trust between the governed and the governing. This starts by working for and electing leaders that you trust to represent you.

This trend of public distrust in government can be reversed, but not without Americans doing their homework and rolling up their sleeves. It all starts this November.

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