Monday, January 29, 2018

Trump Is Winning At The Game He Cares Most About

Ezra Klein is one of the better informed and most insightful reporters in the US. He makes several interesting points in this article.  His first point is important.  Klein argues that Trump is more interested in gaining attention than he is in any other game that he plays.  He is winning that game by dominating the news cycle.  He gets a lot of criticism in the press along with praise from the usual suspects.  Trump benefits from any kind of coverage from the media.  It is all about him.  Moreover, it inflames the partisanship between our political parties that had been growing even before Trump's takeover of media coverage.  When every issue is a partisan issue, there is no room for the kind of compromise that is required to get things done in government.  To some extent Trump wins when Congress has to resort to the kind of games that enabled the passage of the tax bill with no support from any Democrat in the House of the Senate.  Trump claimed the victory and compliant Republicans in Congress attributed the victory to his leadership. 

Klein makes another point that is insightful and interesting.  The electorate cares less about policy discussion than it does about the cultural issues and personality issues that capture more of their attention.  For example, the tax bill was very unpopular but Trump's personality loomed large during the debates.  Only a powerful leader like Trump can get pass bills and deal with the threats than many Americans perceive from immigrants and potential terrorists.  Trump exploited every terrorist attack in Europe and elsewhere to alarm the public and create demand for a strong leader in the White House. 

My blog used to be about economic issues.  It seem pointless to me and to economists like Paul Krugman who has forced to focus his attention on Trumpism.  The risk to our democracy goes well beyond purely economic issues.  Moreover, it is almost impossible to discuss economic policy issues when it is impossible to determine what might happen in Washington under Trump.

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