I’m still reflecting on whether I blew it (and, if so, how badly I blew it) with my post of yesterday, suggesting that the recent news of Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer might not turn out to be such a big development in the story of the overall alleged Trump/Russia conspiracy.
I do know this, as a child of the 1950s (born in 1951): Any president or other major political figure who colluded with Russians to influence a U.S. election during the second half of the 20th century would have been forced to resign, banished from politics and would be lucky to stay out of jail.
Things have changed. Trump and Trumpism has shattered a great many unwritten rules. No one who trades in his wives as often as Trump has, no one who insulted the war heroism of John McCain (because he was captured), no one who trashed and mocked a “Gold Star” family, no one who was caught on tape bragging about the pleasures of grabbing women by the pussy, etc., etc., etc., could possibly have become president in those earlier times. After each of those instances, and many more, I thought to myself: That’s it. This is over. No one can say or do that. But that’s because I was living in the past and didn’t fully grasp what had changed.
Trump did not bring about this change, but Trump and his loyal supporters personify the change or the many changes, large and small, social and economic, personal and collective that made this presidency possible.
On the subject of some of the many large and small changes that led up to this mega-change in our political culture, I was impressed by yesterday’s edition of the “Daily 202,” an email I read most days by James Hohmann of the Washington Post. (Duh. It only just occurred to me that the mysterious “202” in the feature’s name must refer to the Washington D.C. area code.)
For yesterday’s edition of the “Daily 202” Hohmann interviewed lobbyist Bruce Mehlman, a long-time Republican who served in the sub-cabinet of George W. Bush and whose brother Ken Mehlman was chair of the RNC. Nowadays, Mehlman analyzes “change,” in politics, but also in the society where enormous changes underlie the perpetual public demand for “change.”
Mehlman tells his clients that five of the past six elections have been driven by a demand for “change,” based on polls like one from last November indicating that a candidate’s ability to “bring change” mattered far more to voters than whether they had the “right experience” or “good judgment.”
Although it’s hardly a fresh thought, that’s gotta be the first bullet point in understanding how Trump won over a Dem nominee who, notwithstanding the change she represented based on her gender, was perceived as the candidate of the status quo.
Also not new information, but powerful to me when I read it this morning, was Mehlman’s summary of seven huge changes that we’re all been living through for many years but some of which have come to be so normal that we forget to think about them as “change.” The list of seven is worth your consideration.
Have a nice weekend everyone.