As Our Political Culture Shreds What Will Come From the Ashes?
Trump is doing exactly what he was elected to do. He was elected to be a cultural president (not legislative) who provokes, offends, generates outrage, and ultimately shreds the dominant political power. Is it safe to be optimistic about what can come next?
And, even though Merkel won her election, the far right party in Germany achieved 13% of the vote as opposed to the 4.7% it received in 2013. Brexit provides another example of what seems to be a worldwide shift away from the meritocratic system that has dominated since it emerged as a child of the tumultuous 1960s. We have seen these sorts of political cycles before, but is this one different?
As Brooks opines, Trump and the growing number of other nationalistic anarchists are similar to their historical counterparts like fellow buffoons (buffoonery is a particularly potent political tactic for this sort of work) Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin who never attracted majority support but successfully brought down the Protestant American establishment that existed right after World War II.
And race is always a part of the dynamic. Today, Trump continues to go after issues of race in part because multiculturalism is the "theology of the educated class" and he can use it as a way to effectively isolate the educated class from others. In the 1960s, white Southern Democratic voters left the party in droves for the GOP in response to the civil rights movement. This shakeup pushed the Democratic party to the left Republican party to the right (Lichtman).
Partisanship and political polarization have been part of U.S. politics since the dawn of the
republic (Abramowitz), but as the animosity is mutual and growing, some fear that our natural political cycles may be tainted by the proliferation of partisan media outlets and fake news. Others such as Leighley are not alarmed alarmed. “I’m not convinced that [negative partisanship] is as enduring as what some might argue...I think there are probably policies, candidates, periods, in which the right elite ‘move,’ if you will, can bridge that polarization.”
As our cultural consensus gets ripped apart, I wonder what we will be able to create next? Let's stop being lambs who lap up the bloody and inflammatory media batter from our frenzied troughs. Instead, lets have beers with average people and remember that we are civil. Let's unfollow our far left and far right FB click-bait pages. Let's read high quality, professional, and centrist news sources. Turn off CNN and Fox for awhile and ignore our Tweeter in Chief's tweets
I bet if we met in the middle for awhile, we can build something even greater - together....