Musings —10.25.2020 12:03 PM—
A friend was recently expressing hope that the political party I work for, the Democrats, will emerge triumphant in November, taking both the White House and the Senate. I said I hoped for the same thing, of course, but I now held out far less hope for America itself.
Why, she asked.
“Because Trump is a symptom, not the cause,” I said.￼￼￼ “He’s not the exception. He’s a reflection of what America has become.”
I wish I had remembered Adam Gopnik’s extraordinary essay in the New Yorker four years ago. He foresaw all of it, and said it better than the likes of me ever could.
Here is his full essay, and here is the key part:
“If Trump came to power, there is a decent chance that the American experiment would be over. This is not a hyperbolic prediction; it is not a hysterical prediction; it is simply a candid reading of what history tells us happens in countries with leaders like Trump. Countries don’t really recover from being taken over by unstable authoritarian nationalists of any political bent, left or right—not by Peróns or Castros or Putins or Francos or Lenins or fill in the blanks. The nation may survive, but the wound to hope and order will never fully heal. Ask Argentinians or Chileans or Venezuelans or Russians or Italians—or Germans. The national psyche never gets over learning that its institutions are that fragile and their ability to resist a dictator that weak. If he can rout the Republican Party in a week by having effectively secured the nomination, ask yourself what Trump could do with the American government if he had a mandate.“