Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How Do We Go Beyond Trump?

David Brooks used to have an easy job.  He could observe the political issues in the US and explain why the Republican Party had a better set of answers than the other guys.  He has not been able to do that since we elected Donald Trump and he saw how his favorite party failed to respond to his takeover of the party.  He offers his views on what we learned and how we should respond below.

Brooks suggests that we have learned something important from the Trump election.  In the first place, we learned that there are a lot of Americans who feel that they have been left out of our society in many ways.  They are not doing well economically and they are afraid of the future.  They blame an undefined "elite" for their problems.  Trump told them that he would crush the "elite" and restore the nation that they have lost.

Four months of Trump shows the shortcomings of populism.  We elected a terrible president who will not fix their problems.  Moreover, he explains why political movements fueled by alienation are bound to fail.  We have smashed the system but there is no plan for fixing it.  The atmosphere is filled with conspiracy theories which target perceived enemies.  Nothing positive comes from that.  Trump has made things worse.

Instead of Trump and his appeal to populism, we need an elite that is really sensitive to the problems faced by many Americans.  He argues that we need a social welfare system that is responsive to their concerns but also one in which they have greater participation in developing.  We also have to deal with the failure of our party system.  Allegiance to party has become stronger than our concern for the national welfare and the health of our democratic system.  The Republican Congress has responded to the election of Republican president by behaving as if the other party no longer exists.  That is a path to autocracy.

After four months of Trump we have a broken system and perhaps we will impeach the president.  Whether Trump is impeached or not, he has destroyed his opportunity to govern.  The public and Congress will have to respond to a broken system of governance.

Brooks describes the problem pretty well.  It will not be an easy problem to fix. The first order of business will be up to Republicans in Congress.  The post above describes Trump's budget and tax policy proposals.  They will be terrible for Trump's populist base as well as for America.  Unless Republicans behave like adults, something more drastic will be required to deal Trump.

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