What Trump Means to Us

What Trump Means to Us

By David Runciman and Catherine Carr

Helen and David talk about what four years of Trump - and of talking (and talking) about Trump - have meant for their thinking about America and about democratic politics. Is it possible to give a balanced picture of Trump's presidency? Have the last four years followed a pattern or has it just been chaos? What is the likely legacy of Trump's extraordinary level of global fame? Plus we discuss whether 2020 marks the beginning of the 'short' twenty-first century and what that means for Trump's place in it.

Talking Points:

Will historians see 2020 as the start of the ‘short’ 21st century?

If so, Trump belongs to the interregnum. He’s not a dramatic break. Certainly there are continuities, for example, in the Middle East. But there are also discontinuities with China and Iran.Is the pandemic a fundamental watershed?  

Is American power in decline? 

In some ways, the US is more powerful this decade than it was the decade before.The US has a strong domestic energy supply again.The Fed is still an international lender of last resort.One of the consequences of the pandemic was that in March the Fed effectively extended an indirect dollar credit line in principle to China. The story about rising Chinese power is not straightforwardly at American expense. The domestic political turmoil in the US is going to be consequential to the American-Chinese strategic competition.

The Republican party got what they wanted out of a Trump presidency, the courts.

In that sense, 2020 could be another watershed year: pre-Barrett and post-Barrett.Although history of the court suggests that partisan affiliations don’t always predict outcomes.Since the late 1960s/early 1970s, American politics has become judicialized. The crucial point is the intense politicization of these decisions.

Trump invokes huge depths of revulsion in many Americans. Trying to stand back and look at his presidency historically can seem like moral indifference.

The narrative about Trump as a singular evil is the lens through which many people have lived their lives in the past four years.This narrative takes a pretty distorted view of the American past as well as the state of the republic before Trump.Trump seems incapable of understanding the distinction between the president as head of state and the president as head of government.Geopolitically, the Trump presidency has made a difference, especially in relation to China.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Our post-election episode from 2016Our last episode with Gary GerstleOur last episode with Sarah ChurchwellOur most recent crossover with 538David’s review of David Cameron’s memoirs

Further Learning:

Hobsbawm’s Age of Extremes: The Short 20th Century<a href="https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v40/n19/david-runciman/i-didn-t-do-anything-wrong-in-the-first-place" rel="noopener noreferrer"...
Heart UK