Published November 16, 2023
In a recent New York Times column, evangelical journalist Peter Wehner argued that, in embracing Donald Trump, Republicans have embraced nihilism. In many ways, it is hard to argue with that claim, and his description of the former president’s vices and moral vacuity are spot on. It has been said many times before, of course, not least by Wehner.
Yet the article is problematic because it claims too much and too little. As to the former, Wehner points to the prophetic book by Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, and then states that “today it is the American right that most fully embodies the attitudes that so alarmed Mr. Bloom.” That is not true, but Wehner’s mistake is understandable. Fixated on the evils of the right, he has missed the bigger picture.
Carl R. Trueman is a fellow in EPPC’s Evangelicals in Civic Life Program, where his work focuses on helping civic leaders and policy makers better understand the deep roots of our current cultural malaise. In addition to his scholarship on the intellectual foundations of expressive individualism and the sexual revolution, Trueman is also interested in the origins, rise, and current use of critical theory by progressives. He serves as a professor at Grove City College.