There is a longstanding view that people all have access to the same facts and their political differences are due to different moral values. This may never have been true, but at the very least it is an inadequate framework for understanding contemporary political disagreements.
C.S. Lewis was once presented with an argument for moral progress. We must have developed better moral principles, he was told, since years ago there were witch-burnings but nowadays the majority of Englishmen finds this practice ghastly. His response is instructive: “But surely the reason we do not execute witches is that we do not believe there are such things. If we did—if we really thought that there were people going about who had sold themselves to the devil and received supernatural powers from him in return and were using these powers to kill their neighbors or drive them mad or bring bad weather, surely we would agree that if anyone deserved the death penalty, then these filthy quislings did.” He then spells out his point more precisely, “There is no difference of moral principle here: the difference is simply about matter of fact.”
Those who burn witches and those who don’t, according to Lewis, differ more in their beliefs about what is the case than in their moral values. Many of the disagreements tearing Americans apart this election cycle are differences not of principles but of facts.
Consider, for example, the position that Muslims in America need to be registered and monitored. If it were actually the case that, as new attorney general Jeff Sessions and new national security adviser Michael Flynn have said, Islam is a “malignant cancer” and a “toxic ideology” that “hides behind this notion of being a religion,” then surely extending religious freedom to Muslims would be unjustified. As I have argued previously, the main disagreement over this registry is about the facts of Islam more so than the value of religious freedom. Similarly with Syrian refugees—if one believes that these people as a group constitute a serious threat to American security, then it would be an understandable policy to deny them entry. If it were the case that Black Lives Matter protests are simply riots of uninformed ne’er-do-wells fomented by George-Soros-funded professional protesters, then it would make sense to ignore or condemn them. People on each side of these issues disagree over what is factually the case more so than ethical principles, and it’s the same story with vaccinations, environmental policy, police violence, immigration laws, and so on. It is simply not true that we all share the same facts but have different moral values. If anything, it’s the opposite.
What 2016 has made abundantly clear is that, by and large, our disagreements have less to do with what our values are and more to do with whom we trust to provide us with the facts. Recent talk about being in “bubbles,” the “red internet” and the “blue internet,” Breitbart and “big journalism,” credentials and media bias all amounts to this point. The divide in contemporary America is not a disagreement about moral principles but rather about which sources can be relied upon to tell us the truth. Instead of talking about values, we need to be talking about trust.
Donald Trump understands this. His campaign was less about championing specific values than it was a matter of drumming up widespread distrust in the establishment (whatever "the establishment" means). He argued that he can be trusted to tell it like it is because he’s not beholden to special interests or the standards of political correctness. In contrast, “Crooked Hillary” cannot be trusted, the electoral process cannot be trusted, the FBI cannot be trusted, the liberal media cannot be trusted, fact-checkers cannot be trusted, and the list goes on.
I am not saying we ought to adopt Trump's strategy, but we do need to understand the politics of trust. Values and principles are important, of course, but moving forward we need to focus our attention on sources. Where are people getting their facts (or their “facts”)? Who are people believing, and why do those people believe them? We need to shore up trust in reliable sources and weaken trust in unreliable ones, and that involves the difficult task of staying trustworthy ourselves. And we need to be thankful that, at least for the moment, no one is advocating that we burn witches.
 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1952), 26.
 "How to talk to a person who supports Donald Trump" - The Christian Century
 "We’ve Never Known Less About An Incoming President’s Ideology" - fivethirtyeight.com