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Has America Lost Its Soul?

Summary:
Even if Joe Biden wins the presidency, he will have a hard time restoring ethical concerns in a country with so many voters who have become indifferent to the well-being of those outside their immediate communities. And if Donald Trump manages to hold on to power, America will come to reflect more faithlessly the narcissism of its president. MELBOURNE – As I write, the US presidential election remains undecided. Former Vice-President Joe Biden has said that he believes he is on track to win. President Donald Trump has said, without qualification but also without evidence: “We did win this election,” adding that he will go to the Supreme Court to prevent “a major fraud on our nation.” But in several states, the result

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Even if Joe Biden wins the presidency, he will have a hard time restoring ethical concerns in a country with so many voters who have become indifferent to the well-being of those outside their immediate communities. And if Donald Trump manages to hold on to power, America will come to reflect more faithlessly the narcissism of its president.

MELBOURNE – As I write, the US presidential election remains undecided. Former Vice-President Joe Biden has said that he believes he is on track to win. President Donald Trump has said, without qualification but also without evidence: “We did win this election,” adding that he will go to the Supreme Court to prevent “a major fraud on our nation.” But in several states, the result will come down to the last few thousand votes to be counted. Recounts are inevitable. If the election ends up in the courts, an official result may still be some days away, as the courts decide whether to exclude some ballots.

In his speech at the Democratic National Convention this past August, Biden proclaimed that the election was a “battle for the soul of America.” If we go along with this metaphor, we might conclude that the incomplete election results show that the devil already has a firm grip on a large part of it. Win or lose, Trump will have received the votes of about 70 million American voters. Biden has 73 million, but still, Trump won nearly half of all votes cast.

Nor am I letting off the hook those who were eligible to vote but chose not to do so. Given that about 160 million votes were cast, and 239 million Americans were eligible to vote, and generously assuming that five million of those who did not vote were ill or faced other serious obstacles to voting (even by mail!), that adds 74 million Americans whose souls are stained by their failure to care enough about the fate of their country, and of the world, to cast a ballot. It seems, therefore, that for the souls of a total of 144 million Americans, or close to six in every ten eligible voters, the battle has already been lost.

Peter Singer
Author: Ethics in the Real World, The Most Good You Can Do, Animal Liberation, The Life You Can Save

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