Could some new mood of democratic bipartisan co-operation rise from the ashes of Donald Trump?

Oct 11th, 2016 | By | Category: In Brief

“There is a lot more to people than what they do ... Better questions to ask when you meet someone for the first time might be something like, ‘What do you love to do in your free time?’ ... ” This is also quite crazy, no doubt, but our thanks to the San Francisco Examiner website anyway — and to Melissa Eisenberg, who sounds like a very interesting person to meet for the first time, and yet another piece of evidence that democracy in America is not dead yet.

Just a  footnote to my underground report of last week — “This isn’t the first time Donald Trump has pretended to run for President etc.

The footnote is inspired by two examples of higher political journalism in the  USA today — David Brooks’s October 11, 2016 article in the New York Times, “Donald Trump’s Sad, Lonely Life” ;  and Max Boot’s October 10 contribution to Foreign Policy, “Donald Trump Isn’t Campaigning to Run a Democracy.”

I at least consider myself progressive and/or liberal or even mildly radical politically. Both David Brooks and Max Boot are self-declared conservatives. But I almost altogether agree with them in these two articles. And the main channel of this agreement is a shared  faith in democracy.

David Brooks in flight.

In the same spirit, the democratic political system works best when right and left share this faith, and work together when the common good demands it. Freedom does not mean that the ends of the political spectrum are always at war. As Max Boot succinctly explains, in the limiting case : “The essence of democracy is not to criminalize political differences.”

In the same spirit again, the ultimate problem with Donald Trump is that he is working to finally shatter the American shared faith in democracy on right and left. (Though he is also no doubt just taking an anti-democratic trend already active for several decades to some further dark conclusion.)

Or, as David Brooks explains about the second US presidential debate this past Sunday evening, if you are Donald Trump your “only rest comes when … you are threatening to throw your opponent in jail … looming over her menacingly like a mafioso thug on the precipice of a hit … ”

Max Boot, with his 2013 book, Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present.

In my report a week ago I suggested that a historical Donald Trump who started pretending to run for president in the late 1980s “seemed an at least somewhat more sympathetic character than the present-day Republican presidential candidate who haunts my television screen.”

The man who haunted my TV screen this past Sunday, October 9 (in between visits to the dramatic final Blue Jays/Rangers game) was just the quasi-pathological, anti-democratic bully described by David Brooks and Max Boot in their articles of October 11 and 10.

The pressures of two very crazy campaigns for Mr. Trump (and the rest of us) — the Republican primary and now the general election on November 8 —  have altogether obliterated the somewhat more sympathetic character from the historical past.

As the second TV debate made all too clear, the free world has forever lost the guy who once talked about “liberal” health care, a cabinet that included Oprah Winfrey, Colin Powell, and Charlie Rangel, and a massive tax on the richest Americans to get rid of the national debt. (Though this historical Donald Trump no doubt wasn’t really a democrat either, even then.)

Five US presidents, Republican and Democrat, at the Obama White House — l to r : George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter.

Rachel Maddow’s report last night (“The Republican Party is Donald Trump’s party”) was wise counsel for liberals and progressives who have too hasty thoughts about the real prospects for democratic right-left co-operation … after, as David Brooks puts it, “Nov. 9, the day after Trump loses,” when “there won’t be solidarity and howls of outrage. Everyone will just walk away.”

But the thought that something even just vaguely of this sort might be possible, in the wake of a failed Donald Trump presidential campaign, has brightened my day and cheered my night. I don’t know if I’m really going to like a Hillary Clinton foreign policy blessed by Max Boot. But this is certainly one American election I hope David Brooks has got right.

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