Just a few weeks ago, progressives were gleefully ridiculing conservatives for buying into the QAnon conspiracy – an anonymous Internet poster claiming to have access to secret government information regarding Trump’s efforts to take down the Deep State. However, it turns out that progressives were just envious. They too wanted their own secret agent within the Trump administration working to undermine the president they so deeply despise. Two days ago their wish was granted. An anonymous op-ed piece claiming the existence of a Resistance movement within the White House appeared on the pages of The New York Times. Both sides having their own QAnon is rather amusing, actually laughable if it weren’t embarrassing for the country. The reaction to Trump's election the last two years has telegraphed to the world that America is in serious decline. We may still have the strongest military and a vast consumer market but politically, institutionally and culturally we are in decline.
After the 2016 presidential election, I had some free time on my hands and decided to watch the election night coverage all the mainstream American networks, cable news channels plus the BBC, ITV and CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). The coverage began with all anchors and guests of every outlet mentioned uniformly expecting a decisive Hillary Clinton victory while wondering whether Donald Trump would accept his defeat. Progressive and establishment Republican pundits were certain that vindication was at hand. Trump would be dismissed as an anomaly and would soon be forgotten. As the evening wore on, joyous anticipation was replaced by nervous laughter and eventually despair. It turns out that history was not on their side.
In addition to guaranteeing perpetual war, Alex's approach to foreign policy resembles high school politics where the clique of self-declared "cool kids" decide who is good enough to join their privileged club. In his view, America is the sole arbiter of who can be considered a "legitimate" leader – on what basis it should occupy such status is unclear. That is at the heart of his critique of Donald Trump's decision to meet Kim. Never mind, the approach advocated by his foreign policy idol Hillary has not yielded any results except North Korea perfecting their nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Never mind that even if Trump had chosen to follow the example of his predecessors Kim would still have legitimacy for the simple reason that he's in power. Perhaps China, the sponsor of the North Korean leader, is the only country that can decide whether Kim has legitimacy - certainly not the United States.
Trump’s frustration with the mainstream media is perfectly understandable. Disproportionate coverage has been given to the Mueller investigation while any news that reflect well on the administration has been given short shrift. It should be clear by now that tweeting “fake news” and “witch hunt” is not going to address the problem. Sarah Sanders reading touching letters from American children to the president or baking pies for the press will not make any difference. The Trump administration needs to accept that his election represents a personal defeat for mainstream media. They truly believe the Trump administration represents a triumph for white supremacy and feel a moral obligation to do everything in their power to destroy it. It’s not rational. It's not fact based. No amount of evidence that the Trump policies are benefiting minority communities more than his predecessor will change their minds.
Will Republican leaders finally hold Democrats accountable for their reckless rhetoric this time? After Maxine Waters delivered her latest incendiary comment calling for the harassment of Trump officials, Representative Andy Biggs introduced a bill calling for her censure. Even Paul Ryan, whose instinct is to always steer clear of any controversy, called for her to apologize. That may not seem like much, but given the Republican reluctance to confront Democrats – especially when the Democrat in question happens to be a woman and a minority – it is an improvement. Nevertheless, if history is any guide, the GOP will back down and once again will let the Democrats off the hook.
“We live in an overheated political and cultural environment, passions are running high, social media gives people a false sense of insulation and even anonymity, and nobody is so perfect that they have not posted or published or engaged in something foolish that they have come to regret. An open society is one that has to deal in second, even third or fourth, chances. In order for this to take place, businesses must stop overreacting to angry, unrepresentative mobs on social media. It is the same instant-reaction mentality driving the awful incentives behind quarterly capitalism. We must learn to think again in the big-picture, and for the long-term. Partisans must also stop engaging in tit-for-tat; we have to have enough people who can stand up and declare that upholding these principles is more important than getting revenge on the other side.”
“Let us recall again that in 1994, President Bill Clinton, in America's first crack at treating the slave-state like a real country, crafted the 'Agreed Framework' with Kim Jung-il. The failed 'framework' promised that the regime would never pursue nuclear weapons. At the time, the deal was made with a very pleasing commencement, and the anointed ones -- the realists, the liberal internationalists, the journalists and pundits -- all told us that the deal represented progress toward peace, that nobody should root against it; that the hawks were proven wrong again, that those telling us we are being conned are rooting against peace, that it really is useful to talk to our enemies. The real mystery today, then, is: Why do people think we have never tried simply talking to the Kim regime before? And why are skeptics of this entire endeavor treated as cynics?”
“It would also be mistaken to blame Trump for America's current isolation, as the pundit class has done ever since the acrimonious conclusion of the recent G-7 meeting. The president is simply carrying out what Americans have voted for for the last two decades. In 2000, George W. Bush promised a more "humble" foreign policy, and ran on ending America's role as the world's policeman. The terrorist attack on 9/11 caused Americans to back a more interventionist foreign policy, but it was a temporary reprieve. In 2008, Barack Obama was able to defeat the Clinton machine and war hero John McCain by promising to bring the troops home and renegotiate NAFTA. Eight years later, and again the candidate who pledged to end free trade and military interventions prevailed over candidates who defended the status quo. If not Trump, someone else with the same foreign policy and trade views would have come along eventually. Washington cannot ignore the will of voters for eternity.”
For the foreseeable future, the Republican Party will be the party of conservatives, regardless of their ethnic and religious background, and the Democratic Party will remain the same for liberals. The days of the WASPs versus “rum, Romanism, and rebellion” are over, and we will have to make do with what we have. Polarization is here to stay -- but there are steps, though small and mostly on a personal level, that can be taken to alleviate some of its more corrosive effects.