Sunday, October 29, 2017

to which president(s) can we compare President Trump?

This post is inspired by an article in The Atlantic posted to a FB group to which I subscribe... Fascinating question, but so difficult to say-- in particular, how to know/understand/judge history well enough to make such comparisons effectively AND then ironically, how to understand our contemporary context without the benefit of an historical lens.

Other problems in rendering a judgment:
--How symptomatic is Trump of the country's mood when he was only elected because the Dems chose....err, picked such a deplorable candidate?
--How symptomatic is Trump of the GOP when his success can be traced to a series of odd events-- most notably, his emergence from such a crowded primary?
--How GOPish is Trump vs. many people (including enough Dems and independents to win the race, despite his amazing flaws!) are simply tired of an obviously tired status quo and largely-feckless politicians on both sides of the aisle. The past 36 years, we've been offered a certain style (smooth and reassuring). But for the last 15 years, we've had lousy substance led by a deeply-flawed political class. Why are we surprised that people would want a dramatic change?
--And perhaps the largest difficulty: To what extent are each of us capable of teasing out the essence of Trump's policy and his approach-- from his unconventional, offputting-to-many style? I think these problems are especially large on the Left.
1.) Some of their policy eggs are being broken at present. (The connection of those eggs to someone who is often taken as a messianic figure will necessarily be even more deeply troubling to them.)
2.) Words tend to matter more to them, resulting in a tendency to fawn too much over Obama and to be esp. bothered by Trump.
3.) A la Haidt, they've shown us how much they tend to struggle with empathy over the last 18 months, with their inability to even imagine how people could choose T over C, whether by holding their nose (tightly) or giving him a big ol' tongue-kiss.

Trump may be unique/extraordinary. I don't know the details of American History well enough to say, especially with respect to most of our 19th century presidents. If pressed to make a comparison, I'd say he's a combo of Andrew Jackson (from what I understand of his style and substance), Obama (given the penchant for executive orders-- although ironically, Obama set the table for that), and FDR (given his court-stacking, his penchant for policies that leaned heavily against / violated the Constitution, his troubles with the media, and his going around the media through the new medium of "fireside chats").

Interesting question/article!


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