We are at a fragile moment in the history of our republic. Our political order is weaker than it has been at any time in living memory, and possibly weaker than it has been at any time since 1860. There may be those who welcome the decline of the political order, because they consider it corrupt, ineffective and hostage to special interests. And, well … it sort of is all those things. But I don’t welcome its decline, when no one is offering a better alternative to take its place. It is very easy to identify the flaws with an existing order, but much harder to put something better in its place, as the communists found out to the sorrow of millions of people.David Brooks:
Liberal democracy is an uneasy truce worked out after centuries of vicious religious wars in Europe, a compromise in which we all agreed to commit to a peaceful process for resolving our most fundamental disputes, even if we hated the normative propositions that process ended up endorsing. Why did we do this? Because the alternative to living with sin is shooting the sinners. And being labeled a sinner. And being shot.
The very thing that made him right electorally for this moment will probably make him an incompetent president. He is the ultimate anti-institutional man, but the president sits at the nerve center of a routinized, regularized four-million-person institution. If the figure at the center can’t give consistent, clear and informed direction, the whole system goes haywire, with vicious infighting and creeping anarchy.Rod Dreher:
Some on the left worry that we are seeing the rise of fascism, a new authoritarian age. That gets things exactly backward. The real fear in the Trump era should be that everything will become disorganized, chaotic, degenerate, clownish and incompetent.
The real fear should be that Trump is Captain Chaos, the ignorant dauphin of disorder. All the standard practices, norms, ways of speaking and interacting will be degraded and shredded. The political system and the economy will grind to a battered crawl.
His hyperbole was awful. “Carnage”? Really? You would think that we had been living out a long national nightmare of Mordorian intensity. It rang false, as did Trump’s grandiose promises to bring all the factories back, eliminate Islamic terrorism, and so forth. He’s raising expectations unrealistically high. When this stuff fails to materialize, is he going to blame “Washington”?
. . . that was not the speech of a man who is capable of leading a government that he does not command. Many people have faulted its dark quality, but for a pessimist like me, that’s not necessarily a fault. The country really does have big problems, with no easy solutions, if they can be solved at all. That said, he really does seem to be a menacing figure, chiefly (to me) because he has a hot temper, no self-control and no fixed principles. And it is unnerving to watch a US president deploy rhetoric to ramp up fear and manipulate his listeners into thinking that only he can save us.