Today is Monday, the 23Jan17, and the first full week of the Trump administration…..there is lots of apprehension among Americans about just what will be the rule of the day under the rein of a new master…..
They say (whoever “they” are) that a new president has this period of adjustment….some call it the “honeymoon”…..the National Review published a post just before the swearing in……
The shortest honeymoon on record is officially over. Normally, newly elected presidents enjoy a wave of goodwill that allows them to fly high at least through their first 100 days. Donald Trump has not yet been sworn in, and the honeymoon has already come and gone. Presidents-elect usually lie low during the interregnum. Trump never lies low. He seized the actual presidency from Barack Obama within weeks of his election — cutting ostentatious deals with U.S. manufacturers to keep jobs at home, challenging 40-year-old China policy, getting into a very public fight with the intelligence agencies. By now he has taken over the presidential stage. It is true that we have only one president at a time, and for over a month it’s been Donald Trump.
The election of Donald Trump has triggered as much wonderment abroad as it has in the United States. David Runciman, a professor of politics at the University of Cambridge, has written in the London Review of Books a provocative reflection on the nature of democracy in the age of Trump: “Is this how democracy ends?” There is much to praise in his essay, including his heavy qualification that we really don’t know for sure if what we are seeing is the end phase of mature Western democracies since we do not have the appropriate historical precedents to be certain.
Runciman is correct; as an admirer of Karl Popper, I believe that there is no such thing as historical determinism, either in the form of the Marxist dialectical process, or in the guise of its mirror image, the invisible hand of laissez-faire. Accordingly there is no surefire way to tell in advance whether Trump, Marine Le Pen or Geert Wilders would spell the end of democracy as we have known it. History, as Popper would tell us, is an open system, full of contingency. Waterloo, the Battle of Britain and Stalingrad were all close-run things.
And then there are those people that learned a lesson from the Trump rhetoric during the campaigns……and may decide to use it in the same way…..
“The nation and all of our freedoms hang by a thread and the military apparatus of this country is about to be handed over to scum! Who are beholden to scum! … Those who ignore these elemental, existential facts – Democrats or Republicans – are traitors to this country and will immediately and forever after be held accountable.”
The passage above comes from a clip recorded for GQ magazine by former MSNBC presenter Keith Olbermann. It’s a case study in what we might call “anti-Trump Trumpism”.
There are so many unanswered question with the incoming admin…..people are nervous and people are afraid…..this will be a contentious time for most Americans…..all we can do is soldier on and pray for sanity.