The challenge for those who oppose Trump isn’t to convince the American people that Trump presents a threat to democracy, or to wean them off the thrill of a reality show roller coaster in Washington. The challenge is to win back the trust of people who have tuned them out entirely.Arguably, governance, irrespective of guiding ideology, is the work of elites, but some elites are, or give the impression of being, more responsive to the wishes of their constituents, and the current incarnation of liberalism is too heavy on the scolding, the patronizing, the hectoring, the condescending, the Voxing. I'm not so worried about populist impulses being effective at building institutions, because institutions are emergent anyway. I'm more worried about people hanging onto the existing institutions, even when (as is the case with much of the New Deal structure) it is no longer useful.
The fact is that liberalism has always been an elite rather than a popular ideology, and we shouldn’t panic that our democracy will collapse if large numbers of Americans want to restrict speech they don’t approve of. What we should worry about is the mutual alienation between ordinary Americans and the elites that inevitably man the institutions of the state and civil society. That’s what fuels populism, whether of the left or the right. And populism by its very nature cannot build institutions, cannot govern, even if the populist leader is more competent than Trump is.
With that in mind, here is a Roger Kimball checklist on taking stock of a Trump presidency.
My assessment, arguably with incomplete information:
- Off to a good start.
- Off to a good start; hope to have something more detailed once the festival season ends.
- There's anecdotal, impressionistic evidence from the neighborhood to that effect.
- Too soon to tell, and outside my area of expertise.
- I'm seeing a lot of frac sand cars moving on the Troy Grove line and the Overland Route.
- Too soon to tell, although with a Dow 22000 is the #resistance really betting on a recession?
- I'm totally disappointed. Recent Republican mailings don't even ask about health.
- Too soon to tell, and that's going to take an effective Congress. Effective is not the same thing as "clear the calendar to go on vacation."
- Higher education continues to double down on microaggressions and toxic masculinity.