One of the weirder aspects of anti-Trump mania is its sniffy tone. And it’s especially weird coming from card-carrying liberal Democrats. For two generations our culture and its institutions have been living under a liberal ascendency. The country’s elites—the Bigs of the news media and Hollywood and the non-profit world and the arts and the academy—have signed on to a catechism of personal liberation, particularly sexual liberation, and a kind of radical individual autonomy that even lets you choose whether you’re a boy or a girl. We are taught to be “nonjudgmental” in matters of lifestyle and to accept a pristine relativism in metaphysics and morality.
In pursuit of perfect liberation we’ve had no-fault divorce, open access to abortion, the celebration of inverted sex, elimination of the blue laws, and wars against censorship that continue long after the censors have cried uncle. Say what you want about this regime, you’d never call it a triumph of puritanism.
Yet puritanical is precisely the tone of the Trump haters on the left. (We Trump haters on the right are another story.) But why? Consider Trump himself. Here’s a man who’s famous for his wide-ranging sex life, his disdain for conventional marriage, his eager embrace of divorce, his public use of profanity, his non-judgmental attitude toward unconventional sexual minorities—a man whose way of life seems unrestrained by religious impulses of any kind—a man who, in short, is a walking summation of our present-day cultural principles.