Steinbeck’s test for Trump

In “Grapes of Wrath,” John Steinbeck describes the good human qualities of wisdom, tolerance, kindness and humility. Good humans live moral, ethical lives, practice the Golden Rule, deal honestly and transparently with others and don’t cut corners or press to see how much wealth, power or prestige they can accumulate without having to answer for their methods.

Bad people demonstrate cruelty, greed, self-interest, “graspiness, and rapacity.” They do their best to take advantage of others and believe their worth is determined by how much wealth, power and prestige they accumulate. They are sharp dealers who take advantage of every opportunity to attain more and ignore or avoid ethical and even legal issues whenever they believe they can get away with it. They push the boundaries of acceptable behavior.

Steinbeck suggests that American society almost always judges the second group to be successful while the first group — those of us millions lacking wealth, power or prestige — are considered unsuccessful. It seems Steinbeck is describing this president. The question raised, “Are we to overlook his lack of morality and ethical behavior while he accumulated massive wealth — because we judge him to be successful — and managed for the most part — avoiding prosecution?”

Clark Swan


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