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 ...

Trump and Sanders both deliberately undermine our Democratic system’s legitimacy

Few things are as lethal for the healthy conduct of democratic politics as a crisis of legitimacy. As far back as the Classical Era, Aristotle argued that a state’s legitimacy hinged on the stability created by distributive justice, which is to say, the equitable distribution of society’s material rewards according to individual merit. More recently, the German political philosopher Jurgen Habermas has identified what he calls a “legitimization crisis,” which occurs when the state structures legally endowed with administrative powers “do not succeed in maintaining the requisite level of mass loyalties” allowing them to exercise those powers.  Among the results, he argues, ...

Beneath our angry politics exists a corrosive insecurity

Even in this Alice In Wonderland electoral cycle, most analysts agree that the insurgent candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are fueled by deep fissures of heretofore underestimated anger among voters in both parties. There’s less agreement on the sources of that rage. Some, but not all, Trumpites are expressing racial animosity; others a mixture of that old bigotry with a new version of anti-immigrant Nativism. Still others, are gripped with a generalized antagonism toward so-called elites—political, financial, academic and journalistic. Correlations of census data with Trump’s support show that the person most likely to vote for him is an unemployed ...