Politics and Love

Do People Want Trump to Fail No Matter What?

Do people want President Trump to fail no matter what?

I would like to grant two points at the beginning of this post: First, I am certain there are indeed people critical of President Trump who want him to fail no matter what he does.

Second, there are critics of President Trump who behave in an unethical or immature manner in their criticism of him.

Having granted these two points, I would like to suggest that the question, “Do Critics of Trump Want Him to Fail No Matter What?” is the wrong question to ask. To understand why, I would like you to imagine a scenario I will call the Difficult Boss Scenario.

The Difficult Boss Scenario

Imagine that you work for a branch of a large, successful company. There are some great things about your branch. But it has struggled in recent years. And so your company recently hired your boss because he has a record of fixing problems like those in your branch. He has been your boss for three years.

Unfortunately, while your new boss has helped the branch in some ways, he is difficult. He has anger issues, and he regularly berates his employees and curses at them for trivial reasons when he is in a bad mood.

Pic #1

In addition, he has also fired several women that he thinks are too old. And he regularly tells everyone that he thinks older women are unattractive. This behavior violates your company’s policy against age discrimination.

Furthermore, it is common knowledge that your boss has made unwanted advances to women in the work place, even touching them inappropriately on several occasions. He has also actively worked against his company hiring any African-Americans, even ones who are highly qualified for the job. And he says that they ruin the “look” of his company, actions which (again) violate your company’s policy on discrimination.

It Gets Worse

To make matters worse, there are increasing reports, documented by evidence, that your boss cooks the company books. He does this so that he can use company dollars to fund his own pet projects that have nothing to do with the business.

And it is also common knowledge that he regularly communicates misinformation or flat-out false information to investors about key facts regarding the financial well-being of the company.

So even though he is brilliant in several key areas of the company, many of your colleagues who listen to him discuss investor reports are concerned.

That is because your boss has a very weak or non-existent grasp of the basic facts of the company. And he shows very little desire to become acquainted with them.

Business #2

Over the past three years, these problems have become so frequent that many of your fellow employees have collected memos, and other media documenting the behavior. Many of your colleagues have tried to talk with your boss or get him to reconsider his behavior. But your boss is so adverse to criticism that anyone who does this is routinely demoted, “let go” or transferred to another company branch.

Colleague Concern

Your colleagues are deeply concerned about your boss’s behavior. And they are concerned about the negative effect it could have on the company. So they are considering reporting the boss’s behavior to HR or even to your company’s executives.

One day a few of them are talking to you about their concerns. Another employee overhears the discussion. And he accuses your colleagues of wanting your boss to fail.

Here is an important question to consider at this point. Do your colleagues want your boss to fail or do they have legitimate concerns about your boss’s behavior?

Furthermore, do they have an obligation to do something about such behavior?

Reflecting on the Difficult Boss Scenario

If we reflect on the Difficult Boss Scenario, we understand that whether his employees want him to fail is beside the point. That is because the boss is engaging in inappropriate behavior that harms both individuals and the company. It may even be the case that some of the employees have bad attitudes towards the boss.

This is still beside the point, however, because the Difficult Boss is engaging in inappropriate behavior. And his behavior is consistently wrong, no matter the attitudes of other people.

How We Should Handle Inappropriate Behavior

Inappropriate behavior does not suddenly become appropriate because of the attitude someone holds towards you. For instance, if you steal someone’s stuff, this inappropriate behavior is not justified because the person has a bad attitude towards you.

Or, for example, punching someone in the face is not justified because the person has a bad attitude towards you.

In the same way, the boss’s inappropriate behavior does not suddenly become appropriate because of the bad attitudes people hold towards him. There is no moral or ethical system that excuses unethical behavior because other people are being rude.

Even when we must defend ourselves, we are still required to do so ethically. For instance, we are not permitted ethically to defend ourselves from slander by slandering other people or, as an extreme example, blowing up their house.


And we are not permitted to defend ourselves by, for example, assassinating their spouse. In the same way, the Difficult Boss may not act in any way he chooses simply because some of this employees have a bad attitude.

Handling the Difficult Boss

In regards to our Difficult Boss Scenario, it is also certainly true that employees can become disgruntled with a boss and engage in sabotaging behavior that makes his or her life extremely difficult. However, in our Difficult Boss scenario, it is important to note that raising concerns about unethical and potentially illegal activity is not sabotaging the Difficult Boss.

When his employees raise such concerns, they are right to do so because their boss consistently engages in in appropriate behavior for a boss (or anyone). And He does so in a way that harms both his employees and the company. Furthermore, he is actively ignoring or retaliating against those who rightfully raise these concerns to him.

And while no boss is perfect, such behavior becomes especially problematic when a boss fails to learn from his mistakes and acts consistently in unethical and potentially illegal ways.

The more a boss consistently demonstrates these problems, the more his employees have an obligation to speak out about it in some way. After all, if they do not speak out, they will become complicit in their boss’ unethical and illegal activity.

We certainly aren’t responsible to call out every single instance of unethical behavior we see in the world. That would be intrusive and moralistic. We are, however, responsible to call out inappropriate behavior that consistently occurs within our personal domain.

And we especially need to do so when the inappropriate behavior entails harm to other people. And we especially must do so when it is perpetrated by someone more powerful upon those that are less powerful.[2]

When we fail to speak out about such behavior, we  become complicit.

Back to Politics and Trump

The Difficult Boss story relates to the question “Do critics of President Trump want him to fail no matter what?” We are in a better position now to see why this question is irrelevant.

As I stipulated at the beginning of this post, it is certainly true that some people do have bad attitudes towards the President. And some want him to fail no matter what.

That, however, is beside the point because the question is whether the President regularly and consistently engages in inappropriate behavior.

If he does, then we (meaning voting U.S. citizens) have a responsibility to speak out about it. And in fact, we become complicit in such behavior if we do not speak out about it.

You might also like this post: Should the United States be a Christian Nation?

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End Notes

[1] When I use the word ethics in this post, I refer to the principles that guide our conduct to help us aim for a higher good both for ourselves and others. One of the most common ethical principles is “Treat others how you want to be treated.” Most businesses attempt to operate by a code of ethics. (There is a whole philosophical discipline called business ethics that studies this matter.)

It is very wise for businesses to do so. This is not only because it helps them be better businesses but because it helps them avoid whistle blower complaints, human rights violations, environmental contamination, and expensive lawsuits. Two of the most common ethical standards ethical businesses follow are these: 1) Maximize quality pleasure and minimize pain for the most people. (This is the standard of utilitarian ethics.) 2) Treat people as an end in themselves and not merely as a means to some other end (this is the standard of deontological ethics).

If a business fails to conduct itself according to ethical principles, it might follow this rule for conduct: “Do whatever you have to in order to make the most money.” If you would like to read a story about a business that failed to adhere to ethical conduct and instead made its sole goal making money, you might like (or lament) reading about the Ford Pinto fiasco here.

[2]Most religions and ethical systems advocate that we have a special duty to defend those who can’t defend themselves. So, for example, both the Old Testament and the New Testament in the Bible are especially concerned about people who are harmed by unjust rulers.

2 thoughts on “Do People Want Trump to Fail No Matter What?”

  1. This is a brilliantly composed post, Shelly, in two senses of the word! The bipartisan nature of US politics certainly appears to cloud judgement from an outsider’s perspective. That’s not to say the UK is any better! Maybe we all hold on to our established identities and belief patterns too tightly, rather than engaging universal ethics. It seems like there is fear-based judgement going on. If I had a wish for the world it would be a release from paranoia, so that we can see possibilities instead.

    1. Ali, I really appreciate it that you enjoyed this post! I actually had fun writing it because I loved developing the Difficult Boss and Outside Consultant thought experiments. A lot of philosophers use thought experiments in their articles, and I thought, “Why not use them for a post about politics?” Sometimes I feel like I should stop writing about the President and politics, but I feel like we have collectively lost our blooming minds about politics in the U.S. I am sure it feels that way sometimes in the UK, too. You are so right that we are really acting out of fear. And I know my blog posts won’t change everything. But, I feel like if maybe even just one or two folks read them and start to think about politics a little bit differently, it is worth it. And it is exactly as you say: We have got to start practicing ethics–not holding onto our political party like our life depended on it. All of this is to say that I appreciate your kind words so much. And I will probably keep writing about politics along with all my other subjects, too.

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