Explaining Trump


in Economics, Politics, Psychology, Rants, The environment

The often disturbing spectacle of the rise of Donald Trump as a leading Republican contendor in the presidential race prompts many emotional and analytical responses: about the long decline of America as a superpower since 1945, about the dysfunctional features of party politics and American politics in particular, and about the chasm between quality information on one side and public policy and (especially) public opinion on the other.

Many interpret the Trump phenomenon in terms of disaffected voters, as this passage from The Economist describes:

The reason evangelicals vote for Mr Trump has little to do with faith or specifics of policy. It is more a question of attitude. A study by the RAND Corporation, a think-tank, has found that the most reliable way to tell whether a Republican voter was going to support Mr Trump was whether he agreed with the statement: “People like me don’t have any say about what government does.” Trump voters feel voiceless, and whatever attributes Mr Trump lacks, he has a voice. He lends it to them, to express their grievances and their aspirations for greatness, and they love it.

All this at a time when people are prosperous and governments are making easy choices, at least compared with what is likely in coming decades because of our criminal unwillingness to stop burning fossil fuels.

We had better hope that worsening global conditions eventually have a rallying effect, rather than prompting a scramble of every state, region, and ideology for itself.

{ 85 comments… read them below or add one }

. April 18, 2016 at 12:47 am
. April 25, 2016 at 5:26 pm

For the party of Lincoln this is a disaster. Mr Trump is disliked so intensely by so many Americans that the damage to the party wrought by his nomination could go far beyond failing to win the White House, to hurting Republicans’ chances in House and Senate races. That is why the Republican establishment (or what is left of it) is frenziedly searching for ways, from a brokered convention to supporting a third-party conservative, to stop the man who has mesmerised their party. Unfortunately, there are no good options.

But he is right that the taint of unfairness could poison the nomination. In a contested convention the delegates’ individual actions are central: they not only select the nominee, but they also vote freely on changes to the rules—which they can skew to favour their personal choice. So who picks the delegates? Rules differ from state to state, but the answer is, largely, the very establishment that electors have rejected. As if that weren’t complicated enough, the parties took steps in the 1960s to bind the conventions more closely to the results of the votes in primaries. Were the party to anoint anyone other than Mr Trump or the second-placed Ted Cruz, a divisive ideologue who is detested by his colleagues in the Senate, it would cause outrage. And rightly so.

The hard truth for the Republican Party (and thus, in a two-party system, for America) is that the lack of good options reflects a deep internal schism. The coalition between business, evangelicals, defence hawks and blue-collar voters has broken apart. The anger Mr Trump taps into is not unique to America: from France to Germany to America, between a fifth and a quarter of the electorate are tempted by populist parties. But in Europe that energy is channelled into seats in parliament and possible coalition governments. In America, the pipework narrows to a party’s nominee and then the presidency.


. April 25, 2016 at 5:28 pm

An evening shift-change saw lines of men leave the Cooper plant, lunch-boxes in hand. Most felt that tariffs on China had helped them: one called them a “game-changer” that had saved jobs and prompted extra shifts. But, strikingly, praise for the president was mostly dwarfed by anger at the state of the country. Some workers said they were Democrats but felt underwhelmed by Mr Obama. Others, Republicans, expressed suspicion verging on contempt for the president. Mr Obama is “the worst fucking piece of shit in this country, he should move to China”, spat a bearded worker in a camouflage hunting jacket who declined to give his name, turning back to add, pre-emptively: “And I’ve got black friends, so it isn’t that.” Another worker, Josh Wilkerson, a Trump supporter, said that anti-China tariffs were good, but he shared his colleague’s belief that, mostly, “Obama is for the people who don’t work.”

Several workers accused Democrats of scorning traditional values. Jerry Eatherton said that tariffs on Chinese tyres have “helped a ton”, and voted for Mr Obama’s re-election in 2012. But this year he will support “anybody except Hillary”. Mr Eatherton is a hunter who feeds his family with venison and other game. Mrs Clinton, he avers, would like to take away the gun with which he puts “food on my table”. Several workers were for Mr Sanders (who on primary night won Hancock County, of which Findlay is the seat). A number declared Mr Trump “scary” and backed Governor John Kasich of Ohio, a Republican who won his home-state primary (Mr Kasich’s line on trade is Clintonesque in its nuances). Yet Mr Trump has won other rustbelt primaries in Illinois and Michigan, and dominates nationwide in exit polls among white voters without a college education.

In dozens of interviews at the tyre plant, one person backed Mrs Clinton: Rod Nelson, president of the Cooper plant’s union branch, Local 207L of the United Steelworkers, and that was in the “realist” belief that she will be the Democratic nominee. At Lexington’s request, Mr Nelson gathered ten Cooper workers for a group interview. Asked to sum up Mr Obama, the men replied variously that he was a good man, a disappointment, a “great speech-giver”, a victim of Republican obstruction in Congress and a man who had failed to rein in the super-rich and their influence over politics. The president was praised for bailing out the car sector and other industries soon after taking office. He was thanked for tariffs on China, but his support for the TPP caused baffled dismay. Mr Nelson ventured that perhaps the president is using trade as “a diplomatic tool” to win allies.


. May 4, 2016 at 4:22 pm

A majority of Americans now narrowly approve of Mr. Obama’s performance — a big improvement from his standing in surveys ahead of the midterm elections, when his ratings were decidedly negative. An ABC/Washington Post poll found that just 24 percent of Americans were angry at the federal government


. May 6, 2016 at 11:17 am

Why is clarity passing? Because it appears Trump is actually going to be the Republican nominee. It’s really happening. And the US political ecosystem — media, consultants, power brokers, think tanks, foundations, officeholders, the whole thick network of institutions and individuals involved in national politics — cannot deal with a presidential election in which one candidate is obviously and uncontroversially the superior (if not sole acceptable) choice. The machine is simply not built to handle a race that’s over before it’s begun.

In short order, Trump’s obvious unfitness for office — today widely acknowledged across both parties and in the mainstream media — will become a partisan observation, something Democrats say. Consultants from the two parties will sit across from one another on cable news shows and squabble about it, as nature intended.

Just as the media will need to elevate Trump, it will need to bring Clinton down. Going after Clinton will be journalists’ default strategy for proving that they’re not biased. They will need opportunities to be “tough” toward Clinton, or at least to engage in the kind of performative toughness valued in campaign journalism, to demonstrate their continued independence.

Trump will give them opportunities. And it’s not going to be through policy critique, a domain in which Clinton towers over him. It’s going to be through tawdry, nasty shit.


. May 6, 2016 at 5:45 pm

Your assessment of the fractious condition of America’s political parties concluded that “it is impossible to imagine a big democracy staying healthy without them” (“The party declines”, March 5th). But the current state of many large democracies suggests exactly the contrary. The polarisation of politics in America; the entrenchment of party whips in Britain; complete dysfunction in Italy; and institutionalised corruption and class prejudice in India: all of these result from the misplaced importance accorded to political parties.

America’s Founding Fathers focused on representation, not parties. This year’s presidential race shows how the parties have become so out-of-step with that ideal. The parties now represent the various interest groups they have cobbled together to justify their existence and have become part of the “establishment”, whose raison d’être is self-preservation. It is little wonder that voters are swayed more by the superficial emotional appeal of simple anti-establishment rhetoric than by serious consideration of the issues facing the country.

Where, for example, is the debate on the role of education when it come to competing with the surging skills of India and China? Where is the serious analysis of how best to return the economy to surplus and manage the crushing burden of national debt on generations to come?

Ultimately voters get the representatives they vote for. Sadly, too few give too little thought to this crucial right and duty.

Buffalo, New York

. May 6, 2016 at 6:21 pm
. June 1, 2016 at 6:06 pm

Mr Trump does not have a majority among wealthy Republicans. But the idea that it is mostly poorer, less-educated voters who are attracted to Mr Trump is a myth. Only 13% of the votes in New York’s Republican primary came from New York City; the vast majority were cast upstate. Statewide data show that he won 52% of those earning under $50,000 and 64% of those earning over $100,000. Mr Trump may seem to be a champion of disaffected blue-collar whites. But there are not enough of them among Republican primary voters to account for his success.

. June 1, 2016 at 6:11 pm

Exit polls in the three biggest states, Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania, offered some familiar explanations for Mr Trump’s success. It was above all fuelled by resentment of the ways in which America’s economy is changing and of the political-business elite presiding over it; more than four in ten Republican voters said Wall Street hurts the economy and Mr Trump won two-thirds of them. Yet the polls also suggested deepening support for Mr Trump, who has now won 26 of the 41 states that have voted, across the Republican electorate. He beat Mr Cruz handsomely among evangelicals and strong conservatives, the Texan’s biggest fans. Given that he also outperformed his poll ratings in every state—reversing a former habit of underperformance—the impression was of a Republican electorate that has, rather suddenly, decided to plump for Trump.

. June 1, 2016 at 6:19 pm

The Republican nominee
Fear trumps hope

Donald Trump is going to be the Republican candidate for the presidency. This is terrible news for Republicans, America and the world

. June 1, 2016 at 6:22 pm

A survey of American military personnel found that Donald Trump was the preferred presidential candidate among people on active duty. Support for him was twice that for the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton. On a negative note for both, over a fifth said they would rather not vote in November if the choice was between the two.

. June 16, 2016 at 2:37 pm

The rules of the Republican convention don’t exist in advance. They are crafted by the rules committee before the convention meets. If it wanted to, a majority of that committee could change the rules of the nomination process, unbinding delegates from their respective candidates and allowing the party to choose a different nominee. As procedure, it’s straightforward. As politics, it’s dangerous

The only way this happens is if Republican leaders sign onto the effort. And if they do, they will have voted to throw the convention—and the GOP itself—into complete chaos, opening the door to a massive backlash from Republican primary voters, who cast ballots with the expectation that the party would respect their choice. It’s a huge gamble that could (and likely would) destroy the career of anyone who touched it. Which means it probably won’t happen.

If it’s not going to dump Trump, then the most the party can do is distance itself as much as possible. And it’s already happening. On Tuesday, top Republicans like Paul Ryan and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker condemned Trump for his response to the Orlando shooting. “I do not think a Muslim ban is in our country’s interest,” said Ryan, who a week ago was lamenting the “textbook” racism of Trump’s comments about Curiel. “I do not think it is reflective of our principles, not just as a party but as a country.”

Between now and November, there’s a good chance we’ll see something almost unprecedented in modern American politics: a world where the elected officials and elites of a political party are either indifferent to the fate of their party’s nominee or outright antagonistic to him. Where Republican lawmakers disavow their endorsements, where Republican office seekers obscure their ties, where the whole firmament of Republican electoral politics—operatives, activists, fundraisers—take leave for the season to let Trump flail on his own


anon June 17, 2016 at 2:38 am
. July 9, 2016 at 2:28 am

. July 9, 2016 at 2:37 am

“He’s trying to defeat hate with hate and hate doesn’t beat hate it’s never fucking beaten hate. It just makes more hate.

Now this might be the most hippie thing that ever comes out of my mouth but it’s true the only thing that can beat hate is love. No love doesn’t always beat hate. It doesn’t always beat hate, but it does do something.

Right now think about your own personal life. Think about a person who hates you and you hate them. From now on just show that person nothing but love. Now I’m not saying for a second that that person will start loving you. They’ll probably still fucking hate you, but one thing will happen: eventually everyone will see them as the asshole. Don’t be the asshole.”

. July 25, 2016 at 7:37 pm
. July 28, 2016 at 1:58 pm

OK, so, I am glad you asked about that because this is the conflict that I am currently having: The U.S. media is essentially 100 percent united, vehemently, against Trump, and preventing him from being elected president. I don’t have an actual problem with that because I share the premises on which it is based about why he poses such extreme dangers. But that doesn’t mean that as a journalist, or even just as a citizen, that I am willing to go along with any claim, no matter how fact-free, no matter how irrational, no matter how dangerous it could be, in order to bring Trump down.

You interviewed Chris [Hayes] about Brexit and I just want to submit to you that the mistake the U.K. media and U.K. elites made with Brexit is the exact same one that the U.S. media and U.S. elites are making about Trump. U.K. elites were uniform, uniform, in their contempt for the Brexit case, other than the right-wing Murdochian tabloids. They all sat on Twitter all day long, from the left to the right, and all reinforced each other about how smart and how sophisticated they were in scorning and [being snide] about UKIP and Boris Johnson and all of the Brexit leaders, and they were convinced that they had made their case. Everyone they were talking to—which is themselves—agreed with them. It was constant reinforcement, and anyone who raised even a peep of dissent or questioned the claims they were making was instantly castigated as somebody who was endangering the future of the U.K. because they were endorsing—or at least impeding—the effort to stop Brexit. This is what’s happening now.

Do you think the people voting for Donald Trump because they feel their economic future has been destroyed, or because they are racist, or because they feel fear of immigrants and hate the U.S. elite structure and want Trump to go and blow it up, give the slightest shit about Ukraine, that Trump is some kind of agent of Putin? They don’t! Just like the Brexit supporters. The U.K. media tried the same thing, telling the Brexit advocates that they were playing into Putin’s hands, that Putin wanted the U.K. out of the EU to weaken both. They didn’t care about that. That didn’t drive them. Nobody who listened to Trump could think that was genuinely a treasonous request for the Russians to go and cyberattack the U.S. government.

. July 28, 2016 at 1:59 pm

“The media has used Trump as this kind of once in a lifetime threat, like Hitler, and there is this kind of moral exercise that you engage in when you say, “If I were a German in the 1930s, what would I want history to have recorded that I did? I would want history to record that I did everything I possibly could to stop Hitler.” I think that is now translating into everything and anything goes when it comes to stopping Trump. I think journalists are now of the mindset where they are saying, “Anything we can use against Trump, we can.” And I think that in and of itself is pretty dangerous, and I am just not comfortable with that, notwithstanding how much I share the view that Trump is this sort of unique evil.

I am asked that a lot, or asked why I won’t say that I endorse Hillary or whatever. I see my role as being a corrective to whatever consensus emerges that I don’t think is being subjected to enough critical scrutiny. Just pushing back against that is the most you can hope to do as a journalist, against unquestioned assumptions embedded within the conventional wisdom. I am not a political prognosticator, but I always thought and still think that the chances are overwhelmingly high that Hillary is going to be the next president. I always thought that and still think that. So when I think about the outcome, and what the ultimate result is going to be, I generally look past that, and think about things that can be accomplished before that, or things that can be accomplished once that happens.”

. August 2, 2016 at 5:05 pm

Channeling his constitutional law professor past, Obama then went into a lengthy disquisition questioning why so many prominent Republicans who seem to recognize Trump’s unfitness for office continue to support him.

“I think what’s been interesting is the repeated denunciations of his statements by leading Republicans. Including the Speaker of the House [Paul Ryan] and the Senate Majority Leader [Mitch McConnell] and prominent Republicans like John McCain,” he said. “And the question, I think, that they have to ask themselves is, if you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him?”


. August 2, 2016 at 5:06 pm

Obama then made a fantastically cogent argument for why Republicans should pull their support for Trump:

There has to come a point at which you say somebody who makes those kinds of statements doesn’t have the judgment, the temperament, the understanding to occupy the most powerful position in the world. …. I recognize that they all profoundly disagree with myself, or Hillary Clinton on tax policy or on certain elements of foreign policy. But, there have been Republican presidents with whom I disagreed with. But I didn’t have a doubt that they could function as president.I think I was right and Mitt Romney and John McCain were wrong on certain policy issues. But I never thought that they couldn’t do the job. And had they won, I would have been disappointed, but I would have said to all Americans, they are—this is our president, and I know they’re going to abide by certain norms and rules and common sense. Will observe basic decency. Will have enough knowledge about economic policy and foreign policy. And our constitutional traditions and rule of law. That our government will work. And then we’ll compete four years from now to try to win an election. But that’s not the situation here.

. August 5, 2016 at 11:38 pm

“Over the past few days, Trump has destroyed this middle ground. He’s exposed the wet noodle Republicans as suckers, or worse. Trump has shown that he is not a normal candidate. He is a political rampage charging ever more wildly out of control. And no, he cannot be changed.

He cannot be contained because he is psychologically off the chain. With each passing week he displays the classic symptoms of medium-grade mania in more disturbing forms: inflated self-esteem, sleeplessness, impulsivity, aggression and a compulsion to offer advice on subjects he knows nothing about.”


. August 11, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Trump’s algorithm is to say semi-random things until his crowd roars its approval, then he iteratively modifies those statements, seeking more and more approval, until he maxes out and tries a new tack.

This is one of the core strategies of machine-learning: random-walking to find a promising path, hill-climbing to optimize it, then de-optimizing in order to ensure that you haven’t plateaued at a local maximum (think of how an ant tries various directions to find a food source, then lays down a chemical trail that other ants reinforce as they follow it, but some will diverge randomly so that other, richer/closer food sources aren’t bypassed).

It also betrays one of the core problems with machine learning: bias in the sample-set. The people that Trump relies upon to give him his success feedback are the people who show up for Trump rallies, who are the most extreme, least-representative group of potential Trump voters. The more Trump optimizes for this limited group, the more he de-optimizes for the rest of the world.

. August 12, 2016 at 3:04 am

Polls show that Trump has failed to grasp one of the essential truths about this extraordinary contest: in a race between the two most unpopular major-party nominees in modern history, it’s in each campaign’s interest to train the spotlight on the other. Clinton wants the race to be about Trump. Which is what the publicity-addled Republican wants too. And why not? It worked for him in the Republican primaries. “I got 14 million votes and won most of the states,” he boasts. “I’m liking the way I ran in the primaries better.”

. August 12, 2016 at 4:09 am
. October 13, 2016 at 12:39 am

But post-truth politics is more than just an invention of whingeing elites who have been outflanked. The term picks out the heart of what is new: that truth is not falsified, or contested, but of secondary importance. Once, the purpose of political lying was to create a false view of the world. The lies of men like Mr Trump do not work like that. They are not intended to convince the elites, whom their target voters neither trust nor like, but to reinforce prejudices.

Feelings, not facts, are what matter in this sort of campaigning. Their opponents’ disbelief validates the us-versus-them mindset that outsider candidates thrive on. And if your opponents focus on trying to show your facts are wrong, they have to fight on the ground you have chosen. The more Remain campaigners attacked the Leave campaign’s exaggerated claim that EU membership cost Britain £350m ($468m) a week, the longer they kept the magnitude of those costs in the spotlight.

It is tempting to think that, when policies sold on dodgy prospectuses start to fail, lied-to supporters might see the error of their ways. The worst part of post-truth politics, though, is that this self-correction cannot be relied on. When lies make the political system dysfunctional, its poor results can feed the alienation and lack of trust in institutions that make the post-truth play possible in the first place.

. October 13, 2016 at 12:59 am

Phyllis Schlafly, a firebrand critic of American feminism, died on September 5th, aged 92

She united socially conservative Catholics, Protestants, Mormons and Orthodox Jews, previously mistrustful and distant camps, with tens of thousands of women enraged by their supposed champions. In halting a juggernaut backed by almost the entire political establishment she also brought the ultraconservative right from the fringe to the mainstream, paving the way for the Moral Majority of the 1980s, the Tea Party and ultimately Donald Trump—the first Republican nominee since Reagan, she said, “who actually represents the average American worker”.

. October 26, 2016 at 1:48 am
. November 4, 2016 at 10:03 am

This week’s This American Life can be interpreted as being largely about people responding to stress in deeply troubling and counterproductive ways – specifically, about the Republican backlash against immigration, which is worrisome both because it is poorly grounded in fact and because it is overtly racist.

. November 4, 2016 at 3:00 pm

But as he has in so many ways, Donald Trump takes every ugly impulse Republicans have and turns it up to 11, and just about the entire party follows him down. So now they are making it very clear that from literally the day Hillary Clinton is inaugurated, they will wage total war on her. There will be no rule or norm or standard of decency they won’t flout if it gets them a step closer to destroying her, no matter what the collateral damage.


. December 14, 2016 at 7:03 pm

When I told Obama that I thought Trump’s candidacy was an explicit reaction to the fact of a black president, he said he could see that, but then enumerated other explanations. When assessing Trump’s chances, he was direct: He couldn’t win.

. January 9, 2017 at 7:51 pm

Mad as hell
A perfectly timed book on populism
John Judis has written a powerful account of the forces shaking Europe and America

The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy (1995) by Christopher Lasch argues that America’s elites have engaged in a concerted revolt against traditional American values such as patriotism and religion. But the more they have defined these values as barbaric the more they have given themselves permission to engage in a class war against people who embrace these values, either marginalising them or delegitimising them completely.

Who Are We? (2004) By Samuel Huntington. Huntington, who was a Harvard political scientist, argues that the defining division in American politics is not economic but cultural, between people who give different answers to the question of national identity: cosmopolitans who argue that America is defined by its universal values and middle-class nationalists who argue that it is defined by flag, family and American exceptionalism.

. January 13, 2017 at 2:48 pm

In Trump, there is a note of wounded vanity, and of spite – “Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood” – that you struggle to find in recent presidential history other than in Nixon’s private conversations. Trump simply doesn’t sound presidential, ever. He doesn’t have different registers for different occasions: he always sounds boastful, vengeful, bullying and naive.

To many of us, that looks like a failing. But to some, we might have to accept that it’s a selling point: he doesn’t sound like a normal president, and that’s why people like him. There’s only one Donald Trump. What you see is what you get. That can be seen as a sort of authenticity.

. January 23, 2017 at 9:21 pm

When people make big bets on miracle cures that fail to work, they rarely turn against the treatments or their merchants. Instead, they rationalize their misplaced faith, in order to save face, remain hopeful, and preserve an identity that’s defined by their courageous ability to reject the status quo.

The kinship between Trump and peddlars of scientifically questionable medical advice couldn’t be clearer. Our president actively seeks out their company—from Robert F. Kennedy Jr., noted vaccine alarmist, to Dr. Oz, on whose show Trump pretended to be transparent about his health. It was a perfect match: Trump embodies the dubious therapies that Oz has endorsed—“miracle” diet beans, energy healing—and resembles Oz himself, a showman slinging half-truths and magical thinking to a hope-starved audience.


. February 3, 2017 at 4:34 pm

In politics chaos normally leads to failure. With Mr Trump, chaos seems to be part of the plan. Promises that sounded like hyperbole in the campaign now amount to a deadly serious revolt aimed at shaking up Washington and the world.

To understand Mr Trump’s insurgency, start with the uses of outrage. In a divided America, where the other side is not just mistaken but malign, conflict is a political asset. The more Mr Trump used his stump speeches to offend polite opinion, the more his supporters were convinced that he really would evict the treacherous, greedy elite from their Washington salons.

His grenade-chuckers-in-chief, Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller, have now carried that logic into government (see Briefing). Every time demonstrators and the media rail against Mr Trump, it is proof that he must be doing something right. If the outpourings of the West Wing are chaotic, it only goes to show that Mr Trump is a man of action just as he promised. The secrecy and confusion of the immigration ban are a sign not of failure, but of how his people shun the self-serving experts who habitually subvert the popular will.

. February 14, 2017 at 10:54 am

Former officials with deep knowledge of the presidency describe Donald Trump’s White House staff as top-heavy, with five or six power centers and little vertical structure. “The desire to be a big shot is overrunning any sense of team,” says one experienced Republican. “This will cause terrible dysfunction, distraction, disloyalty and leaks.”

Trump has run a family business but never a large organization. Nor has he seen such an organization as an employee. “Trump,” says another former official, “is ill-suited to appreciate the importance of a coherent chain of command and decision-making process. On the contrary, his instincts run instead toward multiple mini power centers, which rewards competing aggressively for Trump’s favor.”

. June 30, 2017 at 1:57 pm

A grim diagnosis for Western politics

Edward Luce believes that the liberal order cannot be fixed without a clear view of what has gone wrong

“Fusion”, the longest of just four chapters, describes the successes of economic globalisation, but also the costs borne by the less well-off in rich countries, notably Britain, America and France. Next, “Reaction” attributes the recent “degeneration” of Western politics to slowing economic growth and to the rich taking an undue share of what little growth there is.

In soft power, the kind that convinces rather than coerces, America has lost heavily in recent years. Far from a model to copy, American society is widely viewed by outsiders with puzzlement if not suspicion. The latest Democracy Index (2016) from the Economist Intelligence Unit, a sister company to The Economist, demoted it from full to flawed democracy because the level of political distrust in the country has risen so high. None of that hands China victory in Mr Luce’s view. Rather than a new Chinese-led world order to replace the American-led one, he thinks disorder is likelier.

A final brief chapter, “Half Life”, suggests lines of defence and restoration for liberal democracy. People’s trust in politics and government must be recovered, he argues. A combination of stagnant living standards for the broad middle of society and an accumulation of unusable extra wealth by the rich has pushed fairness to the top of public argument. Parties of the right should aim to rationalise and improve, not slash, welfare. Parties of the left should fuss less about identity politics or “personal liberation” and return to their old position as defenders of those struggling to make ends meet.

. July 12, 2017 at 5:28 pm

To be fair, not everybody in America thinks it’s a wonderful day under President Trump. Plenty of people have watched the 45th president’s progress since his inauguration—from the “American carnage” speech to the firing of the FBI director, James Comey, from the courting of authoritarian leaders abroad to the continuing mingling of business interests and power—and concluded that this president is a threat to the republic. This special report is not about them. Rather, it is about the roughly 40% or so of voters—some 50m Americans—who have lived through the same events and like what they see. According to Gallup, a polling organisation, that is the share who approved of the president a week after his inauguration. Five months into his administration, which has felt like a period of extraordinary turbulence to those following events closely, Trump voters are less enthusiastic than they were, but that headline approval number has declined by only a couple of percentage points.

Of this group, about half say they strongly support Mr Trump and are with the president no matter what. That is the share of voters, about 20%, who told YouGov, The Economist’s pollster, that it is a good idea for the president to appoint family members to positions in the White House, for example. Those who take him from a 20% approval rating to one closer to 40% are the ones he needs to stick by him. If you understand how they think about politics and what can change their minds, you can sketch the boundaries of the president’s support or, as his detractors might put it, what he can get away with.

The first thing to note is that most voters pay little attention. Those who follow politics tend to assume that everyone else does, too, but they are mistaken. According to the American National Election Study (ANES), a large survey run by Stanford and the University of Michigan and published in March, 94% of Trump voters did not attend a single political rally, speech or meeting last year. The figure for Clinton voters is 90%. The survey is considered the most rigorous study of what goes on in voters’ heads when they cast their ballot. (All the numbers on public opinion in what follows come from the ANES, unless otherwise stated.) Only about a fifth of Americans pay close attention to politics, and they tend to be the most committed conservatives or liberals. For the rest, political issues are little more than “a sideshow in the great circus of life”, wrote Robert Dahl, a political scientist, in 1961. That remains true. Americans do not trust government much and expect politicians to lie; 31% of Trump voters and 36% of Clinton voters think that the American government “probably” or “definitely” knew about 9/11 in advance.

For example, it is hard to think of two more different candidates, in temperament, style and policy, than Mitt Romney and Donald Trump, yet more than 90% of those who voted for Mr Romney in the presidential election in 2012 also voted for Mr Trump this time, according to the ANES. The same share of Obama voters also backed Hillary Clinton. Those who expect Republican voters to desert Mr Trump each time a scandal breaks should bear this in mind.

. July 12, 2017 at 5:29 pm

How are voters likely to respond to this way of governing? Not by filtering out the noise from the latest outrage, then calmly taking each policy change and feeding it into a mental equation that recalibrates their level of approval for the president. Instead, to the extent that most people are thinking about politics at all, they are making judgments about whether the president is trying to do the right thing or is fundamentally malign. Such judgments are shaped by geography, education and skin colour, and are subject to groupthink: in mid-May 80% of Trump voters told YouGov that they see criticism of Mr Trump as an attack on “people like me”.

. August 5, 2017 at 11:30 am

Without the Russian mafia, it is fair to say, Donald Trump would not be president of the United States.


. October 13, 2017 at 3:04 pm

GOP denial about Trump has generally taken Ryan’s form. The president may be eccentric and divisive, but Republicans need to keep their heads down and think of tax reform. This assumes that the main challenge is to avoid distraction from essential tasks.

But the real problem has always been Trump’s fundamental unfitness for high office. It is not Trump’s indiscipline and lack of leadership, which make carrying a legislative agenda forward nearly impossible. It is not his vulgarity and smallness, which have been the equivalent of spray-painting graffiti on the Washington Monument. It is not his nearly complete ignorance of policy and history, which condemns him to live in the eternal present of his own immediate desires.

. July 2, 2018 at 7:07 pm

Mr Trump’s rise has brought a proliferation of such political role-playing. The president reprises the role of boardroom titan he played on “The Apprentice” and his supporters pretend that this was why they chose him. He pretends to be pious, and white evangelicals pretend to care. Such performances are no more credible than Diamond and Silk and do not disguise the real source of Mr Trump’s appeal: a reshaping of the American right around cultural anxieties so impolite and reactionary that even his more devoted supporters prefer not to acknowledge them.

. August 20, 2018 at 3:37 pm

Political psychologists argue that men are experiencing “status threat” from women, just as many white voters feel a status threat from non-whites. The most prominent proponent of the idea that status threats motivate voting is Diana Mutz of the University of Pennsylvania. Ms Mutz argues that there was little relationship between a change in voters’ financial circumstances and their support for Mr Trump in 2016. Her analysis finds that feelings about America’s waning position in the world and the increased prominence of non-whites in the country were far better predictors of Trump-voting.

A different kind of status threat occurs as women climb the ranks of Fortune 500 companies and shatter glass ceilings: many men worry about cutting their feet on the shards left lying on the floor. The American National Election Studies (ANES) from 2016 found that those who think things were better when a man went out to work and a woman stayed at home were overwhelmingly more likely to vote Republican. That view, though shared by a considerable minority of women, is unsurprisingly more widespread among men. The ANES pilot study found that 40% of Republican men thought they faced “a great deal” or “a lot” of discrimination on account of their sex.

. September 23, 2018 at 1:49 pm

“The woman who ran the Obama department’s energy-policy analysis unit received a call from Department of Energy staff telling her that her office was now occupied by Eric Trump’s brother-in-law,” Lewis writes (Eric is Donald’s son). “Why? No one knew.” Trump’s people, Lewis makes clear, are largely inept and animated by greed, anti-government ideology and a “commitment to scientific ignorance”. Trump himself is, in Lewis’s view, “the single worst business manager that’s ever occupied the office. He’s obsessed only with himself, he doesn’t manage anything.”


. December 15, 2018 at 7:27 pm

DONALD TRUMP has always said he is a self-made billionaire. The president insists that the only financial help he got from his father Fred, a New York City developer, was a $1m loan, which he repaid. An investigation by the New York Times (NYT), published this week, concludes that he actually received fifty times that amount, that it was not repaid, and that many of the transfers were dodgy.

The newspaper examined more than 100,000 pages of documents, including financial-disclosure reports and bank statements (but not the president’s tax returns, which he refuses to make public). In the 1990s, it says, Mr Trump took part in “dubious” tax schemes which included instances of “outright fraud”. It concludes that he “appropriated his father’s entire empire as his own”.

The NYT counted 295 revenue streams from Fred to Donald and his siblings, which began flowing when they were children. It estimates that Donald received at least $413m in today’s money from his father’s empire, mostly from property transfers and a “flood” of loans, many never repaid. Had the money gone straight into a fund tracking the S&P 500 when received, it would now be worth almost $2bn.

. December 18, 2018 at 1:03 pm

He may take a different tack from Ronald Reagan, on trade, Russians and racists, but their coalition is essentially the same: most white Americans, with a stress on evangelicals and small-government and gun enthusiasts. Mr Trump is not president mainly because working-class strugglers flocked to him. The vast majority of his 63m supporters were regular Republican voters, and most consider his presidency a roaring success. That is why the president’s party could yet hold both the House and Senate. And if it does not, it will not be because the Democrats filched many Republican voters, but because they did a better job of turning out their own. The media focus on Mr Trump’s appalling behaviour can make this hard to fathom. An evening spent with a crowd of Mr Lance’s remaining supporters, in a community hall tacked onto a fire station near the congressman’s house, made it easier to understand.

The main reason most people loved Mr Trump did not seem to concern his qualities or policies at all. It was because above all they hated Democrats, a force political scientists refer to as “negative partisanship”. Hardly anyone said what they liked about Mr Trump without in the same breath lambasting his opponents. This, more than Mr Trump’s nationalism, populism or chauvinist dog-whistling, is the essence of his divisive appeal. It is what he strives to amplify. It was why Hillary Clinton, the right’s favourite bogie, was his perfect opponent. “I wake up every day and thank God she is not president,” said Beth, when asked how Mr Trump is getting on.

. December 21, 2018 at 10:54 pm

We have a running gag here at Slate about how every month or so a breathless insider report declares that the White House is “in chaos”—that an “increasingly isolated” Donald Trump is “lashing out” as “the walls close in” on his “imperiled” presidency. These stories appear for two reasons. One is that many Washington journalists still can’t wrap their heads around the reality that Trump doesn’t actually lose political support or momentum, like other presidents would, when he creates giant fiascos by being an idiot. The other is that liberals love to click and read the stories because they present a wish-fulfillment fantasy in which the administration is on the verge of collapse. And yet, every time, Trump emerges from the chaos with the same level of control over the Republican Party (and thus the government) that he had before, and the country goes muddling along. (Which isn’t to say, to be clear, that everything has been great since 2016—that’s not true—but that most things in Washington, D.C. and the rest of the U.S. continue to operate in a “normal” pre-Trump way and that major tragic developments have not been particularly related to White House intrigue and disorganization.)

. March 2, 2019 at 7:29 pm

And as ludicrous as these fragments seem out of context, watching the speech with what truly was an everyday and diverse group of people, I had the distinct impression that Trump could easily be re-elected. Recent polls had found that fully 58% of the American electorate had vowed to vote for anyone but Trump, but even with all the insanities of his speech, and the unending chaos of his first two years in office, he laid out a compelling case that night for having achieved actual results that actually mattered to his fans, both the passive and the devout. He mentioned that unemployment for Hispanic workers was at a historic low, and this is true. He mentioned that unemployment for African American workers was at an all-time low, too, and this is also true. We in the media have long seen Trump as a racist buffoon and a threat to every core democratic principle, but his supporters see him as a man who gets things done, who speaks candidly, and who has engineered an economic boom that is the envy of the world. Almost invariably, his fans acknowledge his crude way with words, and his difficulty telling the strict truth, but they consider these minor sins dwarfed by the impact of a thriving economy, the winding down of two unnecessary wars, and a tough-minded stance against China, North Korea and illegal immigration. To his supporters, even the casual ones, he has a lot to run on. And even those who are agnostic about Trump, at least here in El Paso, were conceding his successes.

. July 22, 2019 at 1:34 pm

As always, Mr Trump opened with a shout-out to the independent witnesses to his pending performance, “the fake news”. (Outside the arena, a Trump supporter would shortly become the first of the new campaign to be arrested for attacking a journalist.) The president then launched into the improbable balancing act—extreme triumphalism mingled with extreme grievance—that represents both his state of mind and his political method.

He claimed to have meanwhile been labouring “under circumstances that no president has had to deal with before…the great and illegal witch-hunt”. The Mueller investigation unearthed a lot of evidence of malfeasance by the president. Yet far from being hounded, he has in fact faced remarkably little comeuppance. His Democratic opponents are averse to taking up articles of impeachment, as previous opposition politicians might have done.

Mr Trump did not thank them for their restraint. “Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage,” he cried. “They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country.” To be pro-Trump is to be a patriot, to oppose him treason. It was nearly an hour into his prepared speech before he turned to the economy, including growth of 3% in the first quarter, rising wages and the lowest unemployment rate for half a century.

. August 7, 2019 at 5:23 pm

Trump Is a White Nationalist Who Inspires Terrorism
Don’t pretend his teleprompter speech changes anything.

. August 24, 2019 at 4:42 pm

How Trump Killed the Myth of Coherent Conservatism

American Carnage offers a timely reminder: ‘Politicians are reactionaries,’ pandering to public opinion.

The conflict, as Alberta portrays it, is between the party “establishment” and “paleoconservatives” who had “an intense skepticism of international commerce, military adventurism, and foreign immigration.” The establishment had run the party at least as far back as Richard Nixon, who broke the Democratic “solid south” and won white southerners with an implicit promise to keep Black Americans out of power.

But the establishment had also kept out the John Birchers of the 1960s and Pat Buchanans of the 1990s. The paleoconservatives might be on the fringe, but they didn’t go away. As early as 2005, Alberta says, George W. Bush was worrying to a few advisers about the party’s isolationists and protectionists and nativists: “These isms,” he told them, “are gonna eat us alive.”

The crash of 2008 and Barack Obama’s election were a godsend to the paleos. Never mind that Obama’s measures saved the overall economy and staved off a major depression. As millions lost their homes and jobs, they saw a black man in power, rescuing the auto industry.

Meanwhile, the Republicans in Washington faced another shock from Obama. When Congressional leaders heard him say, “We don’t have Republican or Democratic problems, we’ve got American problems,” and he promised to “reach out across the aisle… The Republican lawmakers in the room exchanged smirks — putting on a show for the press, they figured.”

Then the media left, and the Republicans realized the guy was serious. “Cooperating with the new president,” Alberta says, “was dangerous not just because it handed him a victory, but because it fed a perception on the right that there was no longer any meaningful distinction between the two parties.”

“If he governs like that,” one Republican aide told his boss, “we are all fucked.”

So right from the start, the paleoconservatives were powerful enough to scare the establishment Republicans into a long-term campaign of obstructionism. Had Obama offered enough big infrastructure spending in his recovery package, some Republicans would have supported him; they could take credit for the new roads and bridges in their states and districts. Alberta quotes one Republican official as saying that would have eliminated the party for a generation.

. August 25, 2019 at 8:33 pm

Wasting time is a defining feature of Trump’s presidency. He is fairly adept at frittering away his own days, spending an indeterminate number of hours languishing in front of the television, simply to watch cable news coverage of himself so he can then offer comments about it on Twitter. But when it comes to wasting the time of everyone around him, the president is without peer. Trump’s haphazard style of governance forces journalists, lawyers, and government officials to expend innumerable hours on doomed initiatives and errant tweets. His corrosive effect on American politics forces Americans to devote far more hours of their life to thinking about him than they should. All of this amounts to a tax of sorts on the national psyche—one that can never be repaid.

. August 26, 2019 at 10:23 am

On conservatives’ conscience

If, as you say, conservatism is in crisis, it is a crisis of its own making (“The self-preservation society”, July 6th). For the past 50 years at least, conservatives in America and Britain have engaged in a deliberate policy of dog-whistling, pandering, and often actively reaching out to nativists, racists, misogynists, anti-Semites, xenophobes and homophobes, echoing their words, adopting their ideas and furthering their influence. They didn’t merely tolerate these people; they encouraged them and recruited them.

From Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech to Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy, from Ronald Reagan’s courting of the “moral majority” to Margaret Thatcher speaking of Britain being “swamped by people with a different culture”, conservative politicians tacitly supported odious ideas, bringing those ideas ever more into the political mainstream. A philosophy once merely suspicious of change became one that resented and resisted change. Parties once known for their tolerance became identified with ethnic nationalism. This was no accident; it was the result of decades of deliberate policy. The ascent of such figures as Donald Trump and Nigel Farage is the natural consequence.

Because of a desire to retain power, conservatives pandered to the worst elements in our societies. Now they pretend to be shocked that those elements have taken over their parties. It is hard to have any sympathy for them.

David Howard
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

. September 27, 2019 at 10:46 pm

The Mafia has always been a mirror image of capitalism. They succeed through monopolies, domineering. They want to win, all the time, and they don’t accept losses. And it’s all at a cost to somebody else. But again, that’s a Roy Cohn characteristic, you never admit defeat, you always attack. And that’s why the Mafia succeeded so long. They just copied what succeeds. They want monopolies, they want domineering, they don’t want any questions. Whoever’s in charge is an absolute ruler


. October 4, 2019 at 5:51 pm

Trump “may be a world-class narcissist,” he has written, “but this doesn’t make him mentally ill, because he does not suffer from the distress and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder. Mr. Trump causes severe distress rather than experiencing it and has been richly rewarded, rather than punished, for his grandiosity, self-absorption and lack of empathy.”

And “criticism may haunt these individuals and may leave them feeling humiliated, degraded, hollow and empty. They may react with disdain, rage, or defiant counterattack.” The manual warns, moreover, that “interpersonal relations are typically impaired because of problems derived from entitlement, the need for admiration, and the relative disregard for the sensitivities of others.

sociopathy is among the most severe mental disturbances.” Central to sociopathy is a complete lack of empathy—along with “an absence of guilt.” Sociopaths engage in “intentional manipulation, and controlling or even sadistically harming others for personal power or gratification. People with sociopathic traits have a flaw in the basic nature of human beings … They are lacking an essential part of being human.”

. October 29, 2019 at 2:58 am

Trump, who has virtually never been seen in Washington outside the White House, his own hotel and a handful of other highly controlled settings, came with the first lady, a coterie of Republican members of Congress and top aides, who could be seen smiling, chatting and posing for selfies throughout the game. He entered without fanfare about eight minutes before first pitch, only spotted by a few in the crowd.

The trip to the ballpark was the first time Trump attended a Washington sporting event since becoming president. He has not eaten at a Washington restaurant beyond those in his own hotel and has skipped traditional social events such as the Kennedy Center Honors and the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.


. October 29, 2019 at 3:30 pm

Narcissists might have “grandiose” delusions about their own importance and an absence of “shame” – but psychologists say they are also likely to be happier than most people.

An ongoing study of narcissism by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast has found such people might infuriate others but are less likely to be stressed or depressed.

Psychologist Dr Kostas Papageorgiou says negative responses to narcissism can overlook the positive benefits to the narcissists themselves.

The researchers have been trying to understand why narcissism appears to be “on the rise in modern societies” – in politics, social media and celebrity culture – if it is also seen as being “socially toxic”.


. November 4, 2019 at 12:28 pm

His campaign seems to accept that he will almost certainly lose the popular vote again, and probably by an even bigger margin than in 2016. Trump’s most plausible plan for reelection is to hope that, by inflaming the racial fears of white voters, he can hold most of his 2016 states and possibly flip a couple of others. To do this, he must activate intergroup hatred on a scale not seen since George Wallace—and never considered by an incumbent president since Andrew Johnson


. December 24, 2019 at 12:17 pm

The Nationalist’s Delusion

Trump’s supporters backed a time-honored American political tradition, disavowing racism while promising to enact a broad agenda of discrimination.

. February 4, 2020 at 12:30 pm
. February 21, 2020 at 3:41 pm

The real reason Republicans are so solidly behind Mr Trump is his genius at needling their political resentments and fears—against the liberal media, socialist Democrats, “illegal aliens”. Political scientists call this negative partisanship, and Mr Trump’s sotu address was a masterclass in it. In the climax of its second half, he mentioned the word “alien” four times; also “socialist takeover”, “brutal rape”, “terror” and “evil”. The frightful language of his partisanship (which he learned from Mr Limbaugh, a fellow disseminator of the racist “birther” slur against the first black president) has helped drive his supporters’ increasing loyalty. Republicans are either scared by the fears he stirs; or having ridden along thus far with Mr Trump’s chauvinism it has become too hard for them to acknowledge. It is no wonder few deserted him over the relatively remote matter of his leaning on Mr Zelensky.

. April 26, 2020 at 7:33 pm
. April 26, 2020 at 7:46 pm

“While many election postmortems were quick to make note of the education gap among whites in terms of presidential vote choice in 2016, explanations for the origins of this gap were a subject of significant debate. Two primary explanations have been offered. The first is that white working-class Americans were left behind during the economic recovery that took place during the Obama presidency, and Trump’s populist economic message, focusing on protectionism and other policies to help working people, resonated with this feeling.3 A second explanation is that Trump’s willingness to make explicitly racist and sexist appeals during the campaign, coupled with the presence of an African American president and the first major-party female nominee, made racism and sexism a dividing line in the vote in this election.4 This led less educated whites, who tend to exhibit higher levels of sexism and racism, to support Trump, while more educated whites were more supportive of Clinton.

In this article, we use data from two national surveys conducted during the 2016 general election to adjudicate these two popular explanations. Using unique measures of attitudes on racism and sexism, coupled with questions designed to tap into dissatisfaction with personal economic conditions, we are able to determine the extent to which each of these factors helped explain vote choices in 2016 and, ultimately, whether either explanation can account for the education gap in vote choice among whites. We find that while economic considerations were an important part of the story, racial attitudes and sexism were much more strongly related to support for Trump; these attitudes explain at least two-thirds of the education gap among white voters in the 2016 presidential election.”

. May 8, 2020 at 3:26 pm

“The real opposition is the media,” Steve Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, once told the journalist Michael Lewis. “And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.”


. May 9, 2020 at 5:36 pm

Trump primarily uses his political capital against other Republicans. One of the strange inversions of the Trump years is that unlike every other president of the modern era, Trump has treated his own party as his principal opposition.

Normally presidents endure intraparty griping because they need the votes. They don’t want to spend political capital fighting their own party because they need to conserve it to fight with the other side in order to win passage for legislative initiatives.

Trump has turned that dynamic on its head.

From the time he declared his candidacy, Trump has focused most of his attacks on other Republicans. Yes, he takes the obligatory shots at Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff. And there was his “go back” to where you came from attack on “the squad.” But Trump’s real passion seems to be fighting Republicans whom he deems insufficiently loyal.

So while Democrats have literally no reason to fear Trump—he has been so helpful to their electoral prospects that they have more to fear from working with him than opposing him—it is Republicans who have come to fear crossing their president.

This is an unusual situation.

The benefit of this arrangement for Trump is that by keeping a constant threat of retribution leveled against fellow Republicans, his party has fallen in line to a truly unprecedented degree. The cost is that, by spending so much time warring with Republicans he has weakened his party’s standing, frittered away his congressional majority, and seen nearly his entire legislative agenda stall.

. June 3, 2020 at 10:35 am

To cause more police brutality in the midst of a protest against police brutality is perfectly consistent with Trump’s actions in power. Trump defaults to white innocence and black guilt. He told cops not to be “too nice” in 2017 and pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio—one of the more abusive monsters in the carceral system, famous for torturing the people in his care. He advocated for the Central Park Five to remain incarcerated despite their proven innocence. Of course he’s expanding America’s two-tier system of policing. A right-winger’s fever dream of carte-blanche permissiveness, Trump has clarified that there will be no limits at all on what his supporters can do in public spaces—invade government buildings armed to the teeth, scream at police, defy local government, attack fellow citizens—while openly and gleefully bludgeoning opponents who protest peacefully.


. June 7, 2020 at 6:04 pm

The Power Worshippers: A look inside the American religious right | Religion | Al Jazeera

Against a backdrop of escalating economic inequality, deindustrialisation, rapid technological change and climate instability, many people, on all points of the economic and political spectrum, feel that the world has entered a state of disorder.

The movement gives them confidence, an identity and the feeling that their position in the world is safe.

In this way, I think, Christian nationalists have betrayed what might have been their strongest suit. Christianity, as most people understand it, has something to do with loving our neighbours. But leaders of this movement have thrown in their lot with a bunch of selfish economic reactionaries who tell us we don’t owe anybody anything

. June 23, 2020 at 9:48 pm

I served for 26 years in the Army,” says Gregory A. Daddis, a retired Army colonel and West Point graduate who directs a master’s degree program in War and Society at California’s Chapman University. “I’ll tell you that if Donald Trump commanded any brigade or division in the U.S. Army, he would have been relieved years ago for creating a toxic command climate.”


. July 7, 2020 at 3:42 pm

After graduating from military school and living at home with his parents and commuting to Fordham University, Donald decided to apply to the University of Pennsylvania, which he perceived as a more prestigious school, but worried his grades alone wouldn’t win him entry.

Mary Trump says that Donald’s sister, Maryanne, “had been doing his homework for him,” but that she couldn’t take standardized tests in his place. “To hedge his bets he enlisted Joe Shapiro, a smart kid with a reputation for being a good test taker, to take his SATs for him,” Mary Trump writes. “Donald, who never lacked for funds, paid his buddy well.”

For years, Donald Trump said that his admittance to what was then called the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania was proof that he was a “super genius.” The Post reported last year that the admissions officer who interviewed Trump was a close friend of Fred Jr., that the majority of applicants to the school were admitted at that time, and that he did not see any evidence that Trump was a “super genius.”


. July 10, 2020 at 9:33 pm
. August 5, 2020 at 5:40 am

“Strange as it may be to hear,” Never Trump ex-Republican and journalist Jay Nordlinger later reflected, “the current president of the United States—a hero of the Republican party and the conservative movement—has the same view of the Bush administration and the Iraq War as the hard Left.”


. August 20, 2020 at 2:18 pm
. August 30, 2020 at 5:02 pm

Odious as he may be, Trump is less the cause of America’s decline than a product of its descent. As they stare into the mirror and perceive only the myth of their exceptionalism, Americans remain almost bizarrely incapable of seeing what has actually become of their country. The republic that defined the free flow of information as the life blood of democracy, today ranks 45th among nations when it comes to press freedom. In a land that once welcomed the huddled masses of the world, more people today favor building a wall along the southern border than supporting health care and protection for the undocumented mothers and children arriving in desperation at its doors. In a complete abandonment of the collective good, U.S. laws define freedom as an individual’s inalienable right to own a personal arsenal of weaponry, a natural entitlement that trumps even the safety of children; in the past decade alone 346 American students and teachers have been shot on school grounds.

The American cult of the individual denies not just community but the very idea of society. No one owes anything to anyone. All must be prepared to fight for everything: education, shelter, food, medical care. What every prosperous and successful democracy deems to be fundamental rights — universal health care, equal access to quality public education, a social safety net for the weak, elderly, and infirmed — America dismisses as socialist indulgences, as if so many signs of weakness.


. September 9, 2020 at 4:53 pm

After Rittenhouse shot three people in Kenosha, right-wing militants touted him as a hero. FoxNews host Tucker Carlson hailed him for deciding that he had to “maintain order when no one else would.” Frequent Fox guest Ann Coulter said she wants Rittenhouse “as my president.”


. October 7, 2020 at 2:24 am

But once more, it is worth pointing out that many of his admirers yearn for an American strongman, and will be just as untroubled by last night’s pictures as they were by his refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the event of his defeat.
It speaks of one of the paradoxes of the Trump years – many of those who complain that the Covid restrictions represent a threat to the American liberty fought for in the Revolutionary War do not have a problem with a president who sometimes gives the appearance of craving the untrammeled power of an old-style monarchy.


anon October 7, 2020 at 2:24 am


. October 7, 2020 at 4:38 am

In fact, it’s kind of amazing that conspiracy theorists have lined up so supportively behind Trump, when he’s really the most convincing proof yet of all their worst fears. The Man really is lying to them, he really is wicked, and he really does want to kill them. The damning evidence is right there in front of everyone. Only, instead of begging Oliver Stone to make a film about it, they want to give Trump a second term.


. October 10, 2020 at 3:35 am

That trend is one reason why many American elites, who mostly welcomed the spread of U.S. liberal hegemony, were shocked by Trump’s election on an “America first” platform. It would be comforting to blame the country’s current nationalist posture on Trump alone, but Americans’ support for the postwar liberal order has been shaky for decades. Surveys now show that more than 60 percent of Americans want the United States simply to look after itself. When pollsters ask Americans what ought to be the priorities of U.S. foreign policy, few cite promoting democracy, trade, and human rights—the core activities of liberal international leadership. Instead, they point to preventing terrorist attacks, protecting U.S. jobs, and reducing illegal immigration. Roughly half of those surveyed say they oppose sending U.S. troops to defend allies under attack, and nearly 80 percent favor the use of tariffs to prevent job losses from trade. Trump’s approach is no aberration; it taps into a current that has always run through American political culture.


. October 19, 2020 at 5:10 pm

In a seminal essay in The Atlantic, published on May 31, 2016, titled “The Seven Broken Guardrails of Democracy,” Frum outlined his major oppositional stand to Trump, who had then all but secured the Republican nomination. Read today, the essay is notable for its fury and predictive accuracy. “Here’s the part of the 2016 story that will be hardest to explain after it’s all over,” Frum wrote. “Trump did not deceive anyone . . . all of them knew, by the time they made their decisions, that Trump lied all the time, about everything. They knew that Trump was ignorant, and coarse, and boastful, and cruel. They knew he habitually sympathized with dictators and kleptocrats—and that his instinct when confronted with criticism of himself was to attack, vilify, and suppress. They knew his disrespect for women, the disabled, and ethnic and religious minorities. They knew that he wished to unravel NATO and other U.S.-led alliances, and that he speculated aloud about partial default on American financial obligations. None of that dissuaded or deterred them.”

He went on to describe it as baffling and sinister that any of his conservative friends were even considering voting for Trump, let alone publicly going over to the dark side, yet many did. “Whatever the outcome in November,” he wrote, “conservatives and Republicans will have brought a catastrophe upon themselves, in violation of their own stated principles and best judgment.”


. November 12, 2020 at 8:40 pm

In the United States, Turchin told me, you can see more and more aspirants fighting for a single job at, say, a prestigious law firm, or in an influential government sinecure, or (here it got personal) at a national magazine. Perhaps seeing the holes in my T-shirt, Turchin noted that a person can be part of an ideological elite rather than an economic one. (He doesn’t view himself as a member of either. A professor reaches at most a few hundred students, he told me. “You reach hundreds of thousands.”) Elite jobs do not multiply as fast as elites do. There are still only 100 Senate seats, but more people than ever have enough money or degrees to think they should be running the country. “You have a situation now where there are many more elites fighting for the same position, and some portion of them will convert to counter-elites,” Turchin said.

Donald Trump, for example, may appear elite (rich father, Wharton degree, gilded commodes), but Trumpism is a counter-elite movement. His government is packed with credentialed nobodies who were shut out of previous administrations, sometimes for good reasons and sometimes because the Groton-­Yale establishment simply didn’t have any vacancies. Trump’s former adviser and chief strategist Steve Bannon, Turchin said, is a “paradigmatic example” of a counter-elite. He grew up working-class, went to Harvard Business School, and got rich as an investment banker and by owning a small stake in the syndication rights to Seinfeld. None of that translated to political power until he allied himself with the common people. “He was a counter-elite who used Trump to break through, to put the white working males back in charge,” Turchin said.

. November 26, 2020 at 6:39 pm

Whether you support them or not, Mr Trump and his fellow populists came to power as a response to the failings of democratic governments. In rich countries working-class voters came to believe that politicians did not care about them, after their living standards stagnated and they became worried about immigration. In central and eastern Europe governments seeking to join the eu paid more heed to Brussels than their own voters. In developing countries corruption sent the message that the ruling classes were chiefly interested in their own bank accounts.

Enterprising politicians responded to these feelings by elevating identity far above policy so as to show voters that their grievances matter. Such was the upheaval that some old parties were swept away—in France in 2017 they won just a quarter of the vote between them. Poland had thrived under a centrist government, but Law and Justice told voters that their Catholic values were under attack from Brussels. In Brazil Jair Bolsonaro endorsed voters’ contempt for the political class. So relentless is Mr Trump’s focus on the identity of his base that he did not even propose a programme for his second term.


. January 14, 2021 at 3:47 pm

Trump is doubtless the worst president the U.S. has ever had, but he is the symptom of what is wrong with the country, not the disease. This scammer’s ascent to power, and his ability to survive in office despite his tawdry antics, were not based on changing anything.

The secret to Trump’s unlikely political success is that he recognized certain things that were already there in his supporters. He merely reflected those things back from the stage of big-time politics. By doing that, he legitimized the simmering, irrational rage in his “basket of deplorables” on a range of issues, from immigration to race relations.

It worked.

Suddenly it was okay to hate Mexicans. It was okay to lock up children in cages. It was okay to call women pigs. It was okay to cozy up to dictators. It was okay to hate Cuba all over again. And most importantly, it was okay to lie non-stop from the Oval Office. For four destructive, scandal-ridden years Trump managed to manipulate and dominate U.S. politics, because this was all somehow popular with a lot of Americans.


. January 21, 2021 at 9:35 pm

In the midst of the worst plague in a century, worst social unrest in decades and one of the worst economic crises in the country’s history, three in four Republicans claim to believe America is in better shape now than it was four years ago.

As that should suggest, the Republican Party is not the only institution that has failed to check Mr Trump. The media have also succumbed. Conservative outlets have embraced his alternative facts. Left-leaning ones have uncovered them—yet their increasingly frenzied opposition to the president has fed the grievance culture that insulates his supporters from reality.

. January 29, 2021 at 5:25 pm

New book claims KGB started grooming ‘vain and greedy’ Trump forty years ago | National Post


‘The perfect target’: Russia cultivated Trump as asset for 40 years – ex-KGB spy | Donald Trump | The Guardian


Then, in 1987, Trump and Ivana visited Moscow and St Petersburg for the first time. Shvets said he was fed KGB talking points and flattered by KGB operatives who floated the idea that he should go into politics.

The ex-major recalled: “For the KGB, it was a charm offensive. They had collected a lot of information on his personality so they knew who he was personally. The feeling was that he was extremely vulnerable intellectually, and psychologically, and he was prone to flattery.

“This is what they exploited. They played the game as if they were immensely impressed by his personality and believed this is the guy who should be the president of the United States one day: it is people like him who could change the world. They fed him these so-called active measures soundbites and it happened. So it was a big achievement for the KGB active measures at the time.”

Soon after he returned to the US, Trump began exploring a run for the Republican nomination for president and even held a campaign rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

. February 9, 2021 at 5:28 pm

Millions who likely voted for Trump want him barred from future office – CNNPolitics


. February 21, 2021 at 7:34 pm

A look back at what happened that year is eye-opening—and offers warnings for those on both sides of the aisle. Democrats quick to dismiss Trump should beware: Taylor parlayed his outsider appeal to defeat Lewis Cass, an experienced former Cabinet secretary and senator. But Republicans should beware, too: Taylor is often ranked as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history—and, more seriously, the Whig Party never recovered from his victory. In fact, just a few years after Taylor was elected under the Whig banner, the party dissolved—undermined by the divisions that caused Taylor’s nomination in the first place, and also by the loss of faith that followed it.


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