President Donald Trump’s reelection would signal a profound shift in our national character

As Tuesday’s debate showed, the candidates differed over how to respond to coronavirus, racial issues, the economic crisis & the composition of the Supreme Court. But such policy disputes are not what truly divides these men. What separates them is character. The choice US citizens are already making in states where early voting has started will tell not merely their support of a candidate; it will determine whom US citizens aspire to be.

Donald Trump’s reelection would mean a profound shift in our national character or ethos, with far-reaching implications for both policy & governance writ large. For the country’s mood & character both reflect and drive policy, not vice versa.

Last week’s debate repeatedly highlighted the huge gulf between the candidates’ values, & how they perceive those of the US citizens.

President, by contrast, sees this ethos as hopelessly naive. In words, deed and frenzied tweets, he has tried repeatedly to shift the country’s value structure to one that puts greed over generosity, selfishness over concern for community, disrespect for science over trust in experience & expertise, and contempt for truth, honor & the inclusiveness and diversity at the heart of “E Pluribus Unum” — out of the many, one.

If we abandon a society that was attempting, albeit imperfectly, to ensure the rights of the disenfranchised & oppressed, to expand & protect voting rights, to provide all people with clean air to breathe, pure water to drink & the medical care they need, President will have altered American national character and hence, the country’s policies for years to come.