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, ...

Trump’s Emerging Administration is a Combination of Crooks and Kooks

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Much has been made of the emerging Trump Administration’s wealth, and if either Mitt Romney or Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson is selected as Secretary of State, the incoming cabinet’s standing as the richest ever will be more than assured. A great deal, too, has been made of the number of Goldman Sachs alums in the new administration—despite the president elect’s demonization of the powerful investment bank during the campaign. Much, too, understandably is being made of the Trump team’s extreme right-wing views. Equally notable, it seems to me, is the prevalence of plain old crooks and kooks in the group ...

With Trump, the worse is yet to come

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In the dark days that are undoubtedly before us, many may come to look back on this election as Albert Camus did the Spanish Civil War. “Men of my generation have had Spain in our hearts,” Camus wrote. “It was there that they learned … that one can be right and yet be beaten.” Make no mistake, though, there is worse to come. Consider President-elect Donald Trump’s conduct since Election Day and that, for his first round of senior appointments, he has  skimmed the scum from the fetid pond of the Republican Party’s extreme right. Over the past week, the putative leader ...

Trump’s Reckless Response to Russia’s DNC Hacking Demonstrates How Dangerous He Is

As his recklessly ignorant response to Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails demonstrates anew, Donald Trump is the most dangerous man ever to be this close to America’s presidential power. The fact that the Republican Party offered its nomination to this preening narcissist, this loose-lipped vulgar bully, this ill-informed wannabe caudillo, this cheap card room hustler in an undertaker’s suit is an affront to the memories of Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower and an indelible stain on the historic reputations of this generation’s GOP leaders. Every one of them who has endorsed Trump—however reluctantly—stands indicted for putting party and ...

Nationalism and Nativism Not Populism Fuel the Trump and Brexit Insurgencies

What does Brexit have in common with Donald Trump’s instantaneous denunciation of the FBI’s announcement that it found nothing criminal in Hillary Clinton’s handling of State Department emails? Two things: Both are rooted in the notion that, as the presumptive Republican nominee put it, “the system is rigged;” In both instances, that perception is part of a fundamental political realignment in which the old divisions between right and left are blurring into illegibility. We are only beginning to discern some of the implications of such a shift—and none so far are heartening. The continuing chaos that has followed Britain’s vote to bolt the ...

Fifty more are dead from gun violence and nothing remotely constructive will be done

Kenneth Rexroth began his beautiful 1952 elegy to the old Wobblie Eli Jacobson this way: "There are few of us now, soon there will be none. We were comrades together, we believed we would see with our own eyes the new world where man was no longer wolf to man, but men and women were all brothers and lovers together. We will not see it. We will not see it, none of us. It is farther off than we thought."   These days, those bleak opening lines frequently come to mind when I consider the situation of America’s gun control advocates—of whom I have long been one. I have ...

GOP Leaders Can’t Denounce Trump’s Rhetoric, But Embrace His Candidacy

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Even Woodrow Wilson, the most overtly racist president of the past 150 years, felt the need to hide his inclinations while running for office. While campaigning, he promised African Americans that he would “advance the interests of your race” if elected and, as a consequence, received more black votes than any previous Democratic candidate. White supremacist son of the Old Confederacy that he was, Wilson promptly repaid that support by purging the previously integrated federal bureaucracy of all but a tiny handful of its African American supervisors, rigidly segregating all Washington’s integrated federal offices and encouraging the state branches of federal ...