A trio of acclaimed political scholars and journalists do their best to encourage those bemoaning the path of America’s government.
Dionne (Why the Right Went Wrong, 2016, etc.), Ornstein, and Mann (co-authors: It's Even Worse than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism, 2012, etc.) offer a unified voice of sanity in a world gone mad, and their arguments are well-supported by citations of other political writers. On the question of whether Trumpism is a new phenomenon, they point out that the radicalization of the Republican Party has been underway for nearly three decades, and the hatred of the liberal media began with Nixon and Agnew. Now, conservatives have delegitimized the traditional media and empowered the worst and most reckless journalists on the right. To call the writers at Breitbart et al. opinion journalists is wrong; it isn’t journalism if it’s not based on facts. Much of our current situation can be traced to Newt Gingrich’s pernicious influence and the polarization he introduced and proliferated. Centralizing power in the Speaker of the House’s office and the drive for a majority sent a message that ideological commitments would always outweigh evidence. Trumpism is best understood as a protest movement reacting to the long-term changes in our social, economic, religious, and political lives. The authors also note a difference between nationalism, always a power situation, and Trump’s populism, more a style than a philosophical orientation. They trace the various elements of his rise, but there is no single reason why Trump is president. Ultimately, the authors seek to develop a new concept of patriotism, a new sense of civic-mindedness, a new civil society, and a new democracy. Of course, this is all exceedingly difficult in the current climate, but the authors are seasoned guides and provide good jumping-off points for moving beyond the noxious atmosphere of Trumpism.
A breath of hope but also a serious call to action: everyone needs to take part.