Dynamics: Underneath the Trump presidency are a pair of fragmented and outmoded political parties, contributing to the public’s rightful perception that national politics are inchoate. The Trump presidency itself represents a vertiginous jolt, one that delights those who supported him even while it startles and alarms everyone else. A nasty political struggle that will take the US in a new direction has begun.
The press: It is a particularly difficult time for them. Journalists, opinionators, and social-science experts have just been through an experience that established the limits of their influence and damaged their authority. The vote showed how much of the nation is indifferent to their views. A majority of the states are inclined to reject the intellectual establishment’s worldview and its prescriptions regarding what is good for the US. The nation’s need for a vigilant, balanced, and discerning press remains urgent. Unfortunately, some previously reliable figures (e.g. David Brooks) are wild-eyed and near hysterical post-election. Is the nation heading toward a Constitutional crisis? Toward tyranny? If so, we need journalists who are calm and can help the public focus constructively on matters susceptible to its influence. The public can do nothing about Trump’s personality. Move on.
Chinks in Trump’s armour (my sister’s approach): What aspects of the political situation offer leverage for averting national shame and moving the nation in a positive direction? Strangely enough, the present constellation of power, which pits an outsider against all officialdom, may give rise to more unity of purpose across party lines. Trump has made a few sound cabinet picks and shown some willingness to delegate to them. We need more people like Mattis and Tillerson to stay in the mix.
Image: Panoramic view of Washington City from the new dome of the Capitol, looking west.
Drawn from nature by Edward Sachse. 1856.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress.