10 October 2016

Will Trump Inoculate Our Political Culture?

Twenty-day days before the election, with votes already being cast in some states as I write this post, it seems very likely that voters will choose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump as our next President, probably by a fairly comfortable margin in the end.

It is been a frightening time, because Trumpism is abandons core tenets of our scarce consensus political culture and if a majority of the public no longer cares about some of our foundational concepts of democracy and civil liberties, we are in trouble.

But, arguably, to keep the fires burning of all who would defend those values, they must face some serious threats now and then or our society and culture will become complacent and unable to resist such threats.

Indeed, we are lucky to live in an age where history less than a century remote reminds us what can go wrong if we are not vigilant in protecting these values. One of the reasons that the Weimar Republic in Germany was vulnerable to totalitarian takeover was that it was trying to use a new and largely untested political system in which the people had not had time to develop democratic values, and did not have a relatively health economy to support a political system that is fundamentally built on a certain degree of hope and trust that flourish better in good times, at the outset.

If our political culture does not learn those lessons from the near miss of the constitutional crisis that a Trump Presidency almost surely would have given rise to, we have wasted a tragedy indeed.

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