Does Trumpism represent a crisis of existential proportions for U.S. democracy?
I admit I often feel so. Perhaps focusing on history as much as I do should help me ride the waves a little better. But I also don’t share the usual American optimism that our system is so brilliantly designed and balanced that nothing too bad can happen. Anyway, a state of constant freak-out can’t be good for my health.
So I benefited from a quiet little op-ed in today’s New York Times, by Greg Weiner, a political scientist who also worked in the U.S. Senate as an aide to Nebraska Democrat Bob Kerrey. It was headlined “It’s Not Always the End of the World.”
The current incumbent in the Oval Office describes the current situation as “American carnage,” a diagnosis with which I do not agree. But Donald Trump’s presidency strikes me as a colossal threat to important fundamental qualities I deeply value. After reading Weiner’s attempt to put things into perspective, however, I must confess that the crisis pales in comparison to some we have somehow survived. You know — slavery, secession, full-scale shooting war between the states, for example. Maybe.
My favorite line from Weiner’s short, calming prose poem reminds us that there are those, including the current president of carnage but also members of the news media, who have an incentive to exaggerate what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called the “fierce urgency of now.”
Weiner’s line went like this:
“Cable news stations attract more viewers with the breathless chyron ‘breaking news’ than they would with one reading ‘keep this in perspective.’ ”
Sigh. Now back to Thucydides, whoever he was.