Recent Posts by Tim Rutten

Trump’s Neo-Nationalism and Nativism are the Source of the Anti-Semitic Wave

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Nationalism was 19th Century Europe’s dominant ideology when Oscar Wilde famously sneered that “patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.” The post-war progress of liberal democracy made possible a benevolent national loyalty, but if Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and their West Wing henchman with their twisted version of “love” for country have their way, patriotism will once again become a disreputable affection. There already is a clear line linking the economic and ethno-nationalist fantasies now infesting the White House with disgraceful events like the desecration of Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia, the firing of a shot into an Indiana ...

In Trump’s version of America, I’m happy to be called an ‘Enemy of the People’

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An 18th century parliamentarian well might have had Donald Trump in mind when he described a political opponent, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, as “blending mediocrity with cunning.” Trump doubtless will spawn many such descriptions on his own; one legal scholar, for example, already has described his slap-dash travel ban as a “combination of malevolence and incompetence.” Trump’s ongoing campaign against the news media is a signature example of his malevolent cunning. Beset with bad publicity—and historically low public approval ratings—because of his administration’s stunningly chaotic launch and growing suspicions over surreptitious Russian involvement in his election, Trump has scuttled to the ...

It’s hard to be an effective populist when you’re not all that popular

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Donald Trump is about to discover that it’s very difficult to govern as a populist when the majority of the populace isn’t with you. One of the most unexpected events in this period of dizzyingly destabilizing socio-political novelties—Trump’s chaotic attempted presidency foremost among them—is the mass resistance to his administration now expressing itself in the streets: The massive post inaugural women’s marches, first of all, and now the stunningly widespread airport protests against his anti-immigrant diktats. The spontaneity, scope and intensity of the latter exceed, I think, anything that occurred at the height of that last great period of popular mobilization, ...

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