On that fateful day in June 2015 that he rode down a gilded escalator into the world of electoral politics, Donald Trump’s critics saw a pastel-faced buffoon destined to melt away after an attention-seeking stint in the political sun.
How wrong they were.
Trump will never truly go away. A closer-than-expected election makes it only that much clearer that defeat is but a prelude to Trump’s next act as a permanent fixture on the American political scene.
It’s that Trump has already left an indelible mark on the nation he leads, revealing several truths about it in the process.
The elements of Trumpism
There have been countless newspaper columns, books and academic studies asking what drove Trumpism: Was it economics? Was it racism? A new nationalism? Nostalgia? The joy of an unpredictable carnival?
It was all of the above.
If several years of talking to his supporters has illustrated anything, it’s that human beings can hold multiple overlapping feelings at once.
Take Chip Paquette, for instance.
Early on in the Trump phenomenon, at a 2016 primary rally in New Hampshire, the retired police officer chuckled at the candidate’s antics, elbowing his seat neighbour as if at a comedy show. He howled with laughter when Trump referred to Sen. Ted Cruz as a “pussy.”
In a conversation with a reporter later, he said he missed the good old days — back when a cop could punch a suspect, without controversy.
He questioned the wisdom of free trade and expressed a desire for more tariffs on imports: “We’re losing jobs,” he said.
Then, finally, he casually brought up something else he liked about Trump: “I like the idea of him banning the Muslims.”
The Trump campaign’s proposed Muslim ban evolved after he took office, becoming a travel ban on mostly Muslim countries. It underwent other iterations, amid legal disputes, and triggered protests from people disgusted that this campaign promise ever saw the light of day in a country with religious freedom stamped into its founding DNA.
Trump smashed enough norms that he’ll be studied by future generations in political-science departments around the world.
He also revealed things about the modern-day U.S. — and some of those lessons hold implications far beyond American territory, touching every nation.
The first is that the U.S. will be a less-predictable partner.
Trump’s policy legacy stretches far beyond U.S.
There’s no guarantee agreements with one U.S. administration will survive a change in government. That unpredictability stretches beyond Trump to past examples such as Bill Clinton’s signing of the Kyoto climate accord and George W. Bush shunning it.
Trump announced in the middle of a global pandemic that the U.S. would leave the World Health Organization, stalled the World Trade Organization, questioned the point of NATO, abandoned the Iran nuclear deal and reversed a diplomatic thaw with Cuba.
“This egg can’t be unscrambled,” wrote Trump critic and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman last month in a New York Times column titled “Trump Killed the Pax Americana.”
“No matter how good a global citizen America becomes in the next few years, everyone will remember that we’re a country that elected someone like Donald Trump, and could do it again.”
Trump turned the page on a chapter of American history written after the Second World War, in which a young superpower helped build new global institutions in the hope of creating a long-lasting peace.
It’s unclear what the postscript to the postwar era would look like.
Trump did shift attention to a new geopolitical challenge: China. His administration struck a more aggressive posture, and accused China of breaking its promises to the West.
There’s a huge audience for this message.
Passionate devotion equals continuing power
One Republican operative said whether or not he runs for president again, Trump’s policies on China, trade and immigration will have a lingering effect.
“We don’t know what Trump’s role in the party is going to be going forward, [and] is he going to be keeping open the option of perhaps running again in 2024,” said Matt Mackowiak, a party organizer and consultant.
“I do think he’s changed the party in significant ways.”
Trump’s message not only drew record turnout from working-class white Americans, but he also made inroads in his second race among groups that rarely vote Republican.
Trump performed better with Black men, Latino and Asian-American voters this year than he did four years ago.
To be clear, he still won only a small percentage of minority voters. But some were among his staunchest defenders.
Sylvia Menchaca, a Mexican restaurant owner near Phoenix, applauded Trump for putting his country first and wanting immigration limits.
She told CBC News she felt sorry for migrant children separated from parents at the border, but, she said, the country needed to get immigration under control.
“I love him,” said Menchaca, who described herself as a religious woman. “Trump is similar to one of the kings in the Bible. Nobody in the Bible is perfect.… But some of them were blessed by God to run a country.”
Nothing would ever rattle her support for him, she said.
Trump sounded real — even when he was lying
One reason Trump engendered uncommon devotion was he didn’t sound like a politician — he sounded real while other politicians relied on scripts and talking points.
Yet his telling-it-like-it-is effect was chronically undermined by one uncomfortable truth: He lied. He lied a lot.
This is different from most politicians who will often exaggerate, and frequently obfuscate, while generally avoiding flat-out lies.
Trump operated on another level.
When it came to spouting untruths, he pivoted from one to another with the same painless strokes reminiscent of his supporter, Bobby Orr, gliding across a hockey rink.
Half the country fumed; the other half brushed it off.
He left Americans split on an uncommon range of issues: COVID-19 mask-wearing; Black Lives Matter; voting by mail. They all became litmus tests of political loyalty.
You were with him or against him, right down to the end, when the polarizing question became whether or not you would support his attack on the accuracy of a U.S. election.
These constant battles divided families, and it’s no exaggeration to say he even had a polarizing effect on mating rituals. Trump fans, and people abhorred by Trump fans, split off into separate dating sites, with names such as Donald Daters and Trump Singles.
One Florida widow said people just simply want to know, before investing time in someone, whether their values are compatible, and she sees Trump support as a test of values.
She was no fan. She said Trump has stoked the country’s divisions and made people angrier, and she didn’t vote for him despite being a Republican.
“Politics used to be a part of your life, but it didn’t consume your life,” said Arlene Macellaro. “But now it seems like the thing to do in my Republican Party is to be angry.”
People in her Florida retirement community tell stories you often hear in the U.S. these days — of old friendships suspended over differences on Trump.
One final and perhaps most fundamental truth the Trump era exposed is that democracy may be more fragile than assumed — that the rules protecting it may exist primarily on paper but are, in the end, enforced by a civic spirit.
In a bitterly polarized era pitting the blue team versus the red team, old norms were occasionally discarded.
Trump called elections stolen, called for opponents’ arrest, pardoned friends, used federal regulators to punish unfriendly media and ignored the constitutional rules for how to appoint cabinet members.
Ask a foreign government to investigate Joe Biden? It’s what got him impeached. And there were no real-time consequences.
He lost precisely one Republican in the impeachment vote: Mitt Romney, and for that act of alleged betrayal, the former Republican presidential nominee was quickly shunned by party grassroots members.
Trump became the first impeached president to lead his party into another election.
He talks, Republicans follow
And had a few votes broken the other way in a few swing states, had he gotten better control over the coronavirus pandemic, he might have won.
Instead, he’ll be gone from the White House in 11 weeks. It’s unclear he’ll ever concede he lost, or ever follow the tradition of extending grace to his successor.
His niece, a psychologist, author and now a critic of him, wrote a book suggesting he has a pathologically delicate ego and lives in terror of not being admired.
He enjoyed the granite-hard support of the conservative base.
It was illustrated by what happened last week when his son, Don Jr., issued a warning to Republicans: if they had any future aspirations to lead the party, they had better start fighting the election result.
A virtual stampede ensued.
The total lack of action from virtually all of the “2024 GOP hopefuls” is pretty amazing. <br><br>They have a perfect platform to show that they’re willing & able to fight but they will cower to the media mob instead. <br><br>Don’t worry <a href=”https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@realDonaldTrump</a> will fight & they can watch as usual!
Sen. Lindsey Graham went on Fox News and promised to donate $500,000 US to the president’s legal fund for fighting the result.
No matter what the president does next, he’ll remain a kingmaker in the Republican Party, and those party members will keep courting his support.
If, however, he chooses to run again in a primary four years from now, he’d probably beat them — barring some unforeseen twist, such as legal troubles in New York, his former home state.
So there are no political obituaries this weekend, not even for an election loser. Because you can’t eulogize what’s not dead.
Source: – CBC.ca
America's Covid politics, historical revisionism and why Cold War conformity isn't the answer – NBC News
Americans are losing their jobs, getting sick and dying because of inaction by the federal government and by their governors and because of resistance — sometimes violent resistance — to the few public health measures that are in effect.
How did we end up with a new member of Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who used her first moments in Washington to criticize masks? Why has the federal government given up on a national response to the Covid-19 pandemic? Why are people threatening violence against governors who propose even modestly restrictive public health measures?
Why are we being so reckless about something so important?
The short answer is that public health has become politicized, and political conflict makes us stupid.
The short answer is that public health has become politicized, and political conflict makes us stupid. Most people know almost nothing about public policy, and when we make political arguments, we reason in ways that would be embarrassing in other contexts. Being smart offers little protection, and it can even make us more vulnerable to distorted political reasoning.
In 2013, Yale researcher Dan Kahan worried that politics could quickly pollute the science communication environment about vaccines. Even though beliefs about vaccine science and immunization policy were not then strongly associated with political identities, he was concerned that this could change quickly. Something similar had happened before: In the 1990s, beliefs about climate change were not significantly politically polarized; that consensus evaporated in the first decade of the 2000s.
In 2020, it has become clear that Kahan was right to be worried. Americans’ willingness to accept vaccines and their feelings about vaccine laws are increasingly split along party lines. The same is true for views about Covid-19 lockdowns, mask mandates and social distancing. The new Covid-19 vaccine could be political dynamite.
A common explanation for some people’s resistance to public health measures is that previous generations were more virtuous than we are. You might point to the example of the school-age Polio Pioneers who participated in vaccine testing and to Jonas Salk’s (supposedly) altruistic refusal to patent the polio vaccine.
But it is a self-congratulatory fiction to attribute the public health compliance of earlier generations to a now-lost commitment to fairness and solidarity. A truer story would focus on the fact that earlier Americans had more in common and were more obedient to authority figures.
Consider that, until the 1970s and the 1980s, patients rarely provided informed consent to medical procedures. While the medical abuses of the Holocaust illustrated that patients and research subjects should have the right to make their own decisions, American doctors largely rejected the 1947 Nuremberg Code’s call for informed consent and continued to practice more paternalistic medicine — they would continue to treat patients over their objections or otherwise disregard patient preferences — until the law forced their hand.
America also used to be a more collectivist place, at least in much of the post-World War II era. Most people were bound by a shared civil religion of patriotism (including a Cold War hatred of communism), and their private religious beliefs were more often connected to churches that occupied centrist positions in political life. Among white Americans, there was greater economic equality, more optimism about improving standards of living and greater trust in social institutions (including government, medicine and science). Racism and, more importantly, the influence of white supremacy — in education, housing and the workplace, among other things — shaped a shared experience for white Americans and imposed a similarly common oppressive way of life on nonwhite Americans.
Cold War conformity and Jim Crow terrorism are not good models for contemporary social cooperation. We applaud the accomplishments of the civil rights and patients’ rights movements. We are glad to live in more pluralistic and diverse communities.
However, the loss of common identities and shared political aspirations has led directly to rising levels of political polarization around policies that used to be less controversial.
Common enemies often generate a sense of shared purpose. Perhaps the Covid-19 pandemic will become so severe that our mutual vulnerability will cultivate recommitment to public health measures. For example, some Republican governors have recently reversed themselves and embraced mask mandates. But even if this trend continues, it is not likely to be a stable basis for an ongoing public health consensus after the pandemic.
It seems more likely that opposition to a foreign enemy — say, China — could cultivate longer-lasting common political commitments in a diverse America. Political leaders of both parties support America’s imperial projects, and most citizens seem open to bipartisanship in the name of resisting (supposed) existential threats to the country. This kind of shared political identity could be more stable, but only if the struggle lasted a long time and only if it did not result in catastrophic wars. But this is a dangerous and unethical basis for political consensus.
We hope, instead, that Democrats and Republicans can find common cause in conceptions of freedom that express our shared values. We all ought to be free from restrictions on what we say and believe, and we have good reasons to protect valued spheres of civic life from the corrupting influence of politics and the unwelcome oversight of government. We all also ought to be free to live in healthy and peaceful communities, participate in well-functioning economic systems and have access to targeted social welfare programs. Whether America can re-create stable public health governance depends on whether Americans can promote these kinds of freedoms in our ongoing work of living together.
All Santa Wants for Christmas Is to Stay Out of Politics – The New York Times